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Can You Tow A Pickup Truck With A Dolly?

Anyone who has self-towed a truck knows it can be challenging; however, the right equipment makes the process easier.

Whether a vehicle can be safely towed on dollies depends on its make and model, weight and length, drive train, and ground clearance. 

To find out if you can dolly tow your pickup truck, check your owner’s manual. Generally speaking, you can dolly tow trucks with front-wheel drive (FWD) and a curb weight that does not exceed the dolly’s weight limit. If you want to dolly tow a pickup with rear-wheel drive (RWD), you’ll have to disconnect the drive shaft.

The following article will discuss whether dolly towing is the best choice for your vehicle, the difference between curb weight and actual weight, and your options if you can’t dolly tow your pickup truck.

Can I Dolly Tow a Pickup Truck?

A tow truck towing a pickup truck on a snowy highway surrounded by tall trees.

Unfortunately, you can only dolly tow a pickup truck if it meets certain criteria. 

Generally speaking, most pickup trucks are too heavy to be dolly towed.

Additionally, most trucks are rear-wheel drive, which is not ideal for dolly towing.

Dollies lift the front wheels, leaving the rear wheels on the ground.

This is less of an issue if your truck is FWD, as the front wheels are the drive wheels. 

When your pickup is RWD, you can damage your transmission if you tow it without first disconnecting the drive shaft.

Additionally, since dollies lift the front wheels, you can hit the ground with your truck bed if your pickup doesn’t have enough clearance when tilted. 

Overall, it’s always best to check your owner’s manual to confirm if your truck can be dolly towed. 

What Is the Weight Limit on a Tow Dolly?

Different dollies have different weight limits.

However, the average dolly has a weight limit of 3,000 lbs (1,361 kg) to 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg). 

Mid-sized trucks such as the Nissan Frontier, Chevy Colorado, Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, and Honda Ridgeline are light enough to meet standard dolly weights.

Curb Weight vs. Actual Weight

It’s important to understand that curb weight probably isn’t the vehicle’s actual weight.

Curb weight is the truck’s weight plus any necessary fluids, such as gasoline, washer fluid, transmission fluid, etc. 

Curb weight does not include cargo in the truck’s cab or bed or any modifications or special equipment added. 

To determine the truck’s actual weight, add the weight of any cargo, special equipment, or additional components to the truck’s curb weight. 

If you need to estimate the weight of items inside or on the vehicle, make sure you go with a higher estimate.

What if I Can’t Dolly Tow My Truck?

A man standing near a pickup truck while opening the truck bed in an industrial area.

The best way to know how to tow your pickup truck is to check your owner’s manual. 

If you can’t dolly tow your vehicle, your manual will likely recommend one of the following options:

Flat Towing

If you can’t dolly tow your truck, flat towing is an option to get your vehicle from point A to point B. 

Flat towing, also called dinghy towing or four-down towing, is when you use a tow bar to tow your vehicle with all four wheels on the ground. 

However, many modern vehicles cannot be flat towed because of their drive trains. 

Technological advancements have made transmissions more efficient in recent years, but they need the vehicle running to lubricate the system. 

You can’t tow a running vehicle, and can seriously damage your drive train and transmission if you rotate your drive wheels when the vehicle is off.

Because flat towing keeps all four wheels on the ground, it’s not generally recommended for most vehicles.

Flatbed Towing

If you can’t dolly tow or flat tow your truck, you can tow your truck on a flatbed trailer. 

While this is the most expensive option, it’s the safest method for towing a pickup truck. 

Flatbed trailers are built to withstand the weight of a pickup truck and keep the wheels stationary so they don’t rotate in transit, damaging your transmission.

Strap or Chain Towing

Strap or chain towing is when you pull a vehicle with a tow strap or tow chain. 

This kind of towing is risky, as you have little control over the vehicle.

Moreover, straps and chains can break, leading to undesired or severe outcomes. 

Additionally, strap/chain towing keeps all the wheels on the ground, leading to transmission damage.

Generally speaking, you should only use a tow strap or chain in emergencies, such as pulling a truck out of a ditch or when it’s stuck in mud or snow.

Bottom Line

You can tow some pickups with dollies, but only if the owner’s manual recommends it. 

When a truck can’t be dolly towed, you must choose another towing method, such as flatbed towing. 

If self-towing your vehicle isn’t a good option, you can also hire a professional towing service to do it for you.

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