Towing with a modified TJ? -

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post #1 of 31 Old 02-18-2013, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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Towing with a modified TJ?

This is my first thread and I'm sure this has been covered extensively already, if so please point me in the direction of that thread!

Otherwise, I could use some input from those with more experience than I.. which is everyone
I have a '98 TJ Sport, 4.0L, 5 speed. It has a 4" suspension lift, 4.56 ratio, Ford 8.8 rear end with limited slip and disc brakes (still has Dana Turdy front), and will have 35x12.50 KM2's soon. The plan is to tow a crusty, old Starcraft pop-up camper (2,000 lb) from eastern Kansas on I-70 through Colorado to Moab for a few days, then back down into Ouray for the Jeep Jamboree in September.

I don't really know what to expect or if this is even a good idea. I've never towed anything with the TJ before and haven't been in any mountains with it either. I know the tow rating of a stock TJ is 2,000 lbs and am not sure if the drive train modifications make a difference on that? This will be my first wheeling trip after building the Jeep up since I bought it stock 4 years ago. I rebuilt the engine from the ground up 10k miles ago thanks to a cracked piston skirt, so it's got some fresh pep in it's step which I hope will help when the grade gets steep.

So, what should I do or not do, expect, modify, etc. in preparation?

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post #2 of 31 Old 02-18-2013, 07:00 PM
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Install a Electronic Brake controler. you will NOT be driveing a race car, but your gas mileage might make you think so.
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post #3 of 31 Old 02-18-2013, 07:05 PM
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post #4 of 31 Old 02-18-2013, 08:08 PM
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Buy a tow vehicle... Seriously. Be safe.
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post #5 of 31 Old 02-19-2013, 12:22 AM
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I would not be afraid to tow a light pop up with my TJ, however, I have not yet towed with my TJ. I tow a similar popup with my WJ, without problems. However, tow ratings for ZJs, WJs are a lot higher than TJs.

One comment above says be safe, buy a tow vehicle? Ok, how does that solve the problem? Tandem tow the TJ and the trailer? Drive 2 vehicles? One comment says install an electric brake controller, but many of these cheapo trailers dont have e-brakes. Mine doesnt, but I would use a controller if it did. Vanco brakes would be deluxe, but that is very expensive upgrade to a dana 30 axle. That's a tough choice between the added braking power and putting lipstick on an axle you will want to replace eventually.

The 4:56 ratio with 35's is going to tend to bog down climbing up the passes. With that axle ratio, you might want to stay with 33's, especially if you are going to tow.

You dont have an automatic, but if you did: a tranny cooler is a must for towing over the passes in Colorado. I will be installing a tranny cooler this spring.

The main problem you will have is keeping things from overheating climbing passes or bucking headwinds. Plan on taking your time, figure speed limit of 55 everywhere, stop often to cool things off.

Hotels are not that expensive, cheaper than major repairs or a wreck. What I am going to do: Use my trailer when we travel in our WJ, and stay in hotels when we travel in the TJ. YMMV.

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post #6 of 31 Old 02-19-2013, 04:29 AM
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Couple of things- If the dry weight of the trailer is already at max towing capacity, then you most surely will be over when you hit the road, since you need to figure in gear, people, etc, into the total weight of the vehicle AND trailer. Also, with the short wheelbase of the TJ, towing at speed on a highway at max might be a bit interesting, as is most likely will wander to and fro. How is your clutch?

FWIW I have a 97 4 banger 4" lift and 32x11.5x15BFGs and I tow a 17' Whaler around town....with gear and such I am a bit over, but I never am going more than from the house to the ramp, which is about 2.5 miles. I don't think that I would take it on the highway, but on the back roads it is fine.
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post #7 of 31 Old 02-19-2013, 10:00 AM
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LOL! This should be good!

Get ready for the safety police and the tow trolls who do not believe you should tow anything unless you drive a vehicle so monstrous that it requires you to have a commercial drivers license.

Some practical real world advice: Pull your trailer around town and see how it feels. Usually the litmus test is can you stop it comfortably. If the answer is yes and if you play it safe while driving (extra stopping distance, low speeds etc.) and take your time you'll be fine.

If you're driving through the mountains you probably want to look into a tranny cooler to be on the safe side. And if you have the cash trailer brakes are awesome!

2008 Jeep Liberty KK W/Selec Trac II, ADL Skid Plate Group, 245/70/16 All Terrain Destinations, VisionX LED Floodlights. It's a real jeep. Don't like it? Wait let me check. Yep, still a real jeep.
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post #8 of 31 Old 02-19-2013, 10:27 AM
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On a wheeling trip once a bunch of my buddy's took a trailer loaded full of 4 wheelers pulled behind an f150. The f150 broke and I offered to pull the trailer home. Total weight was probably in excess of 3000 pounds behind a 2.4L lifted 4.25" on 33s and 3.73 gears. Granted, I was only driving through the hills of southern ohio, but I was limited to a speed of 40 mph before the whole package began to get too unstable, and stopping was not good. The engine did a surprisingly good job, the little 2.4 didn't seem to strain too hard given the gearing and tire size. I would not recommend anybody do that ever, I did it out of necessity and was very cautious. I would suggest doing as DeltaForce said and pull it around town, see how it handles. Everything in the mountains is going to be multiplied by 10. Be sure any cargo you load into the trailer is located as far forward as possible.

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post #9 of 31 Old 02-19-2013, 10:52 AM
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I see the Banks sticker on the hood, so you will have to be careful not to pull the trailer in half or pull the tongue out of it. Other than that, the best advice here is to do the test pull and see how you like it. Just remember, the faster you go the worse things can get with a trailer.
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post #10 of 31 Old 02-19-2013, 11:02 AM
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I can't comment on towing something with that much weight but I have pulled a 1000lb trailer from NY to NC (and back and forth a few times) without issue. The Jeep handled it like a pro. Just keep at a steady speed and remember it takes longer to brake with the extra weight.

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post #11 of 31 Old 02-19-2013, 12:19 PM
Have Cummins, Will tow.
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Only thing I will say is if you are pulled over or get in a accident and the DOT weighs the trailer and Jeep and find you are over weight, you will be screwed. Reguardless of the accident you will be found at fault and will have to pay all damages. Friend of mine was killed when a Dodge 3500 t-boned him after my friend ran a stop sign. The Dodge was overweight and the state of Ohio made the Dodge owner pay Berts wife a very nice sum of money.
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post #12 of 31 Old 02-19-2013, 04:10 PM
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I tow a '66 Scotty with my Tj . Granted my Scotty is only 900 Lbs dry but once you start loading in up with gear and food things add up, and thinks can get out of control quick if you're not prepared. Come up with a good checklist, I didn't check my tire pressure before I left the house and was quickly reminded on the highway when the trailer started swaying the Jeep. Also plan to allow the brakes to cool after extended downhills. Take some practice runs with your setup and see if it's something you are willing to do for longer trips.

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post #13 of 31 Old 02-19-2013, 08:09 PM
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I tow a 12 foot 2000lb pop up with my TJ without a issue. Braking isn't as good as without it but if the electric brakes are setup right it's not much worse.

I've only got 3.73 gears and once with a bad headwind I had to stay in 4th at 60MPH but RPM's weren't very high just burned some extra fuel. We don't have any huge hills or mountains, if you have a standard expect to have to gear down going up steeper hills and you should also gear down going down them.

*****TJ Tech BOOT CAMP***** A must-read for new TJ owners/forum members
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post #14 of 31 Old 02-19-2013, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the great info everyone! From what I gather the real problem here is going to be the ability to stop. I'm only planning to carry some water and snacks in the Jeep on the way out and then buy some substantial food once we arrive so hopefully that will save some weight. My grandfather just bought the camper on a whim and I've only seen it in person once so far, so I'll have to do some further investigating to see whether or not it has any electric brakes installed (I'm betting not). I'm heading back over to his place this weekend so hopefully I can hook it up and pull it around to get a feel for it. My transmission is a rebuilt AX-15 with 45k miles on it and I put in a new clutch when I rebuilt the engine 10k miles ago, it should be up to the task. The entire brake system on the Ford 8.8 is brand new, actually everything on and in the axle is new and it was just installed last month. Front brakes have new rotors and pads but that doesn't mean much. I'm factoring in $1,000 devoted strictly to gasoline for this trip, 20% over estimated actual usage just to be safe!

About that Banks sticker.. well.. let's just say the biggest reason I upgraded from the Dana 35 to a Ford 8.8 is that I stripped teeth off of 4 sets of R&P's in the turdy-five
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post #15 of 31 Old 02-19-2013, 11:27 PM
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I towed an 18 foot boat and a scissor lift with my 06 tj a few years back and it was perfect. No isues, stayed at 55mph and kept some distance. Dropped and loaded the boat at the ramp, no issues at all. Towed a uhaul enclosed trailer with my 90 yj 4.2l completely full and still had no isues. Keep a distance and im sure it will be safe. Have fun
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