Carrier Shipping vs. Tow Dolly

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You may be considering renting a tow dolly from U-Haul because it is one of the most cost-effective ways to transport your vehicle, but you should weigh all of your options before making a final decision.  The most difficult decision you'll have to make is whether to rent a tow dolly or a car carrier. Lucky for you, that's exactly what this post is all about.

What are the Differences?

How They Work

A car dolly, also known as a tow dolly, is a two-wheel trailer that lifts only your vehicles front wheels. When you use a tow dolly to tow your vehicle, the rear wheels stay on the ground. A car carrier is a trailer that lifts your vehicle completely off the ground.


Most front-wheel-drive vehicles, as well as a few all-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive, and four-wheel-drive vehicles, can use a dolly. At the same time, due to weight constraints, it's not the best option for towing heavier cars.

A car trailer, on the other hand, can move even larger vehicles such as trucks and customized automobiles. To handle your vehicle's weight, the carrier can simply make some alterations. If it's a bigger automobile, for example, they'll reduce the number of vehicles the trailer transports for that trip so it doesn't surpass the maximum weight restriction.

Ease of Use

Connecting your vehicle to a dolly might be tricky, especially if you've never done it before. You must ensure that the drive wheels are exceptionally secure to avoid any potential for mishaps. This is significant since you can't use the emergency brake to keep a car in place when towing it with a tow dolly.

When towing a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the configuration becomes even more difficult. Due to front clearance concerns, you may even need to remove the drive shafts.

Vehicle towing using a car trailer, on the other hand, involves very little work on your part. The carrier will load and unload the vehicle for you, making the process simple for you.


When it comes to price, renting a dolly is usually the most cost-effective solution. A tow dolly rental from U-Haul, for example, costs roughly $98. Auto transport pricing will vary widely depending on the distance you need to ship your vehicle. To see estimated pricing you should use a rate calculator to compare pricing against using a dolly. 

If you don't have a vehicle to tow the dolly with, you may incur additional rental, installation, and fuel costs. Furthermore, most moving firms will only rent dollies if you also rent a truck from them, thus the cost of hiring a dolly will be added to your overall price.

There is also the reality that towing another vehicle behind a truck reduces your gas mileage dramatically. This will result in higher gasoline costs because you'll require more gas to cover the same distance than normal.


Trailer sway, or the fishtailing movement that happens when driving at a fast speed, is one of the most serious automobile dolly towing concerns. It's one of the most common causes of towing accidents, and it's especially dangerous when towing your car in bad weather because the roads become slick, making it even more difficult to maintain control of the vehicle.

In this regard, a carrier is far safer than dollies because the entire vehicle is loaded onto the trailer. There is less risk because the driver only has to concentrate on controlling the vehicle they are driving.


During vehicle towing, rental providers recommend driving at a slower-than-average speed. As previously stated, this is primarily to promote safety and prevent trailer swaying. Maintaining a slower driving speed lengthens your journey greatly and can increase gas costs. 

Car shipment carriers are subject to speed regulations as well, but because there is no risk of trailer sway, they can go a little faster than dollies-equipped vehicles.


Another issue with vehicle towing is the ability to maneuver with the dolly . So, you're probably wondering if you can back up with a tow dolly. Although possible, unskilled drivers may find it difficult. If you haven't done it before, backing up to place the towed vehicle in the proper location may be difficult.

Car haulers, on the other hand, do not have the same difficulties. The driver just has to control the vehicle they're driving because the full vehicle has been loaded onto the carrier. This makes backing up and maneuvering considerably easier.

So which option is right for you? 

Ultimately, the decision is entirely dependent on your requirements. A  dolly should only be used for short-distance towing and for vehicles that do not exceed the weight limit. For cross-country vehicle travel and cars that are heavier than what a tow dolly can carry, use a car carrier.

Going with the cheapest choice isn't always the best option because you'll be sacrificing a lot in the process, including safety and vehicle condition. 

To sum it all up, before making a decision you should thoroughly examine your requirements and choose the option that will provide you with the most convenience and safety.