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Old 04-05-2020, 01:41 PM   #1
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Question Towing a Prius behind an Atlas

Hi there again,

We recently acquired an Airstream/Mercedes Atlas. We want to tow our Prius V behind it on long trips. The Prius weighs about 3400lb total of which about 1800 is in front. I've been looking at tow dollies and have some questions:

1. There are many brands: Blue Ox, Roadmaster, Ultra Tow, Premier, Stehl, Demco. Which one is best for our needs?

2. Should we go with surge brakes or electric brakes?

3. Do we need an anti-sway hitch with our relatively light load?

Much obliged for any advice from people with experience.

Krikati
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Old 04-05-2020, 01:45 PM   #2
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Does Toyota allow that?

https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffnt&q=toy...hind+RV&ia=web

Only with front wheels up on a dolly?
https://priuschat.com/threads/towing...d-an-rv.20359/

Is yours 2WD or 4WD? It appears that drive wheels cannot be on the road. Please advise what you find out from the dealer and other sources.

Good luck,

Peter

PS -- What does your Prius owner's manual say?
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Old 04-05-2020, 02:46 PM   #3
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Many thanks Peter. I've read a good bit on line, and it's pretty clear the Prius can be towed with front wheels off the ground. But the question that remains is this: when you push the button to turn off the ignition, the parking brake automatically engages. If the parking brake locks the rear wheels, it will either wear out the pads or the rear tires, won't it? On the other hand, if you run it with the ignition "on" won't that create issues with the electrical system? Also, the steering will not lock with the ignition on. Help!
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Old 04-05-2020, 05:36 PM   #4
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Call your Toyota dealer, or their 800 number IMO. Is your Prius owner's manual silent on this? Getting an exact answer may be hard, and may be different for each model year. Very easy to over-think this, before getting a definitive answer from Toyota IMO.

We have had a couple of Prius V's -- great car!

Peter
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Old 04-05-2020, 11:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krikati View Post
Many thanks Peter. I've read a good bit on line, and it's pretty clear the Prius can be towed with front wheels off the ground. But the question that remains is this: when you push the button to turn off the ignition, the parking brake automatically engages. If the parking brake locks the rear wheels, it will either wear out the pads or the rear tires, won't it? On the other hand, if you run it with the ignition "on" won't that create issues with the electrical system? Also, the steering will not lock with the ignition on. Help!
The Prius manual on line says you must use a tow dolly (front wheels off the ground). It says the vehicle must be on, for two reasons. The first is the parking brake, as you note. The second is that the steering wheel lock is not designed to be strong enough to keep the front wheels straight. when towing on a dolly.

You need trailer brakes for that weight. Whether you use surge brakes or electric brakes may be dependent on your state rules. They vary as to the legality of surge brakes over a certain weight. The tow dolly supplier will know. If you opt for electric brakes you have the additional benefit of manual application.

You don't require weight distribution equipment as the tongue weight is so low.

Having used a tow dolly, they can be a hassle. Loading and unloading ease will depend on how low the front air dam is on the Prius. Remember that there is no operating in reverse. But if you have the Prius already it is probably simpler to tow using a dolly than purchase another vehicle that you can flat tow.

Good luck

Jeff
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Old 04-06-2020, 09:04 AM   #6
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A good friend of mine wanted to tow her Prius behind her motorhome. She said she couldn't flat tow it, and sold her Prius and bought a different car to tow.
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Old 04-06-2020, 09:17 AM   #7
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Towing a low to ground profile car like Prius, or any other you want a “tow dolly” with detachable ramps. Given motion of your Atlas’ rear end driving over humps or in and out of parking lots the hitch will raise up and down. As you raise up dolly tongue the attach ramps move away from car. As the dolly lowers the attached ramps can bite into under suide of you car . That while you want detachable ramps.
Braking: personally i would choose surge brakes.
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Old 04-06-2020, 09:47 AM   #8
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I will be curious as to what you find. I think a full platform is probably the way to go, and a custom trailer is probably the best option (you can make it lighter than a stock trailer, and just the length of your vehicle). I am considering pulling my Prius behind the Argosy 24 motorhome and using it for an auxiliary battery bank. Toyota will tell you not to do this, but there are plenty of documented cases of people using their Priuses (Priui?) for house power (plugged into their home's breaker box) during natural disaster power outages, so powering a motor home should be cake. On a related note: I am hoping to eventually place Tesla type battery banks in the belly of an airstream for house power *and* auxiliary power (to increase distance) for an electric tow vehicle!
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Old 04-06-2020, 09:50 AM   #9
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I do not have specific experience towing a Prius but I would use a sway control hitch. I don't like even a little sway when towing. The short distance from your hitch to the wheels is not the best for that.
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Old 04-06-2020, 10:53 AM   #10
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Many thanks to all. So, I am tending towards a Roadmaster Tow Dolly with electric brakes. I don't know if the ramps are removable. Are they? Is the premium model Roadmaster worth paying double for?
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Old 04-06-2020, 12:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Krikati View Post
Many thanks to all. So, I am tending towards a Roadmaster Tow Dolly with electric brakes. I don't know if the ramps are removable. Are they? Is the premium model Roadmaster worth paying double for?
The RM2000-1 (premium model) has some better user ergonomics and a wider range of adjustment. But both are decent products.

Ramps are not removable on either model. But they're not terribly long, either. The bed tilts to provide access for loading the car, then is leveled out and pinned in place for transport. Unless you expect to bottom out your Atlas's rear bumper on the pavement on a bump or incline, the vertical range of motion of the dolly tongue should not cause any more problems than will the car's front suspension flexing on the dolly when the dolly wheels hit a bump.

The Roadmaster 2000-8 Guardian Carrier is a good accessory for either dolly, coupled with the model 4000 Guardian rock shield, to protect your Prius from road debris that might be thrown up by your Atlas.
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Old 04-06-2020, 07:48 PM   #12
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I'll give you a little different perspective. I'm a veteran over the years of five different tow dollies. I'm a slow learner, but I have since seen the light, and bought a towed that can be towed 4-down. But I understand needing to tow the car you have.

I towed a '10 Prius level V with the last tow dolly I bought. After having four REALLY heavy ones, like the Roadmaster, Tow Master, and Demco the last one I bought was one of the light-weight ones. Believe me, there are MANY "down sides" to tow dollies, but the biggest is weight. Moving a tow dolly by hand from a rutted, wet campground road into a soft, wet campsite in the rain AFTER you've had to crawl around underneath it in mud puddles to get the straps off is no fun at all.

The last tow dolly I bought was a lightweight dolly like the EZ-Tow, Acme and similar. They're a third the weight, a third of the cost (of some of the big boys) and MUCH easier to muscle around when and where you need to. They work REALLY well without the steering axle or pivot plate, and just with the steering on the car as the pivot.

Now, my '10 Prius was pretty straight-forward with a hand parking brake, and no steering lock at all, so the car was towed with the transmission in "park" and the brake off, and the ignition switch off. I don't know about the later Prius models... and you can't tow anything from Toyota that is AWD or 4WD, even with the dolly because of the center differential. I found THAT out the hard way with my FJ Cruiser. I towed IT on the dolly, and STILL had to drop the rear driveshaft. *sigh* As I said, I'm slow learner.

I didn't have brakes on any of the tow dollies, and even towing a Lincoln Continental behind my Airstream 325, I never had issues. That said, I DO have a brake buddy in my Jeep when I tow it 4-down now.

So there you have a little different perspective. Good luck!
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Old 04-06-2020, 11:22 PM   #13
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For a little different perspective, a year ago I did an extensive search for a toad to flat tow behind our Unity RV. We wound up with an 18 Fiat Abarth for several reasons. 1. It was about the 3rd lightest vehicle in the MH Magazine tow guide, 2. Didn't require any special procedures like removing fuses or disconnecting battery etc. 3. Doesn't require the ignition to be on while towing, just take it out of gear and release the parking brake, lock the doors and go, and 4. Dealers were deeply discounting the 2018's at this time last year. I had found several new 2018 Fiat 500 Pops at 30% under MSRP but wound up buying an Abarth model at 25% under MSRP. The only drawback to the Fiat is an un-useable rear seat which I solved by installing a seat delete kit which gave us a much larger flat storage area. I had it set up for towing by Camping World and was fortunate to catch their $59 installation sale. All in all we're very happy with our choice but unfortunately they will no longer be importing them to the US. If anyone decides to look for a Fiat, be sure to limit your search to stick shift versions, the automatics are not flat towable.
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Old 04-23-2020, 05:57 AM   #14
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Towing a prius

Be aware of the campground policy on charging!!
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Old 04-23-2020, 08:16 AM   #15
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First, look at the Prius manual under "recreational towing". See if there's a plan.
I had a tow dolly for a while, sold it with the MH, and the buyer used it with his Prius. It was a Demco.
The big hassle with a dolly is storing it while not in use.
No, you do not use a WD hitch, it's just a 2" ball.
Mine had surge brakes and they worked fine. Electric brakes would require wiring a brake controller into your RV.
The tow dolly had a simple 4 pin electrical connector.
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