Thursday, December 8, 2022


Better to flat-tow dinghy or use tow dolly?


By Chris Dougherty

Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is a letter he received from a reader while he was serving as’s technical editor.

Motorhome with tow dolly.

Dear Chris,
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

Dear 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.


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Jackie B
6 years ago

We towed to Alaska from Manitoba last year with a brand new forest river dolly. Worst experience ever, hard to get straps off of wheels if wet or dirty or even when car shifts a little. In the end the welds broke and we had to have a professional welder fix the dolly. Then we actually made it 200 miles from home and the weld broke In different spot, went sideways down road and in the end twisted the hitch. Luckily we were just pulling out of town not going fast or may have been fatal. They wrote it off and now we ONLY flat tow. So much easier to hook and unhook. A lesson learned and thank god for a second chance.

George Lamb
6 years ago

I have a 2015 Honda CR-V with the Continuously Variable Transmission. I would like to tow it in the flat position but I do not know if it is advisable to tow this vehicle in this way.
Can you advise or put me in touch with someone who can help me?

Richard Russell
6 years ago

We were using a tow dolly but after 5 new tires in a single year we are now flat towing using a Blue Ox

6 years ago

Another thing to make sure…..check the ground clearance your car has. Not all cars will work on all dollys. Personally, I prefer flat towing.

Chuck Boone
6 years ago

A Demo dolly can be backed up after unloading the vehicle and locking the steering with the pin provided. It then backs up just like any trailer.