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Old 08-16-2014, 06:14 PM   #1
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Ok lets talk toads

Not quite ready to get one yet but still looking in to it. So shoot holes please in my logic here, by the time you by the tow bar and perhaps a brake thingy, was told that if you two more that 3000lb you need to have brakes on the tow, and get it all installed, the cost is about the same as buying a tow dollly that you drive the front wheels on. Add to that the few cars that you can tow four wheels down due to tranmissions and such what is the down side of the dolly?
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Old 08-16-2014, 07:21 PM   #2
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I have a toad that I tow four-down. My main reasons for not getting a dolly instead were:
1 - I live in an apartment, and while my landlady allows me to park my Interstate at the apartment complex, we have to store trailers, including dollies, off-site. It would not take long for the combination of purchasing the dolly and paying the storage fee to exceed the cost of the toad conversion.
2 - A dolly is still a trailer, and requires all of the usual trailer nonsense, including a license plate, annual inspection sticker, and insurance. More expenses.
3 - I bought the car specifically to be a toad, and plan to keep it for as long as I can keep it running. I won't be trading it in anytime soon so the conversion is less of a sunk cost. I'll rack up enough towing miles to make the conversion cost-effective. I already have more than 5000 miles towing in a year and a half.
4 - Towing four-down, I have four brakes working on my toad. On a dolly, I have two brakes to stop the weight of toad and dolly together.
5 - I have a toad spare tire already. I don't need to get a dolly spare tire as well.

It wasn't an issue for me since my toad has a GVWR of only 3500 pounds, but weight enters into the picture with some toads. The weight of the dolly is added to the weight of the toad to get your effective trailer weight. Also, as you pull a dolly the effective load on your hitch is down and to the rear, so your tongue weight is subtracted from the Interstate's load capacity. With a towbar to a four-down toad, the only weight on the hitch is directly to the rear, hardly any downward force at all, just half the towbar weight (maybe 20 pounds, if that)

In addition, there is the matter of compatibility. It wasn't the case for me since my toad is front-wheel drive and that's ideal for dolly towing, but if you have a four-wheel-drive toad, you can't dolly-tow it; it has to be four-up (on a full trailer) or four-down, not two-down. If it's rear-wheel drive, you get little benefit from putting it on a dolly, either; the drive wheels are still on the ground just as with a four-down toad.

Where a dolly makes sense is if you meet these criteria:
1 - You have more than one possible toad, and don't want to convert them all. A dolly lets you tow different vehicles without a lot of extra preparatory work.
2 - If you replace your cars regularly and don't want to redo the conversion every time. Some parts (the towbar) will transfer from one vehicle to the next, most parts are vehicle-specific and stay with the toad when you trade it in.
3 - If you have a place where you can store the dolly for free when you're not using it.

All that said, there are distinct advantages to pulling a toad behind your Interstate, whether you do it on a full trailer, a dolly, or four-down. You can use it to carry additional stuff that doesn't fit in the Interstate. You can put a bike rack on the back of your toad or a kayak rack on the roof of your toad and bring extra toys. Once you're parked at the campground, you don't have to break camp to go visit tourist spots or make a grocery run. And if you're headed for the boonies, a breakdown of one vehicle doesn't leave you stranded; you can use the other to get back to civilization.

Sure, some people will recommend Enterprise Rent-a-Car as an alternative since Enterprise delivers the car to you, but if your campground is 35 miles from anywhere and has spotty cellular coverage, getting the rental car is an adventure in itself.
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Old 08-16-2014, 07:33 PM   #3
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You make some great points as always. I know you have a Honda Fit did you check with the dealer about towing 4 down? And more to the point did you check with the service dept?
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Old 08-16-2014, 07:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by bennu36 View Post
You make some great points as always. I know you have a Honda Fit did you check with the dealer about towing 4 down? And more to the point did you check with the service dept?
I downloaded the manual before I even went to the dealer, to make sure the manual allowed it. At the same time, I downloaded the installation manuals for the Roadmaster towbar baseplates and Invisibrake supplemental brake system I'd need.

While I was at the dealer to buy the Honda, I took a tour of the dealership, which included a stop in the service department, and a talk with the service manager. While he said that his service department had never installed towbar baseplates before and didn't want to start, he also said there was no problem with doing it, as long as I had a reputable RV company do the install. It wouldn't even void the warranty.

As it happens, my Airstream dealer, Foley RV in Gulfport is literally two doors down from a Honda dealer, and when they were doing the install, they consulted with a Honda service tech who came over and helped.

As an aside, the 2014 Honda Fit is not towable; they changed something in the drivetrain between the 2013 and 2014 model years. Good thing I bought the 2013 when I did!
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Old 08-18-2014, 05:15 PM   #5
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Note my trip report here that includes a report on using the Demco Kar Kaddy tow dolly and be sure and read down to see Demco's very satisfactory resolution to my issue with the fenders.
Precautions:
  1. Be sure to drive dead straight onto the ramps and as close to dead center on the tow dolly as possible. Everything will work better.
  2. Check your tie downs early and often especially if you encounter significant temperature and altitude changes. The straps can stretch and the tires inflate and deflate as the altitude changes.
  3. Don't try to back up with a tow dolly attached. You will almost certainly fail and can easily end up with your knickers, and everything else, in a twist. Avoid tight or U-turns as well.
  4. Pull through parking and camp sites are a tow dolly driver's best friend.
  5. Tight filling station driveways are your nemesis. Pulling in between mamoth 18 wheelers at a truck stop may seem intimidating, but you can learn to get over that.
  6. You will almost certainly need to clean the windshield of the toad before you use it. Keep windshield cleaner and a squeegee handy.
  7. Everything gets easier and faster with practice. A few runs around town with the toad can make the first real highway trip a lot more relaxed and enjoyable.
  8. Check your tie downs early and often they can work loose. (I know I am repeating myself that is entirely intentional.)
FWIW, my wife was initially reluctant to get a tow dolly, but after our initial trip she has had a change of heart and contends the toad is the way to go on future ventures.
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Old 08-18-2014, 05:47 PM   #6
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what is the down side of the dolly?
We kicked the question about and figured for us it was a no brainer, as said above it's a trailer but it only has one use. I'm on 5 acres so space isn't a problem, what is a problem is what do you do with the trailer when you are at your destination. can't backup with trailer attached just like a toad, have to disconnect vehicle then the trailer as most sites don''t have room to keep it attached. Toad conversion on Fit was easy, take off the front end, 5 screws and a half dozen plastic snaps, install tow bar(almost like another bumper), my tow bar has brake bar that uses the Fits brakes to stop it's forward motion, so only a cable installed to use the Fits brakes. My Ranger pu was harder to convert but even the transmission disconnect could be done. Two vehicles to tow, each has it's advantages so depending on the trip, we decide which one goes. Whenever I see someone hassling a trailer around the campground it reminds me that we have the better way to go.
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