Use a Tow Dolly

Most drivers can learn how to use a tow dolly with little effort and some simple precautions. It is a viable option for towing a vehicle without having to use a full-sized trailer. The tow dolly is a compact, 2-wheeled trailer which is built to transport a vehicle by carrying the vehicle's 2 front wheels on it and pulling it with a tow vehicle.


  1. Hook the dolly to the tow vehicle. Pull up the latch at the top of the tow dolly's coupler on the trailer tongue and turn the hand-wheel counterclockwise to loosen it. Hook the dolly to the tow vehicle's trailer hitch by lifting the trailer tongue of the dolly and setting it down on top of the hitch ball of the tow vehicle's trailer hitch. Flip the top lever down and turn the hand-wheel clockwise to tighten it.
    • Rock the vehicle gently forward or backward to ensure the coupler is firmly seated on the ball. Re-tighten the hand-wheel, if needed.
  2. Attach the safety chains. The chains are attached to the tow dolly and have "S" hooks on the free ends. Crisscross the chains under the hitch and attach the hook ends to the tow vehicle's hitch or bumper brackets.
    • Twist the chains to take up slack if they are so loose they drag on the roadway. The chains should be slack enough to allow for turning, but should not touch the ground.
  3. Plug in the electrical connector from the tow dolly to the tow vehicle's receptor. This will enable the tow dolly's turn signals and brake lights to function.
    • Ensure that the wires are slack enough for maneuvering, but not slack enough to drag on the road.
  4. Load the vehicle onto the dolly. Have the towing vehicle is in park and turned off. Make sure the parking brake is not engaged on the vehicle being towed.
    • Pull out the tow dolly's ramps, also pulling out any retaining pins which may be securing the ramps.
    • Tilt the ramps to make contact with the ground. Center the vehicle behind the tow dolly and slowly drive it onto the tow dolly until the tires reach the wheel stops.
    • Place the vehicle in park and turn it off.
    • Remove the drive shaft, if necessary. If the vehicle being towed is not front-wheel drive, the drive shaft should be removed before towing to prevent damage.
  5. Slide the ramps back into place and re-install pins, if removed. Secure any tire straps or chains which are attached to the tow dolly.
  6. Drive slower than normal when pulling a vehicle with a tow dolly, and use caution on curves, hills and bumpy roads.



  • Check the weight capacity of the dolly and ensure the vehicle to be towed is within the weight limit capacity of the dolly. The vehicle being towed should be at least 750 lbs. lighter than the tow vehicle. A vehicle's gross weight can typically be found on a sticker on the inside of the driver's side door.
  • Measure the wheelbase width of the vehicle to be towed and compare it to the width capacity of the tow dolly. Typically, a tow dolly can accommodate a variety of widths, but it will have a maximum and minimum width.


  • Be sure not to add cargo to the vehicle in tow as the added weight can cause the vehicle to sway side to side during transport.

Sources and Citations