The Disadvantages of Towing With a Towing Dolly

by Lindsey Fisher

There are many options when it comes to towing a vehicle. These include using a trailer, tow bar or tow dolly. A tow dolly is a two-wheel trailer that keeps only the drive wheels of a vehicle off the ground during the tow. While this type of trailer is easier to store and cheaper to buy or rent than other options, using a tow dolly to tow vehicles has its pitfalls.

Weight Restrictions

Tow dollies can't carry as much weight as other car trailers. Tow dollies rented through the moving trailer company U-Haul cannot carry front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive cars that exceed 3,450 lbs. Rear-wheel drive cars cannot weigh more than 3,900 lbs. when using a U-Haul tow dolly. This eliminates many sport utility vehicles, trucks and older steel-frame cars from being able to be towed with a car dolly.


Tow dollies can cause clearance issues with vehicles. Because tow dollies only hold up the drive wheels of a vehicle, if the car you're towing is long in the front, low to the ground or has ground effects, car components may drag on the ground during the tow. This can cause damage to bumpers, body kits and undercarriage parts, such as deep transmission pans. Hitting body or undercarriage parts might also occur when loading a car onto a tow dolly.


One benefit of trailers that tow cars with all four wheels off the ground is that they can be backed up if needed. Most tow dollies do not share this feature. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to back up a tow dolly. This can cause problems if you need to back up in order to drop the towed vehicle in the correct place when you get to your final destination.

Hook-up Procedures

Hooking up a car onto a tow dolly is more complicated than attaching a car onto a full trailer. Because two wheels are left on the ground when using a tow dolly, the drive wheels must be extra secure to keep the car on the dolly. Unlike towing with a trailer, cars cannot have their wheels blocked and the emergency brake cannot be applied to help keep the car in place while towing it. You may need to take drive shafts out when towing a rear-wheel drive vehicle that must be placed forward on the tow dolly due to front clearance issues.

Wear and Tear

Because two wheels are left on the ground when using a tow dolly, more wear and tear can occur on the tires that are left on the ground. The longer you use a tow dolly to tow a vehicle, the more wear and tear will occur on the car's wheels. This is because more weight is being put on the tires that are left on the ground when one end of the car is lifted on the dolly.

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