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  1. #1
    imported_Steve Guest

    Default Best Route + Info on Car Carrier vs. Tow Dolly

    I'm looking into renting a moving truck (15ft) and pulling my car across the country from central Virginia to San Fran. I'm wondering what will be the best routes, that is which routes are the straightest and flattest so I don't have to drive too much in mountain/hilly areas?

    Also, anybody have experience with the car carrier or tow dolly? I realize with the car carrier the car actually sits on top of the trailer vs. having the front wheels raised as the tow dolly does? However, the car carrier weighs about twice as much. Does this significantly reduce gas mileage? Which is safer to drive with?



  2. #2
    TripTik Man Guest


    Easily the straightest and best route is to go south on I-81 out of Virginia, then in eastern Tennessee pick up I-40 west and head due west until you reach Barstow, CA. From there, take State Road 58 west to Fresno, go north on State Road 99 to Famoso, then State Road 46 west to Lost Hills. At that point, take I-5 north up to I-580 west, which will bring you straight into Oakland, where you pick up I-80 west/Bay Bridge. This route offers the easiest grades (climbing/descending) through the mountains. Overall, this is a fairly level route, with very few rugged mountainous sections.

    A dolly is cheap, but it may prove costly to your car's suspension system among other things. A trailer is much safer.

    If you chose to utilize a trailer, be prepared for some hard core driving. My experience is that the steering requires an extra application of strength and concentration. Wet roads can be a problem. But on the bright side, if your rental truck is in good shape and has plenty of horsepower, you should be able to drive at normal speeds (watch the radiator!)

    Best advice is to take your time.

  3. #3

    Default We did this in 1997

    back when I was mom to just one and no dog.
    We used the carrier to save on wear and tear on the car. We drove in April and still hit snow and ice in the middle of the country. So be prepared for that. We were surprised by how much snow there was...and we were stopped at one point for about an hour while the roads were cleared. (Wyoming, I believe) It was a great way to view Halley's Comet though!

    By the time we hit Elco, NV the transmission of the truck was not sounding great...but we made it to CA. By the skin of our teeth!

    At the end of the trip we said if we ever move back east we will sell everything we own first.

    I liked the drive, a lot. I did not like driving the truck.

    Good luck and have fun!

    ps: we made it in 5 days with a 3 yr old. made a lot of stops at playgrounds.

  4. #4


    If there is one in your area, I would recommend ABF U-pack., they provide a Container or Space on the trailer, then you pack it up, they haul it away! And MUCH Cheaper then rental trucks too! Then drive your own vehicle to SF.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default U-Pack Downsides

    I looked into U-Pack for more than one of my cross country moves, and I never found it to be as useful as it might seem.

    The biggest thing is that you have to have the space to park a full sized semi-trailer, that they will drop off for a day or two while you load it. A lot of times thats simply not practical.

    They have another point to point option, where you can take your things to one of there facilities, and load and unload, but in those cases you really end up moving 2-3 times, by the time you pack stuff up to move it to the designated drop location.

    There's also the element that they give you a timeframe that your stuff will be dropped off, so you need to be prepared for a window of a couple days where you might not have your things. If you drive your things yourself, you don't have to worry about when they will arrive at your new home.

  6. Default

    Hi Steve

    If you have space in your truck I would be willing to pay you to transport a piece of furniture. I am in the SF Bay Area and desperately want to transport an audio component rack which is currently in College Park, MD. The piece of furniture is an audio component rack (6 feet tall, 2 feet wide, 2 feet deep--weight 75 lbs) and there would be a box of glass shelves too (don't know the size yet)

    I live near San Jose but it would be possible for me to get to SF.

    Let me know your thoughts

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Tip.

    Hi Kweber, welcome to RTA !

    When searching through older posts it is always best to check dates before responding. You will notice that this thread dates from 2002.

    You could put up a thread in the 'Share the gas' section, I don't hold out a lot of hope but you never know ! Good luck.

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