By Chris Dougherty
Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is a letter he received from a reader while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor.
I’m just starting research on RVing but it seems like it would be a good idea to avoid the additional mileage put on the toad during towing by using a dolly. With what I know at this point, dollies seem easier to hook up and load than a flat-towing setup, and they take up little space. But if the campsite space is limited, the dolly can be easily unhitched and pushed partially under the rear of the RV to keep it out of the way. Or am I wrong? —Mark
Flat towing, dinghy towing or trailer towing is really a personal preference. That said, here are a few thoughts:
• Some vehicles will accrue mileage and some will not depending on how they’re wired, etc. While I understand the concern for not accruing mileage on the toad, it is accruing mileage related wear even while being towed on a dolly. So, the maintenance based on mileage, especially for power train components after the engine, should still really be followed. Of course, this depends on the vehicle, front wheel drive versus rear wheel drive, etc., but at least you’re dealing with bearing and tire wear; but if the drive wheel is down, then certain components in the drive system will still be turning.
• A dolly is heavy, so you have to be comfortable pushing it around including in soft ground and up and down hill. I have been to campgrounds, albeit only a couple, that consider it a trailer and charge extra money for it, but for the most part it’s not an issue.
• If you have to back up the coach, it is easier, in my opinion, to disconnect a flat-towed car and move it than remove a car from a dolly and then disconnect the dolly from the coach and back it up. (Demco, for instance, prohibits backing up a dolly: “Caution the user not to attempt to back up the tow dolly as damage may be done to the tow dolly and/or the vehicle being towed.”) So, anytime you have to back up the unit everything must be disconnected, which is a pain.
As I have written in other articles, a dolly or trailer may allow you to take along a car that can’t be flat towed. Again the preference is up to you. I recommend going to shows or dealers and looking at the equipment firsthand so you can get a feel for what’s involved in connecting and disconnecting each. For my money, though, flat towing is preferable hands down.