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Old 06-05-2017, 02:23 PM   #1
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Tow Dolly a Mini Cooper

Still investigating choices on FWD cars to possibly tow with dolly for next year. Wanted to keep vehicle weight down to around 3,000 and possibly a rag top. Does anyone tow dolly a mini Cooper?
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Old 06-05-2017, 03:32 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Joe-FL View Post
Still investigating choices on FWD cars to possibly tow with dolly for next year. Wanted to keep vehicle weight down to around 3,000 and possibly a rag top. Does anyone tow dolly a mini Cooper?
I don't but I have seen a few being towed on a dolly.
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Old 06-05-2017, 04:19 PM   #3
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I remember seeing a couple people on Youtube talking about it. Here are the first two if I search on it... the second one is actually flat towing one.



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Old 06-05-2017, 08:13 PM   #4
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I dolly tow a 2015 Mini Cooper S - 2Dr HT with an automatic transmission behind our ACE 30.1 The dolly is an American Car Dolly. We've got about 4000 miles of towing in and the Mini is doing fine.

The Mini tows very well and we hardly know its back there. The only negative we have experienced is that around 1/2 the time, the Mini will throw up several error messages when I start it up after towing it awhile. The good news is that the errors all clear after I drive it for a mile or so. Errors I typically get are

- Drive Train Malfunction (this is the scary one)
- ABS Malfunction - This one seems to have gone away, but I got it a few times
- TPMS Malfunction
- Check engine light.

The engine also sputters a bit when I start it up to get the Mini off the dolly, but doesn't impact the ability to drive it. As I said, after I drive it for a few minutes, shut down and restart, the Drive Train and ABS notifications go away. I usually have to do a manual reset of the TPMS, and all is well after that. I also do a manual reset of the check engine light. After that all is well and I've driven the Mini for months afterwards without any ill effects.

This seems to happen about half the time. I've towed the Mini as much as 1000 miles and not gotten any errors, and have towed it 80 miles and have gotten the errors. For example, we had it out last week with a 90 mile drive to the campground. No errors when I pulled it off the dolly on the outbound trip, but I got them when we got home.

I mentioned this to a Mini service rep and he said "Mini doesn't recommend dolly towing", but the manual says nothing about it, but does require towing with the front wheels off the ground. He also said to not mention it to him again, and if I had any other problems to not tell them I dolly tow it. He figured it was the computer not liking the rear wheels turning when the fronts are not, and couldn't say what, if any, problems might occur. I think that BMW has gotten a little to sophisticated in their programming and that there isn't anything really wrong.

The American Car Dolly has worked fine so far. The only thing we need to do is tie down the steering wheel as the ACD has a rotating table and likes to have a locked steering wheel. I don't think its really much of an issue. We got an extra strap from ACD and tie it down around the brake pedal. When taking the Mini off the dolly, I've seen this strap come loose which allowed the steering wheel to turn. This appears to be a non-problem.

The Mini has nowhere to attach safety chains, so I use an additional tie down using a cable through the Mini wheels. The cable is a Blue Ox safety cable, usually used with tow bar, and the strap is one I found on Amazon. If your wheel spokes are larger than mine, you probably could use just the straps through the wheels.
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Old 06-06-2017, 01:16 PM   #5
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Thank you DenverTransplant for the info and pics. You have pretty much answered all our questions. I will be printing your post for future reference. We may stay out on the road through August but upon returning to SW Florida our search will begin for our Mini.
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Old 06-06-2017, 02:09 PM   #6
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JOE_FL I have the Acme tow dolly, the front wheels need to move freely. No need to tie them straight. One less step to load and unload.
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Old 06-06-2017, 03:26 PM   #7
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So, depending on the type of tow dolly (pivoting or non-pivoting) would determine the need to have the front wheels locked in place or not? Jedrum5050, I assume the advantage of having a dolly that pivots is that it tracks around corners better?

Another option on a dolly I was considering was one that you could fold the hitch arm back for easier storage. Anyone familiar with models/brands that do this?
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Old 06-06-2017, 03:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Joe-FL
So, depending on the type of tow dolly (pivoting or non-pivoting) would determine the need to have the front wheels locked in place or not? Jedrum5050, I assume the advantage of having a dolly that pivots is that it tracks around corners better?
Correct: If there is a pivoting plate on the dolly then you have to lock the front wheels straight. Non-pivoting dollies (like the Acme--I have one) you have to leave the steering unlocked.

I don't think either dolly tracks much differently--the dolly will still pivot with respect to the car and the camper. I think one of the benefits of the pivoting ones is that the side of the car is less likely to hit the dolly fender in really tight turns.

One thing I don't see discussed much is if you have to leave the car in neutral or not (you'd think its safe to leave the car in park on a dolly--at least a FWD one). I think I saw somewhere in the Acme documentation that says you should leave the car in neutral. (The reasoning being: when the road grade changes the inclination of the car with respect to the dolly will change--e.g. at the base, top, and bottom of a hill--which will want to rotate the front wheels. If the car is in park the wheels will actually turn against the dolly and the straps wearing on the straps.)
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Old 06-06-2017, 04:04 PM   #9
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I tow a Mini Cooper, 4 wheels down. I have gone about 5000 miles with no issues.
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Old 06-06-2017, 05:58 PM   #10
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Correct: If there is a pivoting plate on the dolly then you have to lock the front wheels straight. Non-pivoting dollies (like the Acme--I have one) you have to leave the steering unlocked.

...cut....
On newer cars that don't have a built-in steering wheel lock, do you then have to add an external lock or strap to steering wheel when using a pivoting dolly?
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:01 PM   #11
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On newer cars that don't have a built-in steering wheel lock, do you then have to add an external lock or strap to steering wheel when using a pivoting dolly?
Yes, it is in the manual for our Master Tow dolly to make sure you secure the steering wheel of the vehicle being towed.
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:53 PM   #12
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We towed a 3100 pound HHR behind our former 41 foot DP, 4 down for close to 10 years. Never had a problem, at least as a result of towing. The Gemini with that 3100 pound car behind it, is just about maxed out at GCVW. It will tow it, but struggles on grades, so I rarely tow now. Fortunately its small enough to fit into many parking lots for stocking up etc. If we are in one place for awhile, I rent an econobox. IMO towing 4 down is much easier and just presents one less thing to deal with, when connecting, disconnecting and storing. The downside of towing at all, is overall length, the possibility of winding up trapped on a small street or???, since there is no such thing as backing up with the car connected.
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:18 PM   #13
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We towed a 3100 pound HHR behind our former 41 foot DP, 4 down for close to 10 years. Never had a problem, at least as a result of towing. The Gemini with that 3100 pound car behind it, is just about maxed out at GCVW. It will tow it, but struggles on grades, so I rarely tow now. Fortunately its small enough to fit into many parking lots for stocking up etc. If we are in one place for awhile, I rent an econobox. IMO towing 4 down is much easier and just presents one less thing to deal with, when connecting, disconnecting and storing. The downside of towing at all, is overall length, the possibility of winding up trapped on a small street or???, since there is no such thing as backing up with the car connected.
Actually, there is a way to back up with car connected; it's just not very popular yet.

A wheel lift mechanism like those used by wreckers replaces the dolly. Other than cost (for the huge custom motorhome not the lift itself) it looks like a great idea to me.

Having said that, I personally like your idea of staying just small enough so you don't have to tow at all. Granted, most owners need a lot more space than that, particularly if they stay out for long periods. Around 24-feet in length seems to be a size where many owners go solo.
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Old 06-06-2017, 08:09 PM   #14
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Downsizing as drastically as we did, undeniably requires compromise and adjustment. Its a lot easier to manage, far more economical to operate, and with just my wife, small dog and me, works for us. We did go for the Gemini with the rear slide, which when parked gives you an additional 4 feet or so, and the drivers side slide, but its still a small MH. Truthfully there are times my wife and I look at each other and say what did we do, and other times we are very comfortable with the downsize. Life is all about compromise!
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Old 06-09-2017, 02:12 PM   #15
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Laco, the weight of possible toads was a huge factor when we were even looking at the possibility of a car instead of a Trike. Going from a 1-ton PU with the 6.7 diesel going up and down grades was just never an issue. Now with the V-10 gasser I'm still getting used to the screaming rpms and lack of torque. Having a Mini on a dolly still takes me from about 1,600 pounds to 3,200 pounds, but it is about the lightest vehicle I can find to tow.
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Old 06-09-2017, 05:53 PM   #16
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Joe,
When we had the DP, it had a 9 liter diesel, and virtually did not even notice the car back there. There was zero difference in performance, up hill, downhill, didn't matter, and the mileage was a consistent 6.5 with or without the car back there. Now with the Gemini, its a completely different world. I can tow with the 3.0 liter diesel, but its certainly noticeable. I frankly am not comfortable towing any distance, and not over any major mountain passes, but we knew this would be the case when we downsized. In your case if you could flat tow and get down to that 1600 pounds, I would think it would make a big difference for you. I personally don't care for dolly towing, but certainly there are lots of folks that do, and there are many arguments pro and con for both methods. All a matter of personal choice. I'm familiar with the Ford V10, and it is an engine to loves to rev high RPM's, which seems to not harm it in the least. Its just noisy especially on grades. I frankly loved the pusher, because that diesel engine was 40 feet behind us, and you virtually couldn't hear it, or barely could. The 3.0 diesel in the Mercedes chassis, is still pretty quiet, though you can hear more of it, not objectionable though.
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Old 06-23-2017, 12:37 PM   #17
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Found one other possible tow solution I now have to consider. Aluma makes small different length open car haulers. There are models that are 14 feet long, 16 feet long, and longer. If I have a 14' Aluma trailer for the Mini Cooper the trailer only weighs around 1,000 pounds. So now I'm towing about 3,800 pounds with 500 pounds or less of tongue weight. Could also use the same trailer to switch and haul the Trike. Then instead of having a dolly and Trike trailer I would only have one trailer.

Anyone towing a car on a trailer behind a gas MH?
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