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Choosing Between Car Trailer and Tow Dolly: A Comparative Analysis

When transporting a car, there are several options to consider, including hiring a car transport company, driving it yourself, or using a car trailer or tow dolly. While both the car trailer and tow dolly are cost-effective alternatives, they require more effort and consideration. To determine which option is better, it's important to evaluate the specific needs and differences between the two methods.
By · October 18, 2023
Choosing Between Car Trailer and Tow Dolly: A Comparative Analysis

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We are experts at car transport and towing anywhere across Australia. Trusted by thousands of vehicle owners, buyers and sellers. Door-to-Door Transport. Any Car Type. Fixed Prices.
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When it comes to transporting a car in Australia, there are several options available. Two popular choices are the car trailer and the tow dolly. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, and deciding between them can be a challenging task. This article aims to provide a comparative analysis of car trailers and tow dollies, helping you to choose the best alternative for your needs. Whether you are a car enthusiast or simply need to transport your vehicle, this analysis will provide valuable insights to make an informed decision.

A Comparison of Tow Dolly and Car Trailer

What Is a Tow Dolly?

A tow dolly is a convenient option for towing your car, as it allows the front wheels to be placed on the dolly while the rear wheels remain on the ground. U-Haul, a reputable provider of tow dollies, highlights that this equipment offers a quick and easy load and unload process for most front-wheel-drive cars. It's important to consider several factors when determining if your vehicle can be towed with a tow dolly, including its weight, the distribution of weight from front to rear, as well as the length, width, and ground clearance of your vehicle.

Is It Legal to Use Tow Dollies in Australia?

Yes, but there are strict conditions for car towing in Australia. Tow dollies are one option for front-wheel-drive vehicles where you will lift the front wheels while keeping the rear wheels on the ground. Therefore, it is required you must use appropriate equipment and adherence to tow a car to ensure stability and control safely.

What Is a Car Trailer?

A car trailer is a type of vehicle carrier specifically designed to lift and secure your entire car off the ground. Transporting the car with all four wheels elevated minimises wear and tear on the vehicle being towed. This option is an ideal and safe method for towing sedans, coupes, and compact cars, as well as heavier or larger vehicles.

Is It Legal to Hire Car Trailers in Australia?

Yes. Hiring a car trailer for car transport in Australia is a cost-effective option to transport your vehicle across large distances. However, before making your decision, you should take several key aspects into account. Australia requires specific regulations and requirements. The goal is to ensure that your car arrives in one piece, regardless of how far you go. When hiring a car trailer, make sure to verify the weight and hitch requirements. It will be tough to tow if it is too heavy. Check this detailed informationon rental Terms and conditions.

Using a Car Transport Company or Hiring a Car Trailer?

There are various types of trailers available that can efficiently transport large or bulky cars for your business. These trailers come in different sizes, configurations, and capabilities, ensuring that there is one to meet your specific requirements. At Upmove, with our extensive experience in providing car transport, we have become experts in offering tailored vehicle solutions.

Additionally, we understand that not everyone on your team may be licensed or experienced enough to operate these larger vehicles safely. That's why we offer the services of skilled drivers with specialised licences, who can handle the transporter services for you.

What's the Difference Between a Car Trailer and a Tow Dolly?

When using a car trailer, you load your entire car onto the trailer, transporting it to the desired location. While this method may strain the vehicle doing the towing, it is relatively gentle on the car being hauled.

In contrast, tow dollies operate in a manner similar to a human wheelbarrow. You place only the two front wheels of the vehicle onto a dolly, leaving the other two wheels on the ground. This approach is less taxing on the towing vehicle but can still result in wear and tear for both automobiles during transportation.

Generally, car trailers tend to be heavier than dollies. Your towing vehicle must have a greater weight than that of both the towed vehicle and either the auto transport trailer or dolly. While there are other differences between these two methods, which we will discuss further below, this basic explanation gives you an idea of how each works: Car trailers transport your entire vehicle from one location to another, while dollies lift only two wheels while leaving two on the ground.



 Ideal for

 Long distances. heavier   cars

 Short distances, lighter   cars


 Simpler to use

 Trickier to use




 Risk Potential



 Damage and Deterioration



Additional significant distinctions between a car trailer and a tow dolly are:

  • Moving and Functionality

A car trailer carries the car without any of its wheels touching the road, while a tow dolly only carries the front wheels of the vehicle. This means that cars moved on a tow dolly are more susceptible to wear and tear compared to those carried on a car trailer. Additionally, driving a car trailer is generally considered safer than driving a tow dolly, as tow dollies have a tendency to sway at high speeds.

  • Costs

Car trailers are generally more expensive to rent than tow dollies due to factors such as rental duration, travel distance, and equipment demand. It is still less costly than using professional auto car transport, so do the math to see whether it makes sense for you.

  • Simple to Use

Tow dollies tend to be more difficult to manoeuvre than car trailers and are not recommended for long-distance moves. They do not have brakes and cannot be reversed or backed up. Hooking up a tow dolly to a car is slightly more complicated than using a car trailer. Car trailers, on the other hand, are easier to use and better designed for long-distance moves. When using a car trailer, drivers should reduce their speed. Additionally, trailers often come with loading ramps for easy loading and unloading of cars.

  • Capacity

Car trailers are capable of handling a much heavier weight load and can transport larger vehicles compared to tow dollies. To comply with Australian federal rules, the most standard vehicle trailer has a gross trailer mass (ATM) of 2,000 kilograms, but can go as high as 3,200 kg. In comparison, tow dollies are better suited for lightweight vehicles with a maximum load capacity of 1,564 Kg for front-wheel drive vehicles and 1,790 Kg for rear-wheel drive vehicles.

Advantages and Disadvantages

When Should a Car Trailer be Used

If you are moving to a different state, choosing a car trailer is a great option for auto car transport. By placing your car inside the trailer, you can ensure that it arrives at your new home safe and secure. This method is especially suitable for larger vehicles that need to be towed. Whether you have a compact car, sedan, or even a large pickup truck, a car trailer can accommodate your needs. Regardless of the length of time needed for the transport, you can have peace of mind knowing that your vehicle is safely stored in the trailer.

For instance, if you are relocating to a state on the opposite end of the country, the transportation process could take several days or even weeks. However, with a reliable car trailer, you can be confident that your vehicle will remain in pristine condition throughout the entire journey.

Car Trailer Pros and Cons



Reduced likelihood it will wear and tear


No hidden fees

Can hold large vehicles

Excellent for long distances

More secure option

When Should a Tow Dolly Be Used

On the other hand, if you are seeking a cost-effective solution, consider using a tow dolly. While it may not be optimal for extended periods of car transportation due to its limitations, it proves to be more practical when relocating within close proximity, such as within the same city or state. Suppose your objective involves transporting your vehicle alongside a few additional belongings to a new office space nearby. In that case, choosing a tow dolly would better fulfil your transportation needs.

Tow Dolly Pros and Cons




More prone to wear and tear

Convenient choice for little cars

Loading your car to a tow dolly might be difficult

Excellent for rapid loading and unloading

It is not safe to use when transporting an automobile over long distances

Weight capacity restrictions

Choose Your Best Car Transporter in Australia

There are various alternatives accessible to you when it comes to selecting a car carrier. One option is to enlist the help of family and friends who can drive your car to its new destination. It's important to make sure they have a valid driver's licence and auto insurance in case of any unforeseen accidents. If they agree to help, you can save on the cost of hiring a professional moving service.

Another option is to use an auto-train if there is one nearby. This allows you to sit back and relax while enjoying the scenic views during your journey. Why not take advantage of this opportunity for car transport?

If these options don't work for you, hiring an experienced car transporter may be the most suitable choice. While this option may come at a higher cost, it offers a fast and efficient solution. Plus, it takes away the stress and hassle of driving your own car during the relocation process. Consider these different choices when deciding how to transport your vehicle to its new location.

How Upmove Can Help You

Car transport could be a difficult task, particularly if you're unaware of the necessary tools that can facilitate the process. Whether you're considering a car trailer or a tow dolly, it's important to understand their unique features and capabilities to make an informed decision based on your specific needs. As we've discussed, both tools offer distinct advantages, with factors such as versatility, load capacity, and manoeuvrability playing a crucial role.

With the expertise and professionalism of our staff at Upmove, we are able to furnish you with all the information you require to transport your vehicle with ease and assurance. And speaking of making moves smoother, don't forget to give Upmove a try for your next home relocation. You'll receive quotes from the top local movers in your area right in your inbox.


What is the Difference Between Car Trailer and Tow Dolly?

A tow dolly or car dolly is a two-wheel trailer that will lift only the front wheels of your car. The rear wheels remain on the ground as you tow your car with a tow dolly. On the other hand, a car trailer is a four-wheel trailer that will lift your entire car off the ground.

Is it Better to Tow with a Dolly or Trailer?

If your vehicle weighs more than a tow dolly can manage, use a car trailer. Choose a car trailer over a tow dolly for long-distance moves. If you need to transport a vehicle a short distance cheaply, use a tow dolly. Your option depends on cost, convenience, and distance. A tow dolly is best for local moves and small cars, with cheaper prices. If you're travelling far, apprehensive about towing, and want to reduce vehicle wear, a car trailer is best.

Do I Need a Licence to Tow a Trailer in Australia?

In Australia, individuals who hold a full driving licence are legally allowed to tow a trailer as long as certain conditions are met. It's important to note that Learner and Provisional Licence holders may have towing restrictions imposed by some states and territories. Additionally, the total weight of the tow vehicle should not exceed the mass limits specified for endorsed or heavy vehicle licences. By adhering to these regulations, drivers can safely and lawfully engage in towing activities.

Do I Need to Register a Trailer in Australia?

The rules and regulations vary from state to state, so it's better to check with your transport department to find the details and rules. But in general, you'll need to register your trailer. But if your car trailer ATM (aggregate trailer mass) is under 4.5 tonnes, you normally will not need to display the registration certificate.

To successfully register your car trailer, you must additionally obtain a Safety Certificate (if buying used). Self-assessment may be possible for second-hand trailers with ATMs under 750kg. No safety certificate is needed for new purchases.

Can I Use a Car Trailer on an Automatic Vehicle?

This is generally a matter of choice. With today's modern cars, you should be able to tow a car trailer much like you would with a manual. It really comes down to car specifics – i.e., your vehicle manufacturer will stipulate tow loads specific to your vehicle.

Do you need your car towed?

We are experts at car transport and towing anywhere across Australia. Trusted by thousands of vehicle owners, buyers and sellers. Door-to-Door Transport. Any Car Type. Fixed Prices.
9.8 · 979 reviews

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