JK vs. TJ towing capacity comparison - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 5 Old 11-24-2008, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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2010 JK Wrangler 
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Location: Boston MA
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JK vs. TJ towing capacity comparison

Quick question: why are both the TJ and the JK restricted to the same 2,000 lb.? The JK is longer (163" vs. 155"); 8" wider; 2" longer wheelbase; 500 lb. heavier; stronger axles (2600/3400 lb. vs. 2200/2600); slightly better HP and torque; improved suspension and brakes; ABS, stability control and traction control; larger tire contact patch.

Also, compared to the '09 Liberty (5000 lb. towing capacity), the JK is longer, wider, similar power, similar weight. Major difference is the wheelbase: 106.1" versus 95.4".

One would think the JK would have received at least a 500 lb. bump in towing capacity. Heck, the Toyota RAV4 is rated for 3,500 lb.

It seems to me that the wheelbase is the limiting factor. My question is whether it is a physical limitation or a regulatory limitation. I am sure it is a combination of the two, as the rules need to be written for the dumbest possible operator, but are there other physical limitations to consider?

I have a 3500# boat-trailer combo with dual axle disc brakes. I want to do some limited trailering a couple of times a year (<100 miles, no highways). I am thinking of upgrading my TJ to a JK as it appears to be a better platform for the above stated reasons. I do not want a 4-door. Any input appreciated.

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post #2 of 5 Old 11-25-2008, 05:12 AM
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I think it might be due to the way hitches are classified. I'm no expert, but I've done my share of towing. A class II hitch is rated to 2,000 lbs, 200 lbs tongue weight, and a class III hitch is 3,500 lbs, 350 lbs tongue weight. (I think those numbers are correct, and I'm highly confident someone here will point it out if I'm wrong, but you get the idea... - lol)

I don't think the manufacturers can document a vehicle tow rating of, say, 2,500 lbs, because it has to be either greater than 2,000 lbs, or greater than 3,500 lbs.

04 X Columbia Edition
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post #3 of 5 Old 11-26-2008, 09:16 AM Thread Starter
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Good point and another reason for my inquiry: UHaul installed a hitch on my TJ, and it is a class III 350/3500 rating. In fact, if you go to their site and use their wizard, this is what comes up.

Seems to me that mechanically, there is little risk of stressing or snapping something on the a JK if I planned to move 3500# around a couple of times per year.

On the other hand, given the safety issues, it is probably best to just rent a full-size pickup for $75 from Enterprise.
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post #4 of 5 Old 11-30-2008, 08:26 AM
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One of the big risks is liability. If something should happen while towing, the opposing lawyer is sure to make a big deal of any overloading as per the labels.
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post #5 of 5 Old 11-30-2008, 07:58 PM
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I believe that most automotive tow ratings are a combination of a semi-WAG from engineering and some fluff from marketing mixed in with a review from the legal department. There is also no such thing as a standardized way of deriving the tow ratings from manufacturer to manufacturer so direct comparisons are generally worthless.

There is much consternation about towing over a certain weight with a short wheelbase. I believe the weight to wheelbase limit to be bunk. Stability in a tow combo has to do with these factors: tow vehicle wheelbase, tow vehicle rear overhang, length of tow and length from coupler to axle on the trailer. According to the RV Consumer Group's most conservative formula, you should be very safe towing approximately five and a half feet of trailer for every inch of tow vehicle wheelbase. That puts you at 17-18 total feet with a TJ, the exact same ratio as a Ford Excursion towing 25'.

They also have an alternate formula for boat trailers: The distance from the coupler to the rear trailer axle should be no more than twice the wheelbase of the tow vehicle.

Weight is more a factor of how much you can physically pull and stop. One disadvantage Jeeps have when towing is an automatic wind resistance penalty from the vehicle itself. My old XJ was a peppier tow rig than my LJ even with similar drivetrain and gearing.
Having used TJs, LJs, XJs, and WJs for towing various items (often at or above tow rating) I know two things:

1. The higher end electric brake controllers with boost function are a must
2. Jeep rear springs are extra-wimpy; particularly the coils. I air bagged all of mine

If a TJ isn't enough truck for whatever you're towing no JK will be either - not even the four door. They can handle a longer tow but there just isn't enough mojo under the hood for much of a GCVWR.

If I was in your shoes, I would certainly TRY towing with the TJ but I don't think it will work out.

2002 TJ SE
2006 LJ
2007 Rockwood Freedom 2280
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