Embarking on a long-distance journey with your beloved car can be both exciting and daunting. As you prepare for the adventure ahead, you may find yourself wondering about the most cost-effective way to tow your car over long distances.
It’s important to remember that driving a vehicle with a trailer attached to it is entirely different than just driving a vehicle by itself. The turn radius, weight and maneuvering will require a different skill set than everyday driving.
Towing a car will also require you to have two vehicles: one that’s being towed, and one that’s doing the towing. In the event that you need to move a vehicle but don’t have the right skills or equipment to tow it, you may consider working with a professional auto transporter.
If you do have the right equipment and driving skills to tow a vehicle, read on. We’ve compiled valuable insights to help you make an informed decision and ensure a smooth towing experience. So, fasten your seatbelts and let’s explore the cheapest way to tow a car long distance!
Understanding the cheapest options for long-distance car towing
You’ve got a few options for towing your car long distance. Some options include flatbed towing, long-distance towing or using a tow dolly.
A tow dolly, also called a dolly trailer or car dolly, is a towing method where a trailer with two wheels lifts only a vehicle’s front wheels—leaving the rear wheels on the ground.
Using a tow dolly is an economical option that allows you to stay with your car during the entire journey, making it ideal for shorter distance moves. However, it’s not typically recommended for longer distances, as it exposes vehicles to more wear and tear. It may also take a considerable amount of time to set up.
For efficient and safe tow dolly towing, check that:
- Vehicle-in-tow is facing forward
- Ramps are securely stored and latched after loading
- Towing hitch and hitch-ball are tight
- Safety chains, tire straps and security chains are properly attached
- Trailer tail light kit and wiring are properly routed, securely mounted and functioning.
Keep in mind that this method of towing can not be used for all vehicle types, depending on the drivetrain. Check with your vehicle manufacturer for more details
Flatbed trailer towing
Flatbed trailer-towing is where a vehicle is completely lifted on a flat platform that can be lowered for loading and unloading and is pulled behind another vehicle. Flatbed trailers come in two general options: open and enclosed. Open trailers offer fast loading and unloading but leave vehicles exposed to road and weather elements. Enclosed trailers cover the vehicles and offer added protection from dust, dirt and debris.
This method is a more convenient option since none of the wheels are touching the ground. It also saves wear on your vehicle. But it will also likely come at a higher price. Consider the condition and value of the car you’re towing. Flatbed towing is recommended for:
- Newer or more expensive cars (enclosed trailer, specifically)
- All-wheel-drive vehicles
- Cars that are damaged due to an accident
Long-distance trailer towing
Long-distance towing is transporting a vehicle more than 100 miles and is typically done by a professional auto transport company. They will either load your vehicle onto a trailer on its own, or with other cars on a multi-vehicle trailer.
This has been a trusted method for hauling vehicles long distances for years. While it can cost more than towing the car yourself, it is safer and more convenient. All you have to do is request a quote to get started.
Preparing your car for long-distance towing
If you’re taking a DIY approach to tow your vehicle, be sure to get it ready for the journey.
Check vehicle compatibility
You want to be sure that the trailer you choose is compatible with the vehicle being towed. Failing to do so could be dangerous for everyone on the road. Check the following factors when assessing if the vehicle you need to transport is suitable for towing:
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): The maximum amount of weight a vehicle or trailer can hold, based on the amount of weight the frame, axles and tires can support. Both your vehicle and the trailer have their own separate GVWR, so remember to check both.
- Towing capacity: The maximum possible towing weight under ideal circumstances. The towing capacity of the towing vehicle is the total sum of towed vehicle weight and trailer weight combined.
- Tongue weight capacity: The maximum amount of weight the trailer hitch can withstand.
- Trailer hitch class: Different classes can pull different max weights and are suitable for different types of towing vehicles.
Essential pre-towing checks and preparations
Next, you’ve got to do your part in protecting your car during the journey. Use this checklist before loading the vehicle for towing.
Check tire condition and pressure. This not only makes it easier to load and unload the car onto the trailer, but it also makes the car more capable of withstanding the long ride. Check the overall condition of the tires and make sure they are road worthy and safe based on DOT standards.
Reduce gas in the fuel tank. Towing a vehicle with a full tank of gas makes the vehicle heavier and therefore less efficient to haul.
Remove personal items and accessories. Clear the car out to make sure nothing is still inside that you may need. If you have any customizations or accessories, you may want to remove them as well. Also, consider the added weight of any personal items you choose to bring with you. This must be considered in addition to the weight of the vehicle being towed.
Cost-saving tips and expert recommendations
If you’re still undecided about towing the vehicle yourself or hiring a professional, consider your options based on convenience, availability and capabilities.
Research and compare towing services or auto transport companies
Above all, you want to make sure that the company you work with is reputable and affordable, and will handle your vehicle with care.
Obtain quotes from multiple towing or auto transport companies for price comparisons—but don’t just pick the cheapest one you find. Read reviews and customer testimonials to make sure that the company you hire provides high-quality service and values its customers.
DIY towing vs. hiring a professional
While towing your vehicle yourself may be cost-effective and offers you flexibility regarding date and time, there are also downsides. First and foremost, unless you have experience, it can be dangerous and time-consuming to hitch the trailer and load the car yourself. Additionally, you’ll put wear and tear on the vehicle if using a tow dolly.
Hiring a professional towing company ensures a safe and damage-free experience. Plus, it frees up your time and reduces stress.
Budget-friendly towing accessories
If you still choose to tow your vehicle yourself, you’ll need reliable equipment to help you get the job done. There are additional ways to save money in this area. For instance, some towing and moving companies rent equipment and accessories so you don’t have to make a large investment.
When it comes to towing your car long distances on a budget, considering your options is crucial. While tow dollies, flatbed towing and long-distance trailer towing each have their merits, it’s essential to weigh the advantages, disadvantages and cost factors to make an informed decision. Consider the possibility of a breakdown or trailer malfunction before choosing to tow a vehicle yourself. Prioritize safety, consult professionals and conduct thorough research to ensure a successful and wallet-friendly towing experience.
What is the cheapest way to tow a car long distance?
The cheapest way to tow a car long distance is the tow dolly option since you can load and haul the car without needing additional equipment.
Can I tow my car long distance for free?
Unless you already have the equipment and experience required to tow a vehicle, you’ll have to pay to outsource towing services and purchase or rent materials.
Are there any low-cost towing companies for long-distance travel?
Towing companies’ pricing can vary. If you want to get the lowest price possible, request quotes from multiple companies to compare.