April 23, 2020

Improvements to Make it Easier and Safer to Use a Tow Dolly

By: Rob Lowe

Featured Picture

Since my last posting about EV towing, I have made some noteworthy changes and improvements that I recommend to anyone considering towing an EV on a Tow Dolly behind a motorhome. These changes relate to the following:

1.       Improving the added lighting on the rear of the EV,

2.       Improving the electrical connection between the EV and the tow dolly,

3.       Adding better tie down straps to make it easier to secure the EV to the tow dolly,

4.       Adding a spare tire mount and tire cover to the Dolly and

5.       A Trailer Dolly to reposition the dolly when needed between tows.


Every one of these changes enhanced the convenience and safety when towing the EV, while also providing security and peace of mind to the towing experience.

1.     Improving the Added Rear Lighting on the EV  

When I prepared the Niro for towing, I installed a lighting strip used on pick-up trucks, to the rear bumper of the Niro. Most of the functions were powered from a connection to the tow dolly. The exception was the back up light, which was powered from the back up light circuit on the Niro which provides a very bright back up light. Within a relatively short period of time I noticed that not all functions were illuminating and I determined that the connection at the input end of the light strip had broken. Upon examining it carefully, it became clear that I would not be able to dependably repair the connection. I decided that removal and replacement was the way to go. I went on Amazon and found a better strip that had three rows of LEDs that gave low intensity red lighting (Taillights), high intensity red lighting (Brakes), high intensity amber lighting (Turn Signals) and high intensity white lighting (Back Up). The strip I selected is this similar to this one: HYB LED Tailgate Light Bar https://www.amazon.ca/Tailgate-Light-Bar-Sequential-Waterproof/dp/B07GN9F9H8. It fit in the area across the top of the Niro’s bumper where the original was attached and was only slightly wider.

Here is a link to a video of it in operation: https://youtu.be/RN7T3vg5mhc



2.     Improving the Electrical Connection between the RV and the Tow Dolly

One of the obvious improvements that I could see that needed to be made after using the tow dolly to tow the Niro was the connections between the front of the Niro and the Tow Dolly. This was composed of two distinct improvements: 1) the connecting cable between the car and the dolly needed to be extendible while remaining secure as we were towing, and 2) the connections on the car and the dolly also needed to be improved. Once I selected the cable, then I was able to replace the connectors on both the car and dolly. As you can see from the photo the extendible cable provided the opportunity to fix the car connection on the lower front panel and the dolly connection in the middle of the dolly tilt section. The cable would extend as needed when turning as well as when connecting the car to the dolly. The Conntek cable extension I selected was this one, a five wire cable extension with flat 5 pin connectors on each end: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FNN8XCG/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Although this coiled cable has five wire connections, for our use only four were needed.

To enhance and secure the actual cable connections I selected a Hopkins Endurance Quick Fix connectors. I chose these:


Cable Extension & Connectors These connectors are made to fit on the flat four wire often used on trailer wiring and they are designed to be opened in half, the individual wires laid onto the marked locations then the other half laid on to and re-secured using the screws and nuts supplied. It is designed to cut the insulation around each wire making connection with the individual wire inside. The challenge with this approach is that the wire must be the proper gauge so that the insulation is pierced with the integral connector. My experience, and matched with many other users is that either you pierce the insulation or adjust the ‘cutting’ place on the connector to pierce the wire or slightly cut the wire insulation in the appropriate location to ensure a secure electrical connection. This makes it sound worse than it is. The beauty of these connections is that once power is supplied to each one, small Red LEDs illuminate as the function is operated so that you can see if the power is making it to the connector and then to the other one through the coiled cable. Checking the rear of the car confirmed that the power was making it through the appropriate connections.  These connectors are made to be mounted to a surface which is important since the coiled cable does exert some pull on the connections. With the connectors securely mounted to the front of the car and the center of the Dolly,  there is no possibility of the cable connections separating when towing. To further aid in securing the cable I use a re-usable tie through a hole near the connector to secure the car end of the cable extension while looping the coiled cable around a support on the dolly near the dolly's connector. This adds some back up cable  security to both connections. 



3.     Adding Better Tie Down Straps to Easily Secure the EV to the Tow Dolly

After discovering during our towing experience with this tow dolly that on two occasions one of the straps was laying on the platform beside the tire, we knew that something had to be changed. We practiced the process of stopping within 30 miles (50 km) after loading the car and beginning the trip to check and retighten the straps.Improved Tow Straps The straps were secured to the dolly behind the tire then adjusted to fit the top of the tire (in an upside down basket formation) then looped as directed through a large ring. Then the strap end was placed into a ratchet in front of the tire and tightened. We also found it awkward to adjust the ‘basket’ to properly secure the tire. I decided to replace the straps with a set of JCHL Tow Dolly Basket Straps that have two flat rear hooks (rather than a single one) which allowed attachment to the tow dolly on either side of the rear of each tire. The basket is preformed and there is a single strap that is drawn through the securing ratchet and tightened. This made the installation simpler and more fully encompassed the tire on both sides, ensuring it and the straps stayed in place. What was also nice was that there is a red tracer strip on the face of the strap material so that it was very easy to determine if any of the straps were twisted.

Here is the link to these straps:



4.     Adding a Spare Tire Mount and Tire Cover to the Dolly   

Spare Tire with CoverWe had a mounted spare tire for the dolly that we initially carried in the basement of the RV. This was inconvenient and took up valuable storage space. I decided that the best place for the tire was mounted on the tongue of the tow dolly, even though that would add some weight to it making it slight more awkward to move when unloaded. I bought a simple ‘U’ bolt mount that fit through the wheel and then UV protected the tire and covered it with a cover that completely covered the tire. This cover was also coated to UV protect it.    




5.     A Trailer Dolly to Reposition the Dolly as Needed

While the Tow Dolly is designed to be moved short distances by hand with its built in handle, it was awkward to move up or down an incline or for any distance. At many RV parks the dolly must be located at a distance away from the RV site. Often the park has a means to move it to the storage area. This service is important since our EV should not (and thus does not) have a trailer hitch installed. We were shown a trailer dolly by a friend and after looking at how convenient it made moving the Tow Dolly around, I ordered one. It can be stored inside the rear hatch area of our Niro while assembled, and it still allows enough space for two electric mini bicycles that we carry in the rear hatch area. One other benefit of this trailer dolly is that it removes the issue of the weight of the spare tire on the tow dolly’s tongue. It is a very good way to move the dolly around.https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008CE0TN4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 Trailer Dolly


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