Pulling Your XJ To The Next Adventure: The Pros and Cons When Towing Your XJ Behind An RV

On the return from another camping trip in southern Arizona, I had the chance to reflect on memories that camping did not used to include the luxuries of a Recreational Vehicle, or RV.  Far from the past’s canvas tent, roughing it in an RV is now complete with the creature comforts of a traditional home with the ability to bring along my XJ Cherokee.

Paired along with that XJ, an RV is your personal paradise at the location of your choice, with a side of adventure. Towing behind your RV will require the use of a Tow Dolly, Bumper Pull Trailer, or a Flat Tow option utilizing your Jeeps own four wheels.

Options and Things to Consider:

  • Tow Dolly
  • Bumper Pull Trailer
  • Flat Towing
  • Tire Tread Wear and Tear

The versatility of owning an XJ Cherokee surpasses the option of a small car or Off-Highway Vehicle like a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV), or Dirt Bike; all of which that can be towed behind a RV. If you’re reading this article, you are already a fan of the XJ.

Pros of the Tow :

Having minimal weight behind your RV saves you in time and money. XJs can weigh around 3,200 pounds, depending upon your aftermarket budget of course, making it a lightweight option in comparison to other Jeep models.  Less weight behind you will help provide some efficiency in your RV’s gas tank. You’ll spend fewer dollars in the tank while also devoting more time out on the road than at the pump.

Some people are thinking why not just get a car.  Off-Highway use is my answer to that! The ability to have the option of jumping on and off the road. Never again will you have to blink an eye at a road sign requiring high clearance while still being able to cruise down Main Street. Your options for RV camping just got much wider!  The XJs size and weight gives you the option on how you want to tow your rig behind the RV.  It is absolutely perfect for this kind of adventure.

Options of Towing:

Being a compact SUV, the XJs are big enough to tow on their own four wheels. A Tow Bar Hitch can be purchased and installed to the front frame rails or to the bumper mount of your XJ and attached to tow hitch of your RV. A specific feature for the RV Mounted Tow Bar , is that the tow bar is installed directly into the hitch of the RV eliminating the need for a copular creating a stable connection between RV and XJ. When you’re ready to detach, simply discount the Jeep!

A Tow Dolly is basically a trailer for the front wheels, only. Going with this option would require your XJ to be driven up a small ramp until your front tires are between two outside tires. The dolly is then connected to the RV by a traditional copular-hitch system. Your back tires would stay connected on the highway as the front end is supported by the dolly and pulled by the XJ. Fair warning, a tow dolly is notoriously difficult to back up in.

Then you can always drive your precious XJ cargo onto a bumper pull, flatbed trailer. A dual axle, 16-foot trailer will take care of the weight easily and if for some fluke reason your XJ doesn’t run, you can tow it home. This does require you to store the trailer at your next camping destination and could get you over the legal length limit for the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Cons of the Tow:

No matter the selection of your XJ towing, there are some full-sized risks involved. Besides loading up onto a bumper pull trailer, other towing options will put your XJ at risk for drive train damage and unnecessary tread loss; two very costly mistakes.

Both the flat tow and dolly tow options will absolutely require you to disconnect the driveshafts.  Simply placing the transmission and transfer case into neutral will not guarantee drive train from malfunctioning. The internal gears will continue to spin under tow and depending upon your distance, this can accelerate the wear and tear of your components, or worst, explode your transfer cases.  Prior to towing in this fashion, you should make sure the transmission and transfer case is serviced.  Many people do, tow in this fashion because they have been told that the XJ is free from issue when towing flat.  This is a popular misconception.  You can combat this issue by disconnecting both front and rear driveshafts from the differentials and tie them up to the frame. The U-Joints that are now loose, simply tape or tie them up to keep them intact.  Please for the sake of your sanity, double check to make sure your hubs are not locked!

Another con for towing the XJ under these conditions is unnecessary tread wear of your tires. In a flat tow, the front tires will be subject to the most stress as the steering is constantly trying to fight the pull of the RV, especially since you will need to lock your steering wheel so that the tires are straight.

If your XJ is suited with tires rated for off-highway terrain, not for the street, you could be committing tire suicide over the constant road miles being towed behind the RV.   The hard road will be chewing away the tacky grip of your terrain or mud grip tires.  If you are considering going with a Tow Dolly, be advised that you will have trouble finding a dolly that fits over sized tires.

Summary:

Camping in an RV brings you adventure off the beaten path but being paired with a XJ Cherokee lets that path be a little longer and not so confined!  Convenience in on and off-road capabilities, an XJ Cherokee is the RV ultra-companion with being light in weight, and comes with many options to unhook and go!  So, remember to check your trailer connections folks and I will see you on the trail.

Andrea Kepler for www.RatedXJ.com

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