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Old 06-04-2019, 09:24 PM   #1
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Car towing....the correct way???

Soon we are leaving on an extended Alaskan trip towing a vehicle on a tow dolly behind our MH. It has been years since I have used a tow dolly and cannot remember if the steering is supposed to be locked or unlocked. Sounds simple enough until I began researching it and found as many stating to tow it locked and others say unlocked.

The rationale for unlocking it is the turns put a lot of stress on the steering mechanism and the only thing locking the front is a small pin usually in the transmission. On the other hand, towing unlocked some say you can get excessive sway.

So I ask the experts here. Which way do I properly use a tow dolly.. Locked steering or unlocked.??
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Old 06-04-2019, 09:31 PM   #2
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Have you contacted the manufacturer of the dolly? That would be my first move.
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Old 06-04-2019, 09:39 PM   #3
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I always towed with the steering locked (thousands of miles). That said, my dolly had the wheel platform that turned/swivelled.
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Old 06-04-2019, 09:40 PM   #4
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It depends on the dolly.

If the dolly has a rotating pan then lock the steering wheel.
If the dolly does not have a rotating pan then the steering wheel must be unlocked.
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Old 06-04-2019, 11:20 PM   #5
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My steering wheel doesn't lock. No sway, and yes I have a turning table on the dolly. Many modern cars no longer have a locking steering wheel.

Quote:
The rationale for unlocking it is the turns put a lot of stress on the steering mechanism and the only thing locking the front is a small pin usually in the transmission. On the other hand, towing unlocked some say you can get excessive sway.
The pin in the transmission is for "P" park. Nothing to do with the steering. You remember the warning of laying into the tranny when in park. (like on a hill). The pin in the steering column on vehicles so equipped is quite stout.

While we're on the subject, saw a class A gasser today with an Envoy (or it's counter brand equivalent) on a dolly, rear end up. That was fun to watch. Now the toe in is working AGAINST you. THAT was sway.... a lot. Enough to jerk the hitch around which has an 8 foot arm to the rear axle.

Dude is probably blaming his shocks for the fact that he can't keep it on the road....
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Old 06-05-2019, 03:56 PM   #6
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Thanks, guys for the info.. The dolly I have is a Master Tow if that helps... I do see a large bolt in the center of the dolly between the wheel pans. If that is a swivel then I have a swivel pan.
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Old 06-05-2019, 04:52 PM   #7
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Yes the Master Tow dolly has a swivel pan.

Strap down the tires and go. I have over 35,000 miles towing cars on a swivel pan dolly without locking steering. No problems yet.
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Old 06-06-2019, 09:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tanman32225 View Post
Thanks, guys for the info.. The dolly I have is a Master Tow if that helps... I do see a large bolt in the center of the dolly between the wheel pans. If that is a swivel then I have a swivel pan.
What twinboat said. You're good to go.
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Old 06-10-2019, 12:35 PM   #9
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You are using a Master Tow with the swivel base and you don't lock the steering wheel and had no issues?? I checked with Master Tow because my 2017 Focus has no lock on the wheel, they told me to put the seat belt through the whhel to keep the wheel locked? It would be great if I didnt have to do this.
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Old 06-10-2019, 01:48 PM   #10
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Car towing....the correct way???

You can easily determine if you need to tie down the wheel. The seatbelt thru the bottom of the steering wheel is the usual way.
With turn table dollies there is the real potential in a tight turn of the pan turning and the steering wheel also turning allowing the car door to contact the fender on the dolly. So hook it up and try it in a parking lot ( carefully) remembering on a flat lot you might get more @turnĒ on uneven terrain. I have done it both ways and my volt door comes very close , too close for my comfort for me so I loop and tighten the seatbelt .. easy to do as it takes 5 seconds and is extra insurance. Tail wagging was never the issue.
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Old 06-11-2019, 12:54 PM   #11
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I have a few more questions: How often do you check your tie down straps when you are towing? Do you use the tow mode on the gear shift when you are towing?
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Old 06-11-2019, 02:09 PM   #12
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Car towing....the correct way???

I check the straps at every rest which for me is every 2 hours ( old trucker habit) or less ....... I stop and walk around checking the entire rig. Good for the rig and especially good for me
If I just strapped the wheels at day start , I stop around 25-50 miles, they always loosen at first.
Canít answer the tow mode question .. I pull with my MH cat c 12 and Allison 4000. Itís like a fly on its back
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