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The Proper Way to Use a Car Dolly

car on a car dolly

If you ever need to use a car dolly, it helps to know more about them so that you can stay safe on the road.

Imagine that you’re about to move. You have nearly everything together.

You’ve found an apartment and applied for your change of address. However, you overlooked one important thing. You didn’t think about how to get your car to its next destination.

Luckily, you can hitch your vehicle to a car dolly and tow it along behind you. However, there are a couple of things that you might want to consider before going this route.

To learn more about the proper way to use a car dolly, keep reading.

What Is a Car Dolly?

A car dolly, also called a car tow dolly or tow dolly, is a pretty straightforward device. In short, it’s a two-wheeled trailer.

It lifts the front wheels of your car off the road so that you can tow it behind another vehicle. Meanwhile, your rear wheels will remain on the ground.

A car dolly is different from a car carrier. A car carrier is a four-wheeled trailer. This kind of transport lifts your entire vehicle off the ground.

A car tow dolly is ideal for towing just about all front-wheel-drive vehicles. It can also tow a small selection of rear-drive, four-wheel-drive, and all-wheel-drive vehicles.

However, car dollies have weight restrictions. Therefore, you’ll most likely want to use a car dolly to haul your car if it’s a heavier vehicle.

Instead, you would transport your vehicle by car trailer if it’s a heavier model. For instance, you may have a truck or a modified car. In that case, a car trailer is a better option.

With a car trailer, weight typically isn’t an issue. The carrier company can simply make a couple of adjustments to accommodate the weight of your vehicle.

Choosing the Right Car Dolly

There are a few things that you’ll need to consider when searching for the right car tow dolly. For example, you’ll need to consider your car’s make and model. These items will determine how easy it is to load your vehicle onto the trailer.

Again, if you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle, it’s a more likely candidate for transport by car dolly. There are no special steps involved in loading a front-wheel-drive car onto a vehicle dolly.

It helps understand that a front-wheel-drive vehicle receives propulsion from the front wheels only. For this reason, you won’t need to disconnect any driveshafts. With a car dolly, you’re simply lifting the wheels that are connected to the transmission off the ground.

A car dolly also offers an added benefit. You won’t add mileage on your odometer as you tow your vehicle.

You should also consider your car’s weight when selecting a vehicle dolly. As a rule of thumb, it’s important that the towing vehicle is heavier than the car you’re going to tow. Ideally, the towing vehicle should weigh 750 more pounds compared to the vehicle in tow.

You would need extra breaks and other safety equipment to transport your car safely. Otherwise, if the tow vehicle does not meet this weight requirement, you’re placing yourself and others at risk.

Types of Car Dollies

In general, there are two kinds of tow tow dollies on the market. Most often, people will use either a mounted front wheel dolly or a central pivot dolly to tow their vehicle.

A mounted front wheel dolly has wheels that act as the front wheels of your car. They turn on pivots called kingpins.

The kingpins allow you to move your car on a pivot between the trailer wheels. This feature makes mounted front wheel dollies safer to use.

For example, you might encounter winding roads on a long trip. If so, a mounted front wheel dolly reduces the chances that the vehicle in tow will hit the tow vehicle.

Another vehicle dolly model is a center pivot dolly. It’s similar to the mounted front wheel dolly.

The center pivot dolly has fixed trailer wheels. The center pivot of this kind of dolly is what allows you to navigate corners.

However, the position of the pivot can present a challenge. It can allow your vehicle to sway during turns. For this reason, you’ll most likely want to go with a mounted front wheel dolly given an option.

Loading a Car Dolly Safely

Now that you’ve selected your car tow dolly, there are a few things that you should know before loading your vehicle onto the transport.

Again, the most important thing is to make sure that you’re towing a front-wheel-drive vehicle. Once you’ve cleared this check, you want to make sure that your car is ready to load onto the vehicle dolly.

Firstly, you’ll need to check your car tires. You don’t want to catch a flat in tow because your tires were underinflated.

Secondly, you’ll want to check the tow dolly. Make sure that the tires of the car dolly are properly inflated.

Also, make sure that you’ve attached the dolly to the tow vehicle correctly. For example, make sure that you’ve attached the pins and safety chains securely.

In addition, make sure that the back of the tow vehicle is empty. Excess weight in the tow vehicle can cause it to whip. Whipping occurs when a car moves from side to side rapidly due to improper weight balance.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure you have any needed accessories. These accessories will include your tire straps. You may also need brake lights if they’re not included with the tow package.

With these items in hand, you’re almost ready to hit the road.

Securing Your Vehicle for Towing

Firstly, make sure your car is parked on a firm flat surface. Also, make sure that the tow vehicle and in tow vehicle line up with each other.

Now, you can extend the ramps of the tow dolly. Then, lay your tire straps flat on the ground.

Next, line up your vehicle with the dolly. Now, you can drive up the car ramp slowly until it locks on the ramp. However, make sure that you don’t drive off the front of the dolly.

Once you have the vehicle in position, you can put your car in park. Also, make sure to apply the parking brake.

Now, you can secure your vehicle with car straps. Use the car strap manufacturer’s instructions for securing your vehicle properly.

Now, you’re almost ready to go. All that’s left to do is take a test spin around the block to make sure that you’ve secured your vehicle safely.

The Cons of Car Dollies

There are a lot of pros to car tow dollies. However, there also some cons.

The most significant problem with a car dolly is that you cannot back up under any circumstances. By doing so, you can cause a serious accident.

For example, you can cause the car dolly to jackknife. If for some reason you must drive in reverse, you’ll need to unhook your car dolly beforehand.

Even though you’ve attached your vehicle securely, you must drive carefully when towing a vehicle. For example, you don’t want to apply too much braking pressure while towing a car. You also want to avoid making hard turns.

Also, you’ll need to consider the fact that when you tow a car using a vehicle dolly, the rear wheels remain on the ground. However, they’re now carrying much more weight.

Resultantly, you can subject your rear tires to uneven wear during towing. For this reason, a vehicle dolly might not serve as an ideal solution to transport your car across the country, for example.

You also might want to avoid using a car dolly for an expensive classic car. Instead, you might opt to hire a car carrier service.

A Safe Alternative to a Car Dolly

In most instances, the most cost-effective way to ship a vehicle is with terminal-to-terminal enclosed auto transport. For example, this kind of service is ideal for moving your vehicle cross-country.

Enclosed auto transports typically carry up to 10 vehicles. For this reason, operators can save on expenses for things such as fuel and oil. In turn, they can pass those savings on to you. Also, terminal-to-terminal service is often better than single vehicle, door-to-door service.

If you decide to ship your car, you want to try to find the best deal. To do so, you might arrange to transport your vehicle in the off-season during late spring or fall.

In some instances, however, terminal-to-terminal shipping service can cost more than door-to-door service. Usually, this circumstance occurs due to terminal storage fees.

Finally, you’ll want to book your vehicle transport in advance and as soon as possible. By doing so, you can lock in the best price. You may even find that you’re eligible for a special discount.

Count on Us to Transport Your Car Safely

Now you know more about the proper way to use a car dolly. What you need now is one of the nation’s leading auto transport services.

American Auto Shipping has served the vehicle transport needs of consumers and businesses for more than 22 years. Our mission is to provide the best auto transport service in the nation. What’s more, we aim to do so at a competitive rate.

With American Auto Shipping, you can reduce the stress of moving your vehicle as much as possible. No matter the size of your vehicle, we can provide great rates and competitive pricing for any location in the 50 United States.

Contact American Auto Shipping today at (800) 930-7417 or connect with us online for an instant, free car shipping quote.

Dave Armstrong
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