A tow bar is a piece of equipment that is attached to the wrangler’s chassis to help in towing other vehicles, a trailer, and any other towable equipment. There are two main location points for a tow bar on a jeep wrangler. Below the content is all about how to install tow bar base plate and tow bar on jeep wrangler
A rear tow bar and a front tow bar. A front tow bar is used towing for towing the wrangler to which it is installed onto. This happens when your wrangler develops mechanical issues and needs to be towed by another vehicle or is used to tow the wrangler out of tricky situations when off-roading.
A front tow bar is used in place of a winch where a winch cannot be used or there is no winch installed on the wrangler. Some wranglers do come with tow bars while others do not. Those that lack tow bars are older models or lower trim wranglers.
What to consider when getting a tow bar for jeep wrangler?
The first thing to consider when buying a tow bar is, what type of tow bar are you gonna get. There are two types of tow bars, Fixed tow bars, and detachable tow bars. These are further divided into swan neck tow bars and flange style tow bars depending on how they are designed.
Fixed tow bar
This type of tow bar is permanently fixed on your wrangler but you can remove it in case of damages or when undertaking other repairs that need it removed.
You can install a fixed tow bar on your wrangler if you mean to use it constantly as it saves you the hassle of removing and installing it every time you want to use it and when you are not using it. Fixed tow bars are also a cheaper option as compared to detachable tow bars.
There is a downside to fixed tow bars, mostly the look of it when you are not towing anything on your wrangler. Most wrangler owners see the tow bar ruining the wrangler’s aesthetics.
There is also a possibility of getting injured when you pass near the tow bar as it protrudes outwards of the wrangler’s body. Fixed tow bars are also heavier as compared to fixed tow bars but they do not affect your wrangler’s suspension or fuel economy in any way, the weight only becomes a nuisance during installation.
Detachable tow bars
A detachable tow bar can be removed from your wrangler when not in use, some have an electric motor that helps in concealing the tow bar underneath the car when not in use.
This type of tow bar is best suitable for occasional towing or if you prefer a tow bar that does not affect the looks of your wrangler when you’re not using it.
A detachable tow bar is more convenient than a fixed tow bar as it can be removed and installed whenever necessary. It is also safer due to its installation features.
Most electricity-powered detachable winches have a feature that assists you in knowing whether whatever you are towing is safely secured onto the tow bar.
There is a misconception that detachable tow bars are weaker and less reliable than fixed tow bars. Detachable tow bars have the same reliability and strength as fixed tow bars if both are of the same towing capacity.
Flange style tow bar vs swan neck tow bar
A flange style tow bar has the tow bar attached to a flange plate with a neck using bolts then attached to the wrangler’s frame or to a bar that is attached to the vehicle’s frame.
A swan neck tow bar is a towbar that has both the neck and the tow ball attached as a complete piece that is attached to the wrangler frame or a bar that is connected to the wrangler frame.
Both flange style and swan neck tow bars serve the same functions and it is up to the user to choose which design he prefers on a fixed or detachable tow bar. Most prefer the swan neck tow bar due to its neat looks and it is narrower than the flange style tow bar.
- Towing capacity
Different tow bars have different towing capacities. If you are going for a front tow bar ensure it can hold the weight of your wrangler and any extra added weight of what you are towing are carrying.
A good front tow bar should be able to hold the total weight of your wrangler and the maximum towing capacity. Tow bars with a higher towing capacity are more expensive but are more durable than cheap ones since the cheap ones are made of weaker metals and do not last long.
You need electricals that connect whatever you are towing to the wrangler’s electrical system. It is illegal to tow any equipment on any vehicle without any electricals.
Such electricals serve different purposes such as braking and hazard lights which help keep the driver and other road users safe. Some tow bars come as a full installation kit with electricals included in the package.
How to install a tow bar on jeep wrangler?
For a front tow bar, you can use the stock hook-up points to attach a tow bar extension. An adjustable tow bar extension can be used as a detachable tow bar and does not require any heavy modifications to be done on your wrangler. If your wrangler does not have any mounting modifications to attach the tow bar extension, you can do the following
- Park your wrangler on a flat surface, turn it off, and apply the emergency brake.
- Align the tow bar extension with the jeep’s front frame mark carefully with the points that the tow bar extension aligns with.
- Select a drill bit that is the same size as the bolts that hold the tow bar extension onto the front frame.
- Drill holes on the points you had marked earlier and then try inserting the bolts to see if they fit.
- Remove the bolts and hold the tow bar extension attaching points onto the holes you have drilled.
- Slip-on the bolts to hold it into position and tighten the nuts on the bolts to secure the tow bar extension in place.
This application can also be used on the rear depending on your needs. Whenever you are not using it, you can remove it as it is easy to remove and install back. You can also add a modification to your bumper to hold the tow bar extension on the bumper whenever you are not using it.
For most bumpers, you have to repeat the same process that involves drilling placement holes on either the rear or the front frame depending on the installation instructions of the tow bar.
The same applies to electricals that come with the tow bar or need to be installed as a requirement with a bar. It is illegal to tow equipment on your wrangler without the required electricals.
If you are considering upgrading the stock bumpers to aftermarket ones you can go for bumpers with tow bars as this makes it much easier than installing a tow bar on the chassis. After-market bumpers are made of strong metals and can hold massive towing weights.
If you already have a tow bar on your wrangler consider an after-market bumper that allows the tow bar to go underneath or through it as some are overly larger than the stock bumpers.
- This is a standard Width Front Bumper.
- Equipped with heavy Duty 5/32″ Steel Plate, 2″ X 0.120″ Tubing.
- It has premium Two Stage Textured Black Powder Coat Finish.
- It has a built-In Winch Plate, Rated Up To 12,000 Lbs.
- It comes with high Strength D-Ring Mounts.
Reasons as to why you should install a tow bar on your wrangler
At first, glance, having a tow bar installed on your wrangler may appear awkward or unpleasant to look at, but if you consider the practical applications that a tow bar may give for your vehicle, you will not hesitate to have one installed.
If you enjoy trailing, camping, or boating, or if you’re the adventurous type that enjoys long driving trips, having a tow bar comes in handy when towing a camper trailer to extend or maximize your vehicle’s living area.
Tow bars also help get your wrangler out of tricky situations by getting pulled by another vehicle and this comes in handy.
Installing a base plate
A base place is a piece of equipment that is mounted on the frame that provides a connection point for easy installation and removal of a tow bar on a jeep wrangler. A good example of a base plate is the Blue Ox base plate.
How to install a tow bar base plate on jeep wrangler
- Park your wrangler in a preferable working area and engage the emergency brake.
- On the front bumper there are four push pins, two on each side, remove them from the bottom of the belly pan and set them aside for use later.
- There are other two push pins behind the belly pan, remove them, this allows you to remove the belly pan and set it aside together with the push pins as you will have to use them later.
- Disconnect the fog lights from the back of the bumper by removing the bolts on the outside edge of the frame.
- On both sides of the frame, there are two bolts on the inside edge, remove them on both sides which allows you to pull the bumper forward.
- Pull the bumper forward and disconnect the clips attaching the wire and then set the bumper aside.
- If your wrangler has an extending lower front frame, cut it flush with the outside frame on both sides and apply anti-rust to prevent the cut area from rusting.
- For 2010 wrangler models and newer align the base plate’s lower hole with the frame’s middle hole and with older models align the base plate’s lower hole with the lower hole in the frame. Hold the base plate in place using vice grips
- Drill two extra holes onto the base plate through the frame for added support and make sure you have bolts and nuts for the specific drill but size that you will use.
- Screw the three nuts to hold the base plate firmly into place.
- Reinstall the bumper and secure the wiring using the clips that you had removed earlier and reinstall the fog lights not forgetting to screw back every bolt and nut that you had removed.
- Attach the safety cables onto the convenience link on the base plate making sure that the cables do not rub against any holes or moving parts, you can check the instruction diagram on the installation manual for preference.
- Hold the belly pan into position and mark out the base plate for cutting.
- Cut the base plate and reinstall it allowing the base plate to go through the cut-out part.
- Reinstall the base plate’s push pins.
A baseplate is best suited for owners who prefer that minimalistic wrangler look as installing one won’t interfere with the looks of the front end of your wrangler. It is also easy to install and remove a tow bar to a base plate. When installing a base plate, no serious visible modifications are done on your wrangler and those which are done are only visible from underneath your wrangler where no one looks.
While you may think that adding a tow bar to your wrangler is out of date or even unattractive, there are several compelling reasons to do so. If you want to tow heavy goods or transfer multiple objects at once, you should get a tow bar installed on your vehicle.
When getting a tow bar make sure it is compatible with your wrangler. Check the model and year of production of your wrangler before buying a tow bar.
Tow bar maintenance is also key, do not tow more weight than the tow bar can hold as it might break, and by doing this you are putting your life as the driver at risk and other road users including any passengers that might be in your wrangler.
Check for any cracks and other sorts of damages before you use your tow bar to prevent this. Since the tow bar is made of metal, ensure it is protected from rust as this might also lead to it getting damaged.