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Jeep Wrangler Towing and Hitches: A Guide

Jeep Wrangler Towing and Hitches: A Guide

Jeep Wranglers are the “do-anything, go anywhere” vehicle. Naturally in the world of going places hitches will find a home. Now, towing an RV or pulling another vehicle isn’t typically on that agenda for a Jeep Wrangler, but small trailers are. We’re going to explore some of the capabilities and accessories available to each generation of Jeep Wranglers to help you better understand what you can add to your list of things to do with your Wrangler.

Shop Wrangler Receiver Hitches

Complete your jeep with the flexibility to take on any outdoor challenge. From storage to light towing there are tons of accessories and racks that find their homes on the receiver hitch.

Shop Jeep Hitches

JK (2006-Present): Towing an Hitches

With the JK Wrangler being the newest and most powerful Wrangler ever, it’s no surprise you can find the highest towing capacity here. These models have some trailer hitches ranging up to 5,000 lbs. towing capacity.

They aren’t massively more capable than the prior generation, but you can rest assured that with the bigger, more powerful drivetrains they can pull the payload a bit more comfortably.

So much so you may not be out of your wits to consider pulling a small trailer to the ranch to stay outdoors for the weekend. Also, some bumper mounted hitches are available, but nothing unseen by the prior generation.

JK Hitch Summary:

  • Variance in hitch types
  • 5,000lb average maximum towing capacity

TJ (1997-2006): Towing and Hitches

For the TJ generation, you’re going to see bumper mounted hitches. They are specific to particular bumpers if this is the type of hitch you opt for. They aren’t the only type of hitch available. Instead, you will see chassis-mounted hitches that mount the receiver below the bumper appear. This mounting style is stronger but a little more tedious when it comes to the installation.

These newer Jeeps with this type of hitch also have a much higher tow rating than the proceeding generation. They can pull up to 4,000 lbs., allowing you to pull around much more than a small trailer with a quad. Small enclosed trailers fall in this category. Also, if that buddy of yours has a lake on his piece of property you can pull your boat up for an awesome weekend fishing trip.

TJ Hitch Summary:

  • Variance in hitch types
  • 4,000-lbs. average maximum towing capacity
  • Chassis mounted hitches

YJ (1986-1995): Towing and Hitches

For the Jeep YJ, rear bumpers are a bit limited in the aftermarket. Just about everything you’re going to find is designed to mount to the rear bumper. That does mean you have to pay extra attention to the kind of bumper you’re working with.

Some are meant to work with the factory bumper, whereas others are designed to work with aftermarket rear bumpers. Some manufacturers do have specific hitches that work with their bumpers, and some hitches are meant to work on a particular style of bumper such as tubular.

The biggest advantage of this tubular design is it’s something relative to a modular set up. This means you can easily pop one of the hitches on for when you need them, and when you don’t they’re just as easy to remove.

The high end of these hitches lands somewhere around 2,000 lbs., perfect for pulling around a small trailer with some goodies loaded onto it. If you’re not into thrashing on your Jeep for the weekend, and instead are looking to pull your four-wheeler to your buddies ranch, the Jeep YJ can get you there with zero problems. 

Jeep YJ Hitch Summary:

  • Hitches are specific to bumpers
  • 2,000-lbs. average maximum towing capacity
  • Easy installation and removal

Hitch Accessories, Miscellaneous Capabilities, and a Word on Tongue Weight

When considering a hitch for a Jeep Wrangler it’s important to understand you might not always be looking to tow something. In fact there are many reasons to consider a hitch.

One particular reason would be for added storage. You might be looking through the options available and find you can pick up a 2-inch receiver or 1.25-inch. The larger 2-inch receiver handles more stress of the two, and you may wonder why even bother with the smaller receiver.

Well, the smaller receiver is perfect for smaller accessories such as a bike rack. The larger hitches are more money, and if you’re investing in an already expensive rack system it’ll make a lot more sense to pick up the smaller receiver. Not to mention, most rack systems are meant to work with the smaller receiver out of the box.

Added storage can be heavy and it may be sketchy to hang it up on a smaller hitch. Heavy cargo may find itself in a cargo basket that mounts to a receiver hitch. This upgrade is perfect for road trips with friends as the luggage can be held outside allowing everyone to ride along comfortably.

It’s not the end of the world if you’re looking for a bike rack either. If the model you want only works with a smaller receiver and you already bought the larger one, adapters are available. Remember with an adapter the hitch’s capacities are reduced some so don’t get carried away.

One should also consider tongue weight, or just how much weight you should safely load into the receiver say when inserting a motorcycle carrier into your Jeep Wrangler’s receiver. The rule of thumb is 10% of GWT (Gross Trailer Weight), but no more that 15% of GTW. This means a YJ should only consider carrying 200 lbs. of weight on the tongue, such as a smaller dirt bike, but no more than 300 lbs. We’d stick with the 10% side just to be safe.

Let’s say you’ve been shopping already and came across some front mounted receiver hitches. You may be wondering what exactly these are for. Well, the answer is simple; they are for pulling the Jeep around. Let’s say you’re going to your buddie’s ranch with your RV and you want to bring the Jeep along for some weekend wheeling. You simply hook up the Jeep to the RV and pull it along with you.

It may seem like a big goofy chunk of metal on the front of your Jeep when you’re not pulling it around and you might be conflicted by even pulling it off when you must put it right back on when you leave. Not to worry. You can put that bad boy to use on the trail. Winches are a must when you’re out in the woods and you could get pretty bummed out without them.

A bumper you can fix a winch to can be a hefty investment. The perfect solution to these problems is a receiver type winch mount. That’s right, when you’re not hauling that Jeep around you can slide a winch into that receiver for your weekend of fun.

Jeep Wrangler Cargo Basket
Cargo Basket Hitch Mount
Fitment includes: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, YJ, TJ, JK, JL, Laredo, Sport, Islander, S, Sahara, Renegade, SE, X, Rubicon, Unlimited, Sport-S