Towing with a car dolly

according to Uhaul, all vehicles must be loaded facing forward on the car dolly, and if you have a rear-wheel-drive, (rwd), the drive shaft must be disconnected. My question is why you cannot just back said rwd vehicle on? (they claim it is dangerous - pshaw!)

Wben a car is towed from the rear with a wrecker, the steering wheel is locked. Perhaps U-Haul is trying to avoid this oversight. I suppose another problem might be that it would confuse motorists on an interstate. At night, if the lights would happen to be turned on on the car being towed, this could really cause a problem. I thought a motorist was going the wrong way at night on an interstate. It turned out that the back up lights were stuck on on the car that appeared to be going the wrong direction.

I would not put any of my cars on a dolly, period. Spring the extra $20 for a trailer that gets all four wheels off the ground. Your idea to back the car onto the dolly is foolish. Better buy the extra insurance too, since that is probably what you are going to do anyway. Hope you don’t hurt or kill someone . . .

It is dangerous. When a tow truck driver does it, it is for short distance to the shop or your house. When you do it behind a U-Haul truck, it is usually for a longer trip, and if the wheels aren’t fully locked, or become unlocked, it is bad news. I have seen tow truck driver’s use the seatbelts to secure the steering wheel, but even that was for just a short distance.

If your car isn’t FWD, spring for the extra money to get all four wheels off the ground. The price difference between the front wheel dolly and the full dolly isn’t worth the risk.

They don’t want the steer wheels left on the ground when you’re using their car dolly. If someone forgot to lock the steering column, or the column lock failed for some reason, things could get very exciting very quickly, and Joe Average is not usually equipped to deal with something like this in a calm, composed manner to minimize the damages. Uhaul doesn’t want to face any more lawsuits than they already have to, so they do not let people do certain things with their equipment. I once had a 1971 3/4 ton GMC pickup that I wanted to use to tow a dead car with. I tried to rent a car dolly from Uhaul, and they wouldn’t rent it to me because of what I was going to use to tow it. They said, according to their computer, my truck was not recommended as a tow vehicle and could not tow the 3,500 lbs I was wanting to put behind it. Never mind the fact that the truck had a 300hp 350, four barrel, four row radiator, TH350 tranny with external cooler, and 4.11 geared Dana 60 axle, the truck was old and therefore seen as a liability. In your case, their advice is sound, and I would highly recommend either using a full trailer to transport your Ranger, or remove the driveshaft and tow with the rear wheels on the ground. If you have a manual transmission, you could just leave it in neutral. If you have 4WD, you can tow with your transfer case in neutral. If you’re going a very short distance (less than three miles) you could leave your automatic transmission in neutral. If you drive too fast or too far, though, you will fry your automatic tranny by doing this.

Isn’t that rwd with automatic? It was not U-Haul that designed the automatic transmission that does not like parts moving without the benifit of fluid circulating. Go ahead and pull the driveshaft, your car needed a “drop and fill” anyway (that is if tieng up the end is not possible and the shaft must come all the way out). If U-Haul says manual trans cars must have their driveshafts disconnected, well this is probably a CYA rule as I have seen cars towed in gear (2n gear at 70mph, that little bug engine was toasted).

If the vehicle on the dolly is correctly attached to the dolly I don’t see any trouble. What I do see happen with people that tow is there is some sort of a “virus” that affects their brain that causes them to prove that not only can thet drive just as fast when towing , but faster.

thanks, I hope don’t hurt or kill someone either (breathe, man!). That is why I am on here asking questions, figgured backing my vehicle onto the dolly would save me from disconnecting the driveshaft, either way no big deal. Oh, and fyi it’s $203 for the dolly or $403 for the trailer.

alright thanks for the info, figgured it was something to do with locking the steering, I’ve seen towtruck drivers doing the same with belts. Always gives me a bit of a scare when I come up on vehicle being towed backwards.

(they claim it is dangerous - pshaw!)

Speaking from experience, it’s not a warning to be taken lightly. Many years ago, I learned this the hard way. I was towing a '69 Jag back to a friend’s house on a dolly behind a B2000. Not the best combo to begin with.

No steering lock on the Jag so I roped the wheel off as I had seen tow truck drivers do several times. All was good until I hit a large bump in the road. That started the Jag swaying behind the truck and it just kept getting worse and got out of control. The tail was wagging the dog and we actually were up on two wheels in the truck at one point before I managed to bring it back under control. I’m surprised I didn’t soil my underwear. That was one of the scariest experiences I ever had in driving. It happened on a two lane road, no shoulders, deep ditches and oncoming traffic that did not stop. The friend in the passenger seat was pretty shook up too. At least I was busy trying to regain control, he had to sit there and roll with it.

After I calmed down, we switched it around on the dolly and went the rest of the way very carefully. The event knocked the Jag out of alignment but that was the extent of the damage FORTUNATELY.

I don’t care if the car has steering lock or not. I wouldn’t tow with the steering wheels on the ground again, ever!

If you want to go on the cheap uhaul still sells tow bars for $149. Just since I am ignorant, I towed my 72 chevy nova from FL to ND to OH to IL over a span of years and only put it in neutral. Drove it 2 years after the last tow and never had a problem with the trans, ujoint or rear end. Was I lucky? Finally traded it in in 1990, due to a new job with a long commute.

yeah, I’m hopping to have a nice 3/4 ton diesel, to tow with, we’ll see. sounds like a PIA all the way around, so this might be a worse case scenerio.

yeah, I thought about goin’ that route too, I’m a little leery because I have a “custom” off-road type bumper on the front.

hey waterboy, so I’ve been daydreaming again here… if I end up flat towing my vehicle, what do I need to do as far as lighting? I probably just need to find a shop that can fit a tow bar on my rig, and then explain what I’ll need for lighting. thanks

Towing on all four wheels usually requires:

-a brake system to apply the car’s brakes when you apply the tow vehicle’s brakes. Some small light trailers don’t require trailer brakes, but any towed item that weighs as much as a car requires a braking system by law.

-circulation of the transmission fluid (with most automatics) or you must disconnect the transmission from the wheels. When you tow on all four wheels without doing anything, the automatic transmission is turned by the wheels. If the transmission turns while the transmission fluid pump is off, this will damage the transmission. Another option would be to leave the car idling while it is being towed, but this wastes fuel and the engine might overheat or lose oil pressure and you would never know until it was too late. There are some automatics that don’t require any modification (to the drivetrain) to tow on all four wheels, but you would need to check to see if yours is one of those. Waterboy probably had one of the cars that can be towed without being modified but didn’t realize it.

-signal lights. These can either be wired from the tow vehicle to the car’s lights, or you can use lights that magnetically mount on top of the trunk of the car being towed.

Making most cars with an automatic transmission towable on all four wheels is expensive. It is slightly less expensive for a car with a manual transmission, but you still need a brake system and lights.


Holy crap man! Try a different company. The last time I moved myself 'cross country (which I will never do again) I paid an extra $35 for the flatbed.

alright thanks for mentioning brakes Whitey. Some thing I did not consider, lol, and yes, it certainly adds to the complication.

Those RVers with their Jeeps make it look so easy.

But if it’s any consolation my truck (and the likely tow rig) is a manual, so ya know, at least I got that goin’ for me…

There might be a low cost way to pull it off. You might be able to rent (from UHaul or one of its competitors) or buy the lights that magnetically mount to the vehicle being towed, and there are brake systems that mount to the floor of the vehicle being towed. These systems actually push the brake pedal down when you activate the brakes in the towing vehicle. If you can find one of these systems, you might be able to install it yourself. You could also look into having a system installed by an RV servicer who is familiar with them. It might not cost that much to have one of these under-the-hood systems installed by a professional.

Make sure you look into what it takes to stay legal. You would probably need to mount a sign of some kind that reads, “vehicle in tow.”

alrighty, thanks again Whitey, good considerations.

The deal is I’m looking at purchasing an F250 but it’s a couple states away, and I was hoping to keep my Ranger too, but depending on what they’ll give for trade-in, it just be easier to let that little gas-saver go :frowning:

Appreciate the help though, take care.