experience towing with a lifted 4 door jeep - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 11-09-2014, 10:01 AM Thread Starter
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experience towing with a lifted 4 door jeep

Hi. I have a "stock" '08 Sahara 4dr with 18" wheels and 32" BFG Dueler AT tires. I'm looking at a '13 4dr Rubicon with 3.5" lift, 35" tires, 20" wheels and 4.10 gears.

For the last 5 years I was able to comfortably and safely tow a 3,500+/- lbs camper (electric brakes) upwards of 65-70mph with the Sahara, although the transmission/engine would be shifting a little erratic going up hills. I would like a jeep with one of the newer engines for towing plus I want a jeep with a lift and bigger tires. I'm not asking for people's opinions if they THINK this is smart - only asking for their experience(s) if they've actually done it.

Does anyone have experience towing MAX WEIGHT with a 4dr Rubi (or any 4dr jeep) lifted at 3.5" or higher and 35"/20" tires/wheels (or larger)?



Last edited by Muddzy; 11-09-2014 at 12:31 PM.
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post #2 of 5 Old 11-09-2014, 11:58 AM
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I pull my 18' Aerolite Zoom with an 07 4 door. 5:13s and 37's. TeraFlex 3" with 1" spacer in front. We don't go far with it as the 3.8 is gutless but it works. It's auto also. It's usually 3500-3700lbs loaded and the Jeep is heavier than stock with all the mods. Get a weight ditributing hitch and don't get in a hurry.
It tows better than with my wife's Grand Cherokee which is rated for 7200lbs.
Just doesn't have the power of the 5.7.
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post #3 of 5 Old 11-09-2014, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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Great info, Alaska - thx! What was the top speed you reached while towing?

For those in the future that find this thread while researching towing for a 4dr jeep: I forgot to mention that I used my Sahara to tow a single axle, brakeless, landscape trailer to carry a 4 seater kawasaki mule with full cab. I estimated the weight of trailer/mule to be around 3,000 lbs...maybe a lil more since I had to put cinder blocks in the front of the trailer to have appropriate tongue weight. I towed this setup 4hrs, mostly on highway at posted highway speeds. People might say I was stupid for doing this but I didn't feel unsafe at all. I was a little nervous when I started out - I SLOWLY went down a steep back road that was gravel and at the bottom was a stop sign and the trailer pushed my jeep a few feet when I stopped. But once on pavement it towed fine and I didn't feel stopping was an issue (i had new brake pads and rotors installed the week before my trip).

I feel the most critical thing when towing is to know how to properly do so:

1) distribute the load properly when you tow. The proper weight on the tongue is critical!
2) make sure traffic conditions are appropriate. I rescheduled this trip due to rain but if the trailer had brakes then the rain wouldn't bother me. Also, I wouldn't drive this setup in rush hour traffic.
3) regardless if you are driving at posted speed or slower, you still need to allow enough space in front of you to see what's going on so you have plenty of time to stop or react. I don't talk on the phone or change radio stations. It is critical to stay alert!
4) don't panic. That can cause more problems!
5) make sure your jeep and trailer are mechanically sound plus your tow load will not shift.

Last edited by Muddzy; 11-09-2014 at 12:39 PM.
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post #4 of 5 Old 11-10-2014, 01:55 AM
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Hey Muddzy, mine's a 2012 Unlimited Rubicon (3.6L) with a 4.5" lift on 37s and 5.13s. It has the max tow package, so I'm rated for a 3500# trailer, but it also has probably around 300# additional weight in bumpers, winch, etc., plus I typically carry around 200# of tools and about a 50# ice chest.

I have a military M101A2 trailer, also on 37s, with a steel GemTop utility shell mounted on it. Fully loaded the way I usually camp, I'd guess the trailer to go around 2500#.

I pulled this from Livermore, CA, to Moab and back (~2000 miles) and would not hesitate to do it again. Utah has speed limits up to 80 MPH and the combo would do that, but I don't recommend it because you'll pay at the pump! It was October, so the weather was not too hot, but it never had any heating issues and there are some pretty steep, high altitude grades on that trip.

Obviously, the main issue on protecting your trans (and keeping it shifting correctly), is to prevent it from overheating. Mine has a factory auxiliary Trans cooler. Don't know if that's a standard item on the 2012s or part of the Max tow package, but I recall reading that they all have that feature now. Please verify though; don't assume.

Correct rear end gearing will keep the trans from searching for the right gear. Since many of the Rubicons came from the factory with 4.10s and 32s, I would suggest that your plan of 4.10s with 35s might leave you a little unhappy, especially towing. Not that the rig won't have enough power, but again, your trans is going to be struggling to find the right gear or to upshift under load.

If you know you're going to be towing a lot, and especially if that will be pushing the limits of its rating, check the gearing charts for the 3.6 (search this site -- they're available) and go at least one gear ratio lower (numerically higher) than the combo that keeps you in about the same RPM range as the stock combo. That will keep both you and your transmission happy.

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post #5 of 5 Old 11-11-2014, 10:36 AM Thread Starter
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unlimidozer - good to hear, thanks!! I will def check about trans cooler, good point. I don't think my Sahara with 31s/18s and 3.73 gears had one but tires were smaller. I will look into the gearing, too.

What wheel size are you running on your rubi with 37s? My last decision is to decide on 18" or 20" wheels. I know the basics - 18" more sidewall so a lil better for airing down & going off road and 20" a lil firmer, cooler and more responsive road ride.
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