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How to load your car on a U-Haul car dolly

Watch this short video on how to load your car on a U-Haul car dolly.

Are you looking to transport your vehicle? The U-Haul tow dolly allows you to easily load and tow a vehicle, whether for a cross-country move or for transporting a project car.

Your specific vehicle towing combination will be validated during your reservation and again at the dispatch. Don’t change either the tow vehicle or the one being towed without first checking with U-Haul to revalidate. You can check your desired towing combination online prior to completing the rental process. You will also need to know your towing vehicle’s hitch system rating.

Reminders for Using a Tow Dolly

  • Refer to your car owner’s manual or consult a trusted mechanic to determine what method of towing is best for your vehicle.
  • When towing a vehicle with rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive on a tow dolly, you must disconnect and secure the driveshaft. Towing in neutral is not sufficient to prevent transmission damage.
  • Prior to towing with a tow dolly, check both vehicles to ensure proper tire pressure. Never deflate towed vehicle’s tires to make the straps fit.
  • The vehicle-in-tow must be loaded with front wheels on the dolly. Towing a vehicle backwards may result in sway or WHIPPING and lead to a total loss of control.
  • Do not load cargo into towed vehicle. U-Haul’s towing validation is based on the empty weight of your vehicle. Cargo can add too much weight or change the distribution of weight which can result in the vehicle swaying or whipping.

Follow these steps to properly load your vehicle onto the dolly:

1. Park the vehicle being towed and the car dolly in line with each other on a level surface.

  • Make sure that the towing vehicle is in park with the parking brake set.
  • Double check the tow dolly’s coupler and safety chains to make sure that it is securely attached to the towing vehicle.

2. Prepare the tow dolly:

  • Fully extend both ramps at the rear of the dolly.
  • Free the tire straps from the ratchets and lay them flat on the ramps. 

3. Load the vehicle on the dolly:

  • Center the vehicle to be loaded behind the car dolly.
  • Do not allow anyone to stand between the towing vehicle and the tow dolly during loading. If someone is guiding the loading process, make sure they always stand off to the side.
  • Drive slowly up the ramps, watching for clearance issues, until the vehicles tires come to rest against the stops at the front of the dolly.
  • Vehicle should be centered on the platform. If it is off to one side, you need to off load and reposition.
  • Once loaded, the towed vehicle needs to have the steering wheel locked. If the vehicle does not have a locking steering wheel, than secure the steering wheel with the seat belt or other tool made for that purpose. Place the front-wheel-drive vehicle being towed in park, and make sure that the parking brake is NOT engaged.

4. Secure the vehicle on the dolly:

  • At the front of the trailer, begin to secure the vehicle by putting the straps (previously laid onto ramp) up and over the tires, making sure that they are centered over the tire.
  • Slide the ratchet to the left or right to align with the center of the tire.
  • Route the straps through the slot on the ratchet spool, making sure at least 6 inches of the strap passes through the spool. Less than six inches may mean that your tires are too big to secure properly. Your vehicle may require a different method of towing.
  • Tighten the ratchet, folding the handle down when done.
  • Finish securing the vehicle by fastening the security chains to the frame or other structural member of the vehicle. Leave some slack in the chain, looping the chain around and securing it through an open link using the S hooks.

5. Complete the loading process:

  • Secure the tow ramps by lifting them and sliding the back into the car dolly until the latch pins reengage.
  • Verify that all lights are working and all components are secure before moving.

6. Test drive and adjust.

  • Take a test drive around the block, including slow left and right turns. Recheck the tire straps and retighten as needed.
  • Recheck the tire straps and all hookup connections after the first 5 miles, again after 50 miles, and thereafter at all stops during your travels.

Please, while traveling, drive slower than your normal speed, stay attentive and avoid distractions, such as cell phones. Anticipate stops, brake early. Inspect connections at all stops. Wear your seatbelt.

For more information refer to the Tow Dolly User Instructions Guide.

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