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Old 10-09-2014, 05:45 AM   #1
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How to find out for sure?

Hello All,

I really, really need some help here and would appreciate any and all information about the following:

We bought an ACE 30.1 (2014) on August 8th. We want to buy my sister's 1997 Nissan Sentra GLE (automatic transmission) to tow behind it.

We've been working with camping world to put together a tow package and they've been in touch with Remco towing regarding the details of what might, or might not be needed. Here's where it gets confusing:

The original manual for the car states that the car shouldn't be towed with all four wheels on the ground except for extremely short distances and at extremely slow speeds. Of course this is under the "emergencies" section of the manual in regards to emergency towing and there is absolutely no details whatsoever in regards to towing behind a motor home.

Remco told Camping World that yes the car is dinghy towable, but needs a "lube pump" in addition to the regular tow package, then Remco went on to state that we needed to know the specific transmission for the car to make sure it either did, or did not correspond with a transmission number they gave to the representative at Camping World. Of course the number they gave him is not listed by Nissan as having gone in any Nissan Sentra in 1997.

So- at this point- I need some advice on how I can find out FOR SURE about whether I can dinghy tow this car, whether or not I do need a lube pump, or- if the car has to be towed with the front wheels off the ground and what would be involved in doing that- towing with the front wheel off the ground does not sound as straightforward as dinghy towing, but I am an absolute rank novice about all of this.

HELP??!!

and THANKS VERY MUCH IN ADVANCE!!

Dave & Sue Harvey
'14 ACE 30.1
'15 Lexus RX 350
'10 Chev. Camaro SS/RS
'02 Pont. Firehawk Conv. #126
'63 Chev. Impala SS-409
hopefully: '97 Nissan Sentra GLE
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Old 10-09-2014, 12:08 PM   #2
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I had to get rid of my '09 Nissan Maxima because I could not flat tow it as it had a CVT. It's likely though that your Nissan is pre CVT.

I replaced it with a 2014 Ford Taurus which can be flat towed, but then, my mom decided to buy a new car, and I bought her 2002 Pontiac Grand Am, which can also be towed.

I just could not bring myself to drilling holes in my new Taurus.

The owner's manual is typically the most accurate. It sounds that it cannot be flat towed according to your description.

The only scuttlebutt I have heard about Remco transmission pumps is some like them, some don't. Again, take everything on the internet with a dose of skepticism, so whether or not a pump will work for you is something you may need to research further.

And those pumps are not cheap. Plan on about $1,000 for the pump and $1,000 for installation (which a transmission shop needs to do).

And you will probably have to have a second battery and/or a provision to extend power from the coach to the car as the pump will almost surely drain the battery quickly.

All in all, due to the age of your car, I'd suggest finding one that can be towed. It's fully depreciated by now, so you should not be taking much of a "hit" by going to a different car, coupled by the $2,000 upcharge for the lube pump, and needing a battery management solution. Is sinking that much money into a 17yr old car worth it?
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Old 10-09-2014, 01:41 PM   #3
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Gets messy is not a flat-tow vehicle. You will need a drive shaft clutch and a switch on the dash to control. You will probably need a transmission pump to move fluid thru the transmission while rolling along. If front wheel drive, you may need an axle lock. Simpler and easier to change the vehicle or put it on a trailer.
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Old 10-09-2014, 02:10 PM   #4
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I have the Motorhome Magazine Dinghy Towing Guides all the way back to 2002. While this does not necessarily apply to your '97, none of the Nissan Automatic Transmission vehicles can be towed... only the manual transmission models.

I did look at the '97 Sentra Manual. Towing with all wheels on the ground with an automatic is restricted to 30mph for no more than 40 miles. Pretty much eliminates it as a towed vehicle unless you add a pump.

Your least expensive option might be to dolly tow. You can buy a dolly for less than the cost of buying and installing a pump, and while not as convenient, might be your most cost effective solution.

You have to add 600lbs or so to the towed weight for the dolly, but the Sentra is probably a light enough weight car that you should be well within the 5,000lb tow limit of your RV. The 2002 Sentra in the Dinghy Towing Guide supposedly weighs around 2,500lbs.

But check with the owner's manual again to make sure it can be dolly towed. Most FWD automatics can, but there are a few that have a low ground clearance that might give you problems.
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Old 10-09-2014, 11:45 PM   #5
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THOR #1091
towing a '97 Sentra

Thanks all!

For your replies. This is beginning to sound like more of a hassle than it's worth, especially when one takes into account that the sentry needs some repairs and general "sprucing up" before I'd want to add it to the stable anyway.

I was hoping buying it from my sister would solve our tow vehicle issue and help my sis out at the same time, but this seems as if it just isn't meant to be.

Before I give it up completely: what exactly is involved with dolly towing the car with the front wheels off the ground?

Thanks Again!

Dave
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Old 03-15-2015, 09:19 AM   #6
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Sorry I did not see your question sooner. Hope you still stop in from time to time.

Dolly towing typically requires the dolly to be attached to the RV first, then drive the towed car onto it.

When disconnecting, you should drive off before disconnecting the dolly's hitch.

This is a safety issue as you don't want the dolly scooting down the road while driving on or off it, or getting smacked in the head with the tongue.

Once the car is on the dolly, then webbing straps typically go over the front tires, which then are usually ratcheted down tight. There are also safety chains/cables that typically go over a suspension component for safety should the webbing break.

The conventional wisdom is to replace the straps annually, so there is some cost to maintaining the dolly.

Most dollys have their own surge braking system, so you don't generally need to worry about engaging brakes on the toad. As well, they have a tail-light system, but in some states, you still need to add tail-lights on the rear of the car.

These days, you can buy wireless tail-lights that attach via magnets to the rear of the vehicle, so that is not usually an issue.

So in some respects, dolly towing is easier as you don't have to contend with dead batteries, wear-and-tear on the transmission, or auxiliary braking systems. As well, you don't have to modify the toad by attaching a (sometimes ugly) baseplate.

Depending on the vehicle and the dolly (some steer and some do not), you may have to either lock the wheel from turning, or let the wheel turn.

One limitation you will have is that you cannot backup with either a dolly or dinghy towed vehicle as they have a steering capability of some extent. This will eventually bind and cause damage to the RV and tow vehicle. As well, when dinghy towing - especially an automatic transmission, you may damage the transmission of the toad by backing up.

This restricts maneuverability, and at some point, you may have to disconnect the tow vehicle.

For example, if the only gas station you can find is only accessible if you drop the toad off, the easiest thing to do is to drop the toad off at an adjacent parking lot, then drive the RV to the gas pump, and then reversing the procedure once gassed up.

Of course, it would be a lot better to find a station where you could just drive forward, but the situation could occur where this is not possible.

And that is the main difference between flat and dinghy towing.

If flat towing, you simply disconnect the toad, then especially if you have help, meet up after fueling, and re-connect and you are off.

If dinghy towing, you have to disconnect the vehicle from the dolly and drive off. Then you need to disconnect the dolly from the RV (although you might be able to access the pumps with just the dolly in tow).

After disconnecting the dolly, you need to have a means of securing it so no one will steal it, especially if your drop-off point is across the street at a WalMart, etc.

Then of course, you would reverse the procedure after fueling.

Either method can be done, but flat towing is much quicker.

Still, if the only option is to dolly tow vs. purchasing a new vehicle, then many people can accept the less convenient dolly method.
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Old 03-15-2015, 12:03 PM   #7
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Dave,

I have been dolly towing for years. Yes there is a little inconvenience with getting the car on the dolly and strapping it down.

I have a Master Tow dolly that can handle any front wheel drive car. Since I am registered in Virginia their laws apply to the dolly wherever I tow. They require lights on the dolly when towing only, no additional lights on the towed vehicle (although I always use them for safety) and no brakes required (although I purposely bought a dolly with surge brakes). My dolly also has the rotating bed which makes navigating sharp corners easier. The cost of my dolly new was about 500.00 less than it would have cost to outfit my Ford Fusion for flat towing.

In my opinion the dolly's convenience far out weights the inconvenience. With dolly towing your question becomes moot since most any front wheel drive car can be dolly towed. As FW stated, I don't contend with dead batteries, trans lube pumps, and all of the other stuff necessary to flat tow some vehicles. I will say that some of the new cars are becoming more difficult to tow in any manner. I have not verified this, however, I was told recently that one of the most popular TOADS, the Honda CRV, has been removed from the towables list for 2015.

You will read about folks saying campgrounds can't support a dolly at sites etc... In all of the years I have been doing this I have only had one issue. That was at an FMCA chapter rally where all sites were back in. Guess what, the folks flat towing had to disconnect before backing in as well.

My decision to continue dolly towing was reinforced at a Christmas Rally in December. A chapter member was flat towing his Jeep Grand Cherokee and when he arrived he found that the Jeep had locked its own doors with the key in the ignition, his battery was dead so the keyless entry would not function and it took five hours for roadside assistance to come out and unlock and start his car. I backed my car off the dolly and took him and his wife to dinner that night.

With the dolly I do have a maintenance factor. I have to check the brake fluid before each trip and periodically lube the wheel bearings. I also have to inspect the tires for wear and the lights, but that should be done on a car being flat towed as well. Since my dolly uses the same wheel bearing grease as my John Deere lawn tractor I do the services at the same time in spring and fall. The straps on my dolly are three years old with no signs of wear or fraying (manufacturers recommendation for replacement). I do carry an extra strap and tilt bed pin assembly for my sanity rather than necessity). Also, I have mine outfit rigged so the dolly lights and magnetic lights on the car all function when I am rolling so I have to maintain both sets. I can legally use one or the other but I chose both for safety.

One important note, regardless of which way you decide if you plan to tow into Canada, you must have brakes on the towed vehicle or dolly.

Bottom line, you have to make the decision best for you. My decision is primarily economic. Two cars in the garage and both can be towed on the dolly without the need for two base plates. I can go to a car dealer and buy a new vehicle then immediately tow it off the lot.
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Old 03-15-2015, 01:49 PM   #8
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Sadly, the news about the CR-V is true. In 2015 the CR-V went to a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), which cannot be flat towed. Shame as it is/was such a popular tow vehicle. Thank you Honda.

From the 2015 Honda CR-V owner's manual:



You may still be able to tow a CRV 2WD version on a dolly, but then you are looking at probably 4,200lbs or so. You are not going to be able to tow an AWD version on anything but a trailer.

I had to get rid of my Nissan Maxima when I bought the RV because it had a CVT and could not be flat towed.
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:03 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by FW28z View Post
Sorry I did not see your question sooner. Hope you still stop in from time to time.

Dolly towing typically requires the dolly to be attached to the RV first, then drive the towed car onto it.

When disconnecting, you should drive off before disconnecting the dolly's hitch.

This is a safety issue as you don't want the dolly scooting down the road while driving on or off it, or getting smacked in the head with the tongue.

Once the car is on the dolly, then webbing straps typically go over the front tires, which then are usually ratcheted down tight. There are also safety chains/cables that typically go over a suspension component for safety should the webbing break.

The conventional wisdom is to replace the straps annually, so there is some cost to maintaining the dolly.

Most dollys have their own surge braking system, so you don't generally need to worry about engaging brakes on the toad. As well, they have a tail-light system, but in some states, you still need to add tail-lights on the rear of the car.

These days, you can buy wireless tail-lights that attach via magnets to the rear of the vehicle, so that is not usually an issue.

So in some respects, dolly towing is easier as you don't have to contend with dead batteries, wear-and-tear on the transmission, or auxiliary braking systems. As well, you don't have to modify the toad by attaching a (sometimes ugly) baseplate.

Depending on the vehicle and the dolly (some steer and some do not), you may have to either lock the wheel from turning, or let the wheel turn.

One limitation you will have is that you cannot backup with either a dolly or dinghy towed vehicle as they have a steering capability of some extent. This will eventually bind and cause damage to the RV and tow vehicle. As well, when dinghy towing - especially an automatic transmission, you may damage the transmission of the toad by backing up.

This restricts maneuverability, and at some point, you may have to disconnect the tow vehicle.

For example, if the only gas station you can find is only accessible if you drop the toad off, the easiest thing to do is to drop the toad off at an adjacent parking lot, then drive the RV to the gas pump, and then reversing the procedure once gassed up.

Of course, it would be a lot better to find a station where you could just drive forward, but the situation could occur where this is not possible.

And that is the main difference between flat and dinghy towing.

If flat towing, you simply disconnect the toad, then especially if you have help, meet up after fueling, and re-connect and you are off.

If dinghy towing, you have to disconnect the vehicle from the dolly and drive off. Then you need to disconnect the dolly from the RV (although you might be able to access the pumps with just the dolly in tow).

After disconnecting the dolly, you need to have a means of securing it so no one will steal it, especially if your drop-off point is across the street at a WalMart, etc.

Then of course, you would reverse the procedure after fueling.

Either method can be done, but flat towing is much quicker.

Still, if the only option is to dolly tow vs. purchasing a new vehicle, then many people can accept the less convenient dolly method.
Hi There!
Thanks so much for your response. I imagine everybody else also puts a huge amount of research into this. When I finished mine, I came to a few ofconclusions: 1. I didn't want my Wife to have to fool with dealing with what's involved in towing with a dolly. 2. It finally dawned on us that rather than finding yet another car to tow, store, pay for, insure, and maintain, that perhaps our best bet was to find a car we could live with as our daily driver that we could also tow. 3. EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO HAS EVER TOWED ANYTHING- regardless of what they towed and how long ago they towed it- IS AN EXPERT. Just ask them.

We just bought a Lexus RX350 about 7 months ago and liked it very much, of course it is not towable. Seems likes very few cars with auto. transmissions are towable. Fewer AWD vehicles are towable. We looked at SUVs/Crossovers made by Lincoln and Cadilac (Consumer's reports basically says they're overprice junk) and by JEEP (reliability ratings ain't so great), reviewed many more towing guides (not all are complete or reliable, it seems), talked with REMCO towing (They're experts-Just ask them) and finally ended up trading our '15 Lexus for a new '14 Honda CRV AWD. Boy, did we get a lot of funny looks from everybody at the Honda dealer! Got lucky there because the CRVs for '15 are NOT towable as they now have CVT transmissions.

We installed an invisibrake which does recharge the battery on the Honda, and everything works great. The Honda is not nearly as luxurious as the Lexus and not quite as roomy, but completely meets our needs and of course was quite a bit cheaper than the Lexus was. In addition, with the Sterling tow-bar and accessories-my Wife, or I-alone can hook up and un-hook the Honda in less than 5 minutes.

Thanks for all your help and responses!!

Dave Harvey
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Old 06-09-2015, 11:57 AM   #10
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HI all,

Could not find a specific thread about dolly towing, so thought Id ask here. I have a '15 Miramar and want to pull a '15 CRV (new style transmission, no 4 down) on a dolly. With the size and weight of the Miramar, do Ineed to have brakes on a dolly?

Thanks for input
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Old 06-09-2015, 11:59 AM   #11
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Is it necessary to have brakes on a tow dolly. I have a '15 Miramar 34.2 and want to pull a '15 CRV with the new CCV Transmission. Just wonder with weight differential if I'd need brakes on the dolly. Looking at rigs running u and down the road, I see a lot on class A gas that do not have brakes that I can see.

Many thanks
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Old 06-09-2015, 12:34 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by trkworm2 View Post
Is it necessary to have brakes on a tow dolly. I have a '15 Miramar 34.2 and want to pull a '15 CRV with the new CCV Transmission. Just wonder with weight differential if I'd need brakes on the dolly. Looking at rigs running u and down the road, I see a lot on class A gas that do not have brakes that I can see.

Many thanks
First two questions:

1. What does you state of registration require? Each states requirements are different and some states even require a title and license plates for tow dollies.
2. Do you ever intend to tow the vehicle in Canada? If you plan on travelling to Canada brakes are required on towed vehicles. This includes going to Alaska on the AL CAN highway.

There are a lot of folks that tend to use a dolly without brakes. Some of these folks do use a supplemental braking system similar to used by folks that tow 4 down. The issue here is with these systems you only realize 50 percent of the braking capacity since the front wheels of the car are on the dolly

To me it doesn't matter how you are towing (4 down or dolly) with over 3K behind you in a moderate to sudden stop the brakes are a blessing. They are also extremely beneficial when travelling along mountain roads.

For dollies you can either get surge brakes or electric brakes. Mine is equipped with surge brakes and I wouldn't tow without them.
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Old 06-09-2015, 05:38 PM   #13
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Most dollys have surge brakes included.

For the 2015 CRV with the CVT, I believe you can only dolly tow a FWD version, not the AWD. You will want to check the manual before purchase to be sure.
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Old 06-09-2015, 06:01 PM   #14
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Most dollys have surge brakes included.

For the 2015 CRV with the CVT, I believe you can only dolly tow a FWD version, not the AWD. You will want to check the manual before purchase to be sure.
When I was dolly shopping brakes were an option on most dollies with very few coming with any type of braking system as standard equipment. The dealer where I purchased my dolly stated that less than 25 percent of the dollies they sell include surge or electric brakes.

It amazes me as I walk through campgrounds at the number of dollies being used without brakes of any type. This can be determined by a quick glance at the dolly tongue and electrical connector.

In fact, just for comparison, most of the rental agencies that rent tow dollies rent them without any type of braking system.
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Old 06-09-2015, 06:49 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by dstankov View Post
When I was dolly shopping brakes were an option on most dollies with very few coming with any type of braking system as standard equipment. The dealer where I purchased my dolly stated that less than 25 percent of the dollies they sell include surge or electric brakes.
I'll admit that I did not look at a lot of cheaper dollies. But the higher quality ones I looked at, such as those from Demco included disc brakes as standard equipment.

But you are right, a $800 dolly won't likely have brakes. Nevertheless, you would want to add brakes to such a dolly - which can bring it up to the price range of the lower cost of Demco dollys.
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Old 06-09-2015, 07:08 PM   #16
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Motorhome Towing Guide: Cars That Can Be Towed With 4 Wheels Down | Fun Times Guide to RVing
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Old 06-09-2015, 07:58 PM   #17
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Sorry, but talk about a biased article that is apparently written by REMCO, the so called "Towing Experts". I would suggest that when it comes to Tow Dollies and dolly towing that they familiarize themselves with the law as it relates to state of registration.
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Old 06-16-2015, 04:09 AM   #18
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Do not want to steal this post, but when dealing with Camping World it helps to know they only carry RoadMaster towing kits for flat towing.


When I was shopping for my towing setup I was pricing both Road Master and Blue Ox.

I priced my towing setup at three places. CW wanted $5100 for their Road Master setup even with my Good Sam discount. two other dealers offered Blue Ox one was $4100 and the other was $3100. These prices did include the braking unit. So just do your info gathering and do not make any rush decisions.


On the tow dolly's if you do not have a strong back pass on them. Also be ware that same as a tow bar, a tow dolly with car attached can NOT be backed UP.


Just my $0.02
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Old 06-16-2015, 10:23 AM   #19
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For cost comparison, I installed a dinghy towing setup myself. My costs were:

Blue Ox Baseplate (2002 Pontiac Grand Am): $400
TailLight Kit: $60 (independant from the vehicle's lights).
Blue Ox Alpha Towbar: $530
Blue Ox 4" Drop Receiver: $90
Blue Ox Towbar Cover: $33
Hitch Immobilizer (2): $60
RVIBrake2: $1,200
RVIBrake Toad Battery Charger: $50
Misc Electrical, wiring, connectors: $100
Misc bolts, screws, hardware, and materials: $75
Toad/Haul switch (still installing): $100
Rewire coach for battery charger (still installing): $100

Total Cost: $2,797

Not included were a couple of tools required; torque wrench, ramps, etc. which probably added $100 more to the cost.

Still, it was under $3,000 for the entire installation.

Blue Ox estimated a 3 hour install time for the baseplate. But it took me 3 days. First, the particular baseplate for my vehicle is used on several GM vehicles, so it was not a 100% fit - meaning I had figure out how to remove the fascia (as the instructions were for a different vehicle), and I had to do some trimming around components to get it to fit.

Also, being an older vehicle, there was some corrosion issues, so I spent some time in taking care of that. It also made it harder to remove the front fascia as some bolts were rusted which I had to overcome.

And I also took my time to do a good job, which means I probably took more care than a shop would that allowed 3hours for installation.

For example: as part of the installation, I had to slightly relocate the horn bracket. When I did this, I drilled and tapped a hole for the new location. A shop with a 3 hour deadline might have simply cable-tied the horn back into place.

True, the next one (if there is going to be another installation in my future) will probably go faster as I now have more experience (an not needing to chase after tools).

I have towed the car maybe 6 or 7 times, and am thinking I also need a rear stabilizer bar as at highway speeds, I can feel a right-left motion when towing. That will probably add $600 at some point.

But now for the bad news.

A couple of weeks ago, we were on vacation and I came down with a severe case of tendonitis...

Coupled with a painful shoulder (and it's lack of mobility), along with raining like crazy, I inadvertently setup the RVIBrake2 up wrong so that the brakes were slightly dragging on the towed vehicle. I am making the excuse of not feeling well for the oversight on my part.

At any rate, I ended up dragging the toad's brakes for 80 miles. And I didn't feel it in the RV either, probably due to the extreme weight difference between the motorhome and toad.

Long story short, about $1k in damage to the brake system of the towed vehicle. I not only cooked the brakes, but warped the rotors and drums due to the heat. And I even hardened the ends of the rubber axle boots due to the heating of the brakes. It's a wonder I didn't damage/seize the bearings.

At any rate, that was a painful lesson and my wife now has a check-list that she uses to independently check my setup before we tow. Thing is - I knew better - but again, I was in pain so it didn't occur to me at the time.

Also, in my analytical mind, I am already designing a microcontroller (same thing as JamieGeek and I have been playing with for the tank monitor), that will monitor the brake pedal position on the toad, and wirelessly report it's position. That way, an alarm will go off in the cab if the brakes are on for an abnormal amount of time.

The reason I am bringing this point up is there can be a higher propensity for damaging your vehicle's brakes or transmission when dinghy towing vs. dolly towing, so that is also a consideration.
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Old 06-16-2015, 11:28 AM   #20
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Model: Axis 24.1
State: Michigan
Posts: 7,941
THOR #1150
Wow! I hope you're feeling better.

I'm surprised: Looking at that total cost I would have figured dolly towing would be more expensive than flat towing. After all you don't have the big expense of the dolly.

I think my total cost for the dolly setup was about 1/2 of that.
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2014 Thor Axis 24.1
2018 Chevy Bolt
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