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Old 01-01-2012, 09:04 PM   #1
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towing with a Wrangler

Thought it would be better to open an appropriate thread than highjack the other.

One issue would be just why the manufacturer's put the limts on and what they specify. I would question that the addition of a weight distribution hitch actually impacts the safety issue of the towing of a vehicle. Also, adding power would not significantly impact the weight limits regarding safety.

So, the fact that the manufacturer has significantly different limits for two different types of hitches would signify that they are related to the warranty issue of the capability of the products to reach their warranty period life if the limits are exceeded.

If the issues were really safety, then it would make more sense that the llimits would be related to wheel base, vehicle weight (for braking), hitch type (as in the dual cam) and that those would be independent of engine power capacity.

Using the Wrangler for example. IF the manufacturer issues a different tow rating for one engine and a higher one for a more powerful engine, then the implication is that it is a warranty/life issue and not one of the safe towing capacity.

Is there anyplace in the manufacturer's statements that relate to the "safety" of the towing. In other words, that state that the "safe towing" capacities are. Or are they just that the manufacturer shows those as the GCWR and maximum recommended towing but not specifically addressing their relationship to safety.

The first question I would ask is if the manufacturer states those as a "SAFE TOWING" limit? In other words, does the manufacturer state in any way that it would consider it unsafe to tow above those limits with that vehicle?

I guess the only real assurance would be to research legal cases that have been settled and find out what the courts upheld.

However, I think that the same safety issues would apply to whether towing, or modifying any other aspect, especially the power to weight ratio. Exceed the manufacturers limits and you are automatically on your on and at fault?

Open for discussion and input. All serious and responsible inputs more than welcome.

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Old 01-01-2012, 10:16 PM   #2
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The TJ is limited in towing due to the shorter wheel base plus other factors. Larger loads will just toss it around in the wind.

The LJ has the same wheel base and width of a Cherokee, but it has a tow rating of 3,500 pounds instead of the XJ's 5,000 pounds. Why? Cooling. The XJ radiator holds significantly more coolant and has an additional fan for cooling purposes. As well, the built in transmission cooler on the TJ/LJ radiator is inadequate for towing larger loads.

Another factor is that the XJ weighs less than both a TJ and LJ allowing it a higher tow rating. However, both tow ratings combined with the weight each vehicle come under what the 4.0 engine is capable of handling.

The LJ can be made to handle 5,000 pounds of towing capacity with cooling upgrades and a proper towing setup.

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Old 01-01-2012, 10:46 PM   #3
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alot of the mfg's numbers are a combination of safety and mechinical limits and you can bet there is a safety margin built into those numbers(they have to cover their butts too)
they take a certain model and give it limits by what it comes with in the way of suspension, drive train, brakes, tires and the list goes on. but given 2 vehicles the numbers can be different just by the optional 'tow pkgt' which will beef up several of these varitables. in addition the owner can make additions/changes that will enhanse towing ability though not necessarly extend them above the mfg's limits.
my rig for exampleis a 35'6" TT and my tow vehicle is a hd2500, CC, long bed w/8.1L engine and allison tranny. it has a 12000# limit on the hitch and 15300# on a 5th wheel. i upgraded my hitch(15000# and 1500# tongue wt using wt dist.) i did this because i have a heavy tongue wt due to being a front kitchen trailer(applinances) i could tow as is but w/o the wt dist hitch it will sag a little in the back, rasing the front and it affects the steering and brakeing. another thing that most don't pay attention to are tires-my truck tires are load range "E" but the stock tires on most TT are different and most are rated at 55 mph(why 75-80 mph is nuts)
unfortunatly alot of owners and dealers will not take the time to research these facts. one of the biggest problems is they will look at the tow vehicles limits and then get a trailer close to that number-unfortunatly they don't take into account the cargo, water, propane, added gear and ppl in the vehicle and by the time they are packed and ready to go, they are several thousand lbs over wt.
personally being at over 56' long with 10k of trailer behind me, i want to be as safe as possible. i'm going to or comming from having fun and don't want any surprizes.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:39 AM   #4
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what make the limits?

None of the tow limits ever have any restrictions or limitations based on length. I have never seen any manufacturer's testing of their rigs actually towing to determine tow limits.

The only things I have ever seen is limits based on drive train.

A quick check of Fords F250/350 goes from 9,200 lbs to 12,500 just based on engine/drive train. The SRW F-250/F-350 goes from 8,500 to 12,500 based solely on drive train. The super cab (longer wheelbase) is actually less than the shorter wheelbase. The crew cab is less again.

I have difficulty accepting that there is 4,300 lbs stopping difference between the different drive trains on the same vehicle. And I have found that most trailers are capable of stopping themselves if the brakes are set up and powered properly (heavy enough wiring to the brakes).

So, it appears that the manufacturers' ratings are based almost solely on the power and ruggedness of the drive train.

I have found a significant difference in capability of the tow rig to handle the trailer with the dual cam sway control compared to a "standard" weight distributing hitch. However, I see absolutely nothing in the ratings based on the type of hitch, other than weight distribution. The indication there is that the manufacturers' are adjusting their ratings based on the impact on their suspension for warranty related items, not towing safety.

All-in-all I see no direct relationship between the manufacturers' tow ratings and what is actually safe to tow. I am in no way implying that there is no limit or that towing anything with any rig is "safe". All I am saying is that the numbers quoted by the manufacturers' are related to capacity of their parts, not safety of handling the rig.

As an example, according to Jeep, it is OK to tow my 18' car hauler behind my Wrangler with it just hooked onto the bumper, as long as it doesn't exceed 2,000 lbs. SORRY. I feel safe hualing the 29' self contained trailer with the dual cam sway setup. I would not consider towing that 18' car hauler empty with just a ball hitch on the Wrangler.

It is also OK to haul my car hauler with a 500 lb sign (still less than 2,000 lb) that is 18' long and 9' high standing upright on the trailer and with just a bumper hitch. SORRY, not going to happen.

So, people will say, "Well you have to use common sense!". And I fully agree. But I do not find the manufacturers' tow limits as any real source of valid information for determining what is a "safe" tow setup.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:47 AM   #5
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I had a YJ for 14 years, I towed all kinds of stuff behind it. All I will say is if it wheighs over 1000lbs it's too much for a Wrangler. It is not what they were made to do. I did a panic stop from going too fast towing a 2500lb load that I will never forget. It took every bit of my 40 years experience behind the wheel (and a lot of luck) to keep everything upright and not hit anything. When you have a trailer pushing you without brakes (and they never have them on trailers small enough for a Wrangler) it can get real hairy, real fast.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:48 AM   #6
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also never tow anything taller than the tow rig. did it once, wouldnt recommend or do it again
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Old 01-02-2012, 09:09 AM   #7
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also never tow anything taller than the tow rig. did it once, wouldnt recommend or do it again
semi's and 5th wheel TT do it all the time.
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Old 01-02-2012, 10:59 AM   #8
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None of the tow limits ever have any restrictions or limitations based on length. I have never seen any manufacturer's testing of their rigs actually towing to determine tow limits.

it's a given that the longer the wheel base the more stable the setup.
some will point to semi's but that's a different animal. it's a 5th wheel with the wt above or slightly forward of the rear axels and the twin duallys help alot


The only things I have ever seen is limits based on drive train.

A quick check of Fords F250/350 goes from 9,200 lbs to 12,500 just based on engine/drive train. The SRW F-250/F-350 goes from 8,500 to 12,500 based solely on drive train. The super cab (longer wheelbase) is actually less than the shorter wheelbase. The crew cab is less again.

very true, engine/gearing make all the difference-my b-i-l had a f350, 5.4L and don't rem the gearing but too high-had a 9200# limit on a 1 ton(my 3/4 had 12000) he swapped out the gears and went up to 11200# but because of the 5.4, all he could do. also true on the longer trucks-but it's a wt game. you have a set GCWR(gross combined wt rateing) and any wt added to the vehicle comes off the towing wt. you'll loose some with duallys due to the added wt. my 3/4 will out tow(granted only a few hundred lbs) a 1 ton on a 5er-hitch --will also do the same with a 3/4 with duallys. 1T has little beefer suspension/brakes and the added wt of 2 tires/rims

I have difficulty accepting that there is 4,300 lbs stopping difference between the different drive trains on the same vehicle. And I have found that most trailers are capable of stopping themselves if the brakes are set up and powered properly (heavy enough wiring to the brakes).

there is-they may look the same but there are differences-tranny(shift points), gearing and in some cases-brakes. wireing has nothing to do with it-most of the time it's already there on the truck and is there on the TT unless you wired it your self and used 22 ga. the decideing factor is the controller and they run from crap(free one from TT dealer) to gold+++. there are also 3 types of mech(that i know of-pendulum, inerita, and tied into trucks brakeing sys--going from worst to best) and in most catorgys there are base to preminum models. biggest problem here is user setup and adjustment.


So, it appears that the manufacturers' ratings are based almost solely on the power and ruggedness of the drive train.

I have found a significant difference in capability of the tow rig to handle the trailer with the dual cam sway control compared to a "standard" weight distributing hitch. However, I see absolutely nothing in the ratings based on the type of hitch, other than weight distribution. The indication there is that the manufacturers' are adjusting their ratings based on the impact on their suspension for warranty related items, not towing safety.

there there are all types of wt dist, sway controll and inetrgrated(both) and the dual cam is both. wt dist allows added tongue wt above the straight wt rateing as it shifts some of the tongue wt to the front axel and this very much affects safety. any time you see a rig that's saggng at the hitch(TV/TT should both be level and/or TT slighly nose dn) you are looking at an accident looking for a place to happen. with the front of the TV up, you lose full controll of steering and front brakeing. in a panic stop and/or get out of the way, i want full use of both. the biggest problem is proper hitch/rig setup due to owner/opperator ignoance/stupidity and both are dangerious. alot of ppl think you just drop a TT on the hitch ball and away you go and unfortunatly these a the ones you see broke dn or in an accident that could have avided.

All-in-all I see no direct relationship between the manufacturers' tow ratings and what is actually safe to tow. I am in no way implying that there is no limit or that towing anything with any rig is "safe". All I am saying is that the numbers quoted by the manufacturers' are related to capacity of their parts, not safety of handling the rig.

true again-the capacity of the parts working together-the TV/TT should be an intergrated system all working with each other. are the numbers the limit-no, the safe limit-yes. in the RV community they go 1 better and recommend shooting for 80% of tow capacity(chk out RV.NET sometime) don't kw about anyone else but i don't want to be doing 55 and find out have limited steering/brakeing due to impropper hitch setup, or blow a tire, break spring or some suspension part or blow an engine, tranny or rear end because i put more stress on it than it was designed for.


according to Jeep, it is OK to tow my 18' car hauler behind my Wrangler with it just hooked onto the bumper, as long as it doesn't exceed 2,000 lbs. SORRY. I feel safe hualing the 29' self contained trailer with the dual cam sway setup. I would not consider towing that 18' car hauler empty with just a ball hitch on the Wrangler.

It is also OK to haul my car hauler with a 500 lb sign (still less than 2,000 lb) that is 18' long and 9' high standing upright on the trailer and with just a bumper hitch. SORRY, not going to happen.

So, people will say, "Well you have to use common sense!". And I fully agree. But I do not find the manufacturers' tow limits as any real source of valid information for determining what is a "safe" tow setup.

true, but that's what we have to work with and they came up with them some how and don't get in an accident and let the legal profession find you above them.
(steppig off of soapbox)
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Old 01-02-2012, 11:44 AM   #9
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As someone who has "overtowed" a few times, I can tell you why the Wrangler is limited for towing. Short wheel base + tall tires + limited braking potential + brick like mass is already difficult enough to control and stop and speed. If you put a heavy load on it, you're asking for trouble in the form of failed brakes, inability to steer and, in a real world nightmare scenario, not able to react to other people's mistakes on the road.

A few years ago, I pulled my pull-behind BBQ with my Miata. It outweighed the rated tow capacity by more than twice. On two different occasions, I almost lost the trailer having to either stop short or make corrective maneuvers because of traffic. I used to tow my boat with my last wrangler and had something similar happen. It had no problem pulling it, just plenty of problem stopping and correcting.
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Old 01-02-2012, 11:50 AM   #10
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What I understand

So, what I understand so far is that the manufacturers' rate their vehicles maximum tow capacity based primrily (if not solely) on the functional capacity rating of their parts and the tow community rates the maximum "safe" towing capacity based solely on that manufacturers' rating.

Is that about correct?
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:14 PM   #11
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So, what I understand so far is that the manufacturers' rate their vehicles maximum tow capacity based primrily (if not solely) on the functional capacity rating of their parts

pretty much-they don't want to be replaceing parts for free or getting their butts sued(rem pinto gas tanks?) you saw what the differences can be just with drive trains.

and the tow community rates the maximum "safe" towing capacity based solely on that manufacturers' rating.

since that's the only numbers the rv'ers and TT mfg'ers have to go by, not much of a choice. actually the rv community for the most part is more conseritive and will try to be under those numbers(shooting for 80% or so is the norm) due to the cost involved(TV and TT) not many want to run maxed out all the time. kinda like running your engine red lined all the time-it'll do it-for a while and then it's replacement time.

Is that about correct?
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:30 PM   #12
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Wheelbase definitely affects how much it can safely tow... which is why the Unlimited has a 75% greater tow limit (3500 lbs) than the shorter wheelbased TJ does which is limited to 2000 lbs. The only difference between the two vehicles is wheelbase.

And a Cherokee has the same brakes as a TJ so the TJ's brakes have nothing to do with its lower 2,000 lb. tow capacity.

So I dunno what the purpose of this thread is but I will just say that wheelbase of the tow vehicle has a huge effect on how much a vehicle can tow safely. The shorter the wheelbase, the more negative effect the trailer can have on the tow vehicle. Think tail wagging the dog.
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Old 01-02-2012, 09:05 PM   #13
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object of post

The object of the post is to bring forth and discuss the aspects of determining the actual responsibly safe towing limits. There are no "SAFE" towing limits.

I checked the 2012 Unlimited towing capacity and the difference from the trailer towing package and the "max" towing package is solely the 3.73/4.10 ratio (which is already included on the Rubicon). That axle ratio alone raises the "safe" towing limit by 75% from 2,000 lb to 3,500 lb with no consideration for brakes, wheelbase, etc.

So, if the factory offered a 5.86 axle ratio would that raise the "safe" limit to 5,000 lbs behind a Jeep Unlimited? Of course, I doubt it, but the question is there. Which begs the question, what is the actual "safe" limit for the Jeep Unlimited? Considering that for the individual states, there is a requirement of trailer brakes over 2000, 3000 lbs.

Certainly wheelbase affects handling and is compensated for to some degree by the use of a sway control (especially the dual cam sway control). I would like to see some kind of limitation on length verses having sway control. Without aggressive sway control (The kind that FORCES realignment) a short wheelbase is a disaster with any length of trailer that is longer than the wheelbase of the TV. The slightest misalignment when hard braking, without trailer brakes, is going t push the TV sideways. And typically, when you are in a panic stop there is SOME kind of avoidance involved.

To further address the reason for this post, the information and attention has led me to investigate being able to install my equalizer/sway on my 18' car hauler. I now see how I can relieve the frame about 3/8" to allow the lift bracket to mount, install a block underneath to flush the angle to a C form and install both the lift and the cam bracket. I anticipate making some hauling trips using the Buick Rainier or Avalanche as a TV and would feel a LOT more comfortable with the hitch set up properly.

For all that, I thank those with their viewpoints and information. It is that sharing of information and exploring that allows us to learn from someone else's experience for a change.
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Old 01-02-2012, 09:31 PM   #14
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How bout this, call your insurance company and ask them if they will cover you if you tow more than your vehicles recommended towing capacity and you get into an accident... When they say no, then you know what the safe towing limit is. ( I'm saying tht because I didn't do that when I over towed and could of gotten myself into a lot of trouble) I never even questioned a difference between the manufactures recommendation and the safe limit. ( I just ignored it) And I am guilty of towing well over my wranglers 2500 lbs... And I won't do it again.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:10 AM   #15
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I have

They will cover it to the limits of the insurance. But that was a couple of years ago. I will check again, just to be thorough.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:19 AM   #16
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semi's and 5th wheel TT do it all the time.
so tell me how to get a 5th wheel on a wrangler ?
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:25 AM   #17
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so tell me how to get a 5th wheel on a wrangler ?
Just towstrap a gooseneck to the top of your roll cage.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:26 AM   #18
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I tow a 6X12 enclosed trailer with my Wrangler locally. I tested it on the highway once and could not even get to highway speed.

I tow a 6X12 open trailer with my Motor cycle back and forth to RI without any issues.

I Would not want to tow much more weight then that.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:28 AM   #19
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in spite of the long winded OP prose, i still don't know if i can tow my two 800lb waverunners. perhaps someone could let me know before summer. thx.
total weight is below 2000 lbs, trailer is top of the line.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:36 AM   #20
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So I have to ask to the OP... if you have full size chevy truck.. why even ask what the wrangler can tow? You have a tow rig in the truck that is far better than any Jeep for towing, so why not just use that instead?
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:05 AM   #21
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in spite of the long winded OP prose, i still don't know if i can tow my two 800lb waverunners. perhaps someone could let me know before summer. thx.
total weight is below 2000 lbs, trailer is top of the line.
I tow my boat, (19.5 feet, and fully loaded and full of fuel she probably weighs about 3200lbs)

But again that is locally.

I do have to put it in 4hi to pull it back up most boat ramps.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:43 AM   #22
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in spite of the long winded OP prose, i still don't know if i can tow my two 800lb waverunners. perhaps someone could let me know before summer. thx.
total weight is below 2000 lbs, trailer is top of the line.
It wouldn't be my first choice! In my quote (see above) I was towing a 16' flats boat on a aluminum trailer which weighs about the same as your 2 jet skis from NJ to Florida with my YJ. I was humming along at 60 when someone fell asleep at the wheel and cut me off, I did some serious off roading at high speed with just shy of 2000 pounds pushing me. Had to change my 'Depends' when I finally stopped and consider myself very lucky. I would tow 2000 pounds behind a Wrangler again only if I knew I wouldn't be going far and not over 40mph. If they made trailers with brakes for that size trailer (and they don't) it wouldn't bother me, but believe me when I tell you the brakes on your Wrangler are ONLY good for the weight of the Wrangler. Thats what my Tahoe is for.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:39 PM   #23
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in spite of the long winded OP prose, i still don't know if i can tow my two 800lb waverunners. perhaps someone could let me know before summer. thx.
total weight is below 2000 lbs, trailer is top of the line.
If that trailer has trailer brakes and if your TJ has the 4.0L engine, go for it. If your TJ has the 2.5L and 5-speed, it is technically within its ability to tow that weight but I personally wouldn't. Don't even try it with the 2.5L and automatic.

Just make sure to have no less than 200 lbs. of tongue weight on the hitch ball which is within the 10-15% of total trailer weight requirement for tongue weight. Less tongue weight than that and the trailer will sway on the highway.

And on your "long winded OP prose"...
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Old 01-03-2012, 05:49 PM   #24
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also never tow anything taller than the tow rig. did it once, wouldnt recommend or do it again

thought it was a generic statement-tow rig as opposed to wrangler
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Old 01-03-2012, 06:18 PM   #25
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A few years ago, I pulled my pull-behind BBQ with my Miata. .

thats not something you see everyday
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Old 01-03-2012, 06:19 PM   #26
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Wow...facinating read, but I think we are way over complicating this issue. Hear are a few thoughts from me:

1 - Insurance companies are not a guide. If you are speeding at 50 mph through a school zone, drunk and hit a bus, I am sure they will cover the damage. Your rates will be nuts and they will likely drop you, but you will be covered. Insurance companies pay for stupidity all the time. Further, in most states, the item you are towing will not be covered unless that item is insured. If you have a boat, you need boat insurance for example. Crash the car and the boat, no boat insurance, then no coverage.

2 - I am nearly positive that tow ratings are set by the mfg based on a multitude of factors and set federal guidelines. They can't possiblly change the guideline for every possible vehicle configuration. Yes...having trailer brakes will help etc.... but this does not change the recomendation. These factors are likely based on mechanical limitatations, warranty issues, and safety contraints. Things like the power train, wheelbase, tires etc.... are all part of the equation. I have an after-market hitch on our Pacifica. The car has a lifetime powertrain warranty. I considered installing a tranny cooler and was told that could void my warranty, so I did not even though it makes sense. I was told that as long as I tow within the weight limit as designated by the book, I would be fine. It is rated at around 4,000 lbs if I recall.

3 - If you tow too much or tow unsafely, you can be cited and held liable.

4 - Anyone that knowingly tows above the design limits of their vehicle as stated on the vehicle I think is acting irresponsibly both to their vehicle and to other drivers. This is sort of like driving too fast for conditions. However, it is likely that the mfg has baked-in some sort of safety margin. I also think that someone who is towing too much weight around a boat launch is a bit different than someone burning down the interstate....but that's just my opinion.

Anyway, it would be interesting to see if a mfg rep could explain where this data is derrived.
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:37 AM   #27
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So I have to ask to the OP... if you have full size chevy truck.. why even ask what the wrangler can tow? You have a tow rig in the truck that is far better than any Jeep for towing, so why not just use that instead?
First, I wasn't asking what a Wrangler CAN tow, but rather addressing the broader aspect of "towing with a wrangler".

One reason for towing with a Wrangler is to not have to take two vehicles. If one has a tow unit (camper, utility trailer, rv trailer, etc.) then it is difficult to get it, and the Wrangler, to the desired spot without towing it with the Wrangler.

It is possible to use another tow vehicle and then drive the Wrangler separate. But that is even more difficult if a person is alone. This idea of driving one vehicle a mile up the road, then walking back to drive the other up ahead one mile, then walking back, etc etc etc really isn't very efficient. And there isn't always another person along. You do get a lot of exercise though.

So, the alternative is to tow with the Wrangler. But to what limit? The 2012 Rubicon says 2000 lb with one axle ratio and 3500 with another. So, I hardly believe that 2000 lb is really the "safe" limit, yet that is what I have to accept if I am to strictly go by the limits set by the manufacturer.

It is those "OTHER" obvious considerations that the manufacturer puts on their towing limits that opens the topic. It is those "other" that demonstrate that the manufacturers' "tow limits" are NOT based solely on safety and thereby are not valid absolute limits on what is "reasonably safe" to tow with that vehicle. In fact they are misleading as in the towing 1000 or 2000 lb behind a Wrangler without consideration for length.
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:50 AM   #28
Knows a couple things...

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Over-analysis paralysis.
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Old 01-04-2012, 12:28 PM   #29
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Just stick to the limits on your jeep or under and on jeeps watch the touge weight keep under 200# this is for a good reason. I tow a 800# popup and fully louded is 1200 to 1400# the touge weight is 175# It tows great sags alittle in the rear but planing on fixing that with stifer springs. Always becarefull when towing in any truck.
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Old 01-04-2012, 09:53 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
Over-analysis paralysis.

Where's the "like" button?

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