Need Help with dolly rules

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

Fourtycreek

New member
Joined
Aug 6, 2019
Posts
3
I want to tow a car via a car dolly. I will buy a dolly with brake. I need to know if the car also needs a breakaway or brake or just the dolly. I am planning a 37 day USA vacation so need multiple state laws pertaining to this. I have always used a car trailer until now but this is too heavy an option for V10 motorhome for that long a vacation. Any help will be very appreciated.
 

Bjwinspect

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 7, 2018
Posts
76
Location
Lynchburg Va
The car does need brakes or a breakaway.  It would be difficult to configure a system with this using a dolly.  BUT  dolly's can be problematic.  My experience has found it does not take much for the wheel straps  that secure the car to the dolly to loosen.  The width of the dolly can be difficult to maneuver.  You can?t back up.  There are Dolly?s with surge brakes and also some have electric brakes, both have some advantages and disadvantages.  When I use a dolly I feel like I frequently need to stop and check out to make sure everything is connected securely.

 

LarsMac

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 15, 2015
Posts
1,917
Location
Colorado Plains
We were just going through this discussion with Daughter and SIL.

Found this last night.
https://itstillruns.com/tow-dollies-legal-use-highways-7688341.html
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
76,153
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
Dollies generally do NOT have a breakaway - they have no battery to engage an electric brake. A dolly with surge breaks might have a mechanical breakaway. 

State dolly and car towing laws are full of loopholes; the usual trailer-tow laws rarely apply.    Dollies  themselves are mostly exempt from  the trailering requirements, and a dolly + a car is considered a vehicle in tow rather than a trailer.  Plus there are gray areas of interpretation. For example, rear lights are typically required when a vehicle is towed, but most law enforcement considers the vehicle's own lights to fulfill that requirement. However, if the vehicle doesn't have working rear lights, the dolly needs to provide them. For that reason, new dollies usually come with lights.

This is also a case where the common practice very likely deviates from the letter of the law. Most RVers put  the car of the dolly and go. The smarter ones have brakes and stop/turn/tail on the dolly. Safety chains but probably no breakaway.

To be 100% sure, you would need to research the individual state along your route. Good luck with that!
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
26,281
Location
Davison Michigan
LarsMac said:
We were just going through this discussion with Daughter and SIL.

Found this last night.
https://itstillruns.com/tow-dollies-legal-use-highways-7688341.html
"
One of the better "Legal or not" sites  (normally I will post that those sites have several inaccuracies but this one .. Does not appear to be that way)

With Tow dollys you do not want the car's brakes to activate. can pull the car right off the dolly.

YOu also need to re-check the straps after a few miles of towin and frequently when towing

And do not overshoot the dolly when you pull on to it (Seen that happen helped fix it)

Having done both doly and flat tows... Flat, all the way .
 

ronster

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Posts
47
Location
Sparta Va
The dolly can have hydralic brakes[surge brakes...mine does] the car needs nothing,would be nice to have lights on the back of it.Make it legal in your home state and you are OK everywhere.My Master Tow dolly,with surge brakes works well.Get a spare tire ,jack and lug wrench.Happy canping!!!
 

WILDEBILL308

Well-known member
Joined
May 6, 2012
Posts
3,126
Location
FORT WORTH TEXAS
Fourtycreek said:
I want to tow a car via a car dolly. I will buy a dolly with brake. I need to know if the car also needs a breakaway or brake or just the dolly. I am planning a 37 day USA vacation so need multiple state laws pertaining to this. I have always used a car trailer until now but this is too heavy an option for V10 motorhome for that long a vacation. Any help will be very appreciated.
I have used a dolly before I got my present toad (4 down) and yes you want surge brakes. That is all the breaks you need for the setup. As to a breakaway system, if the car is in park and comes off the dolly I bet it will stop fairley soon.
The lights on the dolly are all you need.
For those who are having problems with the straps coming loose, you are not loading and tightening the straps correctly. Here is the My current method and since I started to do it this way have never had a loose strap. 
Hear is a tip on how to tighten the straps on your tow dolly. I know in the instructions they say to pull the car to the front stop before tightening the straps. A better way is to leave about a 1 ? -2 in gap. Put the straps over the tiers and get ready to tighten them. Now take the car out of park and the brake off. You can now tighten the straps and they will stay tight. By doing this it lets the tier rotate forward and tightens the back of the strap (the straps will not slide on the tier). Now put the car in park and make ready to tow.
Good luck
Bill
 

RVMommaTo6

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 5, 2018
Posts
2,139
Location
Rochester, NY
Larry N. said:
The dolly should only be used for a front drive car, so with the front wheels on the dolly park is better -- you don't want them free to roll.
The steering column has to be unlocked, I thought that meant the car needs to be in neutral. Otherwise the wheels are locked in place.
 

NY_Dutch

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 22, 2010
Posts
7,827
Location
Where our wheels take us!
RVMommaTo6 said:
The steering column has to be unlocked, I thought that meant the car needs to be in neutral. Otherwise the wheels are locked in place.


If the dolly has a turn table, the steering wheel can be locked, otherwise just leaving the key in ACC will unlock it.
 

RVMommaTo6

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 5, 2018
Posts
2,139
Location
Rochester, NY
This might sound like a stupid question, but isn't the steering column being unlocked the same thing as neutral?
 

RVMommaTo6

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 5, 2018
Posts
2,139
Location
Rochester, NY
NY_Dutch said:
If the dolly has a turn table, the steering wheel can be locked, otherwise just leaving the key in ACC will unlock it.
I have a keyless car but you can use a key, tried it, worked! THANK YOU!
 

Fogetty

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Posts
88
Location
Texas
RVMommaTo6 said:
This might sound like a stupid question, but isn't the steering column being unlocked the same thing as neutral?

The steering wheel being unlocked allows you to turn the front wheels right or left; being in neutral allows the wheels to roll forward or backward.

My question - in a front-drive car, does the parking brake still lock the rear wheels (only) ??  ??? :-\
 

LarsMac

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 15, 2015
Posts
1,917
Location
Colorado Plains
RVMommaTo6 said:
This might sound like a stupid question, but isn't the steering column being unlocked the same thing as neutral?

No,
Having the steering unlocked just allows the Front wheels to turn with the dolly when you are cornering.
Neutral would allow drive wheels to spin freely.
On a front wheel drive vehicle with front wheels on the dolly, you would not want to have the wheels able to spin. If the straps were to loosen, the wheels could simply roll out of the pan and off the dolly. Not particularly desirable.
So key in Acc position, allows steering to follow the dolly direction, and tranny in park to keep the wheels from rolling in the dolly wheel pans.

 

WILDEBILL308

Well-known member
Joined
May 6, 2012
Posts
3,126
Location
FORT WORTH TEXAS
Well that takes us back to "know the instructions for your dolly." If your dolly has a pivit you keep the steering locked or the dolly will hit the sides of your car. If your dolly doesn't pivot you unlock the steering so it can turn or you will damage your cars suspension.
Bill
 
Top Bottom