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What are Dollies?

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

It can be a frustrating experience when your vehicle gets impounded for a parking violation. We are committed to making the process of getting your vehicle back as easy as possible.

From time to time we encounter an angry vehicle owner who wants to claim something is wrong with their vehicle after it was towed. The most common claim is that their transmission is no longer working correctly and that it is the result of the tow. Some people claim this out of anger and some people may actually believe their vehicle was damaged. In this article I am going to attempt to explain how your vehicle was actually towed.

Most of us have seen tow trucks at some point in our lives. There are many types but the two kinds we often see are the rollback (the big trucks with the flat bed where vehicles are pulled onto the bed and sit on the truck) and the quick snatch (known by many different names but its smaller than a rollback and normally the size of a big pickup truck). Although BusyBee Towing uses both types of trucks we are going to focus on the quick snatch. Now if you have seen one of these trucks you probably have wondered what those four tires are for that sit up on the back. They look weird right? They are actually called "Dollies". I am going to explain how they work in a minute. First we need to know in what situations dollies are used.

Now some vehicles are front wheel drive and some are rear wheel. Front wheel drive vehicles have a drive shaft that go from your transmission to the front axle of the vehicle. Rear wheel drive cars are the opposite. The drive shaft runs from the transmission to the rear axle. When a quick snatch truck tows a front wheel drive vehicle -- the vehicle, when towed from the front has its drive tires off the ground. Your rear wheels free spin (unless your emergency brake is on). The opposite is true for a rear wheel drive vehicle where your front tires will freely turn. Some of you will argue that there are exceptions -- you would be correct. For the purpose of this article we will stick to front and rear wheel drive vehicles. All wheel, four wheel, and anything in between will always be towed with dollies.

Now that we understand front and rear wheel drive vehicles we can explain how dollies are used. Any vehicle being towed in which the tires that touch the ground do not free spin are towed using dollies. An adjustable metal tubular type bar called an axle is placed on the ground in front of your tires and one is placed behind them. A set of those tires (a dolly) that sit on the back of the tow truck are placed on each side of the vehicle. The axles sit in a special holder built into the dolly. Once the axles are attached the driver uses a long steel bar to "cam-over" or rotate the dolly tires into the towing position. The result is the rear of your vehicle being lifted off the ground for transport. Your vehicle then rides on the dollies and does not touch the ground (this can be seen in the photo above).

Why does a tow company use a quick snatch instead of a rollback? A rollback is safer for my vehicle right? The quick answer is no. Both, if used correctly, tow a vehicle safely.

So before you suggest that the tow company damaged your vehicle by towing it improperly remember that they probably used dollies and your vehicle never touched the ground until it reached the tow yard.


This article is provided as-is. It is not endorsed by BusyBee Towing and is the sole knowledge and or opinion of the writer. No guarantees as to accuracy in your specific town; county; city; state; country or otherwise is expressed in any way.

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