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Towing car; 4 wheels versus tow dolly


Stiltner

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Hello Everyone!

 

I'm looking for advise on for my tow car. Turns out that a fitted tow kit is not available for my 2013 Huyndai Santa Fe. The service manager said that he would have to use a universal kit that will require some cutting into the bumper. I don't want to cut or modify my car to that extent, or buy another car. At this point, it looks like my option is a tow dolly with brakes.

 

Pros and Cons?

 

Any insight will be greatly appreciated!

 

Thank you,

 

Patrick

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Pros:

- You can tow your current car w/o cutting the bumper

- you can easily tow many other cars if you wish

 

Cons:

- Two more wheels to maintain

- storing the dolly in rv parks (on back-in sites we normally hand-parked ours to the rear of the site and then parked the MH over the top of the tongue)

- a little tougher to hitch up in wet (rain or heavy dew) conditions

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Having done the flat tow for 4 1/2 years, with 3 different vehicles, and also used a dolly for 3 weeks, I hope to never dolly tow again. We loved having the Toyota Sienna van with us on that trip, but not enough to keep the dolly. After the 3 weeks and getting on and off the ground 16 times to do the safety frame chains the KarKaddy SS went to a new owner. The issue was never the Demco dolly's fault, as it is one fine unit with lots of nice features. Just not for us.

 

Mentioned is the issues of loading and unloading in the rain. I used a rubber trunk tray, a couple of inches deep, to lay on, and stayed out of the mud, wet grass, and dirty gravel. I also had a hitch on the van, and that was very handy for the times the dolly had to be stored away from the coach area.

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Those dollies add more width. Many moons ago, up on the narrow NE roads, we were following friends who were towing with a dolly. Came to a narrow bridge. Let's just say the motorhome crossed the bridge but the dolly and car were left hanging to the side of the bridge!!!

Just one more consideration.

Oh and another I just thought of. Our friend had a heart condition. He was never able to manhandle the dolly around the campground when he couldn't store it on the same site.

 

regards

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Having never dealt with one I am wondering why the need to lay down?

 

The dolly had safety chains that need to be looped from the dolly deck, up and over the van suspension frame, and hooked back to the tow dolly. These chains are inboard the wheels of the dolly and van, and access was by crawling under the van on each side. Guess some people might just do the wheel straps and call it good to go.

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Years ago I was towing my TT east on I-40 not far out of West Memphis. A truck hauling a Toyota p/u on a ramp slanted down in the back passed me and moved back into the lane in front of me. He didn't cut me off but I still slacked off the gas pedal just to get a little more following distance but then I saw the toyota give a couple of jerks then roll off the ramp into the road in front of me. I lucked out and drove well so nothing happened to me. So I really get what your are saying about safety Dave and Dolly.

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Lying on the ground was not required with my dolly. The safety chains could be hooked/attached to the undercarriage by leaning over or perhaps going to one knee. The primary difficulty damp weather provided for me was that the car would sometimes have trouble climbing the water slicked ramps. Another factor that many people forget/neglect is the absolute need to stop and check/retighten the tire straps after driving the first 10-20 miles. After that just checking at regular stops should do it.

 

Yes, a dolly is wider than a car. But the width of the dolly is still within the width of a normal Class A motorhome. The dolly will normally track within the motorhome track, but it is possible to pop a wheel up on a curb in a tight turn. If towing a dolly with a Class C, it may be as wide or slightly wider than the motorhome.

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You will come to hate the tow dolly. Then you will want a different car. Spend the money you save from not buying a dolly on a different car.

The first time you get trapped unable to back up in a driving rain, you will remember my words.

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I think I'm with Doug here. A tow dolly runs $500-$5000 on eBay. I would guess that a decent one would be somewhere around $2500 or so. If you were to buy used you might be able to sell it for about what you paid for it, but if you have to buy new you may not get your money back.

 

We tow our Jeep 4-down, and it takes only a couple of minutes for us to hook/unhook. No trailer to deal with.

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Since you asked for advice I will add to the "Tow wheels on the ground" total. I can, without a hustle hook up in less than four minutes. That includes the light check. We have unhooked in less than 90 secs. Bad place when you can't back up and are blocking traffic at noontime. Without the toad I was able to make a probably five point turn and retrace our path. A low bridge that the locals knew about with a height warning sign about 100ft before the bridge. So no tow dolly for us.

 

Bill

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We used a tow dolly for the first five years we were snowbirds, and for us, it wasnt as bad an experiece that a lot of people are expressing on here. We used a tow dolly because the car we had was not flat towable, and we didnt want to buy another at that time. We bought a used American Car Dolly, but the new ones are only $1495 which includes free delivery. Loading and unloading the car was fairly easy. The only issues we had was a couple of times having to unhook it, and either roll it under the rear of the RV, or one time the space was so small, we had to roll it under the side of the RV(at the NASCAR track in Las Vegas). It comes with its own brake controller, and non-skid ramps. As others have mentioned putting on the safety chain is the biggest hassle, but I could do it by getting down on one knee, and didnt have to lay on the ground as others have had to do. We now flat tow, and I dont see a lot of difference, as I still have to get down on one knee to attach the Brake Buddy to the brake pedal, and by time you compare the cost of the Brake Buddy, and the tow bar to the cost of a dolly, there isnt much difference, so my suggestion would be that if you have a car you like, get a tow dolly, and if at some point you want to get a flat towable vehicle, then sell the dolly, and get the set up to flat tow.

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I really stongly suggest, buy used, equipment and toads if you can find things that you like, or might be priced to work for you.

 

I picked up a used Saturn wagon, a tow system, and lights hook up installed. 3 years later, sold it for more than I had invested, including repairs. The little wagon worked very well as a toad, and 3rd car. Bought my Blue Ox tow bar and Braky Buddy off Craigslist. Later sold the Brake Buddy for more than I paid.

 

We bought a used Jeep Grand Cherokee set up with all the tow items and including the great M&G air brake system.

 

Granted, both toads are in my opionion "fully depreciated". And time will tell how well I might do when we sell the 2001 Jeep to upgrade to our next flat towable. But in looking at new vehicles to tow, I am stunned by the high costs vs what we paid for our coach.

 

I watched Craigslist for months, for a Demco KarKaddy SS, and the afternoon one got listed, was the first caller, and showed up to grab it. Two months later, doubled my money when I sold it. Maybe the biggest challenge was dealing with how to put rear stop lights and the wiring on the van we towed. The very nice LED dolly lights are way up by the front wheels of the van. Magnetic lights on top of the van worked with some special extra connectors.

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You can save money by buying used equipment, but be careful about used tow-bars as it would be a problem if one were to break. I've always considered it too risky to save too much that way but I have bought a used Blue Ox after close examination and twice a used Brake Buddy with good results. We loved both of the Honda CR-V's that we had but the new ones can't be towed so get one 2014 or before if you choose one of those.

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