The Disadvantages of Towing With a Towing Dolly

by Lindsey FisherUpdated July 07, 2023

There are many options when it comes to towing a vehicle. These include using a trailer, tow bar, flat towing, or dolly towing. Different towing methods may make more sense for long distances or short distances, towing capacity of your vehicle, what braking system it has and if it’s four-wheel drive or not, vehicle weight and the weight capacity of your vehicle, as well as personal preference.

One towing options is a tow dolly – 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 as your towing equipment 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 entire vehicle classes including 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, depending on the type of car and how high the wheels of the vehicle are off the ground.


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, depending on the type of vehicle.

Wear and Tear

Because the two rear tires are left on the ground when using a tow dolly as a car carrier, 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 during car transport, the more wear and tear will occur on the car's wheels, especially if you are driving at a high speed and the wheels of the car are older. 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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