This article is going to evaluate a couple of things you should consider before you buy a tow dolly. First, you want to consider the warranty. Most manufacturers offer a very limited 1 year warranty on the “assembly” of the tow dolly. That is very vague. Hardly anything can go wrong with the “assembly” of a tow dolly. What really matters is the warranty for moving parts like brakes, bearings, actuators etc. These are the essential moving parts and actually the only thing that can malfunction or go wrong on a tow dolly. When making the purchase look for a company that offers a 5 year warranty on these parts. That is a good indication to you the high faith they have in their product.
There are no warranties for lights, tires, wheel straps, ratchets. In fact lights and wheel straps are considered to be consumables on a tow dolly. Car Tow Dolly comes in 4 styles. An idler, ( No Brakes ), an Electric Brake System, A Hydraulic Surge Drum Brake System, or a Hydraulic Surge Disc Brake System.
The idler system is frequently assigned for around town use, shuttling small cars from place to place around town. If you are to be traveling it is essential to know that many states require brakes of one type or other on a Car Tow Dolly. Eachyear more states are added to the list. Also, the resale value of a tow dolly with brakes is much higher.
Electric Brake System is better than not having anything. But not the best system. Electric brakes require a Brake Control Box inside your RV. The box has built in sensort technology, and outer adjusting handles. If you are not very knowledgeable in understanding and setting these controls then you probably actually do not have brakes on your Tow Dolly and just don’t know it. In addition to that, if you ever have a brake problem you will have to troubleshoot beginning with the brake control box, the wiring from the brake system back to the trailer plug, then the complete wiring system of the tow dolly. A real burden and quite costly proposition.
A Hydraulic Surge Brake System is the most efficient and trouble free system. It will cost a good bit more, but it is worth it. Nearly all manufacturers use a Hydraulic Surge “DRUM” Brake System. This is in reality a rather old technology. Drum brakes run much hotter, have a propensity towards chucking or abrupt hard braking. Due to the features of a Tow Dolly, Electric and Hydraulic DRUM Brake Systems are very difficult to adjust. The adjusting port is blocked by a spindle plate and one cannot access the adjuster port to adjust the brakes. Some dealers will tell you that tow dollies have brake adjusters. Well that is a play on words. They do have adjusters, but they are manual, not automatic. There are no trailers of any kind with self adjusting brakes. After each single long trip tow dolly brakes need to be adjusted or you just will not have brakes and may never know it. So, the near perfect braking system is a Hydraulic Surge “DISC” Brake System. DISC brakes run much cooler, never need adjusting, they do not chuck or hit hard when activated and they are four times more capable than a DRUM system. The brake pads are in clear sight and effortless to replace with pads obtainable at all auto parts stores.
The perfect tow dolly will also come equipped with maintenance free bearings. Bearings that never need greasing. These are very common on very costly high end equipment trailers but are rarely observed on small trailers. These are just a few considerations prior to making a purchase decision. One should take their time and shop carefully. Go to the manufacturer’s web site and see for yourself how much information they make available to you about their product.