I’ve been a Jeep owner for a while, and I’m always on the lookout for new ways to keep my vehicle in tip-top shape. One of the best ways is flat towing, which allows me to travel without worrying about anything getting damaged.
Generally, towing a Jeep can be an arduous task, especially when off-roading. As such, I’ve compiled a guide to help you understand how flat towing works and why it’s such an effective way of taking your car on long trips without risking any damage. Read on!
What Is Flat Towing?
Flat towing is an excellent method of safe transportation for any Jeep owner. As the name might suggest, flat towing involves attaching a tow bar to a suitable car, SUV, or pickup and letting the vehicle roll along behind the motorhome on its own four tires. This ensures that the Jeep isn’t subjected to unnecessary stress and strain, allowing it to arrive at its destination in perfect condition.
Currently, you can get several flat tow bars on the market. However, every car has its specific tow bar. They include the following:
Aerodynamic tow bars
These are the widely used type of flat tow bars. They work by rotating the Jeep’s front axle forward and attaching it to the tow bar undercarriage. This essentially forces the Jeep to lie flat, minimizing drag while allowing you to pull your car behind you.
Motorhome universal towing systems
These flat tow bars are designed for use with motorhomes and larger SUVs, allowing you to pull up to 40% more weight than other types.
Motorhome pintle hitch towing systems
They are specifically designed with large vehicles and can tow up to 50% more weight than other models. However, these bars aren’t ideal for smaller cars, and you should check the size of a particular model before use.
One-piece tow bars
As the name might suggest, one-piece tow bars consist of a single tow bar. They are highly reliable and can be used to tow any size Jeep. However, they do require some assembly before use, although this is an easy process.
Can a Jeep Be Flat Towed?
When flat towing a Jeep, the tow bar itself is attached to the front axle. This means that you can flat tow any Jeep. However, some models aren’t suitable for flat towing. These include:
Jeeps with skid plates
Skid plates protect your vehicle’s undercarriage and attaching a tow bar underneath your car is likely to damage them. As such, always check the underside of your vehicle before flat towing.
Jeeps with tow hooks
Tow hooks are specifically designed for towing purposes and attaching a tow bar beneath them will put too much stress on the wheels, leading to potential road accidents. Always remove your tow hooks if flat towing your Jeep.
If you have aftermarket mud flaps fitted to your vehicle, you’ll need to remove them before flat towing. This is because they get in the way of the tow bar, which can damage them or get stuck beneath them. If possible, remove them entirely before flat towing.
Can You Flat Tow a Jeep with Automatic Transmission?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to flat towing automatic transmission Jeeps. The first faction claim that you can, provided that your Jeep is fitted with an electronic brake control system.
On the other hand, the other faction claims that automatic cars should never be flat towed. The reason being there’s the risk of damaging the transmission after prolonged use.
As such, if you have an automatic transmission Jeep, I recommend checking with your mechanic to conduct an assessment and issue a recommendation based on your Jeep’s transmission.
However, if you decide to flat tow an automatic Jeep, ensure you obliterate the front axle. This will reduce the risk of damage to the transmission. Also, avoid lifting or raise the car at all.
How Fast Can You Flat Tow a Jeep?
Flat towing a Jeep at a maximum stretch beyond several factors. They include:
The type of engine in your Jeep, e.g., V6 and V8
Jeeps with a larger engine may need more time to reach the desired speed. This means that you’ll have to follow slightly slower, particularly if you’re traveling on a single-lane road.
The type of gear you’re in
If possible, always choose a higher gear and avoid using your Jeep’s lower gears. Lower gears increase the risk of damage and reduce engine power.
The size of your flat tow bar
Unlike larger bars, smaller bars have a lower towing capacity, and it takes longer to reach the desired speed.
If the weather conditions are bad or the roads are wet, you should reduce your speed and ensure towing safety.
Weight of your Jeep
If possible, never flat tow a Jeep that weighs above its manufacturers’ towing capacity. Overloading can damage your vehicle and reduce brake efficiency.
Weight of your flat tow bar
Like with the weight of your Jeep, it’s not a good idea to overload your flat tow bar. If it’s overloaded, you risk damaging your Jeep or flat tow bar. Also, avoid using a flat tow bar that has excessive rust and wear and tear.
Does Flat Towing a Jeep Add Miles to the Odometer?
Yes. Flat towing a Jeep will add miles to the odometer. This is because when your vehicle is moving, it registers its rolling resistance and deducts it from your current mileage. However, when you’re stationary or not using the accelerator pedal, this resistance isn’t deducted and added to your total mileage.
Can You Flat Tow a Jeep without Brakes?
Yes. Provided you’ve removed the front axle and disengaged your parking brake. However, this isn’t advisable. Flat towing without brakes can damage your transmission and cause engine damage due to lack of lubrication.
Depending on the severity of these issues, you may be unable to drive your car after you’ve flat towed it. For this reason, I recommend wearing a pair of tow straps when flat towing without brakes.