Those who need to transport their vehicle over long distances often consider car dolly rentals. After all, it seems both simple and affordable to attach your car to the back of a larger vehicle and move it across the country. On the other hand, car dolly rentals come with a few downsides that can make them a risky choice.

The main alternative to car dolly rental is moving your vehicle using a car shipping company. While auto transport is considerably more expensive, it puts far less wear and tear on your car than transport renting a car dolly.

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What Is A Car Dolly?

At its simplest, a car dolly rental provides drivers with a two-wheeled trailer used to transport front-wheel drive vehicles. While some four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and rear-wheel drive cars can use car dollies, they’re intended mainly for front-wheel drive models.

A car dolly rental comes in handy for those hoping to transport smaller vehicles without actually driving them. After getting a truck rental, many people look for a car dolly to let a towed vehicle be moved at the same time.

While it may be fine to use a car dolly rental during short-distance moves, the potential for damages due to wear and tear makes it a less desirable option for cross-country transport. In that case, you’ll want to check out cheap car shipping options to keep your vehicle safe.

Car Dollies Vs. Car Carriers

While similar, a car dolly rental isn’t the same as renting a car carrier. With a car dolly, your car will still have two wheels on the road during transport. On the other hand, a car carrier is a four-wheeled trailer that lifts your entire car off the highway.

Car dollies will almost certainly be more affordable than car carriers, but they also can be a pain to use and only fit with certain vehicles. If you’ve got a larger vehicle or a long-distance move ahead, get car shipping quotes online from auto transporters that use car carriers so you can compare your options before making a decision.

How To Load Your Car On A Car Dolly

If you’re moving with a car dolly rental, it’s time to consider how that rental equipment can be put to good use. Below, we’ll explain exactly how to get your car dolly ready for the road:

  1. Have everything in order. Ensure that your vehicle is a front-wheel drive model that functions with a car dolly rental. Check that your car’s tires and the car dolly’s tires are well inflated. Remove weight from the towed vehicle, especially from its back.
  2. Attach the car dolly to the towing vehicle. Carefully follow the provided instructions to ensure the dolly is well connected to the vehicle that’s towing it.
  3. Set up ramps and slowly drive your car onto the dolly. Do not back your vehicle onto the car dolly. Once in place, turn off the car, put it in park, and engage the parking brake.
  4. Secure your vehicle onto the car dolly rental. Follow the instructions for harnessing your car using tire straps, car straps, and safety chains. Be careful when performing this step, as your car will be damaged if instructions aren’t followed properly.
  5. Remove the car dolly ramps. Now that your vehicle is almost ready to tow, put away the ramps until you reach your destination.
  6. Release the parking brake and check that the steering wheel is locked into forward position. These two steps are critical to make sure your car can safely move during transport.
  7. Drive for about 100 feet and perform a safety check. Even after this, stop regularly to make sure that the car dolly and towed vehicle are secure.

While getting a car dolly into position isn’t the easiest task, you’ll likely have an easy time as long as you follow the directions given from your rental agency. It’s crucial that you follow the instructions given at your car dolly rental location, as otherwise you could potentially face some serious damages.

Benefits Of Car Dolly Rentals

With a car dolly rental, users can transport their personal vehicle behind a moving truck so that only one car needs to be driven. It’s an extremely cost-effective way to get a vehicle from one place to another when you need to drive more than one car.

Auto transport providers offer another simple solution for getting multiple cars from one place to the next. Many opt for equipment rentals, though, because car shipping costs are generally much higher when car carriers are involved. A car dolly rental can cost less than $50 in some cases from some of the country’s largest truck rental companies.

You’ll likely only need a car dolly rental if you’re headed a short distance away from home. Since tow dolly rentals come at such a cheap price compared to larger-scale automotive transport, car shipping companies may not be worth it for moves of only a few hundred miles.

Downsides To Car Dolly Rentals

Car dollies come with some serious risks, so it’s important to understand exactly what issues can arise when using them. Consider the following challenges before renting a car dolly:

  • Potential for damage: Wear and tear is highly likely when you choose a car dolly rental. With your vehicle’s front two wheels lifted up, far more weight rests on your car’s back two tires. If your vehicle has a wheelbase of over six feet, components on your car’s undercarriage could drag.
  • Vehicle setup: Sometimes there’s little explanation of how to actually attach a dolly. If you incorrectly connect your car dolly to a moving truck, your own vehicle could face damages on the road.
  • Vehicle sway: If the towed vehicle is loaded too heavily in the rear, your car could start to sway and it may lead to whipping.
  • Car restrictions: Not all cars can actually be placed on a car dolly rental. While front-wheel drive vehicles will almost always fit, you may end up having to remove your car’s drive shafts to fit other types. Regardless of your vehicle type, it’s also impossible to back your car up when a car dolly is attached.
  • Vehicle weight restrictions: Car dolly rentals are well-suited for smaller vehicles, but larger models won’t be able to fit with this type of towing equipment.
  • Poor gas mileage: Because you’ll be moving another vehicle, you’ll likely notice bad fuel economy when using a loaded car dolly.

It’s recommended that drivers avoid car dolly rentals if you’re moving out of state or a long distance. If you still choose to use a dolly, you should be prepared for at least minor damages to your car, regardless of how well you tie down the vehicle. Two-wheel trailer rentals are cheap for a reason, as they’re somewhat unreliable and apt to have issues on the road.

Alternatives To Car Dolly Rental

Those who are transporting their car over long distances or anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of car dolly rentals may want to consider one of the top car shipping companies. Two providers we recommend are AmeriFreight and uShip.

AmeriFreight: Best For Discounts

One of the longest-running companies in the auto transport industry, AmeriFreight has earned a reputation for superior services at relatively strong rates. The company can meet nearly any driver’s needs, from expedited shipping and terminal-to-terminal delivery to services for shipping a car to Hawaii or Alaska.

Even better, AmeriFreight reviews mention that it’s easy to save money with the broker. You’ll find countless potential discounts with AmeriFreight, so expect to save if you’re a student, military member, or medical worker. On top of that, the company will price match any shipping provider with above-average customer reviews and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

uShip: Best Shipping Marketplace

It’s simple to find cheap rates through uShip, as its marketplace allows car hauling companies to make bids on specific vehicle shipments. Because of this, drivers can choose their own shipping provider based on personal preference and budgetary needs.

While most car shipping companies choose whichever trucking company they believe best fits your order, uShip’s marketplace model lets customers make the decision instead. This comes with upsides and drawbacks. While drivers earn more freedom, uShip reviews say it’s important to carefully consider choices to discover whether haulers are both affordable and reputable.

Car Dolly Rental: FAQ

How We Rate Auto Shippers

Our review process aims to deliver consistent and unbiased assessments of car shipping companies. While there are multiple qualities that make an auto transport provider successful, our review team focuses on those we believe are the most important for consumers:

  • Cost: Cost can be difficult to compare between providers because so many factors impact auto shipping rates. To determine our cost score, we perform a secret shopper analysis for a variety of vehicles and routes.
  • Services: Our team of experts looks at the types of services available, as well as insurance coverage and the ability to guarantee pickup and drop-off dates. Ratings also take into account whether the transport company is a broker or a carrier.
  • Reputation: It’s important that a car shipping provider is able to deliver your vehicle in a safe and timely manner. Companies with a strong rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) score well in this category. Established providers with a long history of reliable service also receive positive marks.
  • Customer Experience: We comb through consumer reviews on sites like the BBB to learn about customer experiences. Car transport companies with a low volume of complaints score well in this area.

*Data accurate at time of publication.