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What is a Car Dolly? Beginner’s Guide

The Beginner’s Guide to Car Dollies

Whether you’re relocating to a new home or planning to move a non-drivable vehicle, using a car dolly for towing is both a safe and pragmatic solution. Towing your automobiles with a dolly allows you to transport them without needing a flatbed truck or a full-size trailer. This guide will delve into comprehending what is a car dolly and how it can make transportation a breeze.

Let’s Take a Look Into What Is a Car Dolly

A car dolly, also known as a tow dolly, is a convenient mode of equipment ideal for towing vehicles. It is fundamentally a small, two-wheeled trailer crafted to carry either the front or rear wheels of your car, while the other set stays on the ground. This replaces the need for a full car trailer, becoming a convenient and cost-effective towing solution for vehicles in diverse situations.


There are two essential types of car dollies you can choose from.

Tow Dolly with Brakes

Car dollies with brakes deliver an extra layer of safety, providing control and protection when towing big or heavy vehicles. This feature is particularly worthwhile for navigating downhill routes or making emergency stops, ensuring a smoother and secure towing experience.

Tow Dolly without Brakes

When car dollies lack breaks, there is no breaking system. If you have lighter cars, then opting for this mode is ideal. They are also handy when towing short distances on level terrain.

As an inoperable car transport firm, our auto transport carriers are equipped with winches capable of carting any non-operational vehicle. Share the proportions (length, width, height) and approximate weight, and we will handle the rest with our specialized transport services.

When You Should Use a Car Dolly

If you’re looking for a pocket-saving towing solution, consider going for a tow dolly. However, it may have limitations, it has proved to be a practical choice to move your cars within proximity, like within the same state or city.

For instance, if you aim to transport your vehicle to a nearby office space, a tow dolly is a functional and efficient choice to accomplish your transportation needs.

Matching the Dolly to the Car

A tow dolly offers a fitting option for towing your car, enabling the front wheels to rest on the dolly while the rear wheels stay on the ground. This setup ascertains a speedy and easy load and unload process for most front-wheel-drive cars. However, before opting for a tow dolly, it’s essential to look into several factors to comprehend whether your vehicle is eligible to be towed with a tow dolly: the weight distribution between the front and rear, your vehicle’s weight, including its length, width, and ground clearance.

These considerations and the type of dolly will help you determine if a tow dolly is an appropriate choice for your type of vehicle.

The Importance of Loading Direction

When loading a vehicle onto a tow dolly, it’s crucial to ensure it faces forward. Loading cars backward can lead to detrimental whipping motions. Tow dollies are designed to leverage the heavier front end of the vehicle to ensure stability, so it’s important to follow this safety guideline.

A Great Solution, But With Limitations

Although car dollies have always been a fantastic solution, they also have some constraints. It has a no reversing option, so do not back it up. Please do not attempt to reverse your car when fastened to a car dolly since it can cause substantial problems, like damage to the hitch system or jackknifing.

Moving backward for a few feet to reorient the angle is okay. But never reverse the vehicle for unloading, as it can present profound serious implications for the driver and your precious cars.

Safe Speeds for Car Dolly Towing

While transporting cars through a car dolly, keep the speed at a maximum of 55 MPH or below to ensure overall safety. The higher the speed rate, the more the overall haul will cause drift from each side, and this drifting can lead to potential accidents you don’t wish to find yourself in.

Although a tow dolly can also cover long distances, it is not recommended for security purposes since it can lead to wear and tear on the vehicle. A car dolly is not designed to be pulled on its wheels for extended distances. You can use a full trailer if your car needs to cover a long distance that keeps the wheels off the ground.

Follow These Simple Steps For Towing A Car With A Dolly

STEP 1: Endeavor For The Right Car Tow Dolly

Getting the most fitting car dolly is vital for a seamless towing journey. The market is flooded with various categories of tow dollies, each suitable for a specific vehicle type and towing needs.

There are two significant kinds of tow dollies: traditional and swivel.

Traditional Tow Dolly: These dollies are ideal for rear-wheel-drive vehicles with a fixed axle.
Swivel Tow Dolly: These dollies have a pivoting mechanism, delivering more flexibility and compliance with front-wheel-drive cars.

Among these dollies, always choose one that aligns with your car’s weight and towing capacity.

STEP 2: Time To Prepare Your Car For Dolly Towing

Preparing your car correctly is imperative when exploring how to tow a vehicle with a dolly. It’s critical to ensuring road safety and protecting your vehicle against perceived damage. To keep your towing experience safe and smooth, follow these primary steps:

To prevent transmission impediments while towing, the drive shaft must be disconnected for front-wheel-drive cars, or a driveshaft disconnect device must be employed for rear-wheel-drive vehicles.

This step ensures smooth and safe towing without straining the transmission system.

Securing Your Car Onto The Dolly

Begin by using loading ramps to guide your vehicle onto the dolly platform. Once it is well-positioned, securely fasten it with straps and hooks, ensuring it is tightly secured to prevent any shifting during the transport.

Double-check that the car is centered on the dolly for balanced towing.

Properly utilize recovery straps to ensure the car is centered onto the dolly and your vehicle remains steadfastly attached throughout the journey.

Ahead of towing, critically inspect your car’s tyre pressure and breaks. The tyres must be completely inflated, while the brakes should adequately function for a safe venture.

Essential Safety Accessories for Your Car Dolly

You can use additional safety accessories such as safety chains, Tyre straps, and brake warning lights to ensure maximum driver and vehicle protection. Safety chains are critical in ensuring the dolly remains firmly attached to the towing vehicle to prevent accidents. Break lights are essential to signal the driver when he has to slow down or stop.


This is the most crucial step that should be prudently followed. The car wheels should be aligned appropriately with the dolly. Place the ramps provided with the dolly in the correct position.

Gently drive your car up the ramps and above the dolly until the tyres snugly fit against the wheel stops of the dolly. This guarantees a bonded and stable loading process, preparing your vehicle for safe towing.


Inspect the hitch properly to ensure it’s in perfect condition and capable of bearing both the dolly’s weight and your vehicle. Look for any signs of wear or damage, and ensure the hitch is securely fastened to your towing vehicle.

To connect the dolly, position it directly in front of the hitch and line up the hitch ball with the dolly’s coupler. Make sure the coupler clicks securely onto the hitch ball.

Confirm the load limits of the dolly and your towing vehicle to evade surpassing maximum weight limits. Overloading can result in safety risks like brake malfunction or tyre blowouts.

Once you’ve connected the dolly to your towing vehicle, take a moment to double-check that everything is firmly secured. Give the dolly a gentle force to ensure a solid connection.

Before embarking on your journey, check the break lights on your towing vehicle to ensure they’re working correctly. If not, here’s how to troubleshoot a car brake light issue. Confirm that your car’s brakes are engaged and that the tyres are securely strapped to the dolly.


With your car prepared, connecting the dolly to your towing vehicle is time. Follow these steps for an impeccable towing experience:

Load Your Vehicle onto the Dolly: Move your car up the loading ramps and position it centrally on the dolly. Then, secure it using straps and hooks.

Verify Steering Alignment: When towing a front-wheel-drive vehicle with a dolly, adjust the steering to prevent undue strain on the suspension. For rear-wheel-drive cars, you can keep the steering unlocked.

Drive slowly with Caution: Observe traffic regulations and signals while towing. Avoid abrupt maneuvers or sudden halts to maintain safety.


When you finally reach the destination, it’s time to unload or disconnect the car dolly from your vehicle.

Always park the car dolly in a spacious and suitable spot. Now, gently discard the car’s tyre straps and slowly pull it back off the dolly, like you typically do for unloading.

Park your tow vehicle and dolly in a suitable area.

Ensure the Parking brake is disengaged and the car transmission system is in “park” before removing it from the dolly.

Open Vs Enclosed Transport Mediums

Open Car Transport Service is ideal for hauling small cars over long distances. It features an open layout or a trailer with no roof that can efficiently transport several vehicles simultaneously. Also, it is moderately cheaper than closed transport systems, and 90 percent of cars are hauled through this medium.

Enclosed vehicle transportation systems are a safer choice for accommodating and transporting valuable automobiles that mandate a premium level of protection. However, it is slightly more expensive than the former, so aim for it, especially for high-end vehicles.

Expert RV and Boat Moving Services

We offer exemplary RV moving services, using adept power supplies and attachments to transport your motorhome without any impairment. Our owner-operators are skilled and extensively trained by the Department of Transportation, ensuring your RV is moved securely without damaging or losing belongings at each step of the journey.

Our tailored boat shipping service are crafted to meet myriad needs, ensuring we find the perfect fit that aligns with your specific shipping requirements. With across-the-board experience in maritime logistics, our team guarantees expert handling and proficient navigation of boat shipments.


Ultimately, the preference for a dolly depends on the size and weight of the vehicle you wish to tow. However, the conditions of the towing route also matter when choosing the best medium.

Cheap auto shipping service, particularly for car dollies, can make the process smoother with competitive prices while ensuring reliable transportation solutions. Also, researching diverse firms and comparing their quotes can help you balance affordability and quality service.

When transporting your cars via a tow dolly, ensure that the tow vehicle doesn’t surpass 3,500 pounds, though some dollies are rated for up to 5,000 pounds. In addition, always regard the vehicle’s towing capacity to ensure risk-free and prompt transport.


Q1: How does a car dolly work?

A1: During towing a car, the vehicle’s front wheels are lifted and settled onto a portable two-wheel trailer. During this transition, the rear wheels rest on the ground. After that, the dolly is attached to the towing vehicle and secured with straps. The car dolly is either driven or winched by the front wheels on the platform.

Q2: When should I use a car dolly?

A car dolly should be used if you desire to transport a small vehicle over short to moderate mileage. You can also use it if you relocate within the same city or state or have a non-derivable vehicle.

Q3: What are the advantages of using a car dolly over other towing methods?

A car dolly offers various advantages over other towing methods. It is less costly than full-size trailers, which are relatively more expensive. This is a budget-friendly endeavor aimed at short-distance moves. They are more straightforward to maneuver and can be stored in small spaces since they are lightweight and small. The loading process is quicker and more straightforward for front-wheel-drive vehicles.

Q4: How do I safely load a vehicle onto a car dolly?

To safely load a vehicle onto a car dolly, place the car dolly on an even and adequately level surface and later securely attach it to the tow vehicle. While doing this, make sure all the safety chains are decently fastened. In a straight and centered position, line up the vehicle with the car dolly and slowly move the car onto the dolly, ensuring the front wheels are focused on the platform.

Q5: Do I need any special equipment or accessories to use a car dolly?

Yes, using a car dolly typically requires a few essential equipment and accessories to ensure effective towing. You will need Straps or Tie-Downs, Safety Chains, Lights and Wiring, Wheel Straps or Chocks (optional), and a Winch.

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