It is common to see vehicles flat-towing other vehicles on the road. This type of towing is called dinghy towing, and continues to be among the most popular and convenient ways to haul. The term, “dinghy” actually refers to yachts hauling small transit boats in their wakes.
Dinghy towing has become a very efficient and secure way of hauling cars, trucks, and SUV’s. For this reason, an extensive line of specialized equipment was introduced to the market to support this type of hauling. Parts like supplemental transmission lubrication pumps, quick-disconnect couplings for the driveshaft, light wiring, and supplemental brake actuators are towing components that make dinghy-style hauling safer and more efficient.
There are two ways dinghy towing is done: either by using a tow bar, or a tow dolly. Continue reading to learn the differences between these two styles, and gain a better perspective of the pros and cons of dinghy towing.
Using a Tow Bar
When you see, for example, an RV hauling a sedan with all four tires making contact with the road, this is dinghy style towing using a tow bar. It is connected to the front bumper of the towed vehicle, and then trailer lights are attached to the back bumper. Although reliable, using a tow bar to haul cars can become complicated since cars are meant to drive on their own power, rather than be hauled on the ground.
Also, transmissions are designed to be turned by the car’s engine. But when a car is being hauled on the pavement, the tires will cause the transmission to turn instead, which could possibly lead to transmission damage. On the other hand, certain vehicles, like Jeeps, are designed with a 4WD mechanism that retains a transfer case, which places the car in neutral, isolating the transmission from the wheels. It is important to always refer to the hauled vehicles owners’ manual for manufacturer recommendations before setting it up for tow bar dinghy towing.
Using a Tow Dolly
In contrast to bars, tow dollies only allow the rear tires of a towed vehicle to touch the ground. When you see a car being hauled with its front wheels raised and its back wheels rolling on the ground, you are witnessing dinghy style towing using a tow dolly. Dollies are popular for RV’s that need to haul a car or SUV long distances. A notable downside to tow dolly hauling is uneven tire wear. However, routine maintenance and regular tire rotations can help slow this process down