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Old 02-14-2009, 12:29 PM   #1
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Trailering vs. Flat Towing Opinions Please...

so, we are back to towing a vehicle on our travels. we can take either our saturn vue or our vw gli.

we aren't sure if we should flat tow our or get a trailer.

yes, we know the trailer will be that much more to haul and have to store somewhere while we are camping. but, we also know that there is a lot more wear on a vehicle if you flat tow. with a trailer you can also haul pretty much whatever you want.

so, give us some advantages and disadvantage to flat towing and trailering.

jeff & cheryl
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:42 PM   #2
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Better fuel milage on the MH.
Easier to prepare to tow/easier to prepare to drive.
Don't have to worry about a place to park trailer.
Quick/easy way to scout ahead if unsure you want to take the MH on a questionable route.

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Old 02-14-2009, 01:32 PM   #3
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The three advantages of using a trailer I can see are: 1 - you can haul pretty much any "toad" you want to use; 2 - no wear on the toad drive train; 3 - the loaded trailer can be backed relatively easily.

The biggest advantages I see for using a tow bar are: 1 - much less weight behind the RV (many RVs don't have the GCWR to tow much of a trailer & toad); 2 - easier/quicker to hook up and less to maintain; 3 - no parking/storage issues.

I suspect there are more advantages to towbars than to trailers, HOWEVER, the number of advantages is not the issue ...WHICH advantages of each are important to you is the issue. If you really need/want one of the three advantages I listed for a trailer, then a trailer best meets you needs!
Paul (KE5LXU) ...was fulltimin', now parttimin'
'03 Winnebago UA 40e / '05 Honda Odyssey toad
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Old 02-14-2009, 03:03 PM   #4
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The one big advantage of a trailer is you can take a vehicle with you that you cannot tow 4 down.

Beyond that, I think the tow bar is easier to deal with, is lighter and doesn't present an extra set of complications when loading or parking it.
2000 Georgie Boy Landau 36' DP
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Old 02-14-2009, 03:26 PM   #5
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Jeff, we towed 4 down for 4+ yearsand have just about equalled that time with our enclosed trailer. The advantages of using a trailer , at least for me are:

I care not what the weather is or the time of day when I am loading or unloading the car as I am dry and have trailer interior lights.

I can back up the 20' trailer with relative ease that could not be done with 4 down.

With a Prodigy brake controller in the coach I have fulltime braking vs. panic type braking with Brake Budd7y, etc.

The car arrives in the same condition that I loaded it.

There is a little more security with the trailer in that no one knows what if anything I have inside. With 4 down any theif knows full well that you have a key sticking in the ignition.

The trailer allows us to also carry bikes, etc. with the same ease of loading, security, cleanliness, etc.

The trailer has a better resale value than a 4 down braking system, tow bar hook-up, etc.

Good luck and safe travels however you elect to proceed, Ken, '04 DSDP.....
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Old 02-15-2009, 02:36 AM   #6
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It is a personal choice. However, what is your max, tow rating? A trailer road worthy of safely hauling a car plus the weigth of the car may exceed you MH towing capacity not to mention the GCWR. You may not be able to fill your tanks with water etc? Just as Ken was, I was concerned about someone knowing the Explorer had the keys in it while connected to the MH. I bought an extra set of matching keyed locks and drilled the connecting pins so that the locks could take the place of the stock locking pins. Yes, someone could cut the locks, but the casual thief looking for a joy ride will have to have bolt cutters. They could steal any car with a little effort even one inside an enclosed trailer.

We opted for the tow bar route for the reason members have already stated; ease of use, weight, etc. but went with a proportional breaking system from Roadmaster. Works great!
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Old 02-15-2009, 04:02 AM   #7
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Agree with Bobby C, it's pretty much a personal choice. For us, it's 4-down towing which we've been doing for years.

I prefer the 4-down method as it only takes a few minutes for me to connect and disconnect the tow vehicle.

Must admit, I'm a bit lazy and don't want the hassle of loading vehicle on trailer, securing it, then reversing the procedure at our destination. Also you have an additional rolling unit to service, maintain and store.

We've been towing our 03 Suzuki for 5 years now with zero drive train issues.

I would suggest transporting your vehicle by whatever means you're comfortable with.

Best of luck and safe travels,
Jim & SherrySeward

2000 Residency 3790 v10 w/tags 5 Star tune & Banks system Suzuki XL7 toad
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Old 02-15-2009, 05:07 AM   #8
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Although we thought about an enclosed trailer several years ago, we sat down until the thought passed.

We have towed 4 - down since '99: first it was my '93 Honda Accord; then my wife's Saturn SC2. We have towed our '04 Saturn Vue (V6) since purchase.

I've never had a problem with any tow car. Last year I replaced the tires on the vue. They had 46,000 driving miles plus 20,000+ towing miles. They still had tread and no signs of unusual wear.

Fulltimers! - Currently in Gainesville, FL - working as Webmaster & Special Projects Manager
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Old 02-15-2009, 05:27 AM   #9
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We have used a dolly and flat towed. It is really a personal choice. Having used both methods, personally, I would go back to a good dolly with brakes. This would have the benefit of me being able to tow a different vehicle and not have to have the tow bar and brake system set up again.

I would not get the cheapest dolly but get a good DEMCO like the SS... HERE

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Old 02-16-2009, 06:00 AM   #10
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I bought a 2008 Ford Taurus X to flat tow behind the MH. I've pulled my Road Runner on a trailer, and I'm looking forward to ease and shorter length of pulling the Taurus X 4WD.

I'll still trailer the Road Runner to shows.

Do you have a place to store the trailer?

You'll have to keep tires on the trailer.

In most states, you'll have to have the trailer inspected and registered.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:22 AM   #11
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With 4 down any theif knows full well that you have a key sticking in the ignition.
Key or not if they want it, they can take it.
The Key in mine when towing 4 down doesn't have a chip in it to start vehicle.

4 down you don't have to buy registration plates for a trailer. Don't have to pack wheel bearings on a trailer. Don't have to do brake maintenance on a trailer.

I do trailer my Motorcycle but like many others my car & a enclosed trailer would be over my 5,000 lb. limit. Even if I could pull 10,000 lb. it would be 4 down for the car.

In rain I have stayed dry with a umbrella and lots faster hooking up then using tie downs inside a trailer.

99 Discovery 34Q DP SO
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:43 AM   #12
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"Smash and grab" would not apply to my tow car. I'm not saying its not possible to steal my car. I am suggesting that the common criminal would not spend the time or perhaps have the tools with him.

1st - the hitch on the RV is locked into the receiver.

2nd - the Roadmaster 5000 towbar is locked to the hitch ball

3rd - the towbar assembly is locked (2 locks) to the to receivers under the car.

4th - each car receiver is locked to the baseplate.

5th - the car doors are locked (with a 2nd set of keys)

6th - the fuse I remove (to conserve the battery) is in my pocket. The car won't start without it.

I think that other cars in the Wal Mart or where ever parking lot would be much more attractive targets.

If some enterprising thief can get through all that or somehow circumvent it, then he deserves to have my car. I'll get a new one!

Fulltimers! - Currently in Gainesville, FL - working as Webmaster & Special Projects Manager
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:49 AM   #13
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The biggest advantage in the NW to towing 4 down is not having to do a load and tie down in the rain and/or mud.
Brian, Loretta & Daisy (Golden Retriever)
2008 Holiday Rambler Endeavor 40 PDQ , ISL 400
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Old 02-23-2009, 02:54 PM   #14
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we were all set to buy a tow dolly. then i find something that says we can't dolly our awd vue. we think our vw jetta would be too low to get on a dolly, too. we really don't want to flat tow our vue because of the wear and tear on the vehicle.

but, now we are thinking we could tow dolly it by disconnecting the rear drive shaft and putting the front end on the dolly.. any comments?

jeff & cheryl
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