What's the Difference Between Dolly Towing vs. Flat Towing? The Definitive Guide

What's the Difference Between Dolly Towing vs. Flat Towing? The Definitive Guide

If you’ve decided that you want to tow a car behind your RV on your next camping trip, the most crucial question up for debate will be — should you use a dolly tow or a flat tow? Whether you’re a seasoned RV veteran or are new to using camping trailers in general, it’s vital to select the correct towing method for your usage needs to ensure you don’t run into any unexpected snags along the way.

Speaking of snags, don’t hit rubber to the road again without making sure you’ve purchased RV insurance coverage for your motorhome to stay safe and protected whenever the itch to embark on another camping trip strikes.

Keep reading to learn about the critical differences between dolly towing vs. flat towing, the pros and cons of each method, the top factors to consider, and more.

What Is Dolly Towing?

With the dolly tow method, your car’s front wheels will be elevated off the ground and rest on top of the trailer. The majority of modern cars feature front-wheel drive specifications, so the dolly towing means you won’t have to worry about altering the drive shaft.

One of the notable aspects of dolly towing is that it will reduce any wear on your drive train. Outdoor enthusiasts also won’t have to worry about ramping up vehicle miles when towing a car behind camping trailers for long distances.

It’s hard to beat the dolly towing method in terms of versatility, but the main downside to consider is that you won’t be able to pull a rear wheel drive car with a dolly. Dolly trailers can also be a more expensive investment than flat towing (we will take a look at cost concerns further down). Depending on where you live, your state may require you to plate and register your tow trailer in addition to your RV and impose certain length and weight requirements.

If you’re new to maneuvering motorhomes and trailers in general, it also bears mentioning that dolly trailers could be challenging to back in at first. You will also have to locate an area at your chosen campsite to keep the trailer after you unload your vehicle from it.

What Is Flat Towing?

You can tow almost any type of vehicle you want with a flat tow trailer. All you have to do is drive the car onto the flat trailer platform, anchor it securely, and you’re ready to roll. With the flat towing method, you also won’t have to stress about wearing out your tires or drive train, plus there are no mileage concerns.

A flat trailer is easy to back up and maneuver. If you decide that you need to tow more than one vehicle behind your RV, you can easily accomplish this with a flat trailer, provided the model you choose is large enough and can support the weight capacity.

The primary downside with the flat towing method is that it will take longer and require more work to load up. Flat trailers are more cumbersome than dollies and will require significant towing capacity. You may also need to be sure to locate an area to store your flat trailer once you arrive at each campsite.

Dolly Towing Pros and Cons

Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of dolly towing. The main advantages of a dolly trailer are:

●    You can use it for most front wheel drive vehicles

●    You can back it as you would any other trailer

●    You won’t require a baseplate plate for your car

You’ll also want to take these cons into account before making your final choice:

●    Typically costs more to use than a flat towing

●    Not compatible with all types of cars

●    Depending on the state, you could be required to take out additional insurance and register the trailer

Flat Towing Pros and Cons

Consider these advantages if you’re thinking about purchasing a flat trailer for your upcoming RV trip:

●    One person can hook up and disconnect the tow

●    The towing equipment is typically more cost-effective than for dolly towing

●    Flat tows are compatible with most vehicle types

There are also these cons to take into account as well:

●    Loading up the trailer takes longer and can require more effort

●    You will still need to find a place to park the trailer at home and onsite

●    Flat trailers are much more massive than dolly trailers and require a higher towing capacity

Calculating Towing Capacity

When deciding between dolly towing vs. flat towing, you must also take the towing capacity that both the hitch and your RV can reasonably support. To figure out how much weight your RV can support, you will want to check out the door near the outside of your rig where RV manufacturers list two different weights — the Gross Combined Weight Rating and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.

These numbers indicate precisely what your chassis and engine can support. The actual hitch should tell you the maximum amount of pounds it can handle. For example, suppose you have a Georgetown XL with a GCWR of 32,000 pounds, a GVWR of 25,000 pounds, and a 6,000-pound hitch weight capacity.

By subtracting your GVWR from your rig’s GCWR, you end up with a motorhome towing capacity of 7,000 pounds. However, remember that your actual hitch can only support up to 6,000 pounds. Exceeding that amount could damage your hitch and make towing a challenge.

Next, you’ll need to determine how much the vehicle you intend to tow weighs. If you can get your car weighed at your local shop, that’s the simplest and easiest method. Don’t forget to factor the weight of any items you plan on storing in your vehicle into the picture. Once you know how much weight your hitch and your car can handle, you’ll have a much better idea of the tow that is right for you.

Cost & Other Key Considerations

Price could be one of the most significant deciding factors for you when choosing between dolly towing vs. flat towing. A tow dolly could set you back anywhere from $1,000 for a used model to $3,500 for a brand new one. Flat towing comes in somewhere in the middle, and can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 worth of an investment for a trailer.

Consider your usage needs and the type of car you want to tow before making your final choice. For example, if you go RV camping often and are concerned about the wear on your drive train, a tow dolly could make an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you don’t have a front-wheel drive and aren’t too thrilled about dealing with extra things like potentially taking out additional insurance and registration, a flat tow trailer might be the ideal pick for your needs.

Always calculate your rig and hitch’s towing capacity first and foremost before you narrow down your list of tow options for dolly towing vs. flat towing. Pay close attention to the weight any dolly or flat tow you’re looking at can support.

These figures will vary and be specific to each model you look at. If you end up deciding that a flat trailer is the best option for your camping needs, remember to add the actual trailer weight to your vehicle weight. That way, you will ensure you don’t exceed your overall total towing capacity once you hit the road.