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Old 07-14-2012, 07:58 AM   #1
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What are the 'basics' needed to tow 4 down?

Hi All -

Very new to all this. I've been reading a lot of threads, but not sure I'm getting the gist of everything that is truly needed for a complete tow set up.

We will likely get a used 2000s model Jeep Wrangler Limited, or a new 2012 Wrangler Unlimited. (Either would definitely be automatic).

What are the actual "basics" (i.e., generic components) that I'd need for a complete setup? Like, a wiring harness, brake controller, tow "bars", base plate for jeep etc. -- am I missing anything there?

Are any of the brands out there for all this more significantly easier to set up/use than others? Or is it more of just a personal preference thing...

Thanks for any help (or pointing me to any previous threads that I might have missed on this).
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Old 07-14-2012, 10:03 AM   #2
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Theres definitely a personal preference part to everyone's decision, specifically when it comes to the brake system. There are two types, surge and in-car mechanical (ie a removable box that pushes on the break. You pretty much covered the basic items you'll need:

1. Tow bar
2. Base plate
3. Wire harness
4. Brake system
5. Breakaway brake system
6. Safety chains/cables

Your choice of a jeep wrangler is excellent. Extremely easy to tow do to a selectable transfer case. Because of that, it doesn't matter if it's an auto or manual.

I have a 2011 wrangler unlimited that I've just finished setting up to tow. If you haven't already, you can look at photos of my setup a few posts down (Photos of ReadyBrute, Currie, Cooltech, and Breakaway Installed).
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Old 07-14-2012, 10:45 AM   #3
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If you're getting a Jeep, make sure it's a 4x4 with transfer case. The 2 wheel drive models aren't towable 4-down. However, 2 wheel drive models are fairly rare, so buying used you should mostly see 4x4s. Check for a '08 or later model without the wheel lock. They're much better to tow (don't have to leave key in ignition).

There's a third type of brake that Bryan doesn't mention - the permanent install type that uses air pressure or some other signal from the coach to activate the brake. Not a surge brake, and no box to install/remove when towing. What kind you'll want will depend on if your coach has air brakes or not.

joe
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Old 07-14-2012, 10:51 AM   #4
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BryanH gave you the run down accurately and you have it yourself. You do not mention cost so if that is not a huge concern then have at it there is a world of different choices.

If I were to do it over again I think I would look at the ReadyBrute set up and the surge tech going on right now. It seems to me it is the biggest bang for the buck and the easiest set up. Lots of used really good stuff on e-bay. Worth a look.

Since you have not purchased a tow I'll give a nod to the Honda CR-V, check out it's consumer facts, highest resale, highest safety ratings, highest reliability ratings, best buy every year of production.

But the Wrangler is a perenial favorite and has four wheel capacity not found in the CR-V.

Can't go wrong either way.
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Old 07-14-2012, 11:09 AM   #5
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The first reply had a good list. I will cover some additional stuff that is "Depending on the car"

Though most 4WD Jeeps are towable 4 down with out modification save for the brake'tail/turn lights and the tow bar and brakes listed in that post.

Some you might wish to add a switch to a fuse, there is a kit of this or you can home brew, (instructions say to pull the fuse but the kit is easier)

Some vehicles you need to disconnect the drive shaft, Remco Towing USA makes a kit to do that easily, or "Break" an axle (Front wheel drive) likewise, They also make a lube pump but I don't like active devies when passive devices can do the job.

Some cars, no matter what you do, towing 4-down (Or even on a trailer) is not recommended. That last is Lincoln products less you knwo where they hid a switch .
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Old 07-14-2012, 06:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingDiver View Post
Check for a '08 or later model without the wheel lock. They're much better to tow (don't have to leave key in ignition).
joe
Actually, the '09s are when the ignition lock was removed.
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Old 07-14-2012, 06:25 PM   #7
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All good advice so far.

As far as cost, members have reported getting set up for as little as about $1000 by purchasing used equipment and installing it themselves. If buying new and having it all installed, $3000 might be closer to the number.

Best of luck

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Old 07-14-2012, 07:16 PM   #8
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One comment I almost made above: I mentioned a switch or pull a fuse.... Modern cars, the brake lights work EVEN IF THE IGNITION IS OFF.

So even if you tow in the "OFF" position, IF you use a diode kit you should break that circuit. Again a simple switch or fuse will do the trick. If you use the "Add-a-bulb" or other type of tow light (Different from the stock tail light) ignore this post.
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Old 07-14-2012, 07:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich and Cork View Post
Actually, the '09s are when the ignition lock was removed.
And some late build '08s, I've been told.

joe
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Old 07-14-2012, 07:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
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If buying new and having it all installed, $3000 might be closer to the number.
Rick
About a year ago, I had a dealer install the following on my Honda FIT/Thor ACE:
Blue Ox Baseplate
Blue Ox Aventa LX Towbar
Wiring Harness & Diodes for Honda
Brakebuddy with wireless remote
Converted coach from 4 to 6 pin connector to run charge line to Honda battery.

The bill including labor came to a shade under $4000.
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Old 07-14-2012, 08:59 PM   #11
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I use the Ready Brake tow bar and surge brake. It is easy to hook up and works well. I tow a 2010 Honda Fit so it is light weight to begin with. ( about 2,600 # ) Handled 9 % grades with no issue.

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Old 07-14-2012, 09:18 PM   #12
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Thanks so much for all the replies - really helps a lot!

At least now I know what's needed to tow (and the cost helped a lot too!), so I can start shopping around and just researching some more online.

Boy, none of this RV-related stuff is cheap, is it, LOL!!!
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Old 07-14-2012, 11:06 PM   #13
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If you are planning on a aftermarket front bumper for the Jeep, you can connect the tow bar to D-rings on the bumper or simple brackets. No base plate needed - no base plate to get hung up on when off roading, no base plate to get dmamged, and money spent on a base plate.

I use a simple and inexpensive A frame tow bar. For lights just a set of magnetic lights. And a Brake Buddy via Craigslist.

Probably around $500-600 invested.

I have a 05' TJ Rubi currently, previousy a YJ, and several thousand miles flat-towing both.
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Old 07-14-2012, 11:27 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by go6car View Post

Boy, none of this RV-related stuff is cheap, is it, LOL!!!
Labor is a huge part of it. If you can twist your own wrenches it saves a pile of $$$$. Installing base plates/wiring etc isn't rocket science and there are lots of online sources for how to and wiring diagrams.
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