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This post details how we flat towed a Jeep Wrangler behind a Class A gas RV. 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 Wrangler. 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 Wrangler.
What is Flat Towing?
Flat towing a car behind an RV means that the vehicle is going to have all four wheels on the ground. In order to do this without damaging the vehicle, the wheels need to spin freely without engaging the driveline. For most vehicles, simply putting the transmission in neutral is not enough to flat tow them. As a result, most cars aren’t able to be flat towed.
During our research on how to flat tow a car we learned that, as a loose rule, many front wheel drive cars with a manual transmission can be flat towed.
In terms of vehicles with an automatic transmission and four wheel drive, the options became much more limited and it wasn’t always clear which models could be flat towed.
- One model year might be flat towable while the next model year wasn’t.
- There were even differences within specific models of the same year. For example, one version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee with a specific 4×4 system was flat towable, but a model with the other 4×4 system or two wheel drive wasn’t flat towable.
- In the end, we learned that the only way to know for sure was to look at the owners manual for the exact vehicle (model, year and options) we were interested in flat towing. The manual will state whether that particular vehicle is flat towable and if so, how to properly tow it.
One of the things that drew us to the Jeep Wrangler is that most years and variations are flat towable. Be aware however that there are a few which are not, particularly the limited number of two wheel drive versions they produced. ALWAYS read the manual to know for certain.
According to the 2020 manual for the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Gladiator models, both the automatic and manual versions are flat towable.
How to Flat Tow a Jeep Wrangler
1. Tow Capacity
First, make sure your RV can safely flat tow a Jeep Wrangler. Most motorhomes and even some Class B vans have a 5,000 lb towing capacity which will accommodate a stock Wrangler. Additional accessories (bumpers, winch, lift kit, etc) and the amount of cargo that will be stored in the vehicle can greatly effect the total weight and push the it beyond 5,000 lbs.
Most truck stops have scales where you can weigh the vehicle. Make sure to do this fully loaded with a full tank of fuel and subtract the weight of driver / passengers who are in the vehicle when it is weighed (since they won’t be in the vehicle while it is being towed). Our Jeep Wrangler with accessories and cargo weighed in at 4,500 pounds
Note: When shopping for an RV, do not take the dealer’s word on towing capacity. They are simply there to make the sale. Check with the RV manufacturer or consult the RV owner’s manual to find out what the towing capacity is. We met a couple who were lied to about how much their RV could tow and found out after the purchase 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 Wrangler to the tow bar coming from the RV. 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. That meant we would run the risk of damaging it during an off roading adventure.
If you have an aftermarket bumper or plan to get one, there may be clearance issues to consider with a baseplate. It’s possible sections of the bumper may need to be cut away so it doesn’t interfere with the baseplate.
A fully integrated bumper replaces the stock Jeep bumper. There are tow brackets required to attach to the tow bar to these types bumper. We went with this option and purchased the aluminum front bumper from Rock Hard 4×4.
If you already have an aftermarket bumper on the Jeep, 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. Keep in mind, 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 Wrangler to the RV so it can be flat towed. There are several tow bar options on the market. Some tow bars offer an integrated system where supplemental braking for the Jeep is built into the bar such as the ReadyBrute Elite Tow Bar. Other tow bars require additional braking systems such as the 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. Most use some type of actuator that pushes down on the Jeep’s brake pedal in proportion to how hard the motorhome brakes. 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. This may present issues when it comes time to sell the Jeep Wrangler.
As mentioned in above, we decided to go with the ReadyBrute Elite for the built in mechanical braking system. This 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 is essential and required in most states. The obvious benefit is that if something happens, the break away system will engage the brakes to help slow the Jeep and help minimize damage to the vehicle and others on the road. Some supplemental braking systems come with a kit and others, such as the ReadyBrute Elite, require a separate brake away device to be purchased.
6. Tail Lights
We use a plug and play wiring harness by CoolTech that connects the Jeep’s brake lights and turn signals to the motorhome. Installation of the harness into the Jeep’s wiring took about 10 minutes however I spend over an hour trying 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 at about twice the cost and 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, this may make it easier to connect all of the wiring to the motorhome.
7. Putting Your Jeep in Tow Mode
After you’ve installed all the necessary components to flat tow your Jeep Wrangler or Gladiator, it’s time to connect your Jeep to your RV. Each tow bar, braking system and wiring harness will be different so refer to the owner’s manual for each on the proper procedure to hook up your Jeep to your RV.
Once the Jeep is connected to your motorhome, it needs to be put in tow mode. We recommend referencing your specific Jeep manual and follow the steps for putting it in tow mode. Some guides we found online have incorrect information. The process is simple, but you have to follow a specific procedure, otherwise you could damage the vehicle. The manual also includes instructions on how to take the Jeep out of tow mode.
While the procedure is straightforward, we recommend referencing your manual every time you put the Jeep in tow mode. It’s easy to miss a step and the extra few seconds it takes to reference the manual may save you a huge repair bill if you do something wrong. We were at a campground once and had to chase down a couple who were dragging their vehicle because they’d forgotten to put it in tow mode.
8. Perform a Visual Inspection
After the Jeep is connected and in tow mode, perform a visual inspection. Have someone stand behind the vehicle to ensure that the brake lights and turn signals are working properly.
Visually check all connections, pins, etc to ensure that everything is hooked up properly. Remember that you’re towing a few tons behind the RV and even if you’re in a rush, it only take a couple minutes to make sure everything is properly connected before you drive off.
9. Monitor Your Jeep
It’s good practice and peace of mind to have a rear camera installed on your RV so you can visually check on the Jeep while you’re going down the road. Some people also install a small LED light either in the RV or on the dash of the Jeep that illuminates when the Jeep’s brakes are activated. By placing the LED light on the Jeep’s dash you can see it with the rear view camera.
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.
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