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Tow Dolly Cost

How Much Does a Tow Dolly Cost?

average costTow Dolly Rental: $40-$60 a dayhigh costBuying a Tow Dolly: $1,000-$4,500
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Also called a car dolly, a tow dolly is a short mini-trailer that consists of an axle and two wheels, plus ramps and blocks that hold the front wheels of a vehicle off the ground as it's towed behind another vehicle. Only the rear wheels of the towed vehicle (nicknamed a toad) remain on the ground.

Typical costs:

  • Renting a tow dolly typically costs $40-$60 a day, depending on location and if the trip is one-way or if the dolly is picked up and dropped off at the same site. U-Haul[1] estimates tow dolly rental from Sacramento, CA, to Chicago costs $345 for seven days (about $58 a day). Other national companies that rent tow dollies include Budget Truck Rental[2] and Penske Truck Rental[3] . However, except for U-Haul, most rental companies only rent tow dollies to be used behind their rental trucks, but not to be towed by the customer's own vehicle -- and U-Haul has strict limits on customer-owned tow vehicles and hitches.
  • Buying a tow dolly can cost $1,000-$4,500, depending on towing capacity, size, quality of materials and other options. For example, the Roadmaster RM3477 Tow Dolly[4] with built-in electric brakes sells for $1,600 -$2,000, and can tow a vehicle weighing up to 4,250 pounds. The Demco Kar Kaddy SS[5] has a suggested retail price of $3,645 but often sells for $2,400 -$3,200; it has a towing capacity of 4,700 pounds, hydraulic surge brakes, a tilt-bed frame, dual safety chains and chrome wheels. Unfolded it's 133" long; folded it's 67". Optional features include a light bar ($176) for the towed vehicle, a spare tire ($239) and a tongue mount tool box ($75).
Related articles: Car Trailer, Towing a Car, Tow Dolly, Trailer Hitch, Towing Equipment

What should be included:
  • A tow dolly should come with safety chains and tie-down straps (cables). Loading a car onto a tow dolly typically requires two people. U-Haul has a video[6] demonstrating how to load a vehicle on a tow dolly.
  • Tow dollies are best for towing front-wheel drive vehicles. Most all-wheel or rear-wheel drive vehicles must have the drive shaft removed before being towed with a tow dolly. Other options are to tow the vehicle using a car trailer (all four wheels of the towed vehicle are off the ground) or a tow bar (all four wheels of the towed vehicle are on the ground).
  • The tow vehicle must be substantially larger and heavier than the vehicle being towed: A general rule is that the tow vehicle must be at least 750 pounds heavier than the towed vehicle, and the overall weight of the towed vehicle shouldn't be more than 3,450 for front-wheel drive and 3,900 for rear-wheel drive, according to[7] .
  • In some states tow dollies must be licensed; check with the department of motor vehicles[8] for specific requirements. Towing laws vary from state to state. Many states set lower speed limits (like 45 mph) for tow vehicles, and may regulate the size, width, weight and length of towing situations. lists towing laws[9] by state.
Additional costs:
  • Many pickup trucks and SUVs come standard with a trailer hitch that can pull up to 5,000 pounds. However, if it's necessary to install a trailer hitch on the tow vehicle, this can cost $100-$850 or more, but averages $400-$500.
  • Auto insurance policies vary by company and state. Generally, collision insurance on the tow vehicle does not provide collision insurance on the towed vehicle; additional coverage may be needed. Always check with the insurance company before towing a vehicle.
Shopping for a tow dolly:
  • Check all the weights carefully. Both the tow vehicle and hitch must have the capacity to tow the total weight of the tow dolly (typically anywhere from 500 to 1,500 pounds) plus the weight of the towed vehicle. Never exceed maximum weight capacities.
  • Before purchasing or renting a car dolly, make sure the vehicle to be towed will fit on the dolly, including any low-hanging equipment like spoilers or air dams. If possible, load the vehicle on the tow dolly and tow it a short distance before buying the dolly.
  • Tow dollies are often sold by trailer or RV dealers. Major manufacturers include Demco Products[10] , Master Tow[11] and Roadmaster[12] .
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