This post details how we flat tow a Jeep Wrangler behind our 29′ motorhome. In our opinion, Jeep Wranglers are one of the best vehicles to flat tow behind a motorhome. We also wrote a post on why we choose the Jeep as our tow vehicle if you want to read that first. Driveline modifications are not required to flat tow the Jeep and there are a wide variety of different options for tow bars, supplemental brake systems and brake light wiring harnesses. I will discuss some of the options in this post and provide specific directions on how to flat tow a Jeep.
Update 2/12/17: Our Jeep is for sale with the tow bar setup.
How to Flat Tow a Jeep Wrangler
1. Tow Capacity
First and foremost, make sure the motorhome can safely tow your Jeep. Most motorhomes have a 5,000 lb towing capacity which will accommodate a stock Wrangler, but if you’ve added additional accessories (bumpers, winch, lift kit, etc) they may push the Jeep beyond 5,000 lbs. Another thing to consider is the amount of cargo that will be stored in the Jeep – we store things like water, fire wood, tools, etc. When shopping for a motorhome, do not take the dealer’s word on tow capacity. They are there simply to sell the motorhome. We met a couple who were lied to about how much they could tow and only learned later that they didn’t have the capacity to tow their truck.
2. Install a Baseplate or Fully Integrated Bumper
A baseplate or specialized bumper is required to attach the Jeep to the tow bar. The baseplate bolts into the Jeep’s frame underneath the front bumper and is somewhat hidden from view. One concern we had with the baseplate was it reduced the Jeep’s approach angle and we would run the risk of damaging it during an off roading adventure. We took the Jeep rock climbing in Sedona and were very happy we didn’t get the baseplate. Another thing to consider is if you have or plan to get an aftermarket bumper, there may be clearance issues where sections of the bumper may need to be cut away so it doesn’t interfere with the baseplate.
The fully integrated bumper replaces the stock Jeep bumper and requires brackets to attach to the tow bar. We went with this option and purchased the Patriot Series bumper from Rock Hard 4×4, which offered adapters (sold separately) for a variety of tow bars. The tow brackets bolt directly into the frame of the Jeep and provide a solid platform to attach the tow bar. This bumper also increased the Jeep’s approach angle and added more protection to the front of the Jeep.
If you already have an aftermarket bumper on your Jeep or want something besides Rock Hard’s offerings, Blue Ox makes an adapter that attaches to the clevis on the bumper. Although they are expensive, I’ve spoken to people who have them and said they love them, however they will only fit clevis’ with a 1″ pin. Blue Ox also makes universal adapters that can be bolted onto the bumper (this would require drilling).
3. Choose a Tow Bar
The tow bar connects the Jeep to the motorhome. There are several tow bar options on the market and we have seen many setups on our travels. Some tow bars offer an integrated system where supplemental breaking for the Jeep is built into the bar such as the ReadyBrute Elite (what we use – read our ReadyBrute Elite Tow Bar Review). Other tow bars require additional braking systems such as Blue Ox.
We decided to purchase the ReadyBrute Elite because it was the simplest solution. The built in braking system is based on inertia. When the motorhome brakes, the Jeep pushes against the tow bar and this actuates a lever on the bar that pulls a cable connected to the Jeep’s brake pedal. This mechanical action doesn’t require any additional electronics and for us that means less to go wrong.
4. Supplemental Braking – Electronic or Mechanical?
There are many electronic braking systems on the market with most using some type of actuator that pushes down on the Jeep’s brake pedal in proportion to how hard the motorhome is braking. The system usually consists of a main unit mounted in the motorhome that communicates with the unit mounted in the Jeep. One popular system is the Roadmaster InvisiBrake that doesn’t require anything to be connected/disconnected when attaching the Jeep to the motorhome. Keep in mind, systems like the InvisiBrake, are permanently installed which may present issues when it comes time to sell the Jeep.
As mentioned in section 3, we decided to go with the ReadyBrute Elite for the built in mechanical braking system. We did read quite a few unfortunate stories about electronic braking systems going bad and locking up the brakes on the towed vehicle or braking while the vehicle was disconnected and driving down the road. The ReadyBrute is a simple system that is very fast to connect/disconnect with few things that can go wrong. We can also visually inspect the parts to look for possible issues every time we connect the Jeep. Installation was relatively easy (they have a great installation video online), the most difficult part was trying to route the brake cable through the Jeep.
5. Break Away Kit
A break away kit is designed to activate the Jeep’s brakes if/when something happens and the Jeep breaks away from the motorhome while driving down the road. This kit will stop the Jeep from rolling down the road and causing further damage. Some supplemental braking systems come with a kit and others, such as the ReadyBrute Elite, require a separate unit to be purchased.
We use a plug and play wiring harness by CoolTech which connects the Jeep brake lights to the motorhome. Installation of the harness into the Jeep’s wiring took about 10 minutes, but it took a while to find the best way to route the wires underneath the Jeep to the front bumper. We were able to use the 4 pin umbilical cord that came with the kit as we didn’t have any additional wires from a electronic braking system which would require the use of a 7 pin umbilical.
Mopar also makes a wiring harness, similar to CoolTech’s, that will plug into a port under the glovebox. From what I have read, this is just as good of an option for wiring the Jeep to the motorhome but about twice the cost and is a bit more difficult to install. The Mopar harness does offer a 7 pin connector, so if you decide to get an electronic braking system then this may make it easier to connect all of the wiring to the motorhome.
7. Putting Your Jeep in Tow Mode
Now the Jeep is ready to be towed and just needs to be put in tow mode. We recommend referencing your specific Jeep manual and follow the steps it provides for putting it in tow mode. We’ve seen guides online that are incorrect. We always pull out the Jeep Manual and follow the instructions to put the Jeep in tow mode. It’s a simple process, but you must follow a specific procedure, otherwise you could damage your transmission – which is why we always use the manual so nothing is missed.
Disclaimer: This post is simply meant to be informational and walk you through how we set up our specific Jeep to be towed. Before purchasing any products, please make sure they fit your particular Jeep, read all manuals and consult a professional for installation.
Disclosure: We paid for the products in this review and this review represents our own opinions. Some of the products contain our Amazon Affiliate link and we receive a small percentage of anything purchased through the links.