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How-to Guide

How to Choose the Right Trailer Dolly

 Posted on: July 7th, 2021

Trailer dollies reduce the strain of moving trailers by providing another axle with which to turn, position and guide the trailer exactly where it needs to be for storage or for hitching up to your vehicle. It’s a great tool when used correctly, and like all tools, selecting the right dolly for the job will involve a little bit of research. The ideal trailer dolly for you will be one with a weight capacity that supports your heaviest trailer, is suited for the location you’ll be using it in, and pairs correctly to your trailer’s hitch.

Vehicle Weight Terminology

Calculate the total weight of your loaded trailer

There are several important pieces of information noted or set by the manufacturer. To find them, look for a placard somewhere on the trailer body.

  • The Trailer Weight is the weight of the trailer by itself, without any cargo.
  • The Payload Capacity is how much weight the trailer can safely transport.
  • The Gross Trailer Weight Rating (GTWR) is the maximum amount of total weight that your specific trailers can safely handle, including the weight of the trailer itself and all the cargo.
  • The last piece of information is something you’ll have to calculate yourself, the Gross Trailer Weight (GTW). The GTW is the total weight of your trailer and current or intended cargo.

Note: The GTW should never exceed the GTWR. If it does, the trailer is at high risk for failure and should not be moved or towed. Remove the excess weight as soon as possible to avoid damage to the trailer.

For additional information about trailers and towing, please read Towing: What You Need to Know.
Tow Tuff Heavy-Duty Trailer Dolly hooked up to a utility trailer
Tow Tuff Heavy-Duty Trailer Dolly hooked up to a utility trailer

Manual or motorized? There are benefits to each

Manual dollies are naturally going to be more affordable because they less moving parts, however because they rely on manpower they are limited by the strength of the operator. If the trailer is on the larger or heavier side, it makes more sense to invest in a motorized or electric trailer dolly to save your time and strength. It’s also worth noting that once trailers hit 12,000 pounds or more, they will simply be too heavy to move with manual or standard motorized dollies and you’ll have to simply maneuver them into their final position with your towing vehicle.

Know the location and terrain

Hard, level surfaces are hands down the best type of terrain on which to move a trailer. Grass and gravel create additional resistance that will make it more difficult to move your trailer dolly. If the terrain includes a downhill slope, decide if you need a model with brakes to assist you. If you know the area has some bumps, note that motorized dollies often move too slowly to get the speed needed to clear large bumps. If you’re using a motorized dolly, will you need access to power? Although some motorized dollies are battery-powered, others plug in.

Tow Tuff Electric Trailer Dolly with 2” hitch ball
Tow Tuff Electric Trailer Dolly with 2” hitch ball

Match the hitch size between the trailer and the trailer dolly

Some trailer hitches pair better with certain trailer dollies, and some trailers are simply not compatible. Standard Class I to Class V hitch receivers are ideal. Fifth-wheel hitch receivers, goosenecks and pintles are not recommended for most trailer dollies because they are designed for much heavier trailer towing.

Our selection of Tow Tuff and Elevate Outdoor trailer dollies

Ideal for small trailers up to utility or boat trailers, we offer several trailer dolly models to accommodate your trailer repositioning needs. See the comparison chart below for a quick overview:

Tow Tuff Small Trailer Dolly Tow Tuff Small Trailer DollyShop Tow Tuff Medium Trailer DollyTow Tuff Medium Trailer Dolly Shop Tow Tuff Hard Surface Trailer Dolly Tow Tuff Hard Surface Trailer Dolly Shop Tow Tuff Heavy-Duty Trailer DollyTow Tuff Heavy-Duty Trailer DollyShop Elevate Outdoor Boat Trailer Dolly Elevate Outdoor Boat Trailer DollyShop Tow Tuff Electric Trailer Dolly Tow Tuff Electric Trailer DollyShop
Best for Small trailers Medium trailers Cement and tar surfaces Large boat, utility or cargo trailers Boat, jet-ski, cargo trailers Utility, boat or cargo trailers
Max Cap 800 lbs. 1,000 lbs. 1,000 lbs. 1,500 lbs. 3,500 lbs. 3,600 lbs.
Tongue Cap 600 lbs. 600 lbs.
Hitch Ball 1-7/8” 2” 2” 2” 1-7/8” 2”
Height Range 16.5" to 25.5" 21" to 33" 21.125" to 25.325" 23.25" to 37" 15.325" to 24.325" 23" to 29"
Key Feature Polyurethane casters Oversized front tires Battery-powered