The off-road prowess of the Jeep Wrangler is legendary and its on-road towing capabilities are just as audacious. Check the specs: the average Jeep Wrangler towing capacity is 2,000 lbs. but some models can tow up to 3,500 lbs.–think of the fun you can get into with that! One thing to remember though, always stay within the factory recommendations because a few hundred extra pounds over the weight limit can cause some serious handling havoc. Read on to find out what you need to know before you tow.
EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR TOWING
Trailer Hitch Receiver
There are two different hitches which can be mounted on your Jeep for towing:
- Receiver Hitch: The receiver hitch mounts to the Jeep frame (YJ & TJ) or on the rear-most crossbar (JK), sits under the bumper, has a one and a quarter or two-inch opening, and bolts in place using existing holes.
- Bumper Hitch: This hitch is a replacement for the factory bumper. There are many options for replacing the bumper which will depend on your personal preference.
Ball Mount and Pin and Clip
- Fitting into the hitch opening is the ball mount (aka a drawbar). In order to find the correct ball for your Jeep, take a measurement from the top of receiver hitch opening to the ground. Then after leveling the trailer, measure from the bottom of the trailer coupler to the ground. The difference between these two measurements will let you know if you need a ball mount with a rise or with a drop.
- The pin and clip are used to hold the ball mount in the trailer hitch receiver securely. The size needed depends on the size of the trailer hitch receiver.
Trailer Hitch Ball
- The trailer hitch ball attaches to the ball mount and the trailer attaches to the ball. There are three sizes of trailer hitch balls: 1-7/8 inches, 2 inches, and 2 5/16 inches. These measurements are the actual size of the ball which must be matched to the coupler of the trailer you want to tow. The trailer coupler should be stamped with the ball size requirements.
- The wiring harness, which attaches to the Jeep electrical system, is needed to power the rear turn and brake lights on the trailer. As far as what wiring system is needed for your Jeep it is best to consult an expert.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU TOW
Sway Control and Weight Distribution
An important element for a smooth ride when towing with your Wrangler is having the correct weight distribution and sway control hitch. A weight distribution hitch will create stability by keeping the tow set-up level. Sway control helps the trailer to withstand a strong gust of wind. Both help to make sure the weight of the trailer doesn’t put unnecessary stress on the Jeep.
The automatic transmission in a Wrangler works overtime when towing. This can cause the transmission fluid to overheat. Using a transmission cooler will help keep the fluid at the correct temperature when towing.
If the trailer you are towing has electric brakes, then a brake controller is needed. The controller sends a signal back to the trailer brakes that coincides with your Jeep’s brakes. Check with a professional to make sure you get the brake controller that is needed for your situation.
JEEP WRANGLER TOWING CAPACITY
The towing capacity of the Wrangler models varies but all models have heavy-duty axles which provide even power distribution when towing. The towing capacity is: the loaded weight of your trailer (weight of the trailer plus all gear) and it should not exceed this weight range. Also, good to know: you are limited by the lowest-capacity product in your towing system, whether it is the hitch, ball mount or ball. Make sure that these components have the same capacity as your hitch.
Jeep YJ Wrangler
The YJ Wrangler was manufactured from 1987 to 1995. The first Jeep to carry the title Wrangler, this model was the standard-bearer for Jeep towing capacity until the JK came along. The YJ requires a receiver hitch that mounts to the frame. The Wrangler YJ rocked a leaf spring suspension that made it a distant cousin of many heavy-duty trucks.
- Officially the towing capacity of Wrangler YJ is 2000 lbs.
Jeep TJ Wrangler
Manufactured from 1996 to 2006 some say that the TJ Wrangler is “the most eager and fun-loving Wrangler out there“. The TJ Wrangler was the first to have a longer wheelbase but was still limited to two doors. The towing capacity of the TJ is basically the same as the YJ with a couple of exceptions:
- The TJ with a 2.4-liter Power-Tech I-4 engine and 4-speed automatic transmission is rated to tow 1000 lbs.
- The TJU with a 4.0-liter Power-Tech I-6 engine and a manual transmission is rated to tow max 2,000 lbs.
Jeep JK Wrangler
The definition of the modern Wrangler, the JK, built from 2007 to 2018 ushered in the popularity of the four-door Jeep. Reliable and tough, the JKs focus was to refine the Jeep driving experience. All JKs had an available option of programmable auxiliary switches and a larger battery and alternator which gave this model improved towing capability. Additionally, the more powerful drive train made towing more comfortable.
The towing capacity of the JK Wrangler is:
- The JK Wrangler two-door model towing capacity is 2,000 lbs.
- The JKU Wrangler four-door model towing capacity is 3,500 lbs.
Jeep JL Wrangler
Call off the dogs, the JL Wrangler line is close to perfect. While the forefathers of this Wrangler line were rugged and basic the new JL Wrangler can meet any demand that the modern adventurer might want. Unveiled in 2018, this Wrangler comes with an upgraded interior, fully loaded technology, and an infotainment system. All this extra comfort hasn’t changed Jeep’s hardcore adventure cred.
Jeep JL Wrangler 2-Door Models
Wrangler Sport, Sport-S, and Rubicon: These two-door models come with the standard 6-liter Pentastar VVT V6 gasoline engine which has been upgraded for greater fuel economy for the Wrangler JL. Versatile and practical, the 3.6L comes with Engine Stop-Start, produces 285 horsepower, and 260 lbs. of torque at 4800 RPM. This engine is combined with a six-speed automatic transmission. However, there is an option for an eight-speed automatic transmission.
- Max towing capacity is 2,000 lbs.
Jeep JL Wrangler 4-Door Models
Wrangler Sport, Sport-S, Sport Altitude, Sahara, Rubicon, Sahara Altitude, and Moab: These four-door models are capable of offering a strong capacity to tow with the Trailer Tow and Heavy-duty Electrical Group. By adding this group to your Jeep, you can add a winch, control light bar, and other additional accessories. This group includes:
- Seven- and Four-Pin Wiring Harness
- Class II Tow Receiver Hitch
- Programmable Aux Switches
- 700-Amp Maintenance–Free Battery
- 240-Amp Alternator
- The Jeep JL four-door can tow up to 3500 lbs. but this depends on which 4×4 system your Jeep has: Selec-Trac®, Command-Trac®, or Rock-Trac®.
Adding a boat, wave runner or camper to the equation definitely upgrades the good times. So some words of wisdom before you hit the road with an additional load. Safety first! Follow all rules of the road: slow and steady speeds, safe distances from the car ahead, and of course, make sure all your equipment is appropriate for what you are towing.