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Towing an SC across country?

Old 07-01-18, 02:02 PM
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CKA
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Default Towing an SC across country?

5spd Manual SC300. Can I just use a tow dolly with the front wheels off the ground? I keep hearing mixed messages of having to disconnect the driveshaft while others say you can just keep it in neutral.
It would be about a 1000 mile trip. I only have a 4Runner to tow with and adding a trailer to the equation seems like too much stress on the tow vehicle.
Has anyone else towed a manual SC across greater distances with just a dolly?

Cheers
Chris
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Old 07-01-18, 03:48 PM
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KahnBB6
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I believe that with the dollies that only use the car's front wheels you must leave the car in neutral-- easy with a 5-speed SC. There will be some normal wear on the driveshaft center bearing, rear differential, rear tires and the output shaft of your transmission will spin internally. Plus your rear suspension is working while the front of the car is suspended. This is exactly the same thing that happens when you get a short-distance tow if your car breaks down.

I do not remember offhand what the owner's manual states as to whether a two-wheel dolly is even recommended by Lexus/Toyota.

Personally I'd never use a two-wheel tow dolly for long distance driving across the country. While it can be done I never understood why anyone I've seen do this would do this, especially with a rear wheel drive car. And with an AWD vehicle I don't think it would be advised because after some 2600+ miles the wear on the tires making pavement contact will have been more than the wear on the tires that are suspended... which isn't a good thing with AWD. I digress but it's worth briefly noting since we're on the subject.

Back to your SC situation, I recommend one of the full car trailers you can rent from UHaul. They will handle the weight and you're able to much more securely strap the wheels into place and avoid any road-related issues that might arise while the car is only half suspended in the air over such long distances.

Case in point: I was driving my SC through central Texas a while back and in the middle of nowhere at night with only my headlights to show me the road I suddenly came up on what I think was a block of wood. I couldn't fully swerve around it in time (and wouldn't have if it were raining or wet out) and ended up running over it. There was a little damage to one of the plastic covers that go over the brake and fuel lines (!) but I was able to repair this and move on and fully rectify the cover later. All the lines were fine but it was quite a scare at the time.

My point is that after having driven this model of car cross country several times now I've learned that anything can happen and to always plan ahead. If driving the car, just keep some appropriate tools, a spare tire, pump, jack and a minimum of whatever fluids you might need in the trunk. If transporting the SC I'd always recommend the fully suspended trailer option. A little more expensive but much more secure and safe in the long run.

Just my own opinion as to how I'd approach the problem for the SC300 itself.

Now the stress on the Toyota 4Runner is another big part of the equation. If an SC300 5-speed weighs between 3500-3600lbs and the trailer you put it on adds at least 1,000lbs to that load then you know you can't overload the max tow load rating for the 4Runner if this exceeds it. You'd have to check the manual to determine how much it can safely handle.

For a 1,000 mile trip with these limitations the easiest solution, if it is roadworthy, is just to drive it this distance yourself.

Last edited by KahnBB6; 07-01-18 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 07-01-18, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by CKA View Post
5spd Manual SC300. Can I just use a tow dolly with the front wheels off the ground? I keep hearing mixed messages of having to disconnect the driveshaft while others say you can just keep it in neutral.
It would be about a 1000 mile trip. I only have a 4Runner to tow with and adding a trailer to the equation seems like too much stress on the tow vehicle.
Has anyone else towed a manual SC across greater distances with just a dolly?

Cheers
Chris
Man I have towed cars all over the country on tow dollys, if you have a manual like you say just put it in neutral and rock and roll. There is no issue with towing it on a dolly. Your worst part of the deal is you have to plan your stops so that you never have to back up. Other than that, it's an efficient way to tow since you don't have the weight of a trailer. Good luck on your trip.

Edit: Get this, when I bought my blue parts car I had to go about 300 miles to get it. When I got there the guy didn't have a key so I had to break the steering wheel lock and hot wire it to start it get it on the tow dolly. Took like 5 or 10 min total, the dude's girlfriend said she had never seen somebody hot wire a car. Since it was an auto I knew I was going to eventually rob the motor but I didn't want to destroy the trans so I said I will just back it on the dolly and tow it that way. Won't work, it really was unstable weaving back and forth with the front wheels down so I pulled over in a service station and put it on correctly and pulled the drive shaft. Another time when I got my white car (also an auto) going I had to tow it 2 hours to get it home, so I put it on the dolly and just left it running in neutral the entire time to keep lubrication in the trans. Luckily I have an enclosed trailer I haul the race car all over the country in. Much better situation but I still use the dolly when I have a quick haul and don't want to deal with a trailer.

Last edited by RXRodger; 07-01-18 at 08:08 PM.
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