Hey guys and girls. I have been trying to figure this problem out for the last month and I haven't come to a conclusion. I don't know if I should get a hitch or a bumper that has one in it. I am going to be towing once and a while and it will have about 300lbs. tongue weight. I would get a hitch, but I've heard that they hit and scrape when you are out on the trails. I have only really found one bumper that looks good.
I bought and installed the high rock bumper you mentioned. It is solid and looks good. Unfortunately I cant report on how good it is for towing, as I havent used if for that (most of my reason for getting the hitch bumper was so I can rescue my bike if need be) yet.
You need to find out what your jeep is rated for before you get a hitch. If I'm not mistaken, the TJ's are rated for 2000 lbs., 200 lb. tongue weight. If that's the case, you may be overloading your jeep.
I'm very partial to the Highrock bumpers . But there are bunches of them out there, from local welders and national firms. Generally speaking they're all overbuilt for the light towing you can safely do with a Wrangler.
You also get a very strong attachment point for D rings - it makes a great point for tow straps. And that will most likely put more stress on it than towing a small trailer. You can also get smaller winches that mount in the receiver - great for pulling you back from an oops moment (in Europe they almost always use winches in the back, by the way.)
You will most likely need a drop hitch to put into the bumpers receiver - otherwise your trailer will be at a dangerous angle. Depending on lift/tires, you might need a big drop hitch in order to keep your trailer level.
Hensman: Like you said, the aftermarket hitches can be very low and reduce your clearance/departure angles. But is this true for a Mopar Jeep hitch? I know that the aftermarket hitch on my Grand Cherokee sucks eggs, but if I had sprung for the factory version it would have been fine. Not sure how that works with Wranglers.
I bought and installed a hitch. They only take about 15 minutes to install and once you fish the bolts and install in the frame it only takes about 10 minutes. That being said, if you only tow once in a while just reinstall the hitch before you tow. Leave the frame bolts in place. A quick ratchet and it will be installed in 10 minutes.
I suggest getting the bumper, great points for recovery and a hitch(Also looks much better). If you get the hitch you should probably leave it on. If you get stuck and can only be pulled backward, the only thing to tie onto would be around the stock bumper that was only meant to be a cushion and could risk ripping it right off. The hitch acts as a secure recovery point. My next investments are high lift jack, front and rear bumper, and a winch. Oh and don't drive alone in the mud.
Oh and after market hitches do suck. Went on a trail run last weekend and one of the guys had a decorative sign plugged into the hitch and it was ripped right off. (The decoration I mean, not the hitch)
__________________ '03 TJ Sport / D30/Ford9 / 35x12.5x15 KM2 / D window black steel 15x8 wheels / 3" custom long arm lift / SYE & 1350 DS / JKS BL / 1" MML / Smittybilt's front bumper, Tube fenders, Rocker guards, and rear bumper / High Rock Tire Carrier
If you don't offroad, a bolt-on hitch like from U-Haul is fine. If you offroad, it's better if you go with a receiver hitch that is integrated into the bumper so the hitch is positioned higher. That way the hitch won't drag when you're offroading on uneven terrain.
__________________ When you have a choice, buy American.
Here is another option, it was on my Jeep when I bought it but I really like the looks. Its the Rugged ridge bumpers. Front and rear, with/without hitch/winch mount, etc...
The Hitch bolts directly to the frame, then has tabs on it that the tubular bumper bolt to and the hitch is mostly hidden behind the bumper. Looks really clean especially if you like tubular bumers!
Hey all....I just signed up today for the forum and already got some good answers about towing. My beast is a 2003 4.0 TJ Automatic. I was in Korea for 5 years and just got back, pulled it out of storage and am getting ready to upgrade it a bit. Now that it's finally paid off :-)
It will be a daily driver but I want it to have offroad capability w/o sacrificing highway ride. Do I NEED a lift to run 32x11.5's??????? If so which one is cheapest and easiest to put on? Any thoughts, comments, Ideas are welcome. Peace
Yep you'll need a mild lift to run 32x11.50 tires without rubbing since 31x10.50 tires are really the biggest you can run without any type of lift. I'd probably go with a 2" budget boost which are available in several versions like just add 2" spacers over the stock springs, or (better) replace the OE springs with 2" taller springs. A 2" BB (budget boost) is pretty easily installed, all you need are a very basic set of tools and a jack. Just remember to adjust the toe-in back to spec afterwards since any kind of suspension lift slightly changes the toe-in. Don't bother going with a full front-end alignment since only the toe-in can be adjusted. Any 4x4 shop can do that or just do it on your own which is easy to do.
Someone here probably has the link on how to do your own toe-in, I'm at work so I don't have the link. But basically you just adjust your tie-rod so the front of the tires are 1/16" to 1/8" closer in front than in the rear. Here's how you can measure them and if you just use a small amount of care, your toe-in will be 100% as accurate as what an alignment rack can produce...
Just buy a 1" square steel or aluminum tube, cut them into two pieces slightly longer than your tire's diameter, mark them to equal your tire's diameter, and measure between them after clamping them to the brake rotors as shown.
__________________ When you have a choice, buy American.