How to Use a Car Tow Dolly

January 27, 2012

If you have finished your research on the various types of towing equipment and have settled on a car tow dolly, your next step is to learn the correct way to use this piece of equipment. It cannot be stressed enough, always consider safety a priority when using any type of towing equipment.

Step 1. Check the Weight of the Tow Vehicle

Now that you have your tow dolly for your one and a half ton front wheel drive vehicle, you must think about what vehicle you are going to use as a tow car. Sorry, but that Miata parked in the garage will not do. Most of us think you can use any type of vehicle as the tow car, but the weight difference between the vehicle towing and the vehicle being towed must be considered. The tow vehicle must be a minimum of 750 pounds heavier than the vehicle being towed. Believe it or not, there is also a maximum tow weight. Generally, 3,450 pounds for front-wheel drive vehicles and 3,900 pounds for rear-wheel vehicles.

Step 2. Make Sure You have the Proper Hitch

Your car towing experience could turn into a disaster if you use mismatched equipment. Hitches come in various sizes and styles that are divided by weight class. It is important to buy/rent a hitch that fits your tow vehicle, and is the correct class for the weight of the vehicle you are towing.

Step 3. Use of the Proper Hitch Ball

A hitch ball is required on the hitch to mount the car tow dolly. The hitch ball comes in various sizes, so be sure to get the one that matches your hitch and car tow dolly. In addition to the hitch ball, a set of safety chains are required. These will ensure the car tow dolly remains with the car and hitch in the event they become disconnected while in motion.

Step 4. Is the Vehicle a Front Wheel Drive Model

If the vehicle you are towing is a front wheel drive model, then no other preparation is needed. However, if you have a rear wheel drive, or an all-wheel drive vehicle, then the drive shaft must be removed prior to using the car tow dolly. If the drive shaft is not removed, the act of car towing will cause the transmission and engine to turn without proper lubrication, and this could permanently damage the vehicle.

Step 5. Install a Light Bar

If you are going to tow a vehicle you need to make sure the people behind know when you are applying your brakes. This is accomplished with the use of a light bar. This apparatus consists of tail lights and brake lights mounted onto a bar, and then mounted to the rear of the vehicle being towed. Make sure you follow the instructions for installation. If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with electrical devices, then you should consider getting assistance.

Correct use of a car tow dolly when towing can save you money over other towing methods. Regardless of the type of car towing you choose, the safety of the driver, passengers, and vehicles should always be your first priority.