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Old 05-07-2019, 08:27 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Southern California
Posts: 71
Towbar/base plate for 1996 Jeep Cherokee (cheap)!

Hey all,

Just got a '96 Cherokee at auction that I want to tow 4-down. I've been looking at Roadmaster and Blue Ox and Ready Brute but dang they are expensive.

Buying tow bars, base plate, brake system its all going to be more than the cost of the Jeep!

Any ideas for more inexpensive options?

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Old 05-07-2019, 09:47 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,258
Well, an inexpensive option would be a rope and a tow hook.

But I guess that's the point. Even though inexpensive, it's not safe to tow your Jeep behind a motorhome for long distances at freeway speeds using a rope.

Yes, it is expensive to set up a toad. However, we all know that going in and realize in order to be safe, we need good baseplates, a solid tow bar, and a reputable supplemental brake system.

I'm not sure if there's any way to get around what baseplates are going to cost but as you know, the installation cost is where you can save. Install the baseplates yourself. You'll save a bunch if you can do that. If you have reasonable mechanical skills, you should be able to make a weekend of it and especially if you have somebody help you that knows what they are doing ...or even if they don't, it's always nice to have help.

You can buy a used tow bar but there are pros and cons doing that as we have discussed on several threads here over the years. Some say they wouldn't even consider buying a used tow bar. Myself, I'd consider it if the cost was right and I could get it evaluated and inspected. It may have to be rebuilt or certain parts replaced but you still may be able to save some by going that route than buying a brand new one which, again, is definitely expensive.

Same with the supplemental brake system. I've heard some have picked up a used BrakeBuddy for a good price and happy with what they got. If you choose a system that is hard-installed in the vehicle, new is probably better but those systems will tend to be more pricier than the ones you take out when you're not using it like a BrakeBuddy and similar systems. Installing the breakaway, again, is something you can save money by doing yourself.

And wiring for brake and tail lamps, again, is something you can save a lot if you can do it yourself. However, perhaps to save even more money, using a magnetic tow light kit can be less expensive than using diodes or wiring in an additional bulb socket in tail lamp assembly, etc. A magnetic tow light kit is about $30-40 at Harbor Freight and even noticed it on sale for $12 with a coupon at Harbor Freight one time.

So there are some things you can do to make it cheaper but you don't want to be so cheap as to be unsafe. Others, I'm sure, will chime in with more ways to save.

Good luck!
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:56 AM   #3
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Caldwell Idaho
Posts: 71
Hard to save money on a base plate for a Cherokee. They are unibody construction which means there is no seperate frame to attach the base plate to so the base plate needs to be fairly complicated. Installation will also be somewhat more difficult because of this.

There are good buys on used tow bars, and I would not be afraid of one (in fact I have bought a couple). They are a pretty simple mechanism and there is not really much to "inspect" if you have modest mechanical abilities. Look for one that is being sold by the owner who has already sold his RV. The same is partially true for a braking system. Your Cherokee is not a heavy vehicle (almost identical weight to an early Jeep Wranger). However a problem cannot usually be detected until it is installed. A failure then is easy to detect and very unlikely to be dangerous if you fix it when it is discovered.
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Old 05-09-2019, 12:38 PM   #4
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Location: Muskoka Ontario Canada
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How about a used car hauler trailer with surge brakes on the trailer. I know its not four down, but a decent trailer could be a lot cheaper. On the plus side, you can use the trailer for other things as well. A dolly might be another option.
2000 coachmen santara 370 5.9 cummins isb
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Old 05-09-2019, 03:59 PM   #5
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Location: SW Louisiana
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I am in the process of setting up our 2017 Cherokee for TOAD duty, I have bought all the parts to do it, and through careful shopping, buying a used tow bar and 18 month old used Roadmaster Even Brake system my total expense is hitting right at $1,250. Though I must admit I got lucky on some of it buying open box Amazon deal for the safety cables, and catching the base plate on an Amazon mark down day ($275 instead of the regular $439 that it was the day before and 2 days after)
2002 Safari Trek 2830 on P32 Chassis with 8.1L w/ 400 watts solar 420Ah LiFePo4
2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland & 2007 Toyota Yaris TOADs with Even Brake,
Demco Commander tow bar and Blue Ox / Roadmaster base plates
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