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Uniblurb 08-29-2013 11:09 PM

Any long-distance towing tips?
 
My son has a 96 4.0 XJ 4WD with AW4 trans. He's moving to S. Cal from Ohio (2,800 mi) and bought a 6'x12' landscape trailer (single axle) for hauling all his stuff. He's no kid and I tried telling him that trailer is too big to haul w/the 4.0 but what does dad know? The trailer weighs 1,150 lbs and he probably has another 1,000 lbs of heavy items loaded he's taking.

In preparation for his trip I did a complete tune-up, cleaned IAC, installed new rear brake shoes (front ceramic pads installed in last year with 2/3 of pads left), changed out his trans fluid, installed a trans oil cooler, changed his TC fluid, installed new fan clutch/belt, new rear shocks, changed oil/filter, etc..

Couldn't really find any info in the FSM on towing other than fluid info. I know on some Jeeps you really don't want to use OD until up to freeway speeds but the way his AW4 trans is set up guess you have to use it as is unless your going to have it in 3rd gear until you shift up to drive/OD.

I remember about 6 years ago when he floored it going up a freeway ramp to get to freeway speeds. He had a full size pool table slate in the back in pieces and blew OD right out of the trans. Expensive $1,800 lesson he learned on that one for a rebuild/new torque converter.

So does anybody have any tips on the best way to drive it clear out there? Know he's going to be going up some huge hills/mountains and also afraid that heavy/full trailer is going to be pushing him downhill big time.

Thanks for any help/input!

chris87xj 08-30-2013 03:30 AM

I'd have to agree it'll be challenging, but I wouldn't say impossible. The XJ is rated to pull 5k lbs, but I don't think that takes mountains into consideration. The added tranny cooler is a definite plus. Cargo rating on a stock suspension is 500lbs which includes passengers, gear, and trailer tongue weight on the hitch. Balance is everything when it comes to pulling trailers and the recommended distribution is 10-15% of the trailer and load weight on the hitch. I wouldn't use OD in the mountains when it results in a lot of auto-shifting in and out of OD.

If the trailer has brakes, it'd certainly be worth the time to install a brake controller in the XJ. Stopping will be even more challenging in wet conditions. Were I making this trip, you could describe my driving style with words like slow, cautious, and gingerly. Good luck to your son on this adventure and peace be with you as you take on the probably even harder chore of waiting at home to hear how it goes.

ECL 08-30-2013 05:59 AM

X2 on all of that - especially the phone call(s).
For what its worth, our son used mine to tow a similar sized landscape trailer to move from his college apartment at Penn State to his new place in Maryland. No where near as far but it worked with no damage (it is a 5spd though ).
Your son needs to allow a lot of extra time. Think 50-55 on the highway, less on hills. Can he wait until cooler weather?

Uniblurb 08-30-2013 07:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chris87xj (Post 15852785)
I'd have to agree it'll be challenging, but I wouldn't say impossible. The XJ is rated to pull 5k lbs, but I don't think that takes mountains into consideration. The added tranny cooler is a definite plus. Cargo rating on a stock suspension is 500lbs which includes passengers, gear, and trailer tongue weight on the hitch. Balance is everything when it comes to pulling trailers and the recommended distribution is 10-15% of the trailer and load weight on the hitch. I wouldn't use OD in the mountains when it results in a lot of auto-shifting in and out of OD.

If the trailer has brakes, it'd certainly be worth the time to install a brake controller in the XJ. Stopping will be even more challenging in wet conditions. Were I making this trip, you could describe my driving style with words like slow, cautious, and gingerly. Good luck to your son on this adventure and peace be with you as you take on the probably even harder chore of waiting at home to hear how it goes.

Thanks for the really good and nice advice. Know what you mean about balance on a trailer is everything. I don't quite understand the design of landscape trailers where the one and only axle is positioned 2/3 of the way back under the trailer rather than in the middle. He loaded a lot of the heavy stuff towards the front and the rear of his XJ was squatting so bad we moved it back on top of the axle.

He's a marathon runner and insists on taking 500lbs of barbells/weights which doesn't help trying to balance the load. We're just disassembling them and spreading them out. I wish there were trailer brakes where I could install a controller but there aren't.

So are you saying he should be using 3rd gear in the mountains rather than having the shifter in drive/OD? I was thinking about telling him to keep it in 3rd gear when going down steep grades so he doesn't burn his brakes up as the heavy load is pushing him. But not sure how much stress that's going to put on the tranny? This manual shifting is where I really need the most advice to pass onto him.

I should have mentioned a couple months ago his tranny was not shifting into OD. I was misinformed a couple years ago to use ATF4 in his AW4 trans when I did a fluid/filter change. So the fluid was kind of dark/burnt smelling but I really didn't see any clutch material in it. I didn't change the filter/pan gasket but pushed most all the old fluid out while adding 8 quarts of MaxLife DexIII/Mercon when I installed the oil cooler. This solved his shifting problems but hope his trans has not been weakened.

His XJ has always seemed to run too hot although temps are normal at 210. It also has real poor gas mileage which I've never been able to figure out. He keeps saying it's because of the 3.55 rear gearing where his rpm's are higher in OD than most. Hopefully doing a complete tune-up, cleaning the dirty IAC, and installing a new fan clutch will help these problems. He did say the new fan clutch is already making it run cooler. I also install new antifreeze and T-stats every couple years on our Jeeps.

The kid/young man has always driven too fast while saying I drive like an old man. He should be driving his XJ w/a heavy trailer like an old man all the way out there if he wants to make it. When we 1st picked up his trailer he was going up a freeway ramp and kicked the trans down into a lower gear by flooring it. I asked him what the heck he was doing since he was driving like no trailer on the back? He said somebody was beside the trailer as 2 lanes narrowed to one and didn't want to cause a wreck. He best show some patience and let those pass him which aren't hauling a heavy load on his trip.

For some peace of mind I bought him a roadside assistance plan through Good Sam since AAA won't cover trailers. Not only does it cover his XJ/trailer but also has pet transportation coverage. He may need this because if he breaks down I can't imagine his 120lb Mastiff named Max sitting on the seat next to a tow truck driver with those huge jaws/teeth about a foot from his face! Lol.

Thanks again for all the input and help!

Uniblurb 08-30-2013 08:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ECL (Post 15852895)
X2 on all of that - especially the phone call(s).
For what its worth, our son used mine to tow a similar sized landscape trailer to move from his college apartment at Penn State to his new place in Maryland. No where near as far but it worked with no damage (it is a 5spd though ).
Your son needs to allow a lot of extra time. Think 50-55 on the highway, less on hills. Can he wait until cooler weather?

Yeah, at least he bought a new iphone w/data plan yesterday so hopefully he will keep his parents informed on what's going on.

Nice to know a landscape trailer will work in hauling your son's things to college. I'm afraid he's going to be trying to keep up with existing traffic, doing at least the speed limit, rather than driving 50-55. No patience and always in a hurry.

He won't wait until cooler weather and is leaving Tues no matter what. The heat does worry me since if he takes the southern route, as most suggest, he will be driving through 3 desert states at probably the hottest time of year. He said that he isn't going to use the AC since it uses too much gas. We'll see about that with him and his dog in the car at 95-100 degrees.

He would rather just head straight west on I-70 but you're going to be going through a lot more mountains in taking that route. So not real good choices if you want to drive through more mountains or the heat of the desert.

Thanks for the advice and input!

cbenez1 08-30-2013 09:44 AM

Maybe I missed it but 2500 lbs of loaded trailer on an XJ should definitely have a trailer brake.

Uniblurb 08-30-2013 10:12 AM

Unfortunately the trailer does not have a trailer brake and the trailer w/load may weight 2,500 lbs total. That's my biggest fear is the full trailer will push him down hill so fast the trailer will start swaying so bad he'll lose control. That's why I mentioned maybe putting it in 3rd gear to slow him down a little going down steep hills and even a lower gear if he has to. But if he throws in down in a lower gear while going super fast the trans will probably come apart.

When I installed his new high-quality rear shoes I also adjusted the ebrake just right. But if the rear shoes are already being applied with the pedal it may not help to slow him down in using it. I almost thought about throwing on a new set of front ceramic pads even thought his current ones are only about a year old with 2/3 of the pad material left. Not sure if that would help or not?

I've driven clear to the west coast a couple times and played hop-scotch with the semi-trucks where they go uphill at 25-30mph while downhill at 85-90. Not the same thing if you're hauling a full trailer which can't handle those high downhill speeds.

anony 08-30-2013 08:18 PM

I believe the stock OE tow package included an external transmission cooler, HD radiator and perhaps some changes to the suspension.

If the XJ is stock (without lift, upgraded steering and suspension, hd cooling, etc. for off-road) you may want to consider a few things for towing.

HD rear springs helps to stabilize the load. I would recommend this type of upgrade for towing on a regular basis and long distances.

For off-road and towing I added an external transmission cooler (drops overall engine temps a degree or two), upgraded to HD radiator, added aux. fan switch, OME HD constant load rear springs includes a flat bottom spring that increases spring rate with higher payloads.

___

I don't normally tow with a Jeep or XJ ... 2000 lbs is normally the limit without weight distribution gear which can increase towing capacity to 5000 lbs ...

I have towed a 6 x 12 dual axle enclosed trailer ~2200 lbs with an XJ a few hundred miles, mostly on the freeway (relatively flat) with some inclines.

Here are a few things noticed while towing with the Jeep XJ, I suppose also pertain to towing in general, some people may be already aware of ... but may need to be addressed for a safe towing experience.

While freeway towing, as you may already be aware of, some of problems are speed, wind and other vehicles. Factoring in aerodynamics, keeping your load low and streamline as much as possible, helps to alleviate problems with moving air.

_ well balanced load and weight distribution. (factor in both the tow vehicle and trailer as one combined weight)

_ tongue weight (too light or too heavy produce varying results, tongue weight should be approx. 9 to 15 percent of GTW gross trailer weight, local refuse utilities usually have a scale for weighing, to determine GTW, GCWR, etc.)

_ streamline the load as much as possible. (less expensive tarps aren't normally manufactured for hauling and wind)

_ transmission cooler
_ upgraded cooling system (HD radiator)
_ springs, shocks and tires (HD rear springs)

_ cooling system - XJ cooling can be touchy if everything is not working correctly. The XJ uses a pressurized crossflow cooling system that is dependent on correct amount of pressure in order to function and cool the engine. It also has one viscous fan, which should be checked for functionality and also one aux. fan for cooling when engine temps reach around ~218 deg. F the aux. fan turns on, can't remember off-hand should turn off around ~210 deg. F. Both of these fans should be in good working condition prior to towing.

( Sometimes the aux. fan seems to work ok but actually does not put out enough air flow, (the fan motors eventually start to wear out and put out less air flow cfm) While off-road, high heat and towing conditions a poorly functioning aux fan will cause the engine to overheat and potentially cause other problems. If you have the original factory OE aux. fan with lots of miles I would consider replacing it.)

other things to inspect - transmission & trans. cooler line leaks, engine and other oil leaks.
_

You might want remind him that the XJ weighs just over 3,000 lbs unloaded and you will be adding almost as much weight to the rear of the vehicle. Which will put him at the same weight as some large trucks on the road that have better maneuverability, larger pads & discs, hd braking system etc.

My experience with towing trailers and flat towing Jeeps .. laws vary from state to state, some are stricter than others and require tow brakes for lower GVWs, will normally only stop a vehicle if it appears unsafe. While towing I prefer to have an extra set of brakes and usually keep a min. 2 - 3 times the require distance behind other vehicles ... staying in the slow lane ... under towing conditions most smaller / mid size vehicles are not really designed for towing ... the vehicle becomes clumsy and slow, difficult to maneuver, poor braking, etc.

ECL 08-30-2013 08:45 PM

Thinking about this some more today, I remembered back to when I first bought a Coleman pop up. I went to a little seminar on towing. The Coleman rep was an old codger and a bit of a curmudgeon. Someone in the audience asked if his such and such car would be ok to tow such and such camper. He response was direct and memorable. He said don't worry about whether not the car will tow it, worry about whether it will stop it! Might be a nice "sound bite" of advice to pass on to your son...

bigbill888 08-30-2013 09:15 PM

Come up with a Plan B. The XJ isn't going to stop it very well.

brak876 08-30-2013 09:32 PM

I didn't read everything posted here but, if I was going to haul a trailer with much weight on an automatic Xj I would leave it in 3rd gear (drive) unless over 55 mph. Shift to Overdrive at crusing speeds over 55. If in hilly areas go into 3rd or drive depending on what it says on your shifter.

anony 08-30-2013 09:55 PM

While in 3rd range and (D)rive the AW4 sometimes kicks into higher OD range.

The PCM and TCM controls the transmission dependent on various inputs, speed, load, engine conditions, emissions, etc. under certain conditions the transmission wants go back and forth between ranges.

anony 08-30-2013 11:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Uniblurb (Post 15853677)
Unfortunately the trailer does not have a trailer brake and the trailer w/load may weight 2,500 lbs total. That's my biggest fear is the full trailer will push him down hill so fast the trailer will start swaying so bad he'll lose control. That's why I mentioned maybe putting it in 3rd gear to slow him down a little going down steep hills and even a lower gear if he has to. But if he throws in down in a lower gear while going super fast the trans will probably come apart.

When I installed his new high-quality rear shoes I also adjusted the ebrake just right. But if the rear shoes are already being applied with the pedal it may not help to slow him down in using it. I almost thought about throwing on a new set of front ceramic pads even thought his current ones are only about a year old with 2/3 of the pad material left. Not sure if that would help or not?

I've driven clear to the west coast a couple times and played hop-scotch with the semi-trucks where they go uphill at 25-30mph while downhill at 85-90. Not the same thing if you're hauling a full trailer which can't handle those high downhill speeds.

Going into 4WD helps a little with deceleration and helps with stability.

I needed to overhaul the entire rear brake hardware as there are springs, hardware and wires that break rust out. Rear pads usually last a long time, sometimes its the brake hardware that wears out.

Another item to look at are the hard lines going to the rear, especially where the hard line loop down near the rear axles ... these can typically rust through in the low point of the loop and will go out all at once loosing fluid. (there should still be the front brakes and e-brake for stopping)

I replaced all of the hard lines from the master back to the rears, not too difficult, ~25' spool of brake hard line and tube flaring kit.

One method to check the rusted areas of the hard lines is to use a sharp all to determine any weak areas.

Uniblurb 08-30-2013 11:54 PM

Thanks for the info and help guys! We finished loading my son's trailer and drove it out to my place only 5 miles away. Nice that we must have the trailer balanced fairly good since when connected to his hitch it barely lowered the rear at all. But will say he has waay to much stuff in the back of his XJ, along with passenger front seat/floor, since it was kind of squatting a little already.

In following him one thing I noticed was both wheels on the single axle were tilted in at the top and out at the bottom. Kind of like there was too much weight on the trailer itself but not sure? Now I'm beginning to wonder if maybe the trailer was traded in because the leaf springs were weak? The tires also have a strange wear pattern since they seem worn on both the inside and outside of the tread but the middle of the tread is in really good shape. Now I wish I would have bought him another new tire/wheel like I did for the spare and used one of the old ones for a spare.

When getting the trailer I had also installed new good bearings in both the inside and outside of the hub. Cleaned all the old grease out and installed new moly-grease.

I asked my son the model of his trailer and he said it read 2,990. I don't think this is the model at all but the GVWR of the trailer and load itself. So since his trailer weighed 1,150 lbs empty the max load capacity should be 1,840 lbs for total of 2,290 GVWR. I don't believe he has near this load on the trailer but it could be close to 1,200-1,500lbs.

I've been relaying what you guys have said in this thread and think he's starting to get the point where he's going to have take it real easy. I hope putting it in 3rd gear does slow him down some going down steep hills and told him if he just rides the brake he may burn them up. Believe I'm going to throw some new ceramic pads on the front just to be safe. And as already mentioned I did put new shoes on the back.

Thanks again for all the info!

Uniblurb 08-31-2013 12:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by anony (Post 15856208)
Going into 4WD helps a little with deceleration and helps with stability.

I needed to overhaul the entire rear brake hardware as there are springs, hardware and wires that break rust out. Rear pads usually last a long time, sometimes its the brake hardware that wears out.

Another item to look at are the hard lines going to the rear, especially where the hard line loop down near the rear axles ... these can typically rust through in the low point of the loop and will go out all at once loosing fluid. (there should still be the front brakes and e-brake for stopping)

I replaced all of the hard lines from the master back to the rears, not too difficult, 30' spool of brake hard line and tube flaring kit.

One method to check the rusted areas of the hard lines is to use a sharp all to determine any weak areas.

Yeah, when I did the rear brakes I installed a whole new spring kit, ebrake cable in the drum and self adjuster.

You sound like you know what you're talking about since I pointed out his rusted brake lines to him right where you said they rust on the rear. I had already soaked all the fittings with rust cutter and he declined the offer. Since I have two 25' foot spools of brake line along with a flaring kit I should go ahead and change them out in the next couple days.

So which 4WD setting should he be in to slow it down with an AW4 trans? Isn't part-time what you're not supposed to use on dry pavement? Thanks!


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