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Old 06-09-2008, 04:40 PM   #1
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This is a re-start of one of the most popular threads ever on this forum thanks to so many great contributors, ideas, and experiences. In that same spirit, and to save the new reader considerable reading time, this thread intends to summarize that info and to get us started with new ideas, and experiences of towing one of the new 2007+ Jeep Wranglers.

I'll kick it off with a wiring summary, and I hope we can count on the contributions of others to discuss their experiences with different tow bars and braking solutions.

1. To flat-tow the 2007+ Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited (all models), you must have the ignition key in the first position to unlock the steering wheel. Even with all accessories in the Jeep in the "off" position, this first key position will still cause the Jeep to draw 2+ amps continuous. A fully charged battery will be incapable of starting the Jeep after ~5 or more hours of towing. To remedy this "problem", simply remove the Ignition Off Draw (IOD) fuse before towing and press it back in when you're done. Please note that Jeep advises disconnecting the cable from the negative battery terminal. This works too but may be more disruptive to channel presets, etc. The IOD fuse removal method has been used by many of us and works great. (Another forum member wired a hot 12v lead from the MH to the Jeep instead of disconnecting anything. It worked for him - offsetting the key-on draw of the Jeep.) I would recommend removing the IOD fuse as it has been a popular method and works well. Other solutions (as metioned) likely will also work.

2. If you elect to use an in-Jeep auxillary braking device, you should also remove the M1 fuse while towing. The reason is that when the in-Jeep brake device activates the Jeep's brake pedal, the Jeep will want to illuminate the stop/turn bulb continuously.... even when the MH may be trying to blink the light with the turn signal. The M1 fuse will prevent the Jeep from activating it's own brake lights and all will be good.

2a. Some auxillary brake devices may include a means to "interrupt" the brake signal of the Jeep and in these cases, removal of the M1 fuse may not be necessary. Follow the manufacturer's instruction for wiring.

2b. Still other auxillary brake devices may have an option to have a brake light in the MH to indicate that the aux brake device is properly depressing the brake pedal inside the Jeep. Simply connecting to the Jeep's brake light wire is not sufficient since the MH will activate the lights under braking... but this is not an indication that the device has moved the brake pedal. Call it a false-positive. There is an easy remedy for this situation as well. To resolve, cut the white/gray stripe wire at the brake pedal switch or alternatively in the harness in the passenger's kick-panel. The "hot when braking" side of this wire can be connected to one side of a simple SPST switch. The other side of the wire connect to the other pin on the SPST switch. Now, simply connect an additional wire to the "hot when braking" side and this can be routed (through the proper connectors) into the MH. In this scenario, the M1 fuse would always be left in place and the switch would be opened when towing and closed when not towing.

An admittedly selfish reason for providing this summary is to conclude that in all of the scenarios we have, the Cool Tech LLC wiring harness (with factory plug-in connectors)will work and provides an easy and straightforward way to connect your lights.
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Old 06-09-2008, 05:00 PM   #2
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Just to demonstrate the importance of pulling the IOD fuse (or removing the ground cable from the Jeep's battery), here are the current draws that I measured on the Cool Tech Jeep.

The objective was to measure the current draw of the JK with the key in the first click position which unlocks the steering wheel but is also the accessory position. I tested using a precision Fluke 77 ammeter. Here's what I found:

JK Key-off position = .01 amps draw

JK Key-off position w/underhood light on = .96 amps draw (just a reference)

JK Ign 1st Click = 2.45 amps draw!!! (Also, in this mode there is a relay that cylces every 50 seconds tht briefly draws more current)

JK Ign 1st Click; IOD Fuse Pulled = .17 amps draw


OK, so these are the results which are a little suprising. With the IOD fuse left in place, 2.45 amps/hr x 12 hours = ~30 Amp/hrs which is probably about 1/2 (or more) of the total battery capacity of the JK battery.

Recommendation: If you're flat-towing the JK, lift up the cover on the fuse panel immediately in front of the battery. Lift up the Ignition Off Draw (IOD) Fuse. It is a 60A fuse and it has a holder with white "ears" to help you lift it up.


Finally, here is a picture of the location of both the IOD fuse and the M1 fuse.

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Old 06-11-2008, 09:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by CoolTech:
This is a re-start of one of the most popular threads ever on this forum thanks to so many great contributors, ideas, and experiences. In that same spirit, and to save the new reader considerable reading time, this thread intends to summarize that info and to get us started with new ideas, and experiences of towing one of the new 2007+ Jeep Wranglers.

An admittedly selfish reason for providing this summary is to conclude that in all of the scenarios we have, the Cool Tech LLC wiring harness (with factory plug-in connectors)will work and provides an easy and straightforward way to connect your lights.
I installed your Cool Tech wiring harness on my 08 JK. Very simple. I ran the harness inside the frame rail of the Jeep for a cleaner install and terminated it with a 6 pin connector.

I also installed the Blue Ox Baseplate. Took about three hours. Went fairly smoothly. Be sure to have a good quality drill bit to drill the holes in the frame of the Jeep. The toughest part was removing the eight factory bolts that hold the front bumper on. Man those things are on tight!

Some pics of the finished baseplate/wiring install.



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Old 06-11-2008, 09:43 AM   #4
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Originally posted by CoolTech:
...

2. If you elect to use an in-Jeep auxillary braking device, you should also remove the M1 fuse while towing. The reason is that when the in-Jeep brake device activates the Jeep's brake pedal, the Jeep will want to illuminate the stop/turn bulb continuously.... even when the MH may be trying to blink the light with the turn signal. The M1 fuse will prevent the Jeep from activating it's own brake lights and all will be good.

2a. Some auxillary brake devices may include a means to "interrupt" the brake signal of the Jeep and in these cases, removal of the M1 fuse may not be necessary. Follow the manufacturer's instruction for wiring.

2b. Still other auxillary brake devices may have an option to have a brake light in the MH to indicate that the aux brake device is properly depressing the brake pedal inside the Jeep. Simply connecting to the Jeep's brake light wire is not sufficient since the MH will activate the lights under braking... but this is not an indication that the device has moved the brake pedal. Call it a false-positive. There is an easy remedy for this situation as well. To resolve, cut the white/gray stripe wire at the brake pedal switch or alternatively in the harness in the passenger's kick-panel. The "hot when braking" side of this wire can be connected to one side of a simple SPST switch. The other side of the wire connect to the other pin on the SPST switch. Now, simply connect an additional wire to the "hot when braking" side and this can be routed (through the proper connectors) into the MH. In this scenario, the M1 fuse would always be left in place and the switch would be opened when towing and closed when not towing.

...
Here is a recap of my SMI Stay-N-Play Duo brake installation:

The break-away switch was installed into an existing hole on the bumper using a 1/4" nylon bushing to space it down from the bumper so it sat parallel to the ground. The two wires enter through a small hole I drilled in the plastic belly pan.




As you can see from the finished install photo, you would hardly know the system is there and only requires a flip of the toggle switch on the kick panel mounted controller. The controller is simply screwed into the plastic kick panel. As per recommendation from Pete at SMI, you should mount the controller on the kick panel slightly tilted towards the front.




I mounted the cylinder on the brake pedal just high enough on the pedal arm so as to not be in the way of my foot. The firewall on the Jeep is alarmingly thin. Rather than use the sheet metal screw supplied by SMI, I used a stainless steel machine screw and large washer and nut on the other side. One point of improvement SMI could make would be beefing up the clamp on the cylinder. Make sure you position the shaft of the Jeep's brake pedal arm all the way forward in the clamp. It will bend when the brakes are applied if you do the opposite.






Pete suggested the position of the under hood unit and there really is no other place for it. I rotated it to the vertical position rather than the horizontal position he recommended. It fits better that way and position does not matter. It is cable tied to the computer unit using the lower two holes on the SMI unit. All the wires and air hose to the cylinder are easily passed into the Jeep through a large punch out in the firewall to the right of the power brake unit. Remember to seal it up with silicone when done.







The main unit has a captive vacuum hose that needs to be T'd into the Jeep's brake vacuum line which you can see to the left of the power brake unit in the photo. Power is run directly to the battery with an inline fuse holder (the tap in the fuse box I'll cover later). Grounding is critical. The instructions warn of this but I took it lightly and had some initial problems. The system connects to your coach 4-wire lighting ground AND a chassis ground. I figured that the cool tech wiring harness I was using for the lights was grounded "somewhere" and all I had to do was splice into the cool tech harness. Ha! -- Started blowing fuses at first test. I later grounded the system and the cool tech harness to the computer unit that the SMI unit was mounted to with spade connectors. You can see these in the side shot of the under hood install.

SMI provides an indicator light that illuminates when the Jeep's brake pedal is depressed. You tap into the cold side of the brake light switch -- the White and Tan wire. Their solution involves a large amber light that you cable tie to your tow bar and monitor with your backup camera. I'll let you formulate your own opinion of that . Instead I ran the wire to an unused pin on my 6 pin connector at the front of the Jeep. That same pin on the RV's 6 pin connector runs a wire up into the cab of the RV and to an LED I mounted in the dash to the lower right of the driver (see photo).




Now to the big Gotcha. When the SMI unit applies the brakes, the brake pedal in the Jeep is depressed. This turns on the brake lights of the Jeep. Two problems arise from this. One, the Jeep applied brake lights wash out the turn signals coming from the coach and the biggie -- The SMI sees the 12v from the Jeep pedal being pressed and stays on FOREVER. That's right, you step on the brakes once and they never come off! Both of these problems could be avoided by using separate tailight bulbs and not using the Jeep's lighting and is actually what SMI recommends.

There is a solution or two, one of which is to pull the M1 fuse mentioned in a previous post although this would prevent the coach indicator light from functioning. When I first encountered the problem, I knew exactly what was happening. I had assumed this would happen and even inquired with SMI before purchase what the solution would be. I was incorrectly told that it would not be an issue. I disconnected the brake light switch wire from the Jeep and the problem stopped. The Jeep no longer turned on its brake lights when the pedal was depressed, the SMI did not go into a loop and the turn signals were not washed out. Of course you can't drive around with no brake lights when not towing the Jeep so I first put in a simple toggle switch.

Wanting a slicker solution, I thought about a relay. I'll give you the short version. After many hours of head scratching, sketches and trips to the local auto store, I ended up "designing" an existing product -- the Roadmaster Brake-Lite Relay. It's an automatic switch that connects the brake light switch when power is applied from a circuit that is energized only when the engine is running. Buy the Roadmaster product and install it according to their directions. The photo of the fuse box shows where I tied the power for the relay into. It is an unused circuit labeled Rear Heated Seats. It is off when the Jeep key is in the tow position and on when the Jeep is running. I tied into the cold side of the fuse holder with a fuse tap and installed a 10A fuse.




The install took three days, mostly because I would do something one way then realize a better way and re-do it and the time spent troubleshooting and "designing" the brake light switch relay. Working under the dash in the Jeep is a pain. I mean literally. I have bruises all down my right side. I suggest a well placed pillow on the Jeep door sill -- thought of that only after the first day.
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Old 06-11-2008, 09:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by CoolTech:
...

1. To flat-tow the 2007+ Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited (all models), you must have the ignition key in the first position to unlock the steering wheel. Even with all accessories in the Jeep in the "off" position, this first key position will still cause the Jeep to draw 2+ amps continuous. A fully charged battery will be incapable of starting the Jeep after ~5 or more hours of towing. To remedy this "problem", simply remove the Ignition Off Draw (IOD) fuse before towing and press it back in when you're done. Please note that Jeep advises disconnecting the cable from the negative battery terminal. This works too but may be more disruptive to channel presets, etc. The IOD fuse removal method has been used by many of us and works great. (Another forum member wired a hot 12v lead from the MH to the Jeep instead of disconnecting anything. It worked for him - offsetting the key-on draw of the Jeep.) I would recommend removing the IOD fuse as it has been a popular method and works well. Other solutions (as metioned) likely will also work.

...
I am using the Blue Ox Aladdin tow bar with my previously described wiring, baseplate and brakes. I had a cheap key made at the local locksmith which I use when flat towing. It will unlock the steering column but not allow the Jeep's engine to run more than 2 seconds.

A picture of the finished setup, ready to go:
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Old 06-12-2008, 05:07 AM   #6
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offthewall....how does this work and how do you get one?
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Old 06-12-2008, 06:49 AM   #7
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If the Jeep key uses a microchip to enable engine start/run, then simply get a similar key without the chip. It will turn the ignition switch and enable other systems, but the engine will not run without the presence of the chip built into the key. Most any key maker will have a key blank that does not have the chip.

I use this technique on my GMC Acadia, which also uses the microchip anti-theft device in the ignition key. We just leave it in the car when not in use.
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Old 06-12-2008, 01:01 PM   #8
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Originally posted by RV Roamer:
If the Jeep key uses a microchip to enable engine start/run, then simply get a similar key without the chip. It will turn the ignition switch and enable other systems, but the engine will not run without the presence of the chip built into the key. Most any key maker will have a key blank that does not have the chip.

I use this technique on my GMC Acadia, which also uses the microchip anti-theft device in the ignition key. We just leave it in the car when not in use.
Exactly what I did. Think it costs me $3.00 at the local locksmith.
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Old 06-18-2008, 11:04 AM   #9
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Hi! I'm new to the forum and trying to figure out the best way to flat tow a 2008 Jeep Wrangler (JK).

I notice that everyone seems to use the CoolTech wiring harness. What are its advantages over the factory (Mopar) harness?
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Old 06-18-2008, 12:02 PM   #10
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Inexpensive, easy to install, should meet all your needs, and great technical support should you need it. Go to their website and pull up the install instructions to see how simple to install. I ran the harness down the inside of the frame and install took about 1 1/2 hours.

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Old 06-19-2008, 04:28 PM   #11
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Thanks to everyone who contributed. Lots of good info here.

I have a 2008 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited. I added the Blue Ox Base Plate, Aventa LX tow bar (overkill), and the Cool Tech Harness.

I found a used Brake Pro and got that working as well. Last night was my first test ride.

I pulled the IOD fuse and M1 fuse. I still had trouble with the Brake/turn signal combination- glowed solid when brake and signal were both on. Not sure what might cause this. A clue: my Jeep racked up miles on this trip. The transmission was in Park and the transfer case was in Neutral, per previous instructions. Key was in position 1. I'm using a 4 wire harness. I'm pretty sure I'm doing something wrong but haven't figured out what that might be.

The other issue was with the Brake Pro; hoping this is an adjustment. I was going down a steep hill. The brake applied and would not let go until I stopped the wagon train and waited for the "remote" indicator to go dark. I was really planning on towing my Jeep, not dragging it! I did take some pictures and will post in the future. Right now, I'm just trying to get everything working enough to take a quick trip with the family.

Any troubleshooting suggestions would be welcome!
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Old 06-19-2008, 06:59 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by fairview:
Thanks to everyone who contributed. Lots of good info here.

I have a 2008 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited. I added the Blue Ox Base Plate, Aventa LX tow bar (overkill), and the Cool Tech Harness.

I found a used Brake Pro and got that working as well. Last night was my first test ride.

I pulled the IOD fuse and M1 fuse. I still had trouble with the Brake/turn signal combination- glowed solid when brake and signal were both on. Not sure what might cause this. A clue: my Jeep racked up miles on this trip. The transmission was in Park and the transfer case was in Neutral, per previous instructions. Key was in position 1. I'm using a 4 wire harness. I'm pretty sure I'm doing something wrong but haven't figured out what that might be.

The other issue was with the Brake Pro; hoping this is an adjustment. I was going down a steep hill. The brake applied and would not let go until I stopped the wagon train and waited for the "remote" indicator to go dark. I was really planning on towing my Jeep, not dragging it! I did take some pictures and will post in the future. Right now, I'm just trying to get everything working enough to take a quick trip with the family.

Any troubleshooting suggestions would be welcome!
If the Jeep accumulated miles while towing, you must not have been in position 1 on the key. With the IOD fuse pulled, all should still be dark on the dash in position 1. Miles will not accumulate in this position.

In order to troubleshoot the brake turn signal issue, disconnect the Brake Pro. Test applying the MH brakes with the turn signals, the Jeep lights should appear exactly as stock on the Jeep. If not, check your wiring on the MH and Jeep.

With the M1 fuse pulled, the Jeep's brake pedal should not activate the brake lights. I personally don't use that method, but rather leave the M1 fuse in and use the Roadmaster brake-lite relay product. It sounds like the Brake Pro activation is lighting the Jeep's brake lights. Your installation must prevent this by either pulling the M1 fuse, using a relay on the brake light switch or a switch. Ensure that is the case by pressing the Jeep's brake pedal while is full tow setup -- the brake lights must NOT light up.
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Old 06-20-2008, 10:57 AM   #13
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Originally posted by Ronnie Bledsoe 2006 Dutchstar 43':
Inexpensive, easy to install, should meet all your needs, and great technical support should you need it. ronnie
Over the past two days I've called three times and left messages on their answering machine. I got the number from their own website and the recording confirms that I've dialed Cool-Tech LLC.

Not one live person nor one returned phone call. I need the harness ASAP and I can't even get them on the phone.
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Old 06-20-2008, 11:34 AM   #14
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David X this is totally out of character for Cool TECh...I have sent a PM requesting them to respond!

Ronnie
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