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Tow Dolly vs. Auto Transport: What's the Difference?

When moving to a new home, one of the most important things to consider is not only how to transport your belongings, but how to transport your car as well. In general, there are three options: drive it yourself, rent a tow dolly, or hire an auto transport service. Driving it yourself is the cheapest option, but rarely the most practical, especially if you’re moving long-distance or have multiple cars. Which is why, for most homeowners, it’s a choice between a tow dolly or auto transport service. Each comes with a particular set of costs and benefits. In order to decide which makes the most sense for you, let’s explore the differences between the two.

Auto transport open carrier

Tow Dolly

A tow dolly is a two-wheel trailer that lifts the front wheels of your car, while leaving the rear wheels on the ground. Once the vehicle is secured, the dolly is attached to another vehicle, which pulls it to your final destination. Tow dollies are not a professional service. Homeowners rent them and are responsible for locking everything in place and getting the vehicle from point A to B. Because most cars aren’t powerful enough to tow another vehicle, this may mean renting a truck as well.

Auto Transport Service

An auto transport service hauls your car on a trailer that lifts the entire vehicle off the ground. Auto transport is a specialty service provided by moving and shipping companies. Once the trailer has been booked, the company staff are responsible for loading, securing, and delivering your vehicle according to your instructions.

Tow Dolly vs. Auto Transport - Pros & Cons

Though both are capable of hauling vehicles, tow dollies and auto transport each offer distinct advantages. Before putting down your money, take a moment to weigh the factors involved, such as:

  • Cost. Tow dollies are the cheapest way to transport a vehicle. Hiring an auto transport service generally costs at least twice as much.
  • Set Up. Surprisingly, getting four wheels onto a trailer is easier than hoisting two wheels onto a dolly. The process is complicated and, if you’ve never worked with a dolly before, it will probably take several tries. Auto transport trailers, on the other hand, are relatively simple and managed by an experienced crew.
  • Safety. Hauling cars takes skill. Trailer sway can cause vehicles to fishtail at high speeds. It’s a major cause of towing accidents, especially during bad weather. Auto transport drivers are trained to handle it, but it can be a serious issue for regular homeowners who don’t have experience.
  • Wear and Tear. Towing your car increases the weight on the back wheels, leading to more wear and tear. It’s fine over small distances, but the farther you go, the worse it can get. Hiring an auto transport service doesn’t put any extra mileage on your car, which makes it the best choice for interstate moves. The most you have to worry about is ordinary road debris. If that’s a problem, you can choose a closed carrier instead of an open one, though it will cost a little more.
  • Compatibility. A tow dolly is designed for light, front-wheel drive vehicles. A few rear wheel or all wheel vehicles are compatible as well. Certain makes, lengths, and low-clearance vehicles aren’t compatible at all. The bumper, body kit, or undercarriage could drag on the ground. But an auto transport can haul practically any make and model, even motorcycles, no matter the size or weight.

The Convenience Factor

Auto transport services might cost more, but they save time. Rather than spending your move looking after your car, you’re freed to focus on the rest of your household. Coordinating utilities, internet, storage facilities, and the myriad other details requires a lot of effort. Hiring an auto transport service keeps your energy directed where it's needed most, while also opening up your travel options. Instead of driving cross country, you can fly or drive a second family vehicle without the hassle of towing.

Car Moving Made Easy

When considering whether to go with a tow dolly vs. auto transport service, remember the cheapest option may not always be the best. Allied Auto Transport gets your car to its new home as quickly and safely as possible, with less stress, less mileage, and less work. Call today for a free quote!