Towing with a 2-door Wrangler JK

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Towing with a 2-door Wrangler JK

Postby javajaws » Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:11 am

I'm currently building a 4.5x9 offroad teardrop (http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=62493) and I am thinking about what I want to tow it with (due for a new car near end of year). I've got my heart set on a 2-door Wrangler but just not sure how the 2-doors handle towing these things. I've heard mixed reports about stability/sway/etc and am looking for first hand experience if anyone has any. I'll be putting a lot of highway miles on it to get from Texas to Utah/Colorado/Montana, etc.

Are there any aftermarket suspension upgrades that would be recommended on a 2-door for towing? I'll probably be running BFG 32s w/16" rims as that's what I've got on the trailer currently.
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Re: Towing with a 2-door Wrangler JK

Postby JaggedEdges » Wed Apr 08, 2015 3:58 pm

I've understood it to be a center of gravity problem, too many rednecks with lifts hauling large loads, and with the short wheelbase getting flipped when things get snaky.

However, a sensibly loaded small trailer such as you plan should not have too many problems. Keep weight low, keep tongue weight on the high end, keep mods to the Jeep balanced.
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Re: Towing with a 2-door Wrangler JK

Postby KCStudly » Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:09 pm

I have an '03 Wrangler with 31 inch tires and a mild 1-3/4 inch spacer lift. It's equipped with the 4.0 6 cyl and the HD NV3550 5 spd. It towed my 1967 Searay VR170 (a 16 ft fiberglass runabout with 65 hp outboard) from the southeast coast of CT to Sebago Lake ME and back no problems. Well, no problems other than the pathetic stock 3.07 gears combined with the over sized tires preventing the use of high gear for anything but down hill runs (I have the parts for a 4.11/4.10 swap but just haven't gotten around to it). The short wheelbase is really handy for maneuverability, and I'm sure that the rear set axle and long tongue of the boat trailer really helped with stability.

Compared to my much longer GMC Sonoma (same as extended cab long bed S10, now sold) it was much preferred due to the better maneuverability, both at the boat launch and backing into my driveway.

I have also towed a heavily loaded 5x8 UT all the way to the Punkin' Chunk in DE, and back. No issues there, either.

The short wheelbase is a pleasure in the woods and around town, but you do have to stay on the steering; it wants to dart around a little more than a longer wheelbase does; but that is regardless of whether you are towing or not and is more related to the inverted 'Y' steering link, the short wheelbase, and the solid front axle (i.e. bump steer).

Another thing to look out for is death wobble. The slightest wear in any of the front end suspension components tends to induce rapid tire wear, which results in imbalance, which accelerates tire wear, which leads to death wobble (violent shaking when the imbalance matches resonate frequency; only solution is to stab the brakes hard or come to a near complete stop lest the steering wheel is ripped out of your hands). Frequent tire rotations and front end inspections are advised; those big truck tires are rather expensive when you are replacing them every year or two. I went thru a couple of sets in rapid succession until I found that the thin metal keeper clips that the factory installs to hold the brake drums and hats onto the axles during their ride down the assembly line were preventing the aftermarket aluminum wheels from bolting up flat (the original steel wheels had recesses stamped into the back to allow for these). Next time it was the steering damper. Then shocks. Soon it will be the unit bearings.

One last thing, the TJ's (1997 thru 2006) are 5 inches narrower than the later JK's. I'm what you might call hefty at 6 ft and 260 lbs, and the difference between the TJ and my Ford Escape is noticeable from a comfort factor; the Ford is roomier in the side bolsters of the seats and between the shoulders and door sills. The wife drives the Jeep daily and I get the Ford. On the other hand, the Jeep will go places in the woods that I would never even try to put the Ford. Ground clearance, short wheelbase, low range, AT tires, solid axles, etc. are all better off road, at least in my wooded NE region.
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Re: Towing with a 2-door Wrangler JK

Postby jstrubberg » Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:39 am

I towed quite a bit with my two door 2009 wrangler. 6cyl, automatic, 35 inch tires. I think the biggest issue is that folks go to larger meats and don't regear. I can tell you that if you do that, you will regret it.

I regeared mine to 5.13's and towing wasn't an issue (within reason). Be aware that a short coupled Jeep and a short coupled trailer means that direction changes when backing happen QUICKLY.
The more stuff I take along, the more time I spend taking care of my stuff!
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Re: Towing with a 2-door Wrangler JK

Postby wavebreaker » Thu Nov 26, 2015 12:41 pm

I towed my tear with my 92 YJ prior to towing with new to me 2010 2 door JK . it tows well with the 2 door. I have decent hitch weight around 15 % of trailer weight. and electric brakes on trailer.
Jeep is on 32 inch and trailer still running 33 inch (same as old jeep).

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Re: Towing with a 2-door Wrangler JK

Postby jstrubberg » Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:35 pm

The other thing I found helpful was to take my Jeep to an alignment shop (NOT the dealership!!) and have them increase the caster. They will tell you it isn't factory spec. My answer was "neither is my Jeep". The factory caster setting is barely adequate for a stock Jeep. Once you start increasing rolling weight or tire size, the JK has a real tendency to wander around, causing no end of trouble when there's a trailer in play. Increasing the caster will make the Jeep more likely to hold center. The tradeoff is the Jeep will be a tiny fraction harder to turn ( I will be very impressed if you can feel the difference).
The more stuff I take along, the more time I spend taking care of my stuff!
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Re: Towing with a 2-door Wrangler JK

Postby mjewell5 » Fri May 13, 2016 1:20 am

JaggedEdges wrote:I've understood it to be a center of gravity problem, too many rednecks with lifts hauling large loads, and with the short wheelbase getting flipped when things get snaky.

However, a sensibly loaded small trailer such as you plan should not have too many problems. Keep weight low, keep tongue weight on the high end, keep mods to the Jeep balanced.


I have a lifted 2 door JK, with 35" tires, a winch, CB radio with antenna, and a recovery jack mounted on the hood. The only thing missing here is the redneck! I have to admit, I kind of take offense to this reference. Most of the Jeep owners I know are intelligent and meticulous people. The rednecks around here all drive big lifted pickup trucks, and none of their shirts have sleeves! I have sleeves, a Jeep and a job, and would appreciate not being lumped into any stereotypes.

Thank you for your time.
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Re: Towing with a 2-door Wrangler JK

Postby JaggedEdges » Fri May 13, 2016 10:27 am

I intended to imply, jeeps lifted in a slapdash rednecky fashion, rather than upgraded enthusiast jeeps with thoughtfully developed mods.
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Re: Towing with a 2-door Wrangler JK

Postby Schantzfamily2014 » Mon May 23, 2016 12:27 pm

I have a lifted 2013 Wrangler 2 door. 3.6 with a 6 speed manual and lifted 3 inches. I have no trouble hauling a trailer. The only problems would be if the trailer is enough to where the front end of the Jeep gets light, or braking with a load. I haven't hauled anything large, but it pulls the riding mower fine, and I've hauled 1000 lbs on the trailer with badged soil and paving stones and had no problems. I have the Mopar lift with the Fox racing shocks. I'm currently building a teardrop to tow behind mine. Image

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