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Old 05-28-2017, 12:47 PM   #1
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Rental Car vs Toad

Over the long haul I am confident that it is much cheaper and convenient to tow a car while traveling rather than renting. Coming from full timing in a fiver to part timing in a MH we are still trying to decide on getting something to tow 4 down, regular tow dolly, or extended tow dolly to haul both car and Harley.

Since we really haven't decided, this years trip (4 months/7,000+ miles) we are towing a 365 pound aluminum trailer with the Harley on it, for a total towing weight of around 1,600 pounds.

At the rate we are renting a car, we will spend about $800 total in 4 months (10 days per month @ $20 per day for 4 months).

At first I was thinking we had to make a decision before next year because it just isn't cost effective to rent and not tow. But the cost difference may be closer than I thought. If by towing a 4,000 pound car I would get even 1mpg less in fuel economy than my fuel expenses for the trip will be over $400 higher.

Anyone else out there not pulling a toad and regularly renting cars when needed?
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Old 05-28-2017, 01:00 PM   #2
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We did that for our first year with the Axis: Rented instead of towing.

The weight difference is a little bit higher for our Axis (as the Axis doesn't weigh as much as your MH). This does mean that more of the V-10's power is "available" for the toad and our mpg difference will probably be less--I don't think pulling a toad even registered a difference for mpg for us. In addition: Since the MH is a big brick in front of the toad there really is no air-resistance cost there (I would bet with the toad sitting so close it probably rides in a slight vacuum back there).

You don't want to discount the initial cost either: A dolly setup will cost about 1/2 as much as a four down setup (and changing cars is a non-zero cost for 4-down, vs "free" for dolly towing--provided the car can be dolly towed). You can probably also add in some "hassle" cost here as for a dolly the "hassle" cost will be higher simply because hitching up is a more involved than 4-down.

For me I didn't mind renting but its not "your car" (kind of like bringing the motorhome vs staying in a hotel--a hotel isn't "your house").

Granted: You can take all this with a grain of salt as I'm still only taking a week or two vacations being a working stiff.
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Old 05-28-2017, 01:01 PM   #3
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while towing a vehicle might have some negatives, such as reduced fuel mileage, and the effort associated with towing it, it seems MUCH simpler than having to rely on 'maybe' finding some type of rental vehicle, and all the 'baggage' they can come with.

sure, if your rv park is right next to a rental car dealer, then maybe that's a great way to go - easy as pie. but, that's also HIGHLY unlikely, especially where most of us want to travel and park our coaches - it's not normally in a metro area with car rental companies close by.
How would you GET to the car rental dealer?
How would you get BACK from the dealer when you return the car?
How LONG, or SHORT, of a time can you rent the vehicle? is it really cost effective?

Certainly, if you just don't want to tow a vehicle, it might work, but I think when all is said and done, you'll look back and wonder why you ever left on your travels without your own vehicle! One of the great things about traveling in your coach is NOT having to depend on others. It's just great FREEDOM when you have your own vehicle, even though it MIGHT seem as though it's a 'chore' to tow it.

While my wife is set on us towing our Fiesta to Alaska, for those 'just in case we need it' concerns, I don't think that we really need to, but she won : ) I'll probably be glad we did - we don't even know the vehicle's behind us, anyway.
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Old 05-28-2017, 08:21 PM   #4
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For 16 years we rented as the little class A, we had would only tow 1,300 lbs. We used Enterprise exclusively, as they will "pick you up". I never found an agency that would not take you back to the campground. Resort areas can get expensive but sometimes you luck into a special. Portland, OR, 2006, $80 for a week plus the campground, Jantzen Beach RVP, was a drop-off location for Enterprise. Now we dolly tow about 50% of the time, mostly to car shows, racetracks and road rallies. We usually rent if we are sight seeing.
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Old 05-28-2017, 08:44 PM   #5
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There is no one answer that fits all. We have done both, rented, then towed for many years, and now back to renting when we need to. It depends on where you are traveling, some areas are very remote, no car rentals available, if you are full timing, probably makes sense to tow. In our case we do not full time, are rarely in remote areas, our motorhome is small, and can be used to go the store to stock up. we rent when we need or want to, Enterprise will always pick you up and deliver you back to the RV park. Remember the cost to set a car up to tow the right way is about $4,000.00, and you will see increased wear on front tires and front end components of your toad, as a result of towing. There is a convenience to towing, your car is right there when you arrive, and an additional hassle, to hook up, disconnect, and of course there is no such thing as reverse when your car is back there.
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Old 05-29-2017, 01:53 AM   #6
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I'll second the first part of what Laco said. The answer for you depends on where you go, and how much you are willing to pay for convenience. There are a lot of RVers who get by just fine without a car.

We tried the rental car process, skipped the tow dolly stage, and went right to towing 4 down. It is perfect for the way we travel. If you trade tow cars a lot, a tow dolly might make more sense for you.

We knew an RVer who towed a small pickup with his Harley in the back, behind his big diesel pusher.
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Old 05-29-2017, 05:02 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mr Sunshine View Post
I We tried the rental car process, skipped the tow dolly stage, and went right to towing 4 down. It is perfect for the way we travel. If you trade tow cars a lot, a tow dolly might make more sense for you.
I went the opposite direction, from 4 down to dolly towing. I did that because I feel that dolly towing is as easy to hitch up/load as is the 4 down version, but dolly towing is much gentler on your vehicle. I have a big rock shield on the dolly in front of the car, and nothing hits it.
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Old 05-29-2017, 02:13 PM   #8
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A lot of good points made from folks with much more MH experience than me. I think after this trip a decision will have to be made between getting a dolly or setting up a vehicle for 4 down towing.

I guess I would lean toward a dolly. The benefits I see are about 60% less initial cost, about any front wheel drive car will work, and while being towed it won't register miles. My brother-in-law tows a Wrangler 4 down behind his DP and it shows over 30,000 miles when in fact they have only driven it 10,000 miles.
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Old 05-29-2017, 02:52 PM   #9
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I use a dolly, about a 10 min load time. When I get to my site it stores under the rear of the MH. I can easily move it by hand if necessary. My 2 cents!!
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Old 05-29-2017, 06:57 PM   #10
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When we towed a lot, I made the decision to tow 4-down, which for us worked out just fine. As far as towed miles showing on the odometer, with a GM car, you pull a fuse (I wired a switch in to do that) that disconnects all accessories, the SRS system and the odometer, so you do not log miles while towing. That's important, if for nothing else, warrantee purposes. IMO towing 4-down, just presents one less thing to have to deal with. I like things simple!
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Old 05-29-2017, 07:22 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Jegdrum5050 View Post
I use a dolly, about a 10 min load time. When I get to my site it stores under the rear of the MH. I can easily move it by hand if necessary. My 2 cents!!
Good point, it takes me more than 10 minutes to load my trike and secure it so time isn't really an issue for us. Our storage facility just began allowing a second unit (dolly or small trailer) on your rented site as long as it fits along with your MH, so that would work also.

Laco, what you are saying makes sense. Decisions decisions......
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Old 05-29-2017, 09:55 PM   #12
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I tow a 2016 Chevy Sonic 4 down. Cost less than $1000 to set it up for flat towing (I did all the labor). I can disconnect it in less than 1 minute and reconnect it in about 5 minutes. There is a lot of misinformation about what pulling the "fuse" does. In my case, you pull the DLIS fuse which allows you to turn the ignition off and remove the key with the transmission in neutral (no steering wheel lock on this model). It does not disable anything else; in fact you can drive the car with the fuse removed. With the ignition in "off" your electronic odometer will not register any mileage. It's a 2700# car and I really haven't seen any gas mileage difference when towing it vs not towing it.
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Old 05-29-2017, 10:47 PM   #13
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We used to tow a Wrangler Unlimited 4 down and now tow our Renegade on a dolly. Set up time is just a little longer but it can be unstrapped and backed off very quickly when needed.

We did have an incident when towing 4 down where one of the bolts that held the tow adapter to the mount point on the Jeep worked loose and we only had one arm of the towbar attached while getting off of the interstate. Fortunately, there was no damage or further issue, I just had to go get a new bolt and nut and reattach the arm to finish our trip.

We learned a valuable lesson about checking all tow gear before hitting the road. The dolly has its own check points, especially the straps. They always seem to work loose after around 20-25 miles and can be tightened. Fortunately, when leaving Hampton Roads, VA, we have to stop at the tunnels for a propane check at the inspection stations... and it is a perfect opportunity to tighten up the straps.
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Old 05-30-2017, 01:19 AM   #14
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We rented for one trip and it wasn't for us if you use enterprise they will come and get you only if you are within their range usually 10 miles and then you have to take them back to the rental agency and you loss a half day same when you return the car.
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Old 06-01-2017, 03:16 AM   #15
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Tow Dolly but no longer

My husband recently passed and he was the one to put the car on the tow dolly. I could do most of it except that I couldn't do the straps or get them off so I think I'm going to need to rent. I'm hoping it works out for me. Would get a moped but couldn't figure out how to take it with me...probably the same problem.
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Old 06-01-2017, 04:55 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by russue125 View Post
My husband recently passed and he was the one to put the car on the tow dolly. I could do most of it except that I couldn't do the straps or get them off so I think I'm going to need to rent. I'm hoping it works out for me. Would get a moped but couldn't figure out how to take it with me...probably the same problem.
have one of those little motor scooters that I take with me if i don't need a car. I put as small motorbike carrier into the rear hitch receiver and load the scooter onto this. The carrier has a ramp and I can have the scooter getting on to it with its own power, just carefully holding on to it and walking next to it. It takes a little trial and error until one has that under control.
You could also buy a very small trailer and carry a scooter on that.
You can see the carrier I have on this picture.
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Old 06-01-2017, 05:17 AM   #17
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We are doing an even lighter approach. We haul two of the electric powered bicycles on the back of our Axis. They have a 20 plus mile range on a charge. We just decided to make them work for us.... for now.....
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Old 06-01-2017, 08:13 PM   #18
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What make of carrier is it?
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Old 06-01-2017, 10:41 PM   #19
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No toad for this gas'er

Gas stations at best, with 35', can be an experience. So I elected to us Uber or Enterprise rather than have a toad.
After a 2,400 mi trip, I'm satisfied with my decision.

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Old 06-01-2017, 11:19 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by CaptJsr View Post
Gas stations at best, with 35', can be an experience. So I elected to us Uber or Enterprise rather than have a toad.
After a 2,400 mi trip, I'm satisfied with my decision.

Captjsr
When we had the 41 foot DP and towed, I never even tried to get fuel at a gas station. I would only stop at truck stops, which always had enough space to maneuver in. Now we rarely tow, MH is really small enough to get into parking lots, most, for supplies, and there is always the rental car if we are anywhere for any period of time.
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