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Old 10-19-2022, 09:52 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: New Orleans, LA
Posts: 92
Tow Dolly or 4 Down

This is not a question but rather sharing our experience. In 2018, after much research and questioning, at sites like we opted to get a dolly, mainly because we owned two vehicles, neither of which could be towed 4 down and we were rather new to the whole “RV thing” anyway.
Subsequently we happily towed both vehicles (not at the same time but depending on the need) over 30 states and 15000 miles. Of late we were discussing the future of towing as the vehicles were getting old (2005 AND 2012) and getting on and off the ground to do tow straps and chains was getting to be more of a challenge.
Today, after loading our small van (under 3200#) we set out from Pigeon Forge, TN to Kentucky via I-40. As we rounded I-640 bypass onto I-75 North I noticed a grinding sound. Looking in the rear camera I did not see anything wrong with the tow or dolly but the car behind us was flashing his lights. I pulled over and go out to find that the passenger tire, along with the entire wheel hub was gone. The Honda Pilot with the flashing lights pulled up with damage to the windshield obvious.
I inspect the dolly and tow at every stop and adjust as needed. The wheels and brakes had been changed after the last trip. It appears the weld where the hub is joined to the axel had a catastrophic failure. I intentionally have not mentioned the manufacturer of the dolly as I think they are a good company with a quality product. That said it looks to my untrained eye as a weld failure.
Luckily the wheel and hub flew over the car behind us and only struck the top center of the windshield. While the windshield was damaged it could have been much worse. Either the driver or passenger of the Pilot could have been struck and severely hurt or worse. Only one trailing vehicle was struck. The tow vehicle sustained some body damage but that is minor.
I contacted our insurer, National General, and filed a claim. Exchanged info with the Pilot and sought guidance from NG associates as to whet to do. Having received none in the last 3 hours, I removed the tow car and dragged the disabled dolly to the next exit and then to the closest parking lot. I removed the dolly from the RV so we could better park. I am still (3 days later) still waiting for a call back from our assigned claims adjuster so after talking with the CB manager we left the dolly on their property and continued to our next reservation.
My takeaway from this experience is “things will happen. If you tow with a dolly do not think you only need to check the straps, chains and connections. Routinely check the welds and bolt connections on your dolly. This is not a guarantee but may help you avoid a potential catastrophe.

For us, since we were on the fence about switching to 4 down this experience has finalized our decision. We will travel separately (RV and car) until the trip is finished and then we will be replacing the car and go 4 down. If your staying with or considering a dolly, the above is something you may want to consider in your decision process.
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Old 10-19-2022, 10:03 AM   #2
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I suppose the rear wheel of your car could have fallen off while towing it too.

Have you read about the tow bar and base plate failures on this site ? Some have pictures of the damage.

I'm switching to 4 down towing only because I'm buying a pickup that can be. I'll still keep my dolly for the other car.

I've had 40,000 miles of trouble free dolly towing. I never get on the ground hooking up, instead I pull 4 down type safety cables thru the front wheels.
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Old 10-19-2022, 05:09 PM   #3
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Glad to hear it wasn't worse. A bit of a freak accident, perhaps, but we went from tow dolly to 4-down three years ago and would not want to go back. You'll be much happier.
2004 National Dolphin LX 6320, W-22, 8.1, Allison 1000, Front/rear "Trac" Bars & Anti-sway Bars, Sumo Springs, Roadmaster Reflex Steering Stabilizer, 2005 PT Cruiser Toad
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Old 10-19-2022, 06:45 PM   #4
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Curious what you mean by 4 down straps thru the front wheels.
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Old 10-19-2022, 07:12 PM   #5
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While I 4 down now because I bought a cheap manual trans toad I also had no issues dolly towing for 3 years. The straps never came off but I also put a cable through a wheel attached to the dolly” just in case” .
Some would throw a cable/ chain from the dolly to a frame Member as a “safety”. Some do nothing but the straps.
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Old 10-19-2022, 07:37 PM   #6
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I don't know if this is still available but it's already setup to tow.

This is what our toad is and it's been great so far.
2017 Coachmen Leprechaun 311FS
2020 Jeep Trailhawk Elite (Toad)
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Old 10-20-2022, 06:48 PM   #7
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Tow dolly or 4 down?

This subject has been gone over many years on many forums. It is mostly a personal and or popularity choice. I will stick with our experience.

We are on our 3rd Class A. We owned our 1st Class A for 7 years. We used a Tow Dolly for the first 4 years and the towed 4 down the last 3 years. On our next (2nd) and our present (3rd) Class A we have towed 4 down.

What made us decide to tow 4 down was the issue of maintaining the tow dolly as well as where to park it at home and where ever we camped. Our tow package folds for storage at the rear of our coach and most newer tow packages do not show when disconnected from the Toad.

There are only two minor disadvantages when towing 4 down. First is you should not attempt to back up when connected to your toad. That is a separate discussion because it can be done but the consequences can be expensive. Second it requires a Toad Braking System. The newer ones are very quick to install, maintain and remove.

To us the advantages of very simple and fast connecting and disconnecting with a 4 down tow system and no dolly to store and maintain are a much larger plus then not backing up or an auxiliary brake system. Over the years of traveling around the lower 48 states twice, traveling around Canada many times, a 12,812 mile round trip to Alaska, yes we have gotten into a few situations where we (I) got us into a situation where we had to back up and that was resolved by disconnecting the Toad. Stuff happens. But it was not the end of the world and you move on with a short loss of time .

I am sure there are many who choose one method or the other. But to us and so many others, once you go 4 down, we said we should have done it sooner. Whatever your choice, be safe and save travels.

Dick and Sandy near Buffalo, NY heading south soon
2015 Holiday Rambler Ambassador 38DB
2000 Ford Explorer Toad
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Old 10-20-2022, 07:13 PM   #8
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With flat towing you may need an auxiliary braking system, but those work on all four tires. With a dolly there’s just two for braking.
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Old 10-20-2022, 07:36 PM   #9
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Whichever way a tire pressure monitor system is helpful.
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Old 10-20-2022, 07:40 PM   #10
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I have towed both ways...which includes my first and last experience with a tow dolly...the devil's own invention IMHO
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dolly, tow, tow dolly

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