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Towing setup advice and your experience towing heavier loads

68Jeepster

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Hi folks, I'm sorry if this is a repeat question on this forum but I'm very new to modern age Jeeps. I just picked mine up about a month ago. I'm here looking for advice with respect to setting up my new 2023 JLU (V6/Manual Transmission/17" wheels) to tow my 8' heavy duty utility trailer in the near term and maybe a 4000 lb boat and/or a future small camper.

My Jeep came with "Trailer Sway Damping" as standard equipment and I guess that's a sway bar. That's about it with respect to towing equipment. No hitch, no wiring harness, no oil cooler, etc.

I don't think it would take much to get it up to speed for towing the utility trailer but I'd prefer not to pay for something twice. So that has me leaning towards getting it set up to haul heavier loads even though that day might not come for 2-3 years.

If this Jeep is simply not going to cut it as a tow vehicle for a boat or camper, I'd rather know up front, you won't hurt my feelings, but if it should do fine with a stock hitch and wiring harness, along with a heavy duty alternator and battery, that would be great to know. If those in the know could give me a list of things to get, I'd really appreciate it.

With respect your towing experience, how do the 4 door Jeeps, especially with a manual transmission hold up? Do you want to stay well short of capacity? I've hauled boats and campers with my old Nissan XTerra and I'm guessing the experience would be about the same. The XTerra is about the same weight, wheelbase, and engine displacement but the clutch on the XTerra sure seems heavy duty compared to the Jeep unless the Jeep uses some really strong hydraulics. It's like feather light. I still occasionally drive the XTerra and it's like going back to the old days with a clutch cable. I fear my clutch leg might get weak over time. Ha

I guess what I'm saying is, should I leave any towing greater than hauling firewood and furniture to the old 06 XTerra or will this model Jeep be a suitable replacement and capable of hauling 4000-5000 lbs after adding a few basics?

Thanks very much!
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Jeep Wick

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Hi folks, I'm sorry if this is a repeat question on this forum but I'm very new to modern age Jeeps. I just picked mine up about a month ago. I'm here looking for advice with respect to setting up my new 2023 JLU (V6/Manual Transmission/17" wheels) to tow my 8' heavy duty utility trailer in the near term and maybe a 4000 lb boat and/or a future small camper.

My Jeep came with "Trailer Sway Damping" as standard equipment and I guess that's a sway bar. That's about it with respect to towing equipment. No hitch, no wiring harness, no oil cooler, etc.

I don't think it would take much to get it up to speed for towing the utility trailer but I'd prefer not to pay for something twice. So that has me leaning towards getting it set up to haul heavier loads even though that day might not come for 2-3 years.

If this Jeep is simply not going to cut it as a tow vehicle for a boat or camper, I'd rather know up front, you won't hurt my feelings, but if it should do fine with a stock hitch and wiring harness, along with a heavy duty alternator and battery, that would be great to know. If those in the know could give me a list of things to get, I'd really appreciate it.

With respect your towing experience, how do the 4 door Jeeps, especially with a manual transmission hold up? Do you want to stay well short of capacity? I've hauled boats and campers with my old Nissan XTerra and I'm guessing the experience would be about the same. The XTerra is about the same weight, wheelbase, and engine displacement but the clutch on the XTerra sure seems heavy duty compared to the Jeep unless the Jeep uses some really strong hydraulics. It's like feather light. I still occasionally drive the XTerra and it's like going back to the old days with a clutch cable. I fear my clutch leg might get weak over time. Ha

I guess what I'm saying is, should I leave any towing greater than hauling firewood and furniture to the old 06 XTerra or will this model Jeep be a suitable replacement and capable of hauling 4000-5000 lbs after adding a few basics?

Thanks very much!
They will say it's rated for 3500 lbs, they tow 5500 overseas. The best hitch I've seen is Draw Tite, but it's only 4500 (tongue 600). If you have a soft top, you may want the heavier spec springs from hard top/steel bumper package. You will be right at the limit, but I think it will do. I had a manual 2 door and pulled similar loads without issue. Get the Mopar harness and I like the Redarc tow controller.
 

JeepinPete

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The manual trans is rated for ~4500# in the Gladiator FWIW. I've pulled 5500# with my JLUR for a short distance, back roads. No issues with stability, stopping or power. If your future boat towing is local, I wouldn't think twice about it. The Jeep will handle it fine.
 
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68Jeepster

68Jeepster

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They will say it's rated for 3500 lbs, they tow 5500 overseas. The best hitch I've seen is Draw Tite, but it's only 4500 (tongue 600). If you have a soft top, you may want the heavier spec springs from hard top/steel bumper package. You will be right at the limit, but I think it will do. I had a manual 2 door and pulled similar loads without issue. Get the Mopar harness and I like the Redarc tow controller.
Thanks! FWIW, it is a hard top. I'm so new to Jeeps, I didn't know the difference in tops conveyed to different springs. So much to learn, but I'm slowly getting there after spending a few hours here per week.
 

nositting

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many will comment very soon about staying under the 3,500 lb limit. this limit is increased on the 2024 model to 5,000 lbs with the full float axle.
most will say you need a weight distribution hitch with trailer brakes and sway control if towing over, say 3,000 lbs.
some will talk about the dangers of your limited insurance coverage should you get into a fender bender while over the tow limit.
a small amount will also advocate for the use of an airbag kit in the rear springs as well.
bottom line is you need to know how the jeep handles at various loads/speeds and error on the side of caution. this isn’t something to be cavalier about.
surely lots of this topic already written on this forum.
 

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68Jeepster

68Jeepster

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The manual trans is rated for ~4500# in the Gladiator FWIW. I've pulled 5500# with my JLUR for a short distance, back roads. No issues with stability, stopping or power. If your future boat towing is local, I wouldn't think twice about it. The Jeep will handle it fine.
I'm going to show my ignorance here but asking dumb questions is how I learn. Ha...How does the Rubicon (I initially thought Renegade, yep I'm old) compare to the Sport with respect to suspension, etc. guessing the Rubicon is heavier and has higher towing capacity? Thanks!
 
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68Jeepster

68Jeepster

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many will comment very soon about staying under the 3,500 lb limit. this limit is increased on the 2024 model to 5,000 lbs with the full float axle.
most will say you need a weight distribution hitch with trailer brakes and sway control if towing over, say 3,000 lbs.
some will talk about the dangers of your limited insurance coverage should you get into a fender bender while over the tow limit.
a small amount will also advocate for the use of an airbag kit in the rear springs as well.
bottom line is you need to know how the jeep handles at various loads/speeds and error on the side of caution. this isn’t something to be cavalier about.
surely lots of this topic already written on this forum.
Totally agree and I definitely err on the side of caution. I enjoy being in control of what I'm hauling and not vice versa. Ha. I had a bad experience towing a friend's boat a few miles but on a roller coaster of a 2 lane road with my Xterra. It has a 5K capacity and my friend said the boat and trailer weighed 4k. It pushed me all over the road. Must have been more like 5500-6000 lbs. Never again...
 

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You are in Virginia? Expect to get into the mountains?

Using a JT Gladiator 3.6L 6-speed 3.73 diffs with our 2,000lb trailer we cannot get out of 2nd gear, 45MPH max, on some of the steeper mountain pass roads on I70 in the Rockys. 3rd just doesn't put down enough torque. The App mountains or back roads can be steeper in places. Your truck might have the longer gears (3.43 I think?) so it may be worse. If you tow 4,000lb then things just get even worse still.

If your truck didn't come with a towing package then it may not have the heavy-duty cooling. So watch the engine or oil temperature as you drive.

Getting the weight moving from a stop with the manual transmission requires some clutch slip, of course. Don't get heavily into the throttle until the clutch is fully engaged. If backing up a hill, consider 4-Low to save the clutch.
 
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68Jeepster

68Jeepster

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You are in Virginia? Expect to get into the mountains?

Using a JT Gladiator 3.6L 6-speed 3.73 diffs with our 2,000lb trailer we cannot get out of 2nd gear, 45MPH max, on some of the steeper mountain pass roads on I70 in the Rockys. 3rd just doesn't put down enough torque. The App mountains or back roads can be steeper in places. Your truck might have the longer gears (3.43 I think?) so it may be worse. If you tow 4,000lb then things just get even worse still.

If your truck didn't come with a towing package then it may not have the heavy-duty cooling. So watch the engine or oil temperature as you drive.

Getting the weight moving from a stop with the manual transmission requires some clutch slip, of course. Don't get heavily into the throttle until the clutch is fully engaged. If backing up a hill, consider 4-Low to save the clutch.
I'm in SW VA and there are some steep grades in all directions. After driving the V-6 for a few weeks, I found myself pretty much living in 2nd and 3rd on these hills. I guess it's just how it's geared and that is a big difference between the XTerra where I live in 4th and 5th. Hooking a trailer to it I think will be interesting.

Great advice about the 4-L in reverse. I used 4-L a couple weeks ago out in a field with a steep grade. I was really impressed how smooth it tracked up the grade. Looking forward to getting out in the snow with it next year.
 

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I have a '21 Sahara Altitude with the factory tow package. Shortly after I got it, I rented a 3000lb camper for a weekend trip. Driving from Fort Worth, TX east to Lake Tawakoni State Park (about two hours normally)

You can read the full account here: https://www.jlwranglerforums.com/forum/threads/joyride-hydro-jlusa-build-thread.76001/post-1719140

Overall? I wouldn't recommend towing at or near the "maximum" tow rating for the Jeep.

  • It dropped my MPG from about 22 down to closer to 10-12. Biggest issue here is range - you're going to be filling up every ~175-200 miles.
  • Pulling this camper was obviously a strain on my entire drivetrain, and that was on flat land. I can't imagine trying to pull that much weight uphill at all.
  • Stopping was a bit concerning, and that's with the heavy-duty brakes that the tow package adds to the Sahara. You would absolutely want a brake controller.
  • All in all, it just wasn't much fun at all. Extremely stressful (especially in Friday afternoon Dallas traffic)

Aside from that, I've rented a small trailer from Home Depot on a few occasions for moving misc bits of furniture, picking up a grill, etc. Jeep handles those just fine no issues.

If I were going to tow 3K+ lbs on a regular basis, I'd just go get an old F150 or Silverado for that purpose and let the Jeep do Jeep things.
 

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I'm going to show my ignorance here but asking dumb questions is how I learn. Ha...How does the Rubicon (I initially thought Renegade, yep I'm old) compare to the Sport with respect to suspension, etc. guessing the Rubicon is heavier and has higher towing capacity? Thanks!
I'm old too. Suspension on a sport is probably "better" for towing than the Rubicon. It sits lower and the Sport is on street oriented tires. Smaller tires put less strain on the drivetrain too. That being said, brake are one of your limiting factors. Your Sport likely has the smaller brake package. Gears are your next issue. I think you and your Jeep will not be happy at all with anything close to the rated capacity with stock gears.

If you are going to tow at the weight limit, you have to put in the time and effort to learn and set things up perfectly. For example, a couple years back I towed a 7k lbs camper from PA to Yellowstone and back with our '15 Durango. It is rated at 7200 lbs. This involved buying a quality weight distribution hitch, getting hitch weights and preload bars figured out, learning how to pack the camper to keep weights in check, and making several trips to the local weigh station to know exactly where things were. All decked out I was at both front and rear axle limits. Made the trip without incident or any white knuckle episodes. The Durango is still running strong at 115k on the clock.

FWIW...

Pete

PS, I had a '67 Jeepster once upon a time...
 
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68Jeepster

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I'm old too. Suspension on a sport is probably "better" for towing than the Rubicon. It sits lower and the Sport is on street oriented tires. Smaller tires put less strain on the drivetrain too. That being said, brake are one of your limiting factors. Your Sport likely has the smaller brake package. Gears are your next issue. I think you and your Jeep will not be happy at all with anything close to the rated capacity with stock gears.

If you are going to tow at the weight limit, you have to put in the time and effort to learn and set things up perfectly. For example, a couple years back I towed a 7k lbs camper from PA to Yellowstone and back with our '15 Durango. It is rated at 7200 lbs. This involved buying a quality weight distribution hitch, getting hitch weights and preload bars figured out, learning how to pack the camper to keep weights in check, and making several trips to the local weigh station to know exactly where things were. All decked out I was at both front and rear axle limits. Made the trip without incident or any white knuckle episodes. The Durango is still running strong at 115k on the clock.

FWIW...

Pete

PS, I had a '67 Jeepster once upon a time...
Thanks Pete! You still miss that Jeepster, I'm guessing. I can still hear the unmistakable clunk the door and the back hatch made when you closed it. I still want to close the gate first on my new Jeep. Old habits die hard.

This is going to sound really stupid but one of the things that sold my new Jeep was how the hood still uses hinges to hold it down. I wanted to check under the hood and there was no release latch inside. Yes!! If I can rig up the high/low beams to a button on the floor and disconnect the heater, I'll really be good to go.

I did a little digging this evening and we have a Jeep shop just down the road. As much as I like to do things myself, once I get past installing the hitch, I'd rather let others add components that are going to help with towing. I might even see what they recommend with respect to a different gear ratio. Maybe I'm just really used to the XTerra but I'm having a tough time getting used to the new clutch and gearing. I feel really bad for my XTerra when I drive it after a few days in the Jeep. ?
 

Jeep Wick

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Thanks Pete! You still miss that Jeepster, I'm guessing. I can still hear the unmistakable clunk the door and the back hatch made when you closed it. I still want to close the gate first on my new Jeep. Old habits die hard.

This is going to sound really stupid but one of the things that sold my new Jeep was how the hood still uses hinges to hold it down. I wanted to check under the hood and there was no release latch inside. Yes!! If I can rig up the high/low beams to a button on the floor and disconnect the heater, I'll really be good to go.

I did a little digging this evening and we have a Jeep shop just down the road. As much as I like to do things myself, once I get past installing the hitch, I'd rather let others add components that are going to help with towing. I might even see what they recommend with respect to a different gear ratio. Maybe I'm just really used to the XTerra but I'm having a tough time getting used to the new clutch and gearing. I feel really bad for my XTerra when I drive it after a few days in the Jeep. ?
I forgot to add that I was towing with a Rubicon, so I had 4.10 gears. Was mostly in 4th gear, don't expect to use 5th or 6th.
 
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68Jeepster

68Jeepster

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I have a '21 Sahara Altitude with the factory tow package. Shortly after I got it, I rented a 3000lb camper for a weekend trip. Driving from Fort Worth, TX east to Lake Tawakoni State Park (about two hours normally)

You can read the full account here: https://www.jlwranglerforums.com/forum/threads/joyride-hydro-jlusa-build-thread.76001/post-1719140

Overall? I wouldn't recommend towing at or near the "maximum" tow rating for the Jeep.

  • It dropped my MPG from about 22 down to closer to 10-12. Biggest issue here is range - you're going to be filling up every ~175-200 miles.
  • Pulling this camper was obviously a strain on my entire drivetrain, and that was on flat land. I can't imagine trying to pull that much weight uphill at all.
  • Stopping was a bit concerning, and that's with the heavy-duty brakes that the tow package adds to the Sahara. You would absolutely want a brake controller.
  • All in all, it just wasn't much fun at all. Extremely stressful (especially in Friday afternoon Dallas traffic)

Aside from that, I've rented a small trailer from Home Depot on a few occasions for moving misc bits of furniture, picking up a grill, etc. Jeep handles those just fine no issues.

If I were going to tow 3K+ lbs on a regular basis, I'd just go get an old F150 or Silverado for that purpose and let the Jeep do Jeep things.
Sounds like a good plan and was thinking the same. (Getting an old F150/Silverado for heavier loads) Out of curiosity, what engine and transmission do you have in your Jeep? Sorry if I missed it. Thanks!
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