A car dolly is one of those things you don’t think are useful until you need one. It’s best to keep one around packed away in the garage. They make lifting and moving cars around so much easier. And no, it’s not just mechanics who should keep a wheel dolly or auto dolly around.
The best thing about this accessory is how convenient they are. If you have a multi-vehicle garage and need to move cars around, they’ll help you do that. If you’re restoring a vehicle but need to move it so you can reach an area of your garage, a dolly will do that. If one of your vehicles is down and waiting for a repair but you need to move it for whatever reason, an auto dolly will do just that. You get the gist.
Today, we’re bringing you a list of the top 10 best car dollies on the market. We’ve looked at their specs, price, reviews, and a lot more so you don’t have to. You’ll also find in this article a buying guide that will show you how to find the best wheel dolly for your needs. Lastly, we have a section of frequently asked questions about these accessories.
What Is a Car Dolly?
A car dolly (or auto dolly) is essentially a skate for your vehicle’s tire. They usually come in sets of four, so that every tire is resting on a skate. They have wheels at the bottom, which is what makes them useful. After all, their purpose is to help you move a heavy car or truck around a garage.
Why Should I Buy a Car Dolly?
There’s plenty of reasons why getting a wheel dolly is a good investment. It’s not just mechanic shops that should keep a set around.
First of all, you have freedom of movement. You can move any vehicle—new or old—easily and quickly. You don’t even need anyone’s help, you can do it all by yourself.
Secondly, it’s a great way of making the most of the space you have. With a dolly, you can move a car from one side of the garage to the other. So, if you need to reach a chest of drawers that were being blocked by a car, you can do that.
It’s also handy for people with cars needing repairs. Since the motor isn’t working, you wouldn’t be able to move it if you needed it. These tire skates solve that problem. Plus, you can easily move it so you can work on it.
They’re also useful for car shows. Setting up a room with gorgeous cars can be hard if you need to move them around to improve the layout. If all the vehicles are on dolly wheels, that’s not a problem anymore.
Car Dolly vs. Jack Stand
A car dolly isn’t a jack stand for one main reason: mobility. Jack stands do what they say they do: stand in place. You can’t move a car or truck that’s lifted using a jack. However, you can move a vehicle that’s on an auto dolly. That’s their whole point!
Car Tow Dolly vs. Car Dolly
A tow dolly is also not the same thing as a wheel dolly, despite having s similar-sounding name. They’re used to tow cars across relatively short distances. They have two tires under a metal structure where your car is attached to. Then, you connect the tow dolly to another car and can drive off.
A wheel dolly can only be used in smooth, flat surfaces. It can’t be used to tow cars or even move them on the road. Instead, they’re meant to stay inside a dealership, garage, or auto body shop.
Different Types of Car Dollies
There are two main types of auto dollies. They each have their upsides and downsides. Which one you should get depends entirely on how much you’re willing to spend and how you want to use it.
This is your regular auto dolly. They have a tire skate, four wheels at the bottom, and that’s it. To place a car on one of these pieces you would first need a jack to lift the car. Then, you’d slide the skate under a tire and then lower the vehicle. You’ll need to do this for every wheel.
As you can guess, this is a big disadvantage. It takes time to place a car on the dollies. Because they’re such straightforward pieces, they have a clear advantage: you can find them for much lower prices.
Hydraulic car dollies are where it’s at. They use hydraulic forces to lift the car for you. Thus, they replace a jack, since you won’t be needing them anymore. They still have four wheels and are made of sturdy metal, just like standard dollies.
Their main advantage is the fact that they’re much more convenient and easy to use. At the same time, because they have hydraulic pumps in them, their disadvantage is that they’re much, much more expensive.
Choosing the Best Car Dolly: Buying Guide
Couldn’t find the best car dolly for you? That’s okay, this auto dolly buying guide will help you in the search for the perfect product for your vehicle. Look into each dolly’s specs and see what they say about the following features.
This affects how much weight the skates can withstand. You’ll obviously need skates that can support the full weight of your vehicle. Most dollies handle up to 6.000 pounds as a set of four, but not all, so keep an eye out for that.
Another important factor is the width of tires. You need skates that are wide enough to accommodate the tires of your vehicle. Otherwise, your car or truck will be held up precariously and could get damaged as a consequence.
Sturdiness and Durability
Since vehicles are heavy, you need skates that are made from good-quality durable materials. Look for ones made with reinforced, thick metal plates and galvanized screws and bolts. Ask yourself, “Is this structure going to hold up after months of use with a heavy truck on it?” You need the answer to be yes.
This isn’t a necessity and it’s a feature only a few dollies come with. Some models have brake pedals on each of the four wheels of a skate. When you step on them, they will lock the wheel in place and prevent it from moving around. This is heavy if your garage floor is a bit uneven in some places, but no brake will hold up in ramps, so that’s not even an option.
Ball Bearing Casters
These are the best skate wheels you can find. They move smoothly at a 360-degree angle with very little pressure. You should keep them oiled throughout the year to make sure they don’t wear down, but they’re usually long-lasting components.
Number of Dollies
Ideally, you would need a set of four dollies to make things work. It makes it so much easier to move your vehicle around. But a set of two could work just fine, you’d just need to put more effort and force into moving it.
Keep this in mind because some brands (particularly those selling hydraulic dollies) will sell their pieces individually. Thus, if you see a price tag of $200 on hydraulic skates, be aware that you’re not getting a great deal. Those $200 are paying for only one dolly.
It’s also important to choose a brand you can trust. Especially if the product isn’t covered by a warranty plan. Look into the reputation of a manufacturer before you make a final purchase. It’s best to be safe than sorry.
Think of how easy it would be to use the dolly. Would you need a jack to lift and lower the car on the dolly every time you need to use them? Is this something that could bother you in the long run?
Convenience is what will affect which type of auto dolly you want: a standard one or a hydraulic one.
At the same rate, keep your budget in check and be realistic. How much are you willing to spend on a set of tire skates? Will that be worth it? Only you can answer that question, so whip up a budget and don’t go over it. You can still find a good auto dolly for under $100.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to use a wheel dolly?
If you’re using a standard dolly, you’ll need a jack. First, lift the vehicle you want to mount on the dolly. Second, slide the skate under the wheel and put it in the right position. Lastly, lower the vehicle onto the skate using the jack. Do this for every tire.
Using a hydraulic dolly is much easier. Separate the two metal bars so that they can fit around the lower portion of your car’s tire. Then, step on the hydraulic lever several times until the car is raised by about two inches. Lastly, make sure the vehicle is securely attached to the dolly.
Do I need a car dolly?
Not having a car dolly won’t stop you from living your life. But it can make things harder and less convenient. As with all other car accessories (coolers, bumper guards, blind spot mirrors, etc), they’re not essential, but they make things a lot easier.
How long can you use a car dolly?
Technically, a car or truck can stay on a car dolly indefinitely. The tires won’t wear out because the dolly is built to have a strong, stable, flat surface in contact with the tires.
How to store an auto dolly?
Some come with carrying handles that can be fashioned as hooks or mounting bars. Others have holes drilled in the metal plates so they can be left hanging on a metal rack. But more often than not, you can stack auto dollies and leave them in a corner of the garage or tool shed.
How many auto dolly pairs do I need?
For best results and ease of use, get a set of four dollies. You can get by with two, but it will make moving the car around much harder, which somewhat defeats the purpose.
Can you tow a car using auto dollies?
No, you can’t. You’ll need a car tow dolly to do that.
Can you put a truck on wheel dollies?
Yes, you can. As long as it’s under the weight limit, you can mount on it any vehicle. You could even do it for a boat.
Are car dollies safe to use?
Yes, they are. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure you know how to use a car jack before you place a vehicle on these skates.