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Old 01-12-2016, 10:06 PM   #1
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Newer Jeep Wrangler, 12, key and battery position

I realize this has been addressed to some degree in the past but I'm confused by previous posts. It's a 2012 Wrangler with manual transmission. Abbreviated towing procedure, key in acc, trans in gear (manual), and battery disconnect. I realize that cars with steering lock it's necessary to to have the key in and with the key in the acc position, several things are powered. BUT the 09 and later Wranglers have no steering lock so key position should be irrelevant. Since the key is off and out, no battery drain is occurring. I also realize that manufacturers are lazy and don't update the owner's manual to reflect current equipment or requirements.

I've given up asking the dealer a question more complicated than "how much can I pay for that" so that isn't a viable solution. Previous posts made claims about need for 12v for braking systems and if the battery is disconnected there is no power to any outlet, hot or switched. There also was mixed information about what diodes do or can't do. I'm not an electrical engineer and didn't say at a Holiday Inn Express either, so I don't know the answer to that.

Some people will follow a written owner's manual regardless whether it's correct or not. I choose to take a correct, and easier approach, when possible. So I don't see a need to have the key in. If someone can explain why it should, I'm listening. I also don't see the need to disconnect the battery and will listen to positions on that too.

I haven't towed it yet and don't have tow equipment yet. Leaning towards either Blue Ox or Roadmaster. For braking, I like the idea of SMI Airforce but want to find a competent shop to do the coach part. Frankly toad braking systems are confusing to me in the wide variety of styles etc.

I see lots of Wranglers as toads so there surely is a consensus for the best methods.
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Old 01-12-2016, 10:18 PM   #2
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I have a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (Automatic) and I don't leave the key in the ignition while towing. No problems.
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Old 01-12-2016, 11:26 PM   #3
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I also agree with no key in the ignition. I tow a 2012 Wrangler automatic and after it's all set up, the key goes in my pocket. Only Jeeps prior to 2008 must have the key in the ignition turned to the first position, not accessory. I towed a 2005 for several years and this was a PITA.

Also, you do not have to use a battery disconnect if you are not leaving the key in ACC.

I use the RVI2 braking system running off the Jeep battery for two to three days at a time with no problem. It's easy and quick to set up and works great.

You might look at the Demco baseplate. I am impressed with the build quality and ruggedness. I'm using it with a Blue Ox tow bar and they work perfectly together.

Below is from the 2012 operator's manual. It says nothing about leaving the key in the ignition or disconnecting the battery.

1. Bring the vehicle to a complete stop.
2. Turn OFF the engine.
3. Press and hold the brake pedal.
4. Shift the automatic transmission into NEUTRAL or
press the clutch pedal on a manual transmission.
5. Shift the transfer case lever into NEUTRAL (N).
6. Start the engine.
7. Shift the transmission into REVERSE.
8. Release the brake pedal (and clutch pedal on manual
transmissions) for five seconds and ensure that there is
no vehicle movement.
9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 with automatic transmission in
DRIVE or manual transmission in first gear.
10. Turn OFF the engine.
11. Firmly apply the parking brake.
12. Shift the transmission into PARK or place manual
transmission in gear (NOT in Neutral).
13. Attach the vehicle to the tow vehicle using a suitable
tow bar.
14. Release the parking brake.
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Old 01-13-2016, 07:41 AM   #4
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We also have a 2012 Wrangler - no key required for towing.

When we had our '07 Wrangler I rewired one of the dashboard 12v recepticles to the coach to Jeep wire harness and used it to power the brake system we had at the time. Now I have the SMI Air Force One system and that's no longer an issue either.
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Old 01-13-2016, 07:55 AM   #5
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Thanks for the reply but my owner's manual is different. It's a 2012 Wrangler "User Guide" and only 112 pages. The jeep is originally from Canada and was brought to the US a year ago to FL. I bought it this past weekend.
The differences are step 10. says "Turn OFF the engine and leave the ignition switch in the unlocked ACC position". There is a step 15. which says "Disconnect the negative battery cable, and secure it away from the negative battery post".

I looked at the front of the guide and it doesn't differentiate between US and Canadian models. Before I bought the Jeep I had read the instructions in a Jeep on a dealers lot, different Jeep, and it was as you said. When I got the one out is when I saw the discrepancy.

I looked at the Demco base plate online and may go that way but it mounts to the inside of the frame rail on the passenger side and outside on the driver's side. Seems an odd method rather than the same on both sides. I have a Demco KarKaddy SS that is rock solid and I suppose their tow products are also. BTW after the flat tow setup is complete, the SS will probably be sold.
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Old 01-13-2016, 08:10 AM   #6
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I would think the Canadian owners manual would have the proper instructions. And don't think the lawyers would open themselves up to litigation with improper instructions in writing

You might just log onto the jeep owners website and/or call jeep to verify...

Here, I'll look it up on google for you

While we know about OUR jeeps, we may not know yours but Jeep will.

good luck..
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Old 01-13-2016, 08:26 AM   #7
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I think the '12 and up Wranglers do not have lock steering so the key does not need to be in or turned. Our '15 does not. Easy to check of course, just try to turn the wheels with the key out.

I also think they reuse the info from previous model years in the manual. Go to Jeep's site and see if you can download a new one.

In our case the manual was still incorrect on towing it. It states to shut off the engine....place the transfer case in neutral... Well I would love to see it done. We have to have it running or no way will the transfer case go in N. Do need to shut it off before putting the shifter in P (automatic) or it grinds.
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Old 01-13-2016, 08:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drwwicks View Post
Thanks for the reply but my owner's manual is different. It's a 2012 Wrangler "User Guide" and only 112 pages. The jeep is originally from Canada and was brought to the US a year ago to FL. I bought it this past weekend.
The differences are step 10. says "Turn OFF the engine and leave the ignition switch in the unlocked ACC position". There is a step 15. which says "Disconnect the negative battery cable, and secure it away from the negative battery post".

I looked at the front of the guide and it doesn't differentiate between US and Canadian models. Before I bought the Jeep I had read the instructions in a Jeep on a dealers lot, different Jeep, and it was as you said. When I got the one out is when I saw the discrepancy.

I looked at the Demco base plate online and may go that way but it mounts to the inside of the frame rail on the passenger side and outside on the driver's side. Seems an odd method rather than the same on both sides. I have a Demco KarKaddy SS that is rock solid and I suppose their tow products are also. BTW after the flat tow setup is complete, the SS will probably be sold.
I can't swear to it, but maybe the manual wasn't changed after the change from TJ to JK series. Unless someone can come up with a really good reason the key has to be left in, I'll continue to tow without it.

Yes, the Demco base plate does mount that way, but I'm sure that is done for ease of installation. It still bolts behind the frame mounting tabs for the bumper and also is bolted directly to the frame structure. Once mounted, it is perfectly symmetrical with the tow tabs equidistance from the center.
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Old 01-13-2016, 08:54 AM   #9
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Adding to the consensus, if you do not have a steering wheel lock, there is no need to have the key in/turned.

Purely FYI, it is possible to defeat a steering wheel lock (if you have a vehicle that has one) so sweeping statements can be incorrect.
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Old 01-13-2016, 08:55 AM   #10
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Lt Dan, I see on your signature you have the Goldwing. I have a HD touring that I carry on a Hydralift. Do you travel with the Jeep and bike? If so and a lift, how much extension do you use to get proper clearance of the lift to Jeep? On the Hydralift the support arms stick back a ways and could easily poke a hole in a hood during a turn, not a good thing.

When we towed the KarKaddy, the tongue of the dolly was long enough and far enough back that clearance wasn't an issue but I did have to remove the dolly spare tire from the carrier. It poked a hole in that tire during first turn. Carried spare in back of toad.
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Old 01-13-2016, 09:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JFNM View Post
Adding to the consensus, if you do not have a steering wheel lock, there is no need to have the key in/turned.

Purely FYI, it is possible to defeat a steering wheel lock (if you have a vehicle that has one) so sweeping statements can be incorrect.
On some vehicles if you turn the key off and leave it in the ignition, the steering lock doesn't engage. Course if the key fell out while towing, it could be a mess. Fortunately with the Jeep, not an issue.
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Old 01-13-2016, 02:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drwwicks View Post
Lt Dan, I see on your signature you have the Goldwing. I have a HD touring that I carry on a Hydralift. Do you travel with the Jeep and bike? If so and a lift, how much extension do you use to get proper clearance of the lift to Jeep? On the Hydralift the support arms stick back a ways and could easily poke a hole in a hood during a turn, not a good thing.
I don't carry both at the same time on the motor home. I have an enclosed trailer that I can carry the bike, or I can tow the Jeep. However, we have traveling buddies that also have a Goldwing so when we travel together one pulls a Jeep and the other tows a trailer with both bikes. I would like to carry both at the same time, but weight limits won't allow it.
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Old 01-13-2016, 03:15 PM   #13
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I also have a '12 JK Rubicon and just put it in neutral with the tranny in park and tow. Been doing it for 3 years now and no problems. I use the SMI Air Force 1 for braking and it seems to work fine. I bought a Rock Hard front bumper with the attachments for my Blue Ox tow bar integrated into it so I don't have a baseplate. Everything is working great.
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Old 01-13-2016, 06:53 PM   #14
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I have a 2012 Wrangler Unlimited which I tow all the time without the key in the ignition, no problems. For wiring I had the Mopar wiring kit installed which works great, with this setup you need a 12 volt source at the coach. There have been several posts on that subject. You do not have to disconnect the battery. For a base plate I installed the Currie Industries base very nice, looks good. Happy Travels.
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