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Old 10-10-2012, 03:05 PM   #1
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vehicle towing options: 4 down, dolly, trailer?

I am brand new to the forum, and I am sure this has been asked, but surprisingly in my searches here I have not found a good comparison of options regarding towing a vehicle. To make my question as precise as possible, I will towing a 2013 Ford Edge FWD, which according to the owners manual, my dealer, AND an emaill exchange with Ford corporate, I can actually flat tow this vehicle, as well as dolly and of course full trailer. I recognize there are many considerations in comparison of these options, and opinions on which is the 'best' choice will vary wildly. So rather than asking for everyone's opinion on the best choice (although comments on lessons learned are welcome!), I am really looking for input here on anything I may not thinking about that should be added to my list of considerartions. Here's the list of stuff I am already thinking about it making this decsion: overall cost, ease of use, storage space requirements (when not in use or at a campground), overall gross weight impact, modifcations needed on my toad (baseplates, wiring, etc). Anything else I should be thinking about? Also, what about impact to overall handling, safety, etc? thanks.
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Old 10-10-2012, 03:29 PM   #2
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Since I have done both here is some things to consider besides the initial cost.
Tow dolly: another piece of equipment to "maintain", tires, bearings, plates,tie downs, etc.
Lots of campground sites, wont accomidate them at your site and they must be stored someplace else ( and some charge for that)
"IF" you ever get into someplace that you cannot get out of IE gas stations, make a wrong turn etc your only recourse is to Remove the car from the dolly then remove the dolly from the MH. (Been there done that)
You need to ensure that the fenders on the dolly do not come into contact with the car when turning or it will damage the doors.
The time it takes to connect the dolly, then the car and of course to reverse the procedure and hopefull not get to dirty is not a quick process.
Now the "four wheels down" process,
Takes perhaps 10 minutes to connect and go !
Takes perhaps 10 minutes to disconnect !
I rest my case.
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Old 10-10-2012, 03:58 PM   #3
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Easy decision. If your Edge is flat towable then that is absolutely your best option. I flat tow a Ford Fusion hybrid and can do the whole procedure myself in about 5-10 minutes...typically much closer to 5 minutes. Absolutely love the flexibility and ease.
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Old 10-10-2012, 06:49 PM   #4
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I tow a 2010 Edge 4-down with a Toad Stop brake system. Hook-up is under 5 min.

Initial installation is a bit expensive as the braking system is a more or less permanent installation under the hood of the car.
Connect tow bars. Connect safety cables and brake away cables. Plug it in, and we're off after checking the lights.
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Old 10-10-2012, 07:08 PM   #5
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Have to agree with all,of the above! Our experience, we tow a 2008 Ford Edge, roadmaster all terraine bar, with coupling system to ford, combined with road master"invision" (sp) breaking, cost approx 2K with labor. Excellent systems all. We turn on the Ford at rest stops to circulate the atf fluid. The braking system keeps the towd battery charged so no problem there! Summary, bit pricy, however very safe and reliable combined with, as mentioned, five min hook up and break down with DW helping!
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Old 10-10-2012, 07:19 PM   #6
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Four down towing is the most popular method by far. That's the market talking.
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Old 10-10-2012, 07:29 PM   #7
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Started with a dolly, now tow four down. It's a no brainer, 4 down every time.
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Old 10-10-2012, 07:47 PM   #8
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I have a new aluma trailer on order to tow the new escape 4X4. It will have a full rock guard on front to protect the toad. Can also tow the wrangler if I want. Or the vette, restored 61 ford falcon or any other vehicle I might want to take along. No expensive mods to the toads at all. We were on a trip last week and were hauling the smart car on a heavy steel trailer I got. Decided we wanted to get rid of the smart, so stopped at a ford dealer and a few hours later we were driving off with a new escape in tow. And I can back around the block if I so desire. To each his own, and I do like the simplicity of towing four down, and may go that way someday if we are full timing. But for now I like the trailer concept and will give it a try. I can drive the toad on and be ready to roll in ten minutes, and same to unload it.
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Old 10-10-2012, 07:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanbro View Post
Here's the list of stuff I am already thinking about it making this decsion: overall cost, ease of use, storage space requirements (when not in use or at a campground), overall gross weight impact, modifcations needed on my toad (baseplates, wiring, etc). Anything else I should be thinking about? Also, what about impact to overall handling, safety, etc? thanks.
Hi stanbro,

First, a disclosure. I went thru a similar analysis a couple of years ago and concluded that four down was the logical solution.

Regarding your questions of "modifications needed on my toad" and "impact to overall handling, safety, etc."; don't forget to include a careful consideration of a supplemental braking system. Many will suggest (and I agree) that a supplemental braking system (whether, or not required by law where your motorhome is registered) is essential for safe operation.

Take care,
Stu
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djbmsu View Post
Since I have done both here is some things to consider besides the initial cost.
Tow dolly: another piece of equipment to "maintain", tires, bearings, plates,tie downs, etc.
Lots of campground sites, wont accomidate them at your site and they must be stored someplace else ( and some charge for that)
"IF" you ever get into someplace that you cannot get out of IE gas stations, make a wrong turn etc your only recourse is to Remove the car from the dolly then remove the dolly from the MH. (Been there done that)
You need to ensure that the fenders on the dolly do not come into contact with the car when turning or it will damage the doors.
The time it takes to connect the dolly, then the car and of course to reverse the procedure and hopefull not get to dirty is not a quick process.
Now the "four wheels down" process,
Takes perhaps 10 minutes to connect and go !
Takes perhaps 10 minutes to disconnect !
I rest my case.
Only one place have I never been able to store the dolly at my site. And there was no charge for storing it at the end of the row.
Have never gotten myself into a spot that I had to unload or unhook the dolly.
Fenders clear the Odyssey just fine
I can easily load and unload my dolly in less time than it takes to set the Ody up for four down towing AND I have towed the same Ody with the same MH both four down and on a dolly. Last time I towed four down I had the new battery go dead three times and needed a wheel alignment when I got back as well as having more paint chips. I went back to towing on a dolly!!
Plus I can tow almost any other front wheel drive vehicle with no extra cost and even loan the dolly to others (surge brakes) too.
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:20 PM   #11
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:21 PM   #12
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2 other questions come to mind.

How long do you keep your vehicles? A shorter duration could imply the dolly is a better choice.

Will you ever have a need to haul a vehicle other than the Edge?
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:40 PM   #13
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Let me put it this way:
Advantages of 4-Down: Lightest (only about 100 pounds over vehicle weight) easiest hookup, NO trailer or dolly to stow when you are camped. And done properly all wheels brake when you stop (Shortest stopping distance).

Disadvantages: Some cars need serious modification, Some can not be modified for towing at all, Some hardware stays with car when traded in, can not back up without unhooking.

Full trailer: Heaviest tow, All wheels brake, Can back up Not all cars can be trailered believe it or not. (But the number that can not is very small)

Dolly: Middle weight, Can be used with SOME cars that can not be towed 4-down.

CONS:

4: down The can not back up part, and the hardware that is "Installed" in/on the car needs to be replaced at trade in.

Trailer.. Weight, and it's harder to hook up Stowing trailer when parked.

Dolly, Weight, Harder (Hardest) hook up, and not all wheels brake (Since only the dolly can have brakes, not the car) increasing stopping distance. Stowing dolly when parked.

My preference: 4-Down if your towed can be towed that way, Trailer if you can tow it.

NOTE: most gassers are very limited tow capacity wise.. The towed I have, had I dollied it it would have put me over ratings.
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Old 10-11-2012, 08:24 AM   #14
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Tow Dolly VS. 4 Down

I was in the same spot you were in about 4 mo. ago. I oppted for the dolly against what everyone suggested. Bought a brand new set up and first time out had a blowout on passenger side dolly tire. Even with the camera it was undetectable since everything kooks like its a mile back. I distroyed the tire the dolly fender & light and spare tire, mounted under front of dolly. Now the dolly is for sale and I tow four down as inatially suggested. Storing the dolly in the camp ground was a hassle, not to mention the time it took to put the car on or off. Just my personal experience, good luck with your choice. Spine Fusion
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