13 Mins
Dec 2, 2022

Auto Transport vs Tow Dolly: Which One Is Ideal For Vehicle Shipping?

Choosing the right transportation methods for your vehicles can be more challenging than deciding the place to travel along with your family and friends. Several factors involved in the process might concern you, including the reliability of the auto transport company, the safety and security of your vehicle, your budget, and more.

Some might even consider driving their car for long hours to avoid paying high charges to car shipping companies. However, self-driving can be risky, time-consuming, and on average even cost more than other car transport services.

Auto transport and tow dolly are two of the most popular and preferred options for moving vehicles from one place to another because of several reasons. However, deciding between the two can be challenging, especially if you are unaware of the differences.

To help you comprehend the differences between the two and determine the most suitable option depending on your shipping preferences and requirements, we will walk you through some major differences and vital information about auto transport vs tow dolly services in this blog.

Let us get started by understanding what a tow dolly trailer is.

What is a dolly trailer?

A dolly trailer, most commonly known as a tow dolly is a multipurpose towing trailer used for towing vehicles and carrying goods from one place to another. The trailer comes with no front wheels and axles and only a pair of rear wheels along with the landing gear. The trailer is towed behind another trailer or truck to carry vehicles or cargo. To distribute the weight evenly between the trailer and vehicle/cargo, the truck is attached with metal bars called “drawbars”.

The drawbars are attached on each end of the dolly trailer underneath the tow bar. The dolly trailer can carry anything from motorcycles or cars, as long as they can be attached to the trailer. Dolly trailer is most commonly used for transporting or moving non-running or injured cars from accident locations to a safe place.

What cars can be towed on a car dolly?

Generally, dolly trailers are designed to transport compact-size cars and other vehicles that weigh less than 5,000 pounds. It is not suitable for transporting heavy-size vehicles for long distances. When towing a car dolly, especially a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, ensure to disconnect and remove the driveshaft from your vehicle to avoid damaging the transmission. If this is your first time towing your car, always seek consultation from experts. Shipping professionals will help determine the best ways to prepare your car or other vehicles for transit.

What are common car dolly towing issues?

A car dolly is easy to store and is much cheaper than other auto transport services. However, some downfalls of car dolly might result in expensive repairs or service charges.

1. Weight restrictions

A car dolly cannot carry or handle as much weight as auto transport shipping trailers/trucks. Moreover, you can only transport one small vehicle at a time due to weight restriction issues. You can carry cargo or vehicles that weigh between 4,000 to 5,000 pounds. Anything beyond that might create unrest and disbalance on your car dolly trailers.

2. Clearance issues

Tow dollies can cause serious problems to your car, when it comes to clearance. Tow dollies can hold your car or other vehicles from their front-drive wheels. If your car is too long from the front, low to the ground, or weighs more than 5,000 pounds, it may drag along with the ground during the transit. This can further cause damage to the bumper, undercarriage parts, and other areas of your vehicle.

3. Maneuverability

Compared to auto transport shipping trailers, a car dolly is extremely challenging to maneuver. In the case of car transport trucks/trailers, all four wheels of your car are off the ground. You don’t have to worry about unloading or dropping your vehicle during delivery. Tow dollies don’t offer much protection or feasibility in case of dropping vehicles in the correct place at the time of delivery.

4. Vehicle hook-up process

There is no denying that the car hooking-up procedure is more complicated than loading a vehicle into an auto transport truck/trailer. You have to carefully leave the two wheels on the ground and manage the position throughout the process to avoid serious injuries to your vehicle. Without proper experience or skills, it might be impossible to arrange your vehicle properly on the car dolly trailer.

5. Increased wear and tear

One of the main disadvantages of tow dollies is increased wear and tear on your vehicles. Your wheels are exposed to several elements on the road that can potentially harm your wheels. At Bold Auto Transport, we follow the utmost safety and security precautions throughout our auto shipment processes. Vehicles are transported on shipping trailers/trucks, offering complete protection from potential vehicle wear and tear.

Looking for Enclosed auto transport service? Reach out to us!

Can you tow a truck with a car dolly?

No, it would be impossible to tow a truck with a car dolly. Car dolly trailers are designed to transport vehicles weighing between 4,000 to 5,000 pounds. Anything beyond that is simply impossible. Trucks and large-size vehicles are far too heavy to be towed by car dolly trailers. It is highly recommended to avoid towing heavy vehicles on your own as it might give rise to several unwanted road incidents.

How much does a car dolly cost to rent?

Several factors are considered while determining the rent cost of a car dolly trailer. Depending on the size of the dolly trailer, location, rental days, and other factors, the overall cost of rent is calculated. You should consider consulting with the service provider to determine the cost of the rent.

How to tow a car with a car dolly?

Here are the following ways to tow a car with a car dolly.

1. Hook up the dolly

To hook up the dolly, you will need a ball hitch and a trailer lighting receptacle on the towing vehicle to tow a dolly. Ensure to select the correct size of hitch for your vehicle to avoid further damage to the same.

2. Connect the lights

Car tow dollies usually have light built-in, but in some cases, they don’t. Check for the lighting connection. If the light is missing, ask your service provider to attach it. You can also use a thin layer of plastic or cloth to prevent damage to your paintwork.

3. Disconnect the axle

It is imperative to disconnect the rear wheel axle when towing a rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle. Doing this will help minimize the damage to your vehicle and allow a seamless car transport experience. Similarly, secure your driveshaft to the undercarriage of the towed vehicle with a durable and sturdy quality bungee or strap.

Want to know more about our Open transport car shipping option? Call us!

How fast can you go with a tow dolly?

For a safe and hassle-free car transport experience, the ideal speed limit is 55 mph when towing a U-Haul tow dolly. Avoid exercising the speed limit as it might give rise to unwanted road incidents.

Is a tow dolly good for long-distance?

For long-distance or cross-country car shipping purposes, a tow dolly is not a good option. Car tow dolly service will put your car through a lot of wear and tear, especially in the case of rear-wheel vehicles. The tow dolly is perfect for transporting non-running or damaged cars to short distances.

Are car dollies safe?

Yes, car dollies can safely transport vehicles less than 4,000 or 5,000 pounds. It comes with chains, straps, and brakes to protect your car during the ride.

What is the difference between tow dolly and auto transport?

Tow dolly Vs Auto Transport Trailer


Auto Transport

Tow Dolly


Auto transport services operate on a four-wheel trailer that lifts the entire car off the ground. From arranging paperwork to delivering your car to the desired location, an auto transport company handles everything.

A car tow dolly is a two-wheel trailer that only lifts the front wheels of your car, resulting in extreme wear and tear problems on the rear wheels.

Types of services

Enclosed auto transport- Your car is transported in a closed container offering complete protection from weather conditions and road elements.

Open transport car shipping - Your vehicles are transported on an open trailer, similar to driving your car on the road.

Military car shipping- We offer shipping services at special discounts to active and retired military members.

Door-to-door services- Your car is picked up and delivered at your mentioned locations.

Only one type of transport option is available. You cannot move more than one vehicle at a time.

Vehicle wear and tear

With an auto transport carrier, you can move your vehicle from one place to another without causing any potential damages or injuries to your rear wheels and other vehicle parts.

Tow dolly trailers put more than the required weight on the rear wheels during the transportation process. This increases the risk of premature damage on rear wheels.

Safety standards

Compared to tow dollies, car transport companies take the utmost safety and security measures while transporting vehicles from one location to another. At Bold Auto Transport, we offer full coverage insurance with no hidden costs.

Vehicles are at higher risk when drivers move vehicles at high speeds. It can cause severe damage to the different parts of your vehicles.

Vehicle compatibility

Auto transport trailers can transport more than one vehicle at a time of different types and sizes.

You can only transport one vehicle less than 4,000 or 5,000 pounds.

We hope by now you have a clear understanding of auto transport vs tow dolly. Which option to select depends on your shipping needs, requirements, and budget. For better protection and a satisfactory customer experience, auto transport services will the best available option.

What is state-to-state vehicle towing? How much does it cost?

Several factors are considered while calculating the overall cost of towing a car to another state. It can be challenging to state accurate or rough figures without the proper knowledge about these factors. Additionally, if you are looking for ways to ship a car to another state, opt for auto transport company services for a safe and hassle-free shipping experience.

What are the most popular shipping routes? How are they identified?

To learn more about popular shipping routes or different shipping options like Military car shipping, call us at (469) 942-5444 and speak with one of our representatives. At Bold Auto Transport, we offer a wide range of standard-quality shipping services at affordable and reasonable prices. Book your auto transport services by simply filling out the necessary details on our website.

We hope this article helped you find solutions to all your tow dolly vs auto transport trailer concerns. To get accurate shipping estimates free of cost, use our car shipping cost calculator on our website. Call us at (469) 942-5444 to know more about tow dolly vs flat tow.

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