Towing a Trailer with a Jeep Wrangler

Custom Fit Trailer Hitch

A Jeep Wrangler can take you over rough terrain and up steep inclines, but it can be tricky to tow with it safely. Whether you are towing a boat trailer, small utility trailer or camper, your Jeep Wrangler requires four components for safe towing:


Jeep Wrangler towing a teardrop-style camper







Trailer Hitch Receiver

Two types of hitches can be mounted on the rear of a Jeep Wrangler for towing:


receiver hitch

Receiver Hitch



High Rock Rear Bumper Hitch

Bumper Hitch


See our Trailer Hitch Installation Tips for more information on installing your hitch.







pin and clipballmount

Ball Mount and Pin and Clip

A ball mount (also called a "drawbar") fits into the hitch opening and provides a platform for mounting the ball. Find the correct ball mount for your Jeep by measuring from the top of the receiver hitch opening to the ground. Then, after leveling the trailer, measure from the bottom of the trailer coupler to the ground. The difference in these two measurements will tell you whether you need a ball mount with a rise or drop. In most cases you will need a "drop."


A pin and clip holds the ball mount securely in the trailer hitch receiver. Choose your pin and clip according to the size of your trailer hitch receiver.


A hitch lock and coupler lock deter theft of your trailer and add a layer of protection to keep your components secure while you are towing.


For more information, see our Choosing the Correct Ball Mount page.







hitch ball

Trailer Hitch Ball

A hitch ball sits on the ball mount and provides an attachment point for the trailer. Hitch balls are available in three different sizes, 1-7/8", 2" and 2-5/16", which are a measurement of the ball's diameter and should be the same as the coupler of the trailer you plan to tow. The trailer coupler will be stamped with the size ball it requires.


For more information, see our Trailer Hitch Balls information page.







vehicle wiring harness

Wiring Harness

To power the lights on a trailer, you will need a wiring harness that runs from your Jeep to the trailer connector. You can use our Wiring Fitguide to find the custom-fit wiring harness for your model Jeep.


Note: 1987-1990 YJ Canada models must be hardwired. See our Wiring Fitguide for our selection of wiring accessories. Wiring harnesses above provide basic wiring functions (turn, tail and stop).






Special Concerns

Capacity

The towing capacity of the Jeep Wrangler can vary by model year and equipment; consult your owners manual for more information. Jeep Wranglers tend to have a towing capacity of 3,500 to 4,000 lbs. This means that the loaded weight of your trailer (weight of trailer plus all gear) should not exceed this weight range. Also be aware that you are limited by the lowest-capacity product in your towing system, whether it is the hitch, ball mount or ball. Make sure that these components have the same capacity as your hitch.



friction sway controlweight distribution system

Weight Distribution and Sway Control

Adding weight distribution to your trailer helps to keep your Jeep and trailer level and distributes the load you are carrying more evenly. Adding sway control can help your trailer withstand gusts created by sharing the road with large trucks or towing in strong winds. Sway control is particularly helpful with enclosed trailers that have a large surface area.


See our Common Weight Distribution and Sway Control Questions page for more details.



transmission cooler

Transmission Cooler

For those Wranglers with automatic transmissions, towing a trailer can make your transmission work harder, thereby heating the transmission fluid to high levels. A transmission cooler keeps your transmission fluid cool and reduces the chance of overheating or excess wear on your transmission.


Check out our Transmission Cooler Fitguide for more information.



brake controller

Brake Controller

If you have electric brakes on your trailer, you will need a brake controller to operate them. The brake controller sends a signal back to the trailer brakes that coincides with your Jeep's brakes. You will also need a Brake Controller 7- and 4-Way Installation Kit or ETBC7 (or for a 6-way connector, an ETBC6) that includes all the wiring you need to upgrade from a 4-way plug.


For more information on brake controllers, see our Trailer Brake Controller information page.





Questions and Comments about this Article

Nic M.

Are there any local retailers that would have the ETBC7 kit? I've seen other kits that are similar, but like the way yours is set up. Also, for a 2005 LJ Rubicon, which controller would you recommend? 97320

Reply from Jon G.

We actually put all the parts together here for the # ETBC7 kit so nobody else has this exact same kit to offer. I actually really like the Redarc Tow-Pro Elite # 331-EBRH-ACCV2 for Jeeps because it has 2 different modes that make it perfect for towing on the highway or off-road. Since a lot of Jeep owners like to go overlanding with a trailer this gives the perfect amount of control for that type of trip. If you'll just be sticking to the roads and you want something a bit more wallet friendly then my next choice is the Primus IQ # TK90160 . 72786

Reply from Nic M.

@JonG thanks! I ended up putting this kit together after watching the installation video and a few trips to different auto lart stores. The hardest thing to find was the duplex 10ga wire, but a local shopp hooked me up. I wish had bought a better controller. Since my jeep has a manual transmission, it worked OK. I'll probably wire in a better one eventually. 72788

David B.

I have a 2012 Wrangler JK. I am only looking to tow my boat/trailer (total weight about 4300lbs) in and out of the water. I will not be taking it on the roads. My jeep is rated for 3500lbs. Any foreseeable issues with this? I know I’d be pushing it but just wanted to see if there is any leeway. 96396

Reply from Chris R.

I wish I could say this is okay but I just can't recommend exceeding the capacity of your Jeep, even if it truly is just to launch and load at the lake. This could still lead to damage on the vehicle and anything that happens would certainly void the Jeep's warranty. 71166

Derek L.

I have a 2013 wrangler rubicon unlimited with manual transmission. I'm towing a very light camper (less than 3k with full tanks). Problem is, it keeps throwing a check engine light for TORQUE REQUEST DENIED and then going into limp mode. I'm towing extra weight obviously, and that means it takes more throttle to accelerate. I'm guessing the Jeep system doesn't know I'm towing (no tow mode or towing button) so it thinks theres a problem. How can I remedy this issue? More horsepower? Haha 94524

Reply from Chris R.

I've not heard of this happening before. Check your owner's manual to be sure, but I don't believe you're exceeding the Jeep's towing capacity with that trailer. I would honestly check with a local Jeep dealer - there might be more going on here that needs to be repaired on the vehicle. 70001

Reply from Derek L.

@ChrisR It also had a CEL for camshaft sensor come on at the same time. Dealer has never heard of a towing-triggered CEL like this before, so that's good news. One thing they did say is if the oil is dirty, it can cause an issue with the cam phaser. I took a second look at my oil change records and the oil had 5k miles on it at the time. I'm thinking for towing, I should go down to doing oil changes every 3k miles instead of whatever the default mileage is. I've been changing the oil whenever the dash instructs me to do so. I'll be running some seafoam before changing the oil, then towing again in a couple weeks 70002

Reply from Chris R.

@DerekL I think that's a great idea. Just let us know if anything else comes up after changing the oil. 70268

Rey

My 2014 2 door Jeep Wrangler Manuel states the max towing weight is 2,000lbs, is there there anyway I could LEGALLY add an increase on the towing weight or am I just COL (Crap Out of Luck). I hope this is NOT THE CASE? HELP! 91982

Reply from Chris R.

I wish I had better news for your but you are always going to be limited to that 2,000 pound tow capacity, regardless of what you add to the Jeep. 69696

Kim

I have a 2020 Jeep Wrangler sport unlimited 2.0 4 cylendar Turbo. Can I pull a dual axel trailor with brakes ? If so what equipment do I need to install? 86203

Reply from Chris R.

This would depend on the actual loaded weight of the trailer. As long as it falls below the Jeep's towing capacity (which can be found in the vehicle's owner's manual) there shouldn't be a problem. 68166

Ken Z.

1 I have 35 tires on my Jeep I can email pics… My concern is, will there be enough clearance between the rear mounted spare & the trailer jack on a lightweight travel trailer. Ive noticed the tongues on lightweight travel trailers are VERY short. I know I cant use an extension because they reduce the towing capacity by 50.2 According to my window sticker, my Jeep rear gear ratio is rated for 3,500 lbs - can I safely tow a trailer with GVW of 3,500? Do I need to add a transmission cooler? Do I need to add electric brakes for a 3,500 lb travel trailer? 75661

Reply from Chris R.

It's possible that the spare tire on your Jeep could interfere with a trailer jack, but I would think even shorter tongues will give you enough clearance. Since it sounds like you're still looking for trailers, I recommend simply measuring the distance from the center of the hitch pin hole on your Jeep's hitch receiver to the outer edge of the spare tire. You can use this dimension when you're at the trailer dealer to compare it to various tongue lengths, etc. If your Jeep has a 3,500 pound towing capacity then it can handle a trailer with a 3,500 pound GVW, also keeping in mind that the GVW represents the MOST that trailer can weigh when fully loaded - so most likely it actually ends up under that number. I think electric brakes would be a great idea if they don't already come on the trailer - I've linked our 3,500 pound brake selection below. Adding a trans cooler will also really help to extend the life of that Jeep. If you can tell me its model year I'd be happy to make a specific recommendation. 61807

Jerome K.

I have a 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK 2-door.I am looking for the heavy duty receiver for the Jeep that would work best with a weight control distribution system.Jeep manufacturer says the maximum rating load for my Jeep is 4,500 lb GVW I am looking to pull a trailer from 17 to 21 foot 2 axle electric brake.What are your recommendations for my Jeep? 71615

Reply from Chris R.

The highest rated hitch available for your 2018 JK Wrangler is the Draw-Tite # 76104 , which matches the Jeep's capacity of 4,500 pounds when used with a WD system. If you also need wiring and/or a trailer brake controller just let me know! 58618

Reply from Ray B.

I have been told that my jeep (2019 JL 4 door Rubicon with factory tow package) only has a capacity of 3500 lbs. Do you have documentation supporting the 4500 lbs number or can you tell me where I can find it? I definitely plan to use a WD system. None of the trailer dealers I have talked will sell me anything that puts me over 3500 lbs. 60456

Reply from Chris R.

It's certainly possible that your 19 JL Rubicon has a lower tow rating than Jerome's 18 Wrangler mentioned above. If your owner's manual lists a 3,500 pound capacity and the dealer is telling you the same, this is definitely the limit I recommend adhering to. If you haven't already, you can contact a local Jeep dealer with your VIN and they should be able to pull up all of these specs too for verification. 61548

Reply from Peter

@JeromeK Did you able to get the right receiver or your Jeep Wrangler able to tow up to 4500 lbs ? I am in the similar situation and finding mixed feedback. I recently bought 2020, JL 2 door wrangler with the original factory fitted class 2receiver 3500 lbs ratings and Jeep has a rating of 5000 pound GVW. My car manual says 2000 lbs max towing capacity on one side and 3500 lbs with class 2 receiver on other side. I am confused and perplexed as I can’t risk towing a decent size trailer if not sure. 63507



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