Dinghy Guides / TOWING

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The first question is; Do we need a car when traveling?
Depending on your goals and lifestyle you might be perfectly ok without a car and take bicycles or a motorcycle with you. Other people will take shuttle buses or call an Uber of Lyft, maybe you should rent a car? It is difficult to say you do or do not need a car! Just try out what you think you would like and soon you know!

Now if you decide to take a car with you, there are a few possibilities that we discuss here;

When you want to have a car with you to do day trips or errands, there are a few ways to accomplish that:

  1. Four wheels down (also called flat towing)
  2. Tow Dolly
  3. Trailer
  4. Another driver takes the car.

Towing laws per state
Brake requirements


1. Four wheels down

This way is called four wheels down or Flat towing because it does not involve a tow dolly or trailer but a tow bar, the car is towed with all wheels on the road.  In this case they also call the towed car a Toad (“Towed”) A lot of people prefer this method because it’s the quickest way to hook up to your motorhome and you do not have to maintain or store a dolly or trailer at home or at a campground.

First, you have to determine if your car can be towed all four down. Given the year when your car is manufactured you use this link and download the guide from that year. Next, look up your specific car and it will tell you if it can be towed four wheels down. But also check your car’s user manual for tow directions!

To check if your car can be towed 4 wheels down you need to download the guide from the same year as your car is manufactured.

Downloadable Dinghy Guides

Welcome to our dinghy guide central. Here, you’ll find all our flat-towing dinghy guides going back to 2000 in digital PDF format. Each digital guide is packed with setup tips, additional equipment and a full list of the model year’s dinghy-ready vehicles.

Note: Our guides to dinghy towing are only available for download in the PDF digital format.

Another great site to find out if and how you can tow a vehicle:

– See more at: http://www.motorhome.com/download-dinghy-guides

PRO CON
Very quick to hook up your car The most expensive solution
No extra axles to maintain or store Wear and tear while towing
No mileage added Car needs modification
No storage needed (Except for tow bar) * Some limits on speed/distance
Minimal maintenance needed Needs a separate braking system and lights **
Might need to charge the battery from the RV
Unable to backup more than a few feet

*Most tow bars can stay on the RV but it is advised to use a lock.
** Braking system see bottom of this post.


2. Tow dolly

The two-wheeled tow dolly is an intermediate vehicle-towing choice. It represents a compromise between towing with all four wheels on the ground and using a trailer, and as such, it falls into a gray area in terms of freeway regulations. Check your car user manual for directions, also check this resource:

Laws Governing Tow Dollies

Two-wheel tow dollies are legal on all U.S. highways, though the laws on registration and lighting requirements vary from state to state. Some states require all trailers to be registered and plated, where others do not require license plates for trailers under a certain weight. Because the dolly itself is lightweight, it is exempt from laws requiring trailers over a certain weight to have braking systems, but some states take the weight of the towed vehicle into account and expect tow dollies to have emergency braking systems. Some states also require that the car being towed be licensed and registered, while others do not. Most states’ motor vehicle departments have the proper guidelines posted online.
PRO CON
Works for any FWD (Front-Wheel-Drive) Does not work for AWD (All Wheel or 4 wheels drive)
No need for tow-bar or base-plate Loading is cumbersome
No mileage added Straps might get loose
No need for separate breaking system or lights * Storage space needed
No car modifications Tear and wear but less than flat towing
More flexible car choice Maintenance needed
*When you buy a dolly make sure it has a build-in braking system when weight loaded is above 1500 Lbs as required by some states. Most states have a 3000 Lbs requirement.

3. Trailer

A hassle to load the car for some and you need to have room on the campground and storage location after unloading the car. Make sure your RV can tow the total weight of a loaded trailer. Check the towing laws per state in the link below.

 

PRO CON
No tear and wear from driving Weight restriction
Almost any car can be loaded Loading can be cumbersome
No mileage added Storage space needed
Maintenance needed

4. Another driver takes the car.

Some couples prefer to drive a car to a new campground while the other drives the motorhome. It adds mileage to the car and uses fuel in addition to the fuel and miles of the motorhome. You decide it might be the cheapest way depending on distance and how regular your camp. However, it might be a lonely drive.

PRO CON
No tow dolly or trailer needed Uses gas
No changes to the car Tear and wear
No hookup trouble Adds mileage
No extra storage Can be lonesome

NOTE Towing laws per state

It’s not only where you live, but it’s also where you are going.

Check on the states that you are traveling through to find the minimum towing weight requirement. If what you are towing exceeds the weight, an auxiliary braking system is required.

Length and weight restrictions differ in several states. This website show you those difference and requirements;

towing_law


BRAKING SYSTEM FOR FLAT TOWING


Combined facts;        
All four down Tow dolly Trailer Other driver
Availability for brand/model of car Limited Most FWD / Not for AWD All All
Fast hookup / Loading Yes No No N/A
Easy loading Yes No Depends N/A
More axles to maintain No Yes Yes Yes
Mileage added No No No Yes
Storage needed No Yes Yes N/A
Expensive Very A little Depends N/A
Wear and tear on a car Yes Yes No Yes
External braking System Yes 1) Yes N/A
External (braking) lights Yes 1) No N/A
Backing up Problematic 2) Yes Yes Sure
Car modifications Yes Sometimes No No
Biggest complaint Expensive Not easy to drive on and hook up. Checking straps after a few miles. Storage Lonely
  1. External braking and lights are only needed when they are not built in the dolly or trailer (See towing laws)
  2. It is extremely difficult to backup more than a few feet with 4 down towing. The car can jackknife easily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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