All About Flat Towing Jeep Models

A white 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is shown from the front driving on a rural highway at sunset.

Also known as four-down towing or dinghy towing, flat towing a vehicle is one of the most convenient ways to tow your vehicle. However, not all automobiles are suitable for this type of transportation. Vehicles with rear-wheel drive paired with a manual transmission or four-wheel drive with a manual transfer case that can be placed in Neutral are ideal for flat towing. Luckily for Jeep drivers, that makes up the majority of Jeep models on the market (especially when it comes to older models). And that’s why so many RV owners choose Jeep. Many Jeep models can be flat towed, but which ones exactly? And how? That is exactly what we at Orange Coast CJDR are going to go over today.

Which Jeep Models Can Be Flat Towed?

One of the best Jeep models for flat towing is the Jeep Wrangler. Because of its lightweight features and narrow body, the Wrangler is well-suited for most RVs. In addition to the Wrangler, other examples of Jeeps that are suitable for flat towing include the Jeep Gladiator, all 4×4 models of the Jeep Patriot and Jeep Liberty, certain models of the Jeep Cherokee (only those with ActiveDrive II or 2-speed PTU), and 4-low models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. While this list a general guide, the only way to be sure is to check the manual for each particular Jeep.

Always respect the maximum towing capacity of your RV before hooking up a tow to protect you and your vehicles. Check the owner’s manual of your Jeep before flat towing to find out for sure whether or not it is safe to move it this way. The owner’s manual can also cue you into specific tips that will make flat-towing your vehicle more successful. For instance, some models may require you to leave the keys in the ignition or disconnect certain fuses before flat towing. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so take the time to educate yourself before setting up a tow.

As with all vehicles, Jeep models vary from year to year. Just because your Jeep from the past could be flat-towed, it’s never safe to assume that the same model in a different year can be flat towed as well. It never hurts to confirm the towing specifications for your Jeep before making a costly mistake. Another critical point to look into is whether or not you can use a tow bar. Towing kits come in different classes, and you want to install one that is compatible with your vehicle.

A red 2020 Jeep Compass is shown from the side driving in a city near Costa Mesa, CA.

Which Jeep Models Cannot Be Flat Towed?

The Jeep Compass and Jeep Renegade are not typically suitable for flat towing. Characteristics like front-wheel drive, full or part-time four-wheel-drive systems and electronic transmissions can complicate matters when it comes time to flat tow. Vehicles today come with a wide range of variations and customization packages. This makes the process of safe towing less straightforward than it used to be. The main issue when trying to flat-tow a vehicle that isn’t supposed to be flat towed is the proper lubrication of the transmission.

Certain vehicles need the pump inside the transmission to be continuously moving in order to keep other moving parts of the vehicle lubricated. In manual vehicles that are pump-dependent, or with automatic transmissions, significant transmission damage can be the result of flat towing because this lubrication isn’t happening as it should be. When spinning wheels turn the driveshaft without lubrication of the output shaft, you’re asking for trouble. Instead of paying a hefty price for a new transmission or engine parts, it always pays to do your research beforehand. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Tips for Flat Towing Your Jeep

In reading your vehicle’s manual, you will gain a greater understanding of how to flat tow it. You should read this sooner rather than later because if you plan on flat towing in the future, having your RV fully prepped and equipped in advance will make it easier to hook up your Jeep quickly. But before you get into the nitty-gritty of the manual, here are some flat towing tips to keep in mind.

The importance of a reliable braking system cannot be overstated, especially when you’re looking to tow. Keep the brakes in your RV well-maintained and consider a supplemental braking system for added support. In fact, several states require supplemental braking systems in RVs by law. Even if your state isn’t one of them, it’s a good idea to take this extra precaution.

Along with strong brakes, you’ll want to double-check that your light indicators are properly synchronized between your Jeep and RV before hitting the road. Towing kits usually include wiring cables in a 4-pin or 7-pin umbilical cord. It’s essential to be able to communicate with other drivers when your RV is slowing down to avoid a crash. If you’re not sure how to connect the wires, hire a professional to ensure that it’s done right. Always give your lights a quick test before heading out for a tow.

Most Jeep models are compatible with tow bars from the popular brands, Blue Ox and Roadmaster, which is good because it’s important to find a reliable tow bar with a good track record. When towing a Jeep Wrangler, avoid bumper-mounted clamp-on tow bars or risk doing severe damage to your Wrangler’s bumper. Of course, you’ll want to choose a tow bar that is not only compatible with your Jeep but also with your RV. Be sure to factor in the labor costs of installation if you don’t plan on doing it yourself.

Keep in mind that while most RVs are able to handle a 5,000-pound load, it’s never safe to assume. Check your RV manual, along with your Jeep manual, before making any decisions on towing equipment. If your Jeep is customized with upgraded parts, it can quickly start to exceed the standard model weight. Make sure you’re aware of the weight of your specific Jeep rather than just the typical factory weight. And overall, if you read your manuals and stick to these tips, you are sure to be successfully flat towing your Jeep in no time, so long as you have a Jeep that is capable of doing so.

The interior of one of the best Jeep models to flat tow, a 2020 Jeep Wrangler, is shown.

Alternatives to Flat Towing

If your vehicle cannot be flat towed, there are a few other options available. All vehicles can be hauled on a flat-bed truck or trailer, keeping all wheels off the ground, while others can be pulled with just the front wheels lifted and the two back tires on the road. In some instances, automatic transmission vehicles may be fitted with supplemental equipment to enable flat towing. Equipment such as transmission lubrication pumps or driveshaft decouplers can be installed to prevent transmission damage.

Generally, towing equipment can be costly, though. So it’s a good idea to consider how often you’ll be towing your Jeep before going through the trouble of setting everything up. Sometimes, it makes more sense to have another driver ride along behind you or to pay for a tow rather than maintaining all the equipment yourself. Nonetheless, if you already have an RV, you might enjoy the convenience of this option being available to you on a moment’s notice.

Getting Help at Orange Coast CJDR

When you decide you want to flat tow, installation of specialized parts must be done right, or else serious drivetrain components can be compromised. Furthermore, warranty issues can arise depending on the terms of your agreement. So if you have any questions or need any help, speak to our professionals at Orange Coast CJDR in Costa Mesa, CA, and we will make sure you have everything you need.

Posted in Jeep Models