PermaLink Towing a camping trailer with a Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited04/28/2017
Category : Jeep Upgrades
The Jeep has a towing capacity of 2000lb, the Prolite Mini 13 camping trailer is around 1500lb when loaded and is equipped with electrical brakes.
The Jeep DOES NOT have the tow package installed, so this is the standard, unmodified Sahara 2013 model. I already installed the hitch receiver to mount the bicycle rack and connected the 4-pin electrical adapter at the same time. The Prolite Mini trailer uses the round 7-pin connector. The MOPAR 7-pin wiring harness was not really designed for a brake controller and needed some minor adjustment. The Brake Controller is from Tekonsha and sits on the dash.
Jeep Wrangler Sahara 2013 with Prolite Mini 13
This setup works great but has a few flaws.
1. The trailer sits very low. I decided to lift the trailer by about 2 inches.
2. The 100lb load on the hitch (Tongue weight) pushes the Jeep down by more than one inch.
To lift the Prolite Mini I went back to the factory in St-Jérôme, QC.
To level the Jeep I installed the Air Lift 1000 Load Assist Spring Kit.

Getting the parts and the installation was straightforward.

MOPAR Hitch Receiver Part #: 82210230.
Not much to the installation. No need to remove any muffler or bumper. The bolts for the MOPAR Hitch Receiver fit into the holes without problem. Both the 4-pin and the 7-pin trailer adapters are active.
Jeep Wrangler Hitch Mount
7-Way Trailer Adapter MOPAR 7-Way Trailer Tow Wiring Harness Part #: 82210214ab.
The wiring harness is supplied to the exact length. Follow the instructions to the point or you may be short when trying to connect to the battery.

Tekonsha Voyager 9030 Electric Trailer Brake Controller.
The center wire in the adapter is the actual power line from the battery to the Brake Controller and finally to the brakes. After reading several comments, use an auto-reset fuse. If the circuit overheats, it will stop working for a while but reset again. A regular fuse will just stop working. See image below for battery connection.
I used 12 gauge wire for the brake controller installation. The Fuse is a 30 Amp Auto Resetting Fuse. The 2nd connection on the battery terminal is from the 7-pin wiring harness. The Tekonsha documentation explains the wiring, so no need to go into details here. Brake Controller and Trailer Power

The break controller needs to know when the breaks are applied. So one wire connects to the break light. Most documentations refer to the switch above the break pedal. A very awkward place to work. I decided to look for the center break light cable above the spare tire. The wiring goes through the cabin, so it's just a matter of finding the correct coloured wire.

Up to this point, I could pull the trailer from the dealer all the way to the storage place. The dealer is located in North Bay and the storage place is in Milton. A 360km excursion and a good excuse to stop at Algonquin Provincial Park for a sleep-over. It was September 2016 and the heater in the trailer works like a charm. "Why do I know that?" you may ask. Well, it's loud enough to wake me up so I can enjoy every single BTU pumped into the living quarters (I did not complain).
I travelled mostly by day light but knew that the two flaws mentioned above needed a solution.

Hitch Drop Before AirLift installation Hitch Drop is just over one inch after connecting the Prolite Mini, enough to cause problems with the lights and suspension. I considered a Weight Distribution hitch and found out that the minimum tongue weight is 350lb. The Prolite Mini has less than 200lb. So this is not only overkill but being a solid hunk of metal, it adds more weight. It also would extend several inches below the hitch and takes away from the ground clearance. Absolutely not what I had in mind.

I have no plans to use a sway control system at this point, so no additional hardware to mount a damper that would change the specs.

A more suitable option is to add an air spring suspension to the rear axle.
Air Lift 1000 Load Assist Spring Kit - 60817. They are cheaper than any weight distribution system and also seems to perform better for our purpose. I ordered the kit from 4 Wheel Parts in Burlington, Ontario. Their price is about 30% below any other local store.
The "Balloons", or air springs to use the correct name, are placed inside the rear coil springs and provide up to 1000 pounds of levelling capacity. There is no need to make changes to the front suspension.
Heat Shield - view from back

Image on the right >>>

Clean the path for the Air Line. There may be some mud stuck inside.
Fold the Air Spring and insert into spring coil. There is plenty of space to get the deflated bag inside.
Insert the black Protector , connect the Air Line and done.
Air Lift 1000 Box unpacked
<<< Image on the left

The first task is the Heat Shield installation.
Hoist the Jeep, remove the wheel and the spring coil and muffler is accessible.

Air line installation
Air Lift side view

Image on the right >>>

View from the back of the Jeep.
Hmm, I may need new shocks

Air Lift pump access in tank

<<< Image on the right

Air spring installed, view from the side.
I used wire protector (Flexible corrugated split tubing) to protect the Air Line from rocks and dirt. Also helps to keep the line from bending.

Air Lift rear view

<<< Image on the left

I installed the Inflation Valve in the gas tank compartment. I "upgraded" to the version with the door, this will keep the valve clean and makes it simple to check once a week (according to the manual)

Overall, the installation was simple but took me about 3 hours plus the time to hoist the Jeep and secure on the stands.
I have to get the trailer from the storage place next weekend. Thats when I find out if the Air Lift 1000 keeps the Jeep leveled.
I hooked up the Trailer and the sag is hardly noticable. I found that 15 PSI is about the right pressure for the Prolite Mini. I don't even have to drop the pressure to the 5 PSI minimum during our trips, the Jeep behaved normal on paved roads and on Forest Service roads.
Image on the right >>>
Finding the perfect hitch
"One that drops enough to get the trailer level and that does not rattle"
I have found the one at Hitch City in Mississauga. It is the CURT Adjustable Channel Mount #45901. I also added an anti-raddle bolt which is basically a big bolt with thread and a nut inside the hitch shaft. The hitch itself has a screw to tighten the adjustable mount as well. So it is actually whisper-quiet.
Curt Hitch
This was my third time getting a hitch or rack solution from Hitch City. Without a doubt, they know hitches and racks. No time wasted with "Let me see if I can find something" as experienced in the Rack store just around the corner.
Trailer is lifted
All went as planned at Prolite in St-Jérôme, Québec. I arrived early and they took care of the problem right away. The trailer got a lift of about one inch. I almost didn't have enough time to look at all the cool trailers in the showroom.
Hard to see the difference, but noticable when pulling into our sloped driveway. No more scratching of the bottom rear corner, there is now about a three inch clearance.
Jeep and Trailer with lift
I have more options to increase the clearance of the Prolite trailer. The most likely one is a one inch bigger rim and tire, an increase of about half an inch. Not in the budget this year, the tires on the trailer are still in good shape. This decision will be made when the tires need replacement.

As we found out during the Victoria long weekend, the canoe strapped on the roof of the Jeep is not an ideal solution. So the next project will be a rack.

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