Options for towing a car
One of the things you have to figure out during a move is how to get your vehicle to your new home. If you’re using a service where someone else drives the moving truck, it’s simple — you’re free to drive the vehicle yourself. But, if you’re considering a self-move in a rental truck, towing the vehicle may be your only option. Before taking on this challenge, be sure you’re prepared to drive an unfamiliar truck with a trailer or dolly attached and that your budget can handle the additional costs (fuel usage, liability coverage, tow gear). Explore the towing options below:
Renting a car trailer or car dolly
There are two options for towing: a car dolly and car trailer/carrier.
A car dolly is a two-wheel trailer that supports the front wheels of a car while the rear wheels remain on the road. Car dollies work with most front-wheel-drive (FWD) vehicles and some rear-wheel-drive (RWD), all-wheel-drive (AWD) and four-wheel-drive automobiles (4WD) (consult the owner’s manual and manufacturer’s guide to make sure your model is equipped for this type of towing). Most modern cars won’t accrue mileage while towing using a dolly because the odometers don’t work when the engine is off. Note that car dollies shouldn’t be driven in reverse, so use care when choosing parking spaces and only use pull-through spots.
Note: Unless your car is front-wheel drive, you will likely need to disconnect the drive shaft when using a car dolly to prevent damage to the transmission. Check your user’s manual and consult with your mechanic to be sure.
A car trailer or car carrier is a four-wheel trailer that holds the entire vehicle off the ground. This type of equipment is typically more expensive, but it reduces wear and tear on the car since the rear wheels are supported, and it also decreases chances of damage. This is a great option for larger/heavier vehicles, RWD, AWD, luxury or vintage automobiles.
Most rental companies offer online guides to help determine the best towing option based on your vehicle’s make and model.
Compare costs to tow a car
Most rental truck companies will not allow you to rent a trailer or dolly unless you’re also renting one of their trucks, so the cost to tow your car is simply tacked on to the rental truck total. The main factors impacting the towing portion of your bill include: the type of trailer, the date, and where you’re driving to and from. You’ll also have to budget for rental truck fuel — this is an expense not included in the quote. And if you want liability coverage while towing, that’s extra as well.
To get a general idea of cost comparisons, take a look at a sample move from Tampa, Florida to Sacramento, California (2,908 miles), towing a 2016 Nissan Altima. Since each company has different rules, we’ve used the smallest rental truck with towing capabilities for these examples.
Note: These prices are based on current rates and prices may differ depending on specifics of the move.
U-Haul allows you to tow behind your personal vehicle or a rental truck. You can tow with all of their trucks, including the 10-foot. Here’s how the price breaks down:
- U-Haul tow dolly: $99
- U-Haul auto transport trailer: $200
- U-Haul 10’ truck: $1,448
If you want to combine the truck and auto transport trailer, it would cost $1,648. The truck with tow dolly would be $1,547. Trailer rental coverage can be purchased for an additional $70-$139 depending on the level of coverage you want.
Budget® towing costs
Budget requires you to bundle a rental truck with towing equipment, and they call for at least a 16-foot truck to tow. Here are the prices for this move:
- Budget car dolly: $159
- Budget car trailer: $318
- Budget 16’ truck: $1,404
For this example, the truck and car trailer would be $1,722 and the truck and dolly would be $1,563. Optional auto tow protection is available for an additional $99.50.
Penske will not allow their towing equipment to be used with a personal vehicle; it must be used with a Penske truck. The smallest truck with towing capability is the 16-foot model.
- Penske car dolly: $238
- Penske car carrier: $477
- Penske 16’ truck: $1,276.20
For this example, a truck with a car carrier would be $1,753.20. Using a dolly would cost $1,514.20. Towing insurance is optional, but can be added for $60.50.
These examples show the rates for renting the equipment, but remember that towing equipment can change the entire long-distance drive, and may add additional costs.
Things to know before towing a car
Along with the costs associated with using a car trailer, adding towing equipment can impact the trip. Here’s what to expect:
- Fuel usage. On top of a gas-guzzling truck, adding a loaded trailer can cause a significant reduction to the MPG, meaning more money spent on fuel for the drive.
- Slow speeds. Rental companies recommend slower-than-average speeds when towing, increasing driving time of the trip.
- Safety checks. After hooking up the towing equipment, you should frequently stop to inspect tire straps, bolts, chains, ramps and other items to make sure they’re still secure.
- Trailer sway. Trailer sway is the fishtailing movement of the equipment caused by high speeds, and it’s the main cause of towing accidents.
Suggested reading: Explore One Way Trailer Rental Options
Moving without renting a car dolly
U-Pack® is a great way to move without a rental truck, allowing you to drive or ship your car instead of towing it. U-Pack delivers your belongings door to door — you do the packing and loading, and we do the driving. Once you factor in the extra costs of towing equipment, liability coverage and fuel, you may find that U-Pack is a more affordable and convenient way to move. Get a free moving quote online or by calling 844-362-5303844-594-3077 to compare.
Have questions about long distance car towing?
Leave us a comment below or give us a call. We’re here to help you determine the best options for your move!
U-Haul® is a registered trademark of U-Haul International, Inc. Budget® is a registered trademark of Budget Truck Rental, LLC. Penske® is a registered trademark of Penske Truck Leasing Co., L.P. Use of third-party trademarks or registered trademarks does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by such third-party.
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