By Nanci Dixon
A 2021 Jeep Rubicon with less than 10,000 miles was recently brought in for service to a dealer in Florida. The Jeep was in for repair after being flat towed behind an RV. What the owner found out should scare everyone with a tow vehicle. Read carefully.
Jeeps are known for their ease of flat towing, but only when the directions are followed. Instead of neutral, the owner had put the Jeep into 4-Low. Jeep clearly states in the owner’s manual, “Do not go over 25 MPH in 4-Low.”
Pulling in 4-Low at 55 MPH or more revved the engine to over 50,000 RPMs. The factory redline is 6,000 RPMs. As the wheels turned so did the driveshaft and transmission. The engine was rotated.
The crankshaft was sheared off. Pistons and rods went through the block. The clutch and flywheel slammed into the transmission bell housing and took out the input shaft. The back of block gone and the convertor hit. Flat towing in the wrong gear basically destroyed the engine.
The repair and replacement cost was more than $30,000 just on parts alone! Nope, the factory warranty doesn’t count here and it’s unknown how insurance will handle it.
Moral of the story? READ the manual! Double-check and check again. Perhaps keep a checklist handy?
Watch the video below for the mechanic’s first reaction when he sees the damage after this Jeep was flat towed. You won’t believe it.
WARNING: THE F* WORD IS USED SEVERAL TIMES IN THE VIDEO. Turn off your volume before viewing if you are offended by bad language. The visual is enough to get the point across.
Jeep Reviews: Which is best to flat tow?
As I hear Forest Gump say it so well…..stupid is as stupid does
On my Suzuki Samurai, I took a piece of pipe insulation, put stripes on it for visibility, and install it on the top of the steering wheel. I can see it in the rear camera and see it move when I turn a corner. I can also back up a short ways watching in the rear camera for when the wheel jack knives and stop. I can also see the front turn signals in the camera and know they are working.
The one last thing I do after putting my (manual transmission), transaxle into Neutral and in first gear on transmission, BEFORE turning it off, is I slowly release the clutch, if it does NOT stall then the transaxle is in neutral.
Used that method everytime we hook it up to ensure something like this story doesn’t happen to mine.
I don’t think it “should scare everyone with a tow vehicle.” But it certainly illustrates that everyone should be very careful to ensure all steps are taken correctly to have the toad ready.
With new transmissions, AWD, and the associated electronics, many vehicles that were at one time very easy to set up to tow now take many steps to set up properly…and many others are not towable at all. Our Silverado has so many steps I have them all down on a laminated sheet that stays in the truck.
Lastly…NEVER trust a car salesman to know or tell the truth about the towability of any vehicle you are interested in buying for that purpose. Go only by the explicit directions in that vehicle’s owners manual, which may list specific options or equipment it must have to be towed flat.
Bingo. Not sure why Jeep owners should be “scared”. Also don’t understand why everyone feels the need to post how they set up their own vehicles. No one cares. Read the manual.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. First attempt at flat towing I followed the instructions in the owners manual exactly. Carefully pulled forward slowly since I already had a suspicion it had not achieved full neutral. I was right. So we unhitched and DW drove Jeep and I drove RV.
Next I went online and checked out 2013 and 2015 owners manuals for flat towing instructions. Turned out that the 2015 instructions were correct! I then typed them on paper and sealed in plastic. I keep my finger on each line as I accomplish it going slowly and refusing any distractions. Lastly, I double check the emergency brake before closing and locking the doors. No troubles towing with over 36,000 miles on RV and 163,000 on Jeep.
Anyone else with 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee had same problem?
The video has been edited and no bad language but definitely shows the damage!
Mistakes do happen – but that was a doozie!
Maybe a camera inside the toad showing conditions while driving might help. It helps just having a rear camera on our rig but more visual aid might not hurt😳
Our 2019 Jeep KL (Cherokee) is easy to tow. These need to have the Active Drive II “transfer case”. But not only follow the manuals instructions. We always do a walk around, check lights are working, and finally one of us watches the front wheel rotation when pulling forward (just to make sure there is no unusual noise or drag).
We only caught ourselves once, in 3 years, where the Emergency Brake engaged. We usually check the Emergency Brake light. We were a bit complacent since we normally have not had problems with the Emergency Brake engaging. We weren’t checking it religiously, as we should. I did however feel the extra drag after engaging drive.
There a several conditions that can set the Emergency Brake automatically. Such as opening the door while setting the “transfer case” in Neutral.
I read about all the unfortunate costly mistakes of others, so I paid the price and bought a drive-on trailer for my vehicle.
Mistakes do happen and this one was costly. I towed my car for several years all over the U.S. 4 down behind my motorhome. This requires I turn on my keys in the ignition to unlock the front wheels. Last year on a trip to Florida I stopped at a gas station removed my keys from the car and locked it. Went inside for food and upon return, jumped in the motorhome and headed down the road. Arrived at my destination about 100 miles down the road. Didn’t think about the car until I went to unhook. The two front tires were worn to slicks. I was fortunate they did not blow out. Luckily no other damage. Cost me two new tires.
And that’s the reason we always do the “pull test” before heading out.
Once the person driving the Jeep up to the towbar has held it in place long enough for everything to be connected, they will place the transfer case in neutral and the parking brake is released. Then place the transmission in any forward gear and let the clutch out. The Jeep should not move. Then, the driver places it in reverse and repeats that operation.
If there is no motion or the Jeep doesn’t stall out, the shifter goes into 6th.
Finally, the other person hops in and does a double-check. Finally, I usually pull forward slowly while the wife conducts a walkaround. All wheels should move smoothly and none should drag.
It’s really not that complicated.
it seems to me that his math is a little off if the manual says do not tow over 25 mph in 4 low and red line is 6000 rpm. I am assuming they would not over 25 mile mph in 4 low if that was over red line. so at 50 the engine would be turning at 12,000 rpm and at 75 mph it would be turning at 18,000 rpm no where near the 50,000 rpm quoted. I am not saying the engine shouldn’t have exploded I am just saying I believe his math is off. Anytime you try to run something 2 or 3 times over its limit bad things will happen
I thought the same.
I remember being on foot in Roswell, NM when I heard a terrible screeching noise coming down the street. It was a Class A towing a Jeep with the front wheels turned hard to the right. Last I saw it made a left turn onto the main drag just squealing away. Hopefully somebody was able flag them down while the cost was just two tires.
You can’t fix stupid!
Was my first thought to.
If you have a preflight checklist for the MH, have one inside the toad too on the dash easily seen. I would always double check on my Jeep and wife would check when rolled it forward to make sure all ok.
About like boaters taking off with no drain plug in.
I clicked on the video link above and get the message “Video Unavailable This Video is Private”. Rats!!!
Sorry, Galeyn. It worked when we published the article. I’ve just switched out the code, so this video is working (for now!). It’s really something to see! Sorry for the inconvenience, but thank you for letting us know about them shutting down the link to the video. Take care. 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com
You can’t fix stupid.
Big deal, replace the engine, transmission and maybe the drive train.
$30,000 parts plus $20,000 labor.
After just paying around $50k for it to begin with. Like others said was always careful after hooked up and out to neutral put in forward and then reverse and make sure it was for sure where it belonged. Pretty simple.
Just go on YouTube and look up 2021 wrangler jeep destruction for the video…
Thanks, Dick & Sandy. It worked when we published the article. I’ve since replaced the URL, so hopefully this one continues to work. Have a great day! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com
Worked in RV park for several years and seen people leave with vehicles in gear or brakes locked. Leave with power cords, sewers, hoses still connected. Trailer doors open, dropped 5th wheels onto pick up beds. Enter or leave the wrong way. Learn to drive or tow on first trip into the mountains.
I flat tow a Wrangler and I always ensure the Jeep transfer case is in neutral by moving the motor home forward slowly to see if all 4 wheels are turning easily. If the Jeep is not fully in neutral it will lurch and the wheels will not rotate smoothly. A good article to reiterate the importance of taking your time on departure.
My understanding is that in any recent model Jeep with automatic transmission that the transfer case should be in neutral while the auto trans should be in Park. Is this correct? Jeeps are a bit more complicated to tow…
I have a 2014 Honda CRV and did have a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and now have a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is by far the easiest to set up to tow. Put transfer case in neutral as per manual, if done right the shifter will automatically go to park. Don’t have to leave key in ignition to unlock steering wheel. Do make sure all the windows are up as my wife rolled down the windows to say hi to a friend and then forgot to roll the window back up. Must have been five gallons of water from the rain storm we went through.
Both should be in neutral.
That’s what happens when you are born with no common sense. This owner certainly wasn’t playing with a full deck.
I disagree with your statement about born without common sense, God gives us a brain with all the necessary capabilities for common sense. I blame the parents for not teaching common sense, when we are born according to “experts” the only thing a baby knows how to do is nursing whether a breast or bottle, from that point on it learns through experiences of everyday life until it reaches school age where the removal of most common sense begins as teachers today are only interested in preparing the child for college. Not life. Between parents lack of spending time teaching their children about the things they’ll need in life, both are preoccupied with their careers to teach their children anything except how to watch video games on their iPad or computer. Common sense is learned at home, if today’s parents didn’t learn common sense as they were growing up they’re not going to be able to teach their children. We are now experiencing lack of common sense in our second generation.
Dr4Film and Bob P: Sometimes mistakes simply happen. They could have towed it successfully 50 times before this. Casting aspersions on the individual and their parentage really doesn’t contribute to helping others learn.
Rule 2 of the “commenting rules” that we have to check the box indicating we’ve read each time we comment:
👍 👍 👍
Look around you, you’ll see it everyday, I was a school bus driver for middle school and also K-12. I witnessed it, kindergartners had common sense, the older they got the less they used common sense and displayed what their teachers had taught them.
What! Read the book?