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Old 09-22-2009, 08:18 AM   #1
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Question Noobie question on towing capacity

We drive an '08 Jeep Unlimited 4 door Wrangler, and are in the market for a small expandable RV. The Jeep has a towing capacity of only 3500 lbs (GVWR), which really limits us, but we can find a small hybrid to suit us. My question is more on the tongue (hitch) weight. My book says 350 lbs., but I was wondering if a load distribution hitch (not sure of that terminology) would allow us to cheat the 350 lb. hitch weight number a little? Anyone out there towing with a similar vehicle who would have some input, we'd be appreciative to hear from you. We don't want the "tail wagging the dog", if you know what we mean?

thanks!
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:48 AM   #2
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I wouldn't do it, at least with not with "tall" trailer.

I checked out the Jeep Wranglers a couple of years ago to pull my Trailmanor. The hitch was a class 2 hitch, which is not recommended for a WDH system. Usually a class 2 hitch comes with an 1 1/4" reciever, but Jeep did use a 2" reciever for a little more flexiblity in use.

Also, the Jeep only came with a 4 prong wiring harness. You would have to run a brake wire, "hot" wire, and backup lights (if the trailer you are looking at has those) to a Bargman plug to fit most trailers.

You might get away with a light and short trailer if you install a Class 3 or higher hitch, (as well as the Bargman plug) but you would still need to stay within the 3500 maximum towing capacity.

BTW, the Jeep 4 door is an awesome machine. My 98 TJ still runs great, but wish I had the 4 door. And I would proabably be trying to do what you are thinking about, but with a heavier aftermarket hitch, with a Trailmanor Mini, a popup, or maybe a small "eggshell" being pulled behind.
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Old 09-22-2009, 09:35 AM   #3
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Another consideration is your very short wheelbase and high center of gravity. You don't want too much behind you. A Pop-Up might be a much better choice for you. The smaller ones, 8ft and 10ft, usually don't have electric brakes and that would be a plus for your 4-wire plug.
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Old 09-22-2009, 10:23 AM   #4
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To stay within recommended proportions, tongue weight equal 10% of trailer weight, hence a 3500 pound trailer should have 350 pound tongue weight. Will you kill it at 400, probably not. Weight distributing setups usually aren't required below 500 pounds, and you may have trouble finding one light enough. Also if your hitch is class 3 or higher, it will give the weight distributing numbers also. As for trailer brakes and wiring, almost every camper I've looked at lately has brakes, and you must have vehicle wiring. I think the limit I've heard is if the camper is rated over 3000 pounds it must have brakes. Also remember when you're looking, you want to stay under 3500 on the trailer GVW, not the dry weight, to stay within the Jeep's towing specs. Good Luck.
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Old 09-22-2009, 11:59 AM   #5
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I have the 4 door Sahara and it had a tow package from the factory. Its a class 3 but mntguy is right it only comes with a 4 prong plug. There is a factory harness though that you can buy and install for the 7 wire plug. I did this to haul my 16 foot ATV utility trailer. I also owned a TK short wheelbase and towed my ATV's with it. The 4 door is much better and with the electric brakes on my utility trailer it pulls and stops really good but finding a camper is going to be a trick I think. I ended up having my camper delivered and it sits on a seasonal piece of land! You might find one light enough but it will be a trick.

I do wonder if a Forest River Rpod would work though. Some of them are 2000 lbs. If you don't fill it full of water and gear you should be okay... worth checking out if you don't need a big camper.
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:25 PM   #6
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I tow a Surveyor Sport 186 with my 2005 Liberty. 235 lb dry hitch weight about 3100 lb total for camping. The GVW on the trailer is 5200 lb. I use an Equalizer 600/6000 hitch and a Prodigy brake controller. Almost the same engine and tranny. I ordered the 7 pin harness from the dealer as well as the upgraded cooling kit installed it myself. Pretty straight forward. The Libby does have an 11inch longer wheelbase than the Wrangler but I can not imagine it makes that much of a difference. I have no problem towing at 65 with the overdrive off with no issues. The Libby is also rated at 5000 not 3500. Some folks will tell you are crazy to tow with anything other than a 3/4 ton Pick Up. But these new trailers are designed for light weight v6 SUV. Steveqvs is right I would take a look at the R Pod if you are set on using the Wrangler to tow. Just remember to tow the max 3500 you need to have the complete tow package installed in your Wrangler. I would check to see if you have that to start.
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Old 09-23-2009, 08:14 AM   #7
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Thanks to all for what sounds like good advice! That's what I was looking for. We'll consider our options and hope for the best! Maybe we should just buy a new truck! Do our part to help the economy...yeah, that's what I'll tell the wife!

thanks again!
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Old 09-23-2009, 04:38 PM   #8
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As long as you keep the Wrangler! You can't get rid of the Jeep.......
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Old 09-23-2009, 10:01 PM   #9
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bleuge001, all you probably need to do is use a friction brake to control sway, for lighter units like that. Reese makes a kit for that, which includes a small ball- like 1 1/4" off to the side of your receiver hitch, and then another ball on the side of the camper frame. The bar is like a flat sliding disc brake, that you manually crank down before towing, and keeps the sway in line. I had the largest Coleman/Fleetwood Pop up, and it worked great on that. Hope this helps! Randy
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