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Old 04-20-2015, 08:37 AM   #1
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Towing 2008 Jeep Wrangler Sahara problems

We have 12000 miles of Motorhome travel experience (across Canada & NW USA) towing a Jeep Wrangler with a Newmar DP 43ft, plan to continue US trek shortly. Although the Ventana was new (2011) we had some problems (to be expected we understand). However had numerous electrical problems pulling the Jeep which obviously could be from ignorance on our part. Firstly, we have a Blue OX system along with a Blue OX Patriot brake assist system. Our problems consisted of dead Jeep batteries, burned out bulbs along with internal taillight assembly melting the plastic obviously from a heat buildup.
Here is what we did over time, disconnect the Jeep battery when towing and refrained from using the Brake assist system in case we were not installing it properly and therefore keeping the brakes on. The Blue Ox wiring system provides for independent bulbs to be added to each tail light assembly which would seem to mean with the Brake assist activated that two bulbs would be activated when the brake is applied. Too much heat? We note that Blue Ox now offers LED lights possibly to reduce the heat. Has anyone experienced similar problems and found a solution?

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Old 04-20-2015, 08:47 AM   #2
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Were your brake lights staying on causing heat to build up & cause problems? Could the additional bulb be too close to the lens?

2011 40' Monaco Cayman PBQ ISC 360
2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
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Old 04-20-2015, 10:46 AM   #3
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Thinking that maybe part of problem, do you use the Blue OX system? Do you tow your wrangler without the key in the ignition? Thank you
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:12 PM   #4
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The lamp failure is not specific to the Blue Ox system but occurs when the glass of the incandescent lamp, such as 1157 or 1156 or equivalent touches the plastic housing. Two things happen. The lamp glass heats and melts the plastic that it touches. The heat removed from the bulb at the melt point causes thermal stress to the glass and exfoliates the glass at the contact point. Soon, within minutes, enough glass breaks away from the bulb and admits air.

Look closely and you will see a hole in the bulb.

The cure is to center the bulb in the housing when installing it, or, in case of the Wrangler lamp assembly, use a Dremmel tool with an abrasive point and add clearance for the bulb. There is not a lot of room and it is difficult to judge just where to cut the hole for the socket, but I have done it and currently run such a system with my 2014 Wrangler with no difficulty. Two lamps per housing is a non issue as far as heat, and to the observer, contesting brake, turn, and tail illumination is not noticed if an onboard supplemental brake system (Brake Buddy or such) energizes the toads brake at the same time as the coach applies the brake.

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Old 04-20-2015, 06:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hardcon View Post
Thinking that maybe part of problem, do you use the Blue OX system? Do you tow your wrangler without the key in the ignition? Thank you
You have a 2008, so you have to have the key in the ignition and turned so the steering wheel is unlocked. I have a charge wire from my coach to my 2008 Jeep battery to keep it charged.

Sounds like your brake system is keeping the brake lights on. Have someone drive behind you to help determine.

I have the US Gear brake system on both of my tow vehicles. The Jeep has been towed without an issue for over 30,000 miles; all around the US and to Alaska.

Good luck.
2001 34' Alpine Coach
2008 Jeep Rubicon or 2012 Ford F150 4x4 Lariat towds
or a couple of different trailers
Retired in Apple Valley, California
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Old 04-20-2015, 06:49 PM   #6
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Towing 2008 Jeep Wrangler Sahara problems

Having seen so many melted lenses, I immediately removed the extra bulbs and installed diodes when I bought my used toad. A few dollars well spent.

Do you remove any fuses to tow? When the recommended fuse is removed on my Saturn, the brake pedal switch is no longer connected to the brake lights. They are activated only by the MH, not the BrakeBuddy pressing the pedal.

Can you see or hear anything running when you have set up to tow (radio, fan, etc.)?
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Old 04-21-2015, 09:06 AM   #7
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A change was made mid year, 2008. Early production had a steering lock which required that the key be in the ignition (and "on") for towing. Later the steering lock was eliminated. All Wranglers since then require no key in the ignition for towing.

Our '07 required the key in the ignition and we used a Blue Ox brake powered by the battery. The first trip showed that after 6 or more hours as a toad the battery would be completely dead. It's after that first trip that I rewired one of the dash 12v receptacles so it was powered through the electrical tow harness, using power from the coach, no longer using the Jeep battery. I also installed a simple blade switch on the negative battery terminal so I could quickly and completely disconnect the battery when the Jeep was being towed.

I used the same type of tail/brake light set up you describe on both the '07 and on our current '12. I've never had any problems with heat or tail lens damage. I know there are thousands of others with the same set up and yours is the first I've heard of having an issue.

Without inspecting yours I have no idea why you might be. I liked the idea of not tapping into the vehicle system. If I ever have a problem it will much easier to isolate the source.

Jay & Peggy Monroe with Dolly
Can't take it with you - don't plan on leaving any behind
2016 Newmar London Aire 4553, Spartan chassis
Wrangler Unlimited toad
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