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-   -   Towing a Travel Trailer Cross Country (http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f104/towing-travel-trailer-cross-country-1523528/)

kpoulos5 05-15-2013 06:24 AM

Towing a Travel Trailer Cross Country
 
Hey All,

I'm new to the forums and am hoping someone might be able to help us. We are planning to drive cross country to move. It's me, my husband, our 9 month old daughter, 2 dogs, and a cat. This was the only way we could figure to do it.

We have a 2011 4 Door Unlimited 4WD Automatic JK Sahara (hard top). The tow rating shows as 3500lb with a 350lb tongue weight.

The trailer unloaded weight (but with options) is about 2750. It's the smallest we could find. TW is 291.

We installed a Tekonsha brake controller and added a weight distribution system on the hitch.

We rented a POD to move our belongings, so it's just us for the trip. We are packing as light as possible and will drive with empty water tanks. To keep under the max overall weight for the Jeep + Trailer + us we should stay under 3300 when loading the trailer (but we are trying not to reach this point). We are avoiding mountain passes on the route.

Are we nuts? Is this safe?

ncb 05-15-2013 06:35 AM

I don't think it's completely nuts since you're keeping it at the towing limits or less. Keep plenty of room between other vehicles and be safe. Don't plan on getting good gas mileage.

Tdog02 05-15-2013 06:55 AM

Sounds like fun, enjoy the journey!

PecosRiver 05-15-2013 07:52 AM

Just a few tips from a former camper owner and campground owner.
  • Always top off your fresh water tank, if it doesn't put you over the towing limit.
  • Always empty your holding tanks before taking off for the day. Fill the black water tank for about 5 minutes before you drain this to get a good flushing and to help solids move out of the tank.
  • Add a few gallons of water to the black water tank with chemical before you head out for the day and you're set when you get to the next campground.
  • Center your load when traveling. Too much on either end can casue problems.
  • Weight distributing hitch! Must have.
  • Have a great trip!
So many campgrounds are closing due to increased regulations of the waste handling issues and if they're not closing, they're shutting down the sewer connection at sites. Ask what hookups are available at each place.

We closed our campground because the price tag for the new septic system was half a million and would require the removal of 90% of the trees on our property to install.

Indy 05-15-2013 08:44 AM

Imo Life would be better ditching the trailer and staying at a hotel. Ive towed with a wrangler near capacity before and it wasnt fun for 2 hours, it would really suck cross country. It would be worse with a high profile trailer. If i decided to go the camper route id be looking for a popup instead of a travel trailer.

PecosRiver 05-15-2013 10:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Indy (Post 15435293)
Imo Life would be better ditching the trailer and staying at a hotel. Ive towed with a wrangler near capacity before and it wasnt fun for 2 hours, it would really suck cross country. It would be worse with a high profile trailer. If i decided to go the camper route id be looking for a popup instead of a travel trailer.

Yeah, we do the Holiday Inn thing nowadays because the wife insists, but I still tent camp when traveling myself. It's usually one or three nights depending on where my final destination is.

Camping is now accomplished with the help my little trailer.

http://the-glen-blog.com/wp-content/...5/DSCF2093.jpg

kpoulos5 05-15-2013 01:21 PM

Indy did it feel unsafe?

Hotels won't really work for us, our daughter can't tolerate the car for very long so we are going to be making a LOT of stops and probably won't get more than a few hours each day. The trailer lets us have a place to hang out. Paying all the extra for pet deposits each night would be a pain too. We'll stop driving before dark so we want to enjoy the campgrounds in our own space.

We just haven't come across anything real helpful to make us feel like we're being safe about it. The dealers know nothing, and camping world hasn't a clue about jeeps. We're doing our best to do this right, I don't think we'd be worried about a quick trip with it... this is just a long drive!

PrinceBondar 05-15-2013 01:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kpoulos5 (Post 15434780)
I'm new to the forums and am hoping someone might be able to help us. We are planning to drive cross country to move. It's me, my husband, our 9 month old daughter, 2 dogs, and a cat. This was the only way we could figure to do it.

You can save some weight by leaving the cat at the animal shelter.

Quote:

The trailer unloaded weight (but with options) is about 2750. It's the smallest we could find. TW is 291. We installed a Tekonsha brake controller and added a weight distribution system on the hitch.
In two weeks, I will be driving my 2007 JK Unlimited from Alaska to Pennsylvania. I will be pulling a cargo trailer that, empty, weighs 1730 lbs. The trailer is rated for 3500 pounds max (same as the Jeep). I suspect I will be close to the max by the time I am loaded. The transmission cooler was $281 for the parts and shipping and $195 to get it installed.

To better deal with this situation, I installed a Tekonsha brake controller and Mopar Axillary transmission cooler (highly recommend!!) and beefed up the suspension with an OME 2.5" heavy lift kit. The difference the suspension makes is VERY noticeable in my around-the-town-with-trailer test driving. I recommend you seriously look into doing something with the suspension. The kit I got, with JKS adjustable trackbar, was $1000 in parts and $275 in shipping.

Good luck.

Indy 05-16-2013 11:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kpoulos5 (Post 15436503)
Indy did it feel unsafe?

Only when i was going downhill, trying to slow down, or turn. And sometimes when i was driving at a steady speed on flat ground. Or when the wind was blowing.

Towing a small boat with a yj, 2k rating and load was 1800-1900 pounds. Every time i was going downhill the boat would start pushing. I ended up slowing at the tops of hills so i could accelerate down, keep the jeep pulling instead of being pushed into a ditcj.

Trying to stop was the same, hit the brakes and the rear end would go where it wanted, took concentration to keep it under control. A panic stop would be jackknifed carnage.

Cross winds and the rear end would again get squirrly, and the boat has nowhere near the profile of a camper.

I ended up buying a beater 1/2 ton truck, towed without a problem.

The jk has a bit more weight, a bit longer wheelbase, but your camper has likewise plus the high profile. With brakes, sway control etc, it will be better but still wouldnt be my choice. If i couldnt change the rig,id still be looking for a popup camper to use. Solves several problems,one of the reasons i have one. Behind the f250, really dont know its back there. Although i did have a few interesting seconds last year trying to keep under control while i locked up the brakes and did several lane changes because of a suicidal deer.

It didnt matter where i went, that thing was determined to test out my winch bumper.

Good luck with the trip, go slower than you think you need to and remember that as soon as you think its towing ok and you can let your guard down, some ******* deer is going to remind you that youre wrong Pretty much my rules for towing anything with anything.

MPond 05-17-2013 02:18 PM

kpoulos5 - You mentioned the weight distribution hitch, which is a must have, in my opinion. Does your WDH setup include a sway control? If not, you should seriously consider adding one. That will make a night & day difference when towing a high-profile trailer.

I always prefer larger tow vehicles, but if your JK is stock (not lifted) and you plan to go slow and take your time, it can be done safely. Be sure to get your WDH system adjusted properly.

I agree with the comment above about adding a auxiliary transmission cooler. It will save you from a lot of headaches. You'll definitely want to use your transmission to control your downhill speed, and that builds up a lot of heat. An auxiliary transmission cooler will certainly help with that.

kpoulos5 05-18-2013 09:03 AM

Do any of you have more info on the auxiliary cooler? Did you have a factory system installed? I'm guessing doing it ourselves would void the warranty on the transmission...?

Indy, did you have a brake controller for your trailer?

The sway control wasn't in stock, but we'll get it when it gets in.

MossGreen97 05-18-2013 04:58 PM

I have towed a 5000 lb. travel trailer with my XJ, through hills of Mississippi and Arkansas. Not a pleasant experience for several reasons. The travel trailer is wider than an XJ and possibly your JK. Mirror extensions are a must, as well as sway control and electric brake controller. I had no problems stopping with this setup and the trailer handled well. Big rigs tend to cause a pushing effect when they are passing you, so keep an eye out for that. Adjust the brake controller so as to have a controlled stop as opposed to the dropped anchor feeling. Aux. trans cooler is a must as well as towing in one gear down from OD. My trailer dry was around 3500 lbs., but was loaded down (though not by choice) with evacuation goods for Hurricane Katrina. Do not keep your pets in the trailer, the heat and the swaying will get them sick at the very least. Hills were a pain, I can't imagine mountains with the trailer. Good luck, and have something for your nerves....you will need it.

Indy 05-18-2013 09:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kpoulos5 (Post 15448823)
Do any of you have more info on the auxiliary cooler? Did you have a factory system installed? I'm guessing doing it ourselves would void the warranty on the transmission...?

Indy, did you have a brake controller for your trailer?

The sway control wasn't in stock, but we'll get it when it gets in.

Boat trailer, so surge brakes not electrics.

Adding a tranny cooler shoildnt void anything. Theyre basically like a mini radiator, easy install.

wilson1010 05-19-2013 06:11 AM

I'm very confused. Did you buy a travel trailer to drive your family cross country and avoid pet deposits and motel fees? Why wouldn't you get on a plane with the daughter and have your husband take the Jeep and the dogs and cat and meet you in Seattle or whatever? A Jeep with a travel trailer is the definition of torture. And a cheapo trailer is no place to spend the night. Better than a park bench, but not close to a motel.

Maybe I misunderstand your situation, but it seems to me like a very odd plan.

grogie 05-19-2013 03:51 PM

I have experience with the Tekonsha brake controller... turn it up that it's extra sensitive. Glad you have that as it's very nice.

I'd also say that's a heavy trailer for even a four-door JK. I was shopping trailers in that weight range and mentioned a Commander for towing (as I was at the time thinking of getting one), and two different dealers told me to go lighter. There are decent TTs with less weight, or go for a pop-up.

Plus, if your daughter can't stand more then a few hours in a car at a time, I would think crossing the country will be challenging, or it's just a good opportunity to break her! :)

Best of luck...


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