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Old 08-28-2016, 10:45 AM   #1
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Key in ignition for dolly towing

My wife and I have used a 2001 crv as a toad for several years, but know we won't have it for too many more, so I bought an Ez Tow dolly for my Camry. I've been getting everything prepared for trying it out and one question I have deals with the key in the ignition. I was thinking I would have to keep it in the on position to keep the steering unlocked, which would then make me think I would need to either get a quick disconnect for the battery or take a fuse out. I would then also have to get one of those memory savers for all the presets. I then read a post on another forum that someone would put the key in the on position then turn it off leaving the key in and the steering would stay unlocked. I tried this on my 2012 Camry and that seemed to work.
I was going to call a Toyota dealer about this, but not sure they would know. I was hoping someone on the forum might be doing this with a Camry.
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Old 08-28-2016, 10:49 AM   #2
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When I had a tow dolly the plate that held the car in place swiveled and there was no need for the steering to be unlocked. May want to double check your dolly.
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Old 08-28-2016, 11:38 AM   #3
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Quote:
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When I had a tow dolly the plate that held the car in place swiveled and there was no need for the steering to be unlocked. May want to double check your dolly.
That's the way mine works.
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Old 08-28-2016, 02:53 PM   #4
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If thats an Acme tow dolly, it does not have a swivel plate and you need to unlock the steering column.
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Old 08-28-2016, 06:35 PM   #5
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Check your car's owner's manual. Most ignition switches have a position that unlocks the steering column but does not turn on the ignition or accessories.
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Old 08-28-2016, 07:01 PM   #6
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If thats an Acme tow dolly, it does not have a swivel plate and you need to unlock the steering column.

Yes, it's the acme Ez tow and does not have a swivel plate. It inverts the steering somehow to where the wheels do not move, but the steering wheel does and needs to be unlocked. I'll check my manual tomorrow.
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:30 AM   #7
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Brian,

One of the front tires will roll backward a few inches when you're in a turn. Also the steering wheel does turn as the front tires steer in the turn.

I noticed on sharp turns, the dolly tires will skid sideways as the radius of the turn exceeds the turning capability of the dolly/toad combination.

This initially bothered my, but its such a rare occurrence, I don't worry about it. I noticed that if I honker down on the tie downs, this limits the amount the front wheels can move and aggravates the sideways skidding in sharp turns. I've kind of figured out the optimum tie down to get the best security and still allow the toad wheels to move a little on the dolly.

Make sure your safety chains have slack in them to allow for the movement of the toad tires on the dolly.

RAMPS - Several people, including myself, have had a ramp jump out of the hooks when loading/unloading. This is a rare occurrence, but I've personally experienced it.

I added a latch to the ramp to keep it from popping off:

Acme dolly ramps pop off while loading / unloading | 2001 Coachmen Mirada 300QB


LIGHTS - Make sure your lights have a large wire tie holding them in. Otherwise they could pop out:

Acme Dolly Tail Lights fall off | 2001 Coachmen Mirada 300QB

..
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Old 08-29-2016, 12:19 PM   #8
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It took me a while to figure out how the Acme dolly works, the front tires do not move
as they are strapped down but the car rotates around the front end in a turn. If you can imagine a model car where you hold the front wheels straight and turn the car,
swinging the rear end around the front end, that is how it works. The car pivots around the front suspension. I hope that makes sense.
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Old 08-29-2016, 12:57 PM   #9
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I also have a acme tow dolly.I connect it all up,then turn the key on and disconnect the battery.Lock the doors by hand (no power to lock em by the key fob) and away we go.To my surprise when connecting the battery to take car off the dolly none of my presets have changed.all memory for seats/radio and engine functions are still there. This is on a 2009 Hyundai Azera. I check the straps for tightness whenever I stop for fuel.as the tires do move a bit, but no problems. I also added a set of towing lights to put in the rear window of the tow car as the tow dollies lights are at the tow dolly and low by the front of the car.Made a electric tow plug with 2 sets of wires one for the dolly and one for the extra lights. to plug into my class A motorhome.Total cost for the extra lights and plugs about $25.00
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Old 08-29-2016, 01:39 PM   #10
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Had Acme Tow Dolly for ~8000 miles

So my experience has been that the passenger side dolly tire scrubs more than the drivers side. Replaced tire at ~5000 miles. Had purchased a spare when I bought the dolly. Then bought two tires at the plant to save shipping. Cost $20 to have the new tire mounted on rim at tire place that can handle all size rims.

To minimize the tire scrub I have been taking the time to be sure the car is centered on the tow dolly, and also to check the straps after a mile down the road. If the straps are not tight then the car becomes cock-eyed causing torsion which I think is what causes dolly tire scrubbing. As stated above, it scrubbed the tire down to the cords on the passenger side tire! With this new approach I have not experienced any tire scrub on the replaced tire (passenger side).

I tow a 2005 Jetta TDI. To handle the steering lock, the last thing I do before beginning my tow down the road is start the engine, turn steering will left and right, then turn off the car but don't pull the key out, this keeps the steering wheel unlocked. Then with a spare key fob lock the doors (if I'm leaving the car on the dolly over night) when I'm just stopping at a pull through over night. See if this works with your car!
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Old 08-29-2016, 02:33 PM   #11
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I too have gotten some tire scrubbing but not enough to worry about. Over 5000 miles now and only slightly worn. The rubber tire smell is more annoying.
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Old 08-29-2016, 03:19 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by frugalbk View Post
So my experience has been that the passenger side dolly tire scrubs more than the drivers side. Replaced tire at ~5000 miles. Had purchased a spare when I bought the dolly. Then bought two tires at the plant to save shipping. Cost $20 to have the new tire mounted on rim at tire place that can handle all size rims.



To minimize the tire scrub I have been taking the time to be sure the car is centered on the tow dolly, and also to check the straps after a mile down the road. If the straps are not tight then the car becomes cock-eyed causing torsion which I think is what causes dolly tire scrubbing. As stated above, it scrubbed the tire down to the cords on the passenger side tire! With this new approach I have not experienced any tire scrub on the replaced tire (passenger side).



I tow a 2005 Jetta TDI. To handle the steering lock, the last thing I do before beginning my tow down the road is start the engine, turn steering will left and right, then turn off the car but don't pull the key out, this keeps the steering wheel unlocked. Then with a spare key fob lock the doors (if I'm leaving the car on the dolly over night) when I'm just stopping at a pull through over night. See if this works with your car!

Thanks for the reply regarding the key. I spoke to the Service guy at the Toyota dealer where I bought it. He had no clue about it. I told him when I put the key in the on position, then turn it to the completely off position that it does not lock up. Only when I pull the key out. He seemed to think it should lock in the off position, but said he really didn't know. It seems like it should be safe to do it that way, but was hoping for a definitive answer from a service guy. Oh well!
As far as the tire scrubbing you guys are talking about, I've never heard of that before this thread. I'll have to watch it carefully, especially the first time using it.
One other thing that has me scratching my head is the lack of where to put a safety chain under the car. I used my creeper today to look for a spot and there really doesn't appear to be anything frame wise to attach to.
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Old 08-29-2016, 03:55 PM   #13
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You should have a section in your owners manual about 4 down towing. It will tell you how to keep wheel from locking. Most cars are as you described, turn on, turn off, keep key in ignition (my civic works likes this). On my '07 Jeep the key just be kept in the on position. I installed a battery cutoff for this purpose. (I flat tow the jeep).


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Old 08-29-2016, 03:55 PM   #14
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Safety Chain connection

So in the arm that holds the lower frame connection to the front wheel suspension there is a hole in that frame unit about 1 1/2in diameter. I feed the safety chain down through the hole and then pull it until the S clip can hook thru one of the chain links with a little slack, then pull the remaining chain through the banjo hole on the dolly. See about 7:00 minutes into the video (Acme "EZE-TOW" Tow Dolly - Car Tow Dolly). I then connect a aluminum carbiner (Harbor Freight) to the end of the chain, and then have a cable tie also through one of the chain links to then connect the carbiner to (about 5 or 6 links from the end). This will keep the safety chain from dangling or coming loose and coming out of the banjo hole. At first I just connected the carbiner back to the chain, but at times there was some pull which caused the carbiner to bend open. The cable tie fixed that problem. Next time I'm under the car I'll take some pictures and post them to this thread.
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:24 PM   #15
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I also use the Acme EZE TOW. I tow a Volvo C70. One problem that I encountered is the warning signal will not let me leave the car with the key in. I believe that would eventually run down the battery. The solution is to disconnect the negative post for the battery. The only problem when I reconnect is that the clock has to be reset. That isn't a big problem. Hope this helps.
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Old 08-30-2016, 07:16 PM   #16
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I also use the Acme EZE TOW. I tow a Volvo C70. One problem that I encountered is the warning signal will not let me leave the car with the key in. I believe that would eventually run down the battery. The solution is to disconnect the negative post for the battery. The only problem when I reconnect is that the clock has to be reset. That isn't a big problem. Hope this helps.
Maybe you could install a battery disconnect switch. I see them in auto parts stores for about $10.

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Old 08-31-2016, 06:02 AM   #17
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The lower control arm on my Camry also has a hole in it, and that's whee I drop the chain through. I'm thinking of permanently mounting a chain or a cable in that holed to make hookup and disconnect easier.

Reminder, make sure the safety cables have enough slack in them to accommodate the small amount of movement the wheels make in turns.

I also use one of those battery disconnect things. Mount it on the negative terminal. If your radio looses its settings, I thought I seen a small backup battery that you can attach to your radio to hold settings.
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Old 09-25-2016, 08:38 AM   #18
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I use the Acme EZE Tow dolly as well. I dolly a VW Beetle Convertible (Auto).
I turn the key on then to the off position and leave the key in ignition. The warning chime goes off after I close the door.
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Old 09-25-2016, 09:26 AM   #19
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How to tell if the steering wheel is unlocked when your traveling.

Tie a small white handkerchief or something to the top of the toads steering wheel so you can see it while traveling.

I have a rear view camera, I can see the toads steering wheel turning. Also, in a left turn, I can see the handkerchief in my rear view mirror.

Being able to see the handkerchief move while turning is an additional check that the steering wheel is unlocked, and the front wheels are steering.

Do this also if you flat tow.

On my Civic, I have to leave the key in the ignition to unlock the steering, so I had a small piece of white plastic I'd clip to the steering wheel so I could see it in the rear camera..

On my Saturn Vue, I modified the steering column and removed the locking paw so the steering wheel never locks.
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