Your huge trailer sticks out of your garage like a sore thumb, leaving your vehicles no space to park. If only you could move it to a neat space farther back the garage. If only there was a way to reposition it perpendicularly from its present orientation. Short of lifting a 2500-lb trailer or knocking down a wall, the possibility of storing your trailer in that ideal spot would seem nil.
Do you echo the same frustration whenever you maneuver your trailer in tight spaces at campsites, parking areas, or along the driveway? If these scenes sound familiar to you, don’t waste any more time wishful thinking. Consider what a trailer dolly can do for you instead!
What’s a trailer dolly and what can it do?
You normally move a trailer by hitching it to your vehicle. With a tool called trailer dolly, however, you will be able to manually move your trailer over short distances or maneuver it around your garage and other tight spaces. In other words, it enables you to move your trailer without need of a vehicle.
These trailer accessories are an absolutely necessity in organizing and storing boat trailers, utility trailers, aluminum car trailers, pop-up campers, or jet-ski trailers. They are also used for moving heavy equipment, such as log splitters, from the toolshed to the worksite and back.
You can use these dollies to push, pull, turn your trailer at odd angles, or bring it to your vehicle for a quick hookup.
What does a trailer dolly look like? What do you need to know before buying one?
A dolly of this type has two wheels on a single axle. Other models are supported by a third (even a fourth) wheel, usually a caster, to add to their stability and weight capacity. It has a long handle which allows you ease of use and ample leverage. A tow hitch, usually a ball, allows for hooking up to a trailer.
Here are some important things that you should know:
- Hitch ball size – represents the diameter of the hitch ball in inches. The coupler in the trailer’s tongue attaches to this hitch ball, which can range in size from 1-7/8” to over 2”. This part of a dolly is similar in appearance and function to the tow hitch (or tow ball) mounted on the rear of a vehicle used for towing trailers.
Note: A 1-7/8” hitch ball is compatible even with couplers designed for bigger hitch balls.
- Hitch ball height – the distance from the ground to the ball. Most models have adjustable hitch ball height, but make sure that the range given is compatible with the height of your trailer’s receiving coupler (measured from the ground to the bottom of the coupler).
- Tongue weight capacity – also called hitch capacity. The trailer tongue transfers a downward force, called the tongue weight, to the hitch of the dolly. So when choosing a trailer dolly, make sure that its tongue weight capacity is greater than the trailer’s tongue weight.
Note: The tongue weight (or weight of the trailer at the tongue) is measured at approximately 9%-15% of the trailer’s gross weight. The weight capacity of trailer dollies normally refers to tongue weight.
- Wheel size and material – it’s best to choose solid, flat-free wheels instead of the inflatable types. The diameter and thickness of the wheels are given in inches. You may find them often described as all-terrain, but they work best on concrete or compact and level grounds. Generally, it will be difficult to move them over loose gravel when they’re loaded.
- Build – trailer dollies are usually constructed using heavy steel frame and hardware. Some models are made of aircraft-quality aluminum and steel hardware, which are lighter and often more expensive.
- Manual-driven or motorized – the models featured in this website are manually driven, have no brakes, and work best on flat ground. Trailers dollies designed to overcome slopes or to handle much heavier trailers are motorized and integrated with brakes for added safety.
Always have ease of use and safety at the top of your mind
Choose dollies with a third wheel. This greatly improves stability and maneuverability. The adjustability of ball height is another important factor especially if you’re hooking different trailers to your dolly. A long, ergonomic handle will be friendlier to your back than one that requires you to bend. Observe all necessary cautions when negotiating slopes with your trailer dolly and a loaded trailer.
The most important reminder pertains to capacity. Know the weight of your trailer at the tongue. This must never exceed or even equal the maximum capacity of your trailer dolly. It’s safer to hit somewhere near the middle capacity than load your dolly to its limit. Worded differently, choose a trailer dolly with a weight capacity that significantly exceeds the tongue weight of your trailer.