Does towing a Jeep Wrangler put miles on it?

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Jeep Wranglers are one of the most popular models for RV owners to use as a secondary form of transport when on vacation. It means if you wish to explore the area around your campsite or simply get some groceries, you don’t have to pack up the RV.

A very common question asked about vehicles being towed is, will the mileage on the odometer increase as it is being towed? The honest answer, for most vehicles, is, maybe; it depends on the vehicle and the method of towing. If your vehicle has a mechanical odometer, towing it might put miles on the car, but if it has an electronic odometer then most likely not.

For the Jeep Wrangler, if the correct towing procedures are done, then no, the odometer will not record towed miles. What the correct towing procedure is, and you need to correctly tow your Jeep Wrangler, is explained below.

Towing a Jeep Wrangler  

Due to space and/or financial constraints, a trailer to tow your car isn’t always feasible, nor does it make a lot of sense if the car is perfectly drivable. For those RV owners who wish to have a car readily available, flat towing or dolly towing are the typical methods.

Without going into too much detail, both methods use a device to provide a fixed connection between the towing vehicle (like an RV) and the vehicle being towed. Flat towing, or 4-down towing, is most popular for vehicles like a Jeep Wrangler, whereas dolly towing is best suited to smaller, front-wheel-drive cars. Jeep themselves strongly advise not dolly towing the Wrangler.

You need a few things to flat-tow a vehicle like your Wrangler:

  • Towing hitch on the towing vehicle (RV)
  • Tow bar/A-frame to attach the vehicle being towed (Jeep)
  • Base plate (which is permanently installed on the vehicle being towed)
  • Safety chains
  • Tow wiring (for operating the lights and breakaway system)
  • Supplemental braking system for the towed vehicle (and breakaway braking system)
  • Brake actuator for the vehicle being towed
  • Stone guard (optional, to protect the vehicle being towed from stones)

There are often subtle differences between tow bars and how they connect, not to mention the way the wiring is done between various RVs and vehicles being towed. It is best to consult expert advice on your individual situation to ensure you have a proper understanding of the correct connection procedures.

Setting up your Wrangler before flat towing

Flat towing both the four-wheel-drive (4WD) and rear-wheel-drive (RWD) Wrangler is possible. Before flat towing a RWD Wrangler, you must disconnect the driveshaft to prevent damaging the car’s transmission.

Flat towing a 4WD Wrangler is a much simpler process and can take place almost entirely from the driver’s seat. It is absolutely essential to have the car’s transfer case in neutral, which disconnects both the front and rear driveshafts from the powertrain to prevent damage.

The procedure is more or less the same for all Jeep Wranglers from the TJ to JL (but if in any doubt always check your owner’s manual):

  1. Make sure the Jeep is on level ground
  2. Press and hold the brake pedal
  3. Shift the automatic transmission into NEUTRAL or press down the clutch pedal on a manual transmission.
  4. Shift transfer case lever into N (Neutral).
  5. Start the engine.
  6. Shift the transmission into REVERSE
  7. Release the brake pedal (and clutch pedal on manual transmissions) for five seconds and ensure that there is no vehicle movement.
  8. Shift automatic transmission into DRIVE, or manual transmission into FIRST gear.
  9. Release the brake pedal and ensure that there is no vehicle movement.
  10. Shut the engine off and place the ignition key into the ACC position (in older models, turn the ignition key to the UNLOCKED OFF position)
  11. Shift automatic transmission into PARK, or leave the manual transmission IN GEAR
  12. Apply the parking brake
  13. Attach the vehicle to the tow vehicle with the tow bar
  14. Release the parking brake
  15. Disconnect the negative battery cable, and secure it away from the negative battery post (recommended for some older JK models)

Before going to drive the vehicle after towing, the following procedure should be carried out to shift out of neutral:

  1. Leave the Jeep connected to the tow vehicle (and reconnect battery if it was disconnected)
  2. Apply the parking brake
  3. Start the engine
  4. Press and hold the brake pedal
  5. Shift the transmission into NEUTRAL
  6. Turn the engine off
  7. Shift the transfer case lever to the desired position

NOTE: When shifting the transfer case out of (N) Neutral, the engine should remain off to avoid gear clash.

  1. Shift the automatic transmission into PARK, or place the manual transmission in NEUTRAL
  2. Release the brake pedal
  3. Disconnect the vehicle from the tow vehicle
  4. Start the engine
  5. Press and hold the brake pedal
  6. Release the parking brake
  7. Shift the transmission into gear, release the brake pedal (and clutch pedal on manual transmissions), and check that the vehicle operates normally.

So, why does my Jeep Wrangler not put on miles when flat towing?

On older Jeeps with a mechanical speedometer, when the driveshafts are disconnected there is no way for the speedometer gear to be spun and record the mileage when being towed. For newer cars with an electronic speedometer, as long as the ignition is not ON, it cannot accumulate mileage when towing.

See Also:
Does Jeep Grand Cherokee Have 7 Seats
Can a Jeep Cherokee Go Off-Road?
3 Best Jump Starters For Jeep Wrangler
4 Best Winter Tires For Jeep Wrangler

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