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Thread: Trailer hitch question.

  1. #1
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    Default Trailer hitch question.

    I'm picking up a 2018 Jeep Cherokee (yes, I got the V6 version) on Thursday. Trading in my trusty 2010 Wrangler. The new Jeep will need a trailer hitch. The dealer can install a factory hitch that comes through the bumper and is a good height off the ground. Downside is that it cost around $750.
    U-Haul or similar after market hitch can be had for around $300. Downside is that it comes out from under the bumper and reduces ground clearance. Another downside is that the hitch would be rather low.
    The question is this: If I get a ball mount that has a right angle rise to it of 5 inches or so, would that induce side twist to the hitch or cause any other problems not experienced in a straight ball mount? Another problem is the after market things are often out in plain sight and are rather ugly.
    Go cheap or go all the way? Feel free to send donations.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    I have used aftermarket hitches on a few vehicles.Hitch Doctor is the brand I remember. They have all been well engineered and quite robust. I would not worry much about the torque applied by an offset hitch. Some have required some fine tuning (i.e. a good smack with a BFH) of the exhaust system to eliminate all rattles. Never had a problem with ground clearance. As to appearance, it is a good idea to remove the ball mount from the socket when not in use for a while. They can get good and suck if left in too long.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Rich I know nothing about Jeeps. I use a VW van as my tow vehicle. I bought an after-market hitch that I bolted on myself. It comes out below the bumper but there is still enough clearance that I have never bumped anything. Of course this being a woosy van and not a macho four wheel drive, I don't go mudding with it.

    I use a riser type hitch, like you reference, that slips into the steel square tube receiver. I've not had it break or twist. I think that sort of problem is quite remote.

    All that said, I think you ought to get the fancy hitch if you plan on keeping this vehicle for long. I'm sending a donation...... later.

    Jeff

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    Rich I know nothing about Jeeps. I use a VW van as my tow vehicle. I bought an after-market hitch that I bolted on myself. It comes out below the bumper but there is still enough clearance that I have never bumped anything. Of course this being a woosy van and not a macho four wheel drive, I don't go mudding with it.

    I use a riser type hitch, like you reference, that slips into the steel square tube receiver. I've not had it break or twist. I think that sort of problem is quite remote.

    All that said, I think you ought to get the fancy hitch if you plan on keeping this vehicle for long. I'm sending a donation...... later.

    Jeff
    I plan on keeping it for many years, hopefully ten. I was the one who decided to get a Jeep, but it was my wife who decided that I wanted a black one. Her 2011 Volvo will now be known as the old "beater" car, good only for dump runs and grocery shopping.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Rich, even if the the hitch receiver comes out the bottom, it should still be higher than the differential and so not affect ground clearance.

    I use a drop adapter, tow7,000 -pounds ( and have towed heavier) have no issues with twisting.

    Note that you may be able to regain lost height by simply using one like this upside down.


    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Rich, I'm sure the factory hitch includes wiring for the lights. Does the aftermarket also?
    With the CANBUS systems on new cars trailer wiring can be a bit problematic. For a few hundred bucks on a new vehicles (under warranty) it might be worth the extra coin.
    Fight Entropy, build a wooden boat!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    I regularly use a 3.5" drop hitch on my pickup with a 10K trailer - no problem.

    That being said, I'd think the factory hitch might be a better idea - particularly as it'll use all factory wiring. Maybe see if the dealer will dicker some on the price?

    And - good point on the warranty mentioned above. The dealer install will be included in your warranty I imagine - the aftermarket one will have its own.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reynard38 View Post
    Rich, I'm sure the factory hitch includes wiring for the lights. Does the aftermarket also?
    With the CANBUS systems on new cars trailer wiring can be a bit problematic. For a few hundred bucks on a new vehicles (under warranty) it might be worth the extra coin.
    After market hitch price does include wiring. I'd like to go with the factory hitch, just have to convince the wife. After all, she's the one who wanted me to get a new car in the first place.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Save yourself the cash and go with the aftermarket unit. They are plenty strong. I've used 3 or 4 different brands without a fail. If you want pretty, check out "Hidden Hitch" offerings. The receiver is hidden behind the bumper on some models - don't know about your particular vehicle. Also, there are hitches that are adjustable so you can even change the height for different trailers.
    -Dave

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    www.etrailer.com They also sell the wiring harnesses for the trail lights.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    i have had both Wranglers and Cherokees(the original not the Grand) and have had both factory and after mkt receivers on both

    that being said i can say that mechanically/physically the after mkt units work

    the real issues are with the factory wiring systems vs the after mkt ones

    most of the after mkt wiring systems end up dangling beside the receiver whereas the factory systems are part of the hitch assembly and provide a firm base for the plug

    the plug provided w/ my factory towing pkg on the y2k Cherokee is a 7-flat blade unit which requires an adapter for the common flat 4-prong trailer plug

    i think(check me out) that your new Jeep will have 3 separate filaments on each side where the turn signals are independant of the brake light bulbs and this requires a little black box w/ diodes ... to rectify the 3 filament system to the 2 filament system on most trailers

    the factory wiring harness is a plug n play unit butt the after mkt unit may require the factory harness to be cut n spliced

    when you start monkeying around w/ the electrical system your factory warranty is in jeopardy

    SO check with the dealer and resolve these questions and check about the/any potential warranty issues

    get the answers to these questions in writing and signed by the dealer him/herself

    now back to the physical hitch

    the top of a ball should be aprox 15"-16" from ole terra firma w/ everything standing level(that'z about knee high±)

    when using stingers (like pictured above) you can turn them over to make a drop unit into a riser to achieve your needed height w/o any worry

    for a good selection of stingers goto Tractor Supply and match your weight and height requirements from their vast selection of products

    GOOD LUCK W/ YOUR QUEST

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Most tow-worthy vehicles I've seen in the past decade have a T-tap in the wiring harness to allow plug-and-play lighting additions. Haven't looked specifically at a Jeep, but e-trailer and others will have the details. On hitches, I've been very pleased with Curt recently. Good fit, often a couple different designs for a given vehicle, and nice finish.

    Most of the conversion modules (based on multi-filament bulbs, not necessarily multiplexed lighting architecture) use transistors to switch aux. 12V power to the various bulbs, which offer full-voltage, rather than diode steering schemes which drop voltage. This was more important before the days of LED lighting, though...

    Chip
    Last edited by Chip Chester; 11-28-2017 at 10:47 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default

    I recently wired a Volvo. It seems that the wiring for LED taillights isn't intended to run who knows what on a trailer. I had to buy a kit for the car that plugged into the harness in three places and also run a line to the battery from the controller box that was part of the kit. But it was all after market and works well.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip Chester View Post
    ... in the past decade ...

    ...transistors

    ...LED lighting...

    Chip
    Chip, you got me on this one

    my newest vehicle is a decade AND a half old

    and we aint gotz nuthin w/ them thar LEDs

    ¿ SEE ? old men can still learn a thing or 2

    THANKS for the update

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Swoody126's comment about an aftermarket install possibly screwing up the warranty on the electrical system made my mind up, I'll go with the more expensive factory install at the Jeep dealer. It's what I wanted to do in the first place. The good wife gave her blessing when I explained that the extra $400 over the ten years we own the car is a good investment.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Goodness, Rich. In my world, "many many years" is way more than ten. My van is an '01, I acquired it in '03. So that's 14 years that I've had it. I'm shooting for at least 20. Unless I get a bigger boat that demands a bigger tow vehicle. Some things are not negotiable!

    Jeff

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    I tow my working essentials long distances behind a VW Euro van using an enclosed trailer. Usually, I tow, around 1300mi from S. CA to Port Townsend each way. I would not even think of towing my gear without brakes on the trailer! I also like the lights and brakes to be connected by an easy to reach, weather resistant, plug. During winter tows, I often need to manually brake just the trailer if the road is icy. So, the slave unit has an easy to reach button in the cab. Works like having a drag chute, when needed. It has saved my bacon more than once!
    Jay

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    I had to put a kit on my (1986) VW vanagon that took the 5 wires it uses for lights down to the 4 that most small trailers use. Our '00 Suburban has a big circular multi-pin connector that works on my big trailer and has a plug-in adapter for the standard 4 wire flat if needed. I can't imagine the wiring has become any simpler with time, if I were outfitting a brand new tow vehicle I'd have the dealer do it too.
    Steve

    Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
    R.D Culler

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Quote Originally Posted by stromborg View Post
    I had to put a kit on my (1986) VW vanagon that took the 5 wires it uses for lights down to the 4 that most small trailers use. Our '00 Suburban has a big circular multi-pin connector that works on my big trailer and has a plug-in adapter for the standard 4 wire flat if needed. I can't imagine the wiring has become any simpler with time, if I were outfitting a brand new tow vehicle I'd have the dealer do it too.
    4 wire flat is standard for trailers with no brakes. The large one you are talking about is standard for trailers with electric brakes. The Suburban is big enough to haul a trailer that requires electric brakes - hence the large round connector. I too have an adapter for when I haul a non-braked trailer with my pickup.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    It's the end of the month. You should be able to get extras like this negotiated into the deal for half price or less.

    Or wait until January/February, when they're really starving for business.
    A boatless inlander, searching for the meaning of life-aground.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    4 wire flat is standard for trailers with no brakes.
    Trailers with no ELECTRIC brakes. Trailers with surge brakes use the four flat.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Figment View Post
    It's the end of the month. You should be able to get extras like this negotiated into the deal for half price or less.

    Or wait until January/February, when they're really starving for business.
    I think I got a pretty good deal, but I really hate car shopping because I'm not a wheeler-dealer. Some people love to haggle, I hate it.
    Anyway, the dealer has ordered the parts for the hitch. I'll pick up the car tomorrow and take it back to have the hitch installed. No real rush... not going to be launching any boats anytime soon during a Vermont winter!
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.


    That's a lot of buttons!
    Steve

    Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
    R.D Culler

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Trailers with no ELECTRIC brakes. Trailers with surge brakes use the four flat.

    Kevin
    Correct - I did mention 'lectric later - but shoulda there. I've never been a big fan of surge brakes and as Jay mentions above, turning on the trailer brakes by themselves when it's slippery is a really nice thing.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Quote Originally Posted by stromborg View Post

    That's a lot of buttons!
    Most of which I'll never use! It's going to take a while to learn all the gizmos on the touch-screen. I don't do Bluetooth or connect music devices or use apps. A simple radio is just fine with me. Phone calls can wait until I get home. In a pinch, I've got my trusty flip phone.
    I got the mid-level model, so it doesn't have all the bells of whistles, but it is a very nice car.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Rich, that Blue tooth thing is a blessing. Yes calls can wait til you get home, but we have already found the hands free, "call home" or "call John" feature a lifesaver.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    You plan to keep a Jeep for 10 years? Good luck. Get the extended warranty.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    You plan to keep a Jeep for 10 years? Good luck. Get the extended warranty.
    I don't know why Jeeps get a bad rap here. I've owned many of all types over the years with little or no problems. My Wrangler is now eight years old and I've done little more then change the oil.
    I'm picking up the car today and am still undecided on the extended warrantee. I'll probably take it depending on price.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    The early years of the Chrysler era left many jeep owners mentally scarred.

    Best of luck with this one, Rich. (and I do think they have most of the bugs worked out of that platform by now)

    I'm also in the "Bluetooth is a godsend" camp. I'm not even going to do a radio in the Ghia, just a Bluetooth receiver that will play whatever my phone feeds it.
    A boatless inlander, searching for the meaning of life-aground.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Had a hitch installed on my Audi wagon by U-Haul with a riser ball. Works fine.

    I would choke on $750 for a hitch especially on a Jeep which inherently is higher anyway.
    Gerard>
    Everett, WA

    Next election, vote against EVERY Republican, for EVERY office, at EVERY level. Be patriotic, save the country.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    I bit the bullet and had the dealer install the factory hitch. Nice clean look, no light connector wire dangling in space but rather a hinged flap concealing the connection. Wiring is tied in with the engine's computer. Expensive, but it doesn't detract from the car's appearance.
    The one major plus with this car is the back-up camera. Tried it out this morning and I can easily put the ball over the hitch. No more jumping in and out of the car, no more banging into the trailer.

    IMG_3847.jpg
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    Correct - I did mention 'lectric later - but shoulda there. I've never been a big fan of surge brakes and as Jay mentions above, turning on the trailer brakes by themselves when it's slippery is a really nice thing.
    Today, with anti-lock brakes on the tow vehicle this is largely a non-issue.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    In addition to the commonplace antilock brakes, my FJ has a vehicle rollover/stability system which informs that ABS system. In general driving I find this to be really annoying, as it tends to panic when the car pitches-forward in a not-quite-panic stop, and goes into full-panic-stop mode.
    Having said that, I will acknowledge that there were two occasions while heavy-ish towing with surge brakes when the brake-swerve-surge-swerve-brake sequence was actually handled very well by this system.
    A boatless inlander, searching for the meaning of life-aground.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    Today, with anti-lock brakes on the tow vehicle this is largely a non-issue.
    But they still don't give you the option of using the trailer to do the braking. Last year I picked up a small Kubota + a number of implements. Probably 5K lbs on a 2K trailer. The first 20 miles of my trip home were on small backroads covered with about 2" of wet snow. Using truck brakes simply slid the truck (even with the brakes set to bias towards the trailer) & begged the trailer to go first - IOW, not fun. Using the trailer brakes alone (& driving very slowly) I was able to control braking easily. Should I have been on the road with that load? Probably not, but it was 6PM, supposed to snow all night & at least those 20 miles from a motel.

    I wouldn't have had this option with surge brakes.

    @ Rich: The hitch looks great & I think it'll be nice having the tucked away factory setup.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Trailer hitch question.

    Do electric brakes survive being dunked into salt water?

    Jeff

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