What is best for towing, tow bar, tow dolly, or trailer

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retiredbob

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Oct 12, 2012
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What is the preferred method for towing a toad.
My thoughts and concerns.

Tow Bar - wear and tear on toad and it seems that a manual transmission is best which limits toad options.

Trailer - increases overall length when driving and trailer has to be disconnected and stored to fit MH in overnight accommodations. But no excessive wear and tear, vehicle stays cleaner, and extra storage.

Tow dolly - easier to find reasonable priced vehicle with front wheel drive and automatic transmission not a problem. shorter overall length when driving and easier to remove and store than trailer. Less wear and tear than using a tow bar.

I would appreciate the thoughts and suggestions from those that are using these methods. Thanks in advance for your responses.
Retiredbob

 

Wendy

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You'll find lots of discussions on this topic here on The Forum. Try a search and you should get several hits.

Personally, we've towed with a dolly and also with a tow bar. The dolly was a pain in the b*tt and we would not do it again unless there was absolutely, positively, no other option. The tow bar is as easy as it can get.

Wendy
 

judway

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If I had to use a tow dolly or trailer to take my Malibu, I would still be using a 5th wheeler. As far as I am concerned towing flat is the only way.
 

Ned

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The only significant extra wear on the towed vehicle when using a tow bar is the tires need replacing sooner than normal.  There are so many 4 down towable vehicles available, including many automatics, that we would never consider any other method of towing.  A dolly or trailer adds another vehicle to deal with and takes longer to hitch and unhitch.
 

ArdraF

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Tow bar with four wheels down.  I can hook and unhook our car by myself, but I'm not sure I could handle a dolly or trailer as easily.  The only thing is you have to be really careful about which car you get to tow.  Newer ones often cannot be towed four down.  Lots of salespeople will tell you no problem, but they usually don't have a clue.  The only safe way to tell is to read the manual for that specific car.  Many will say it must be put on a dolly.  A few say it can be towed four down.  We used to be able to tow lots of cars, but they're getting to be fewer every year as the manufacturers change transmissions.  Just because an earlier year model can be towed doesn't mean the same is true of a later year model in the same line.  Also, the rules you need to follow to tow vary by car, so again you need to check that specific manual.

Remco Products is a well-known company that adapts some drive trains to make them compatible for towing.  Two well-known and reliable tow bar systems are Roadmaster and Blue Ox.  The Family Motor Coaching Assn. and Motorhome magazine publish annual towing guides so they're good for starting to look at towable cars.

ArdraF
 

gwcowgill

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I have to agree with most here, 4 down with towbar. less than 5 minutes hook up unhook and do not have another vehicle to deal with. I have towed all 3 ways and will not go back to a dolly or trailer. I would go back to a 5th wheel before a dolly or trailer.
 

mnmnutswer

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Cost much less for my Dolly then a tow bar, and now I can pull anythng I have or need to move....
 

johnandcarol

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Tow dolly for me too. I can tow any front wheel drive car without doing anything to the toad as far as lighting and brakes. My surge brakes work great. Don't even know anything is behind me
 

Molaker

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4 down for me, too.  However, which would work best for you would depend somewhat on how you travel and where you camp.  I seldom stay more than a couple of nights in a row (unless we're fishing :) ) and prefer public parks over private.  Consequently, pull-through parking is limited so unhooking anything I'm towing is an every day affair.  4 down towing makes this much easier.  On the other hand, if you typically stay for longer periods of time at a given campground, a dolly or trailer might work okay for you.
 

Wendy

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The tow bar we use for the VW cost a lot less than our tow dolly but it won't work for everyone. And we do still have the dolly parked in the backyard so we could use it if we needed to. But for ease of use, the tow bar wins hands down.

Wendy
 
B

bucks2

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Tow bar, we wouldn't consider anything else. I'd love for the car makers to make more models towable 4 down but I'm sure it's an economic thing. Chevrolet seems to be the one with the most variety right now.

Ken
 

BernieD

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We towed a car trailer for a few years and it was brutal. The wear and tear on the trailer is no less than that on the car 4 down, but sure was a pain to set up, load and unload, and almost impossible to store easily. The only advantage was that trailer tires are cheaper than car tires.

We've had both a drive shaft disconnect and "factory tow as is" and they are both easy to work with and pretty much trouble free. The hook up/disconnect is as fast and easy as you can want and there are no storage issues. Yeah, the full tow 4 down package can be expensive, but it is quickly paid back in ease of use and time saved.
 

Larry N.

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mnmnutswer said:
Cost much less for my Dolly then a tow bar, and now I can pull anythng I have or need to move....

Ahh, but my Jeep Wrangler, for example, isn't supposed to be towed on a dolly, so there are exceptions to that statement, as well.

Four down is, for me, much less hassle -- hook the two tow bar connections, hook the safety chain (or cable), plug in the 7 pin-to-6 pin electric cable, hook up the brake emergency breakaway cable and you're done, except for placing the Jeep transfer case in neutral and locking the doors with key one notch short of ignition ON (spare key in my pocket). On my Blue Ox tow bar with U.S. Gear brake, that is it.

Since the tow bar is semi-permanently mounted to the coach, unhooking is just a few moments also, with no need to figure how to store a dolly.

Obviously, others have other preferences.
 

BLAKDUKE

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TOW DOLLY -- TOW DOLLY -- TOW DOLLY.

I have a trailer to use when I tow my antique cars, but you could not pay me enough money to tow 4 down.  No one mentions the transmission wear.  Also if you miss one minor step in the setup process, you have skaty-eight gabillion transmission parts all over the highway.  Plus if I am not mistaken don't you have to pull over every 4 to 6 hours to reset or run the car thru the gears to get the fluids back in all the right places(I could be wrong on that).  However if true that is another nit I can do with out.  If I want to run 8 to 10 hours straight for whatever reason, then I can.  Now every one out here that is a proponent of 4-down towing will tell you that a busted tranny has never happened to them, and that they have never heard of it happening to anyone.  Truth to tell neither have I and I don't intend to be the first one that it happens to.  A tow dolly is not so difficult.  I am 70 + and yes it is a bit tiring to crawl around on my oversized duff, hooking it up, but oohh the peace of mind knowing that I will not need a new transmission 50/60 k miles down the road.  I have a friend that towed his jeep 4-down needed a new tranny at 60k. 

Alternate point of view.

ALK 
 

Ned

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We tow a GMC Canyon with 4WD and there is absolutely no wear on the transmission when towing.  It's in park and the transfer case is in neutral.  Most, if not all, 4WD vehicles with a neutral in the transfer case are the same.  Before the Canyon, we towed a Honda Accord automatic for about 70,000 miles and never had a transmission problem.  You're overstating the potential problem as the other thousands of 4 down towers prove.  In fact, I've never heard of a transmission failure when following the proper procedure for towing an automatic or manual transmission vehicle 4 down.
 

gwcowgill

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Ned is absolutely correct, the only wear will be wheel bearings and tires. I have about 20,000+ miles on my Jeep Liberty being towed and have about 25,000 miles on the odometer. I put more towed miles on the toad than I drive it. That may change soon if I eliminate the other car. Incidentally a tow dolly or trailer will have the same wear problems as towing 4 down.
 

Larry N.

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BLAKDUKE said:
TOW DOLLY -- TOW DOLLY -- TOW DOLLY.

...
Plus if I am not mistaken don't you have to pull over every 4 to 6 hours to reset or run the car thru the gears to get the fluids back in all the right places(I could be wrong on that). 
...

Some vehicles have a restriction of that sort, but not my Wrangler (for example -- there are others). You might also note that on a dolly you are still getting the same kind of wear on the rear wheels as 4 down gets on all four, and so you get more uneven tire wear also.
 

1275gtsport

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I use a trailer.
But then again I am towing a 1976 Austin mini. and I use the car in autoslalom events. so lets say I am at an event and I loose control of the car and slide off the pavement and bend or break a rim, or rip the tierod off......how would I flat tow that back home?

Not say that this is a situation that the OP will ever be in but that is why I tow on a trailer. that and I can back up (most times) without unhooking.
 
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