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Towing with my specific MJ- What changes need to be made?

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So I HAVE read several threads on here and have done some internet searches, so please be gentle.


Specifically, I found these threads to be helpful:








So I am looking to tow a rally cross car about 20 miles on secondary roads about 7x a year. The car weighs about 2480lb. in stock form, but it has been stripped to under 2200lb. and will continue to decline to about 2100lb. The car will be towed on a dolly. It won't go over 40-45mph, and the roads are relatively flat. I won't have a lot of gear in the truck so additional payload will be minimal.


The truck is an '88 longbed 4x4 4.0L AW4 (Auto) with 94K. It has no modifications.


I intend to change the brake pads/shoes, flush the brake fluid, and change the F&R differential fluid. The trans fluid and oil have been changed regularly.


As far as the rear bumper, I have the Fey/Westin factory replacement, which I bolted directly to the frame rails by re-drilling the rails to match the bumper holes and the bumper has been installed using all new hardware. I intend to either look for a receiver hitch or (at a minimum) to create triangular tie-ins from the hitch ball to the frame rails, and will add rings for safety chains to the rails.


So with the estimated total amount being towed at 2500lb., what do I need to do to make the vehicle more tow-worthy?


Thanks in advance.

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I've never seen a dolly with brakes. For a 2500 pound vehicle going 20 miles, I think that's overkill.


I've towed an XJ on a VERY oversized 4-wheel car trailer behind a shortbed MJ, and I've also towed a complete longbed MJ on a dolly behind the shortbed MJ. The dolly was no problem at all -- without dolly brakes. The XJ on the car hauler was, because it was raining and the trailer kept trying to push the MJ under braking. (The trailer had brakes, but it was borrowed and the electrical connector didn't match my vehicle.)


Don't forget that a longbed MJ with the Metric Ton package is rated to carry 2200 pounds of payload in the vehicle. I don't think another 300 pounds makes a lot of difference.

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I am not familiar with every tow dolly ever manufactured. Only two, Roadmaster and Acme. The Roadmaster has electric brakes and the Acme has surge brakes. And yes, for a 20 mile trip dolly brakes are overkill, unless somebody pulls out in front of you or a kid, animal runs out into the road. Also many people use dollys for more than a 20 mile trip. Try going down Graneros hill, Monarch Pass or Wolf Creek with a car on a dolly pushing you. You will not only wish you had dolly brakes but also a ton of bricks to drag. Also several states and Canadian provinces require them.

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About 1974, my dad and I flat towed a Corvair Rampside truck with a full cab over camper, total weight 4,000 lbs behind a 1964 Chevy Impala Wagon with a 283 V8 and powerglide automatic. The engine moved the load, with some protest. The Wagon had 9.5 inch drum brakes at all 4 wheels. We dragged the Corvair camper more than 300 miles home (and over the 4160 ft. Tejon Pass). Not a very good Idea, but we drove slowly and allowed a ton of room for stopping distance. Even then we did not have to make an emergency/panic stop. If we did, we would have been toast.


When towing, stopping is the biggest problem. Was 40 years ago, still is today. Take care of the stopping and don't worry about how much weight the engine has to pull. If the truck can not pull the load, you will smoke your clutch or transmission. If you can not stop, you will smash your truck, and your body. If you survive the wreck, you can get another truck and what ever you were towing. It is just metal.


Yes, I had a wreck towing a trailer in 1999. Both the dog and I were just fine. SUV and trailer got fixed. (And brakes had nothing to do with the accident).

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Sorry for starting a thread then not responding to replies for a day...




That said, my wife gets on me for over-explaining the scenario when telling stories, but I try to give all of the facts so that people can advise me appropriately. In this case, I left out one very important fact that renders moot several posts above:


I already own the dolly, and it does not have brakes.


So with that additional factor, it seems that I need to focus on full function of the brakes, extra cooling for the transmission, and general mechanical well-being.


I have towed trailers with this truck in the past (on the since-replaced stock bumper) and had no trouble so long as I took it easy and allowed safe distances (like driving in snow).


I may look at a rear axle swap at some point, but with brakes being the most important element, my initial focus will be there.


Please keep posting recommendations.

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Brakes on the dolly, it's the only way I would tow.


Also, you'll have very little tongue weight with the dolly so you'll have very little braking at the rear. You may have great brakes on the truck but you'll lose traction before you lose brakes.



When you see these 6000lb dually trucks pulling 10Klb 5th wheels.........the tandem trailer axles have brakes. When set up properly the trailer will do 70-80% of the braking. The trailer stops the truck.....the truck doesn't stop the trailer.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The problem is not carrying the payload. The problem is trying to stop an extra 3000 pounds with already marginal brakes.


I don't consider the MJ brakes to be marginal. The base payload for an MJ was 1475 pounds. Your original post said the car will weigh 2100 pounds. I don't think a dolly weighs anywhere near 900 pounds. As I wrote, I towed a complete LWB MJ on a dolly behind my SWB MJ with the stock brakes (Dana 35 axle, so I have the smaller 1-3/4x10" brakes). My tow was farther than 20 miles and involved hilly terrain (which is all we have around here). I had zero problems.

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...and a tranny cooler...you'll want a bigger one than the "stock" one, that is if you have a stock one.


For what the OP wants to do.... I don't think its necessary. Pulling 3kish 7 times a year, and not going over 45MPH, I would hardly worry. People like to over-think things....

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