Towing on a dolly

I have a 2003 Toyota Rav4 compact SUV, auto trans w/automatic 4-wheel drive. I’m told I cannot tow the car with the front wheels on a dolly, dragging the back wheels. Question: Can the drive shaft betwen the transmission and rear differential be removed without consequences, except loosing the 4-wheel drive ability? Therefore, able to tow with the front wheels on a dolly?

The owners manual will recommend how the vehicle can be towed. You might be able to tow it with the front wheels on the ground with the rear wheels on the dolly. If not, then removing the driveshaft with the rear wheels on the ground will prevent transmission damage.


Thanks. The manual does not recommend towing with all 4 on the ground. The service dept said I should not tow at all, especially with the front wheels on the ground (front wheel drive). I would like to tow with the front wheels on a dolly and the back wheels dragging behing. My thought was to remove the drive shaft so the transmission will not be able to be engaged by the rear wheels turning during towing. I would also like to be able to drive the vehicle as well without the driveshaft, after towing, since it’s only used when the 4-wheel drive is automatically engaged by the back wheels slipping. Front wheel drive only is all that is necessary. Hope this makes sense.

If they don’t recommend towing with any of the wheels on the ground then remove the driveshaft between the tranny and rear differential and tow it with the rear wheels on the ground. This way the rear diff is isolated from the rest of the drive train. But I wouldn’t drive the vehicle without the driveshaft installed. You might pump all the tranny fluid out of the tranny without the driveshaft installed.


Why not just rent a dolly that gets all four wheels off the ground?

Can you show an example of a four wheel car dolly?


Right, however, I think there is a solid universal behind the transmission, as well as in front of the differential, making the driveshaft removable. I would have to inspect more closely, but I don’t think fluid could escape from the transmission. If this is possible, there is still the question as to whether I would get full engine power to the front wheels. I may have to visit a knowledable tech at the service dept to answer these questions.

If the vehicle has independent rear suspension, there is no slip yoke at the rear of the tranny. Just a flange. If that’s the case, just pull the driveshaft. You can try driving it without the driveshaft, but if you see a any kind of warning light on the dash, put the driveshaft back in.


Right, I think that might be worth a try. Thanks.

The four wheel “car dolly” is a misnomer. It’s a car carrier.


Your AWD differential is not designed to have front normal stress and rear under none. It will likely ruin it or severely shorten its life.

Do it this way pictured above. Don’t monkey around with a dolly and removing a drive shaft.

Thanks for answering, missileman.

I drive by a U-Haul business on my commute, and they have several of these sitting out front. Unless you have FWD, I don’t know why anyone would try to use one that only gets the front wheels off the ground.

You’re right. It isn’t a dolly. U-Haul calls theirs an “auto transport.”

By the way, there is an added benefit to using one of these. You can back one of these up. If you use a dolly, there is no way to control the direction of the towed car if you have to back up. If you get into a sticky situation using a dolly, you would have to remove the car from the dolly in order to back it up.