Steering locking on Jeep Wrangler

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mlower

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We towed our 2001 Wrangler jeep for the first time behind our 30 foot motorhome. If we had to make a sharp turn (90 degrees), the steering wheel would lock up on our towed Wrangler. It might be within the first 5 miles or 1000 miles later on the trip.  Has anyone else had this problem with a jeep? We have the key turned back (towards the driver) a notch into the accessory mode and the wheel turns freely there. If we turn the key forward one notch, there is no electrical to run our Brake Buddy. If we turn the key forward two notches, it registers miles and also runs our battery dead. Has anyone else had this problem?
Chris
 

Ron

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I believe the instructions for towing your Jeep Wrangler can be found in the owners manual.  Follow these instructions precisely and you should have no problems.  I am not sure but you may have to provide a hot circuit for the brake Buddy if the lighter does not have power when key is in proper position called for in the owners manual for towing.
 

Ned

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Most brake systems like the Brake Buddy and Apollo require a 20A circuit and the typical 12V outlet in a vehicle is only 15A.  We ran a new fused 20A circuit from the battery just for our Apollo for that reason.  We use the 15A dash outlet for the remote indicator transmitter.
 

John From Detroit

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There are several issues here, Normally cars have a number of key lock positions,  In the case of GM and I think Chrysler products (which includes Jeep) they are ACC LOCK OFF ON Start  Ford is LOCK ACC ON START

Now, the wheel should not turn freely in the ACC position, only in the OFF ON and START positions if it is turning freely (Full rotation please) in the ACC position something is wrong

Suggestion, tow with the key in the OFF position, run  a special HEAVY DUTY (20 amp or more) circuit from the battery to a place under the dash for the Brake Buddy system, using 10ga wire (which is 30 amp rated) please  use proper crimp on lugs at the battery (don't just put the wire under the screws)

Also consider using a connector other than a ciggarate lighter plug at the dash end  There are several options here all rated well over 20 amps.


or better yet, better brake system, I use the one by US gear, more expensive, but worth it in my opinion


Finally there is another posibility.. You said "On sharp turns"  If you get the thing all the way to lock, or near lock (I'm talking about the maximum angle of the front wheels here, not the locking positions of the wheel) and it won't come back... Check alingment
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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If the wheels swivel freely then your key position is OK for towing.  It sounds to me as though the caster adjustment on the front end alignment is a hair off. It would not be noticeable when driving, but it apparently is enough to let the wheels swing to one side or the other and lock there. In any case, a good front end shop can adjust it so this does not happen, even if they have to go slightly off-spec on caster to make sure the wheels always swing back to dead center of their own accord. (This adjustment, called caster, is what makes the steering wheel return to center after a turn).

If your Wrangler has had oversize tires or other suspension modifications installed for better offroad performance, it is likely that the stock alignment specs ae inadequate for the current set-up.
 

mlower

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Thanks for all of the good suggestions.  We'll probably try direct wiring the brake buddy and using the "off" position instead of the "acc" position.  We'll see if that does the trick. Thanks!
 

Ron

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Placing the ignition switch in the ACC position will lock the steering on a Wrangler no question about it.  While it may be possible to turn the steering some amount they will lock when in the right position.  The owners manual instructs to place the ignition switch in the Off unlocked position.  It is only in the off unlocked or the run position that the steering will not be locked.  So placing the switch in the off unlocked position as called for in the manual will make the difference.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I can only quote the statement in the original post:
We have the key turned back (towards the driver) a notch into the accessory mode and the wheel turns freely there.

Whether "back a notch" is indeed the Acc position I cannot say, but it seems obvious that Chris's steering is unlocked in that position. If it was not, the wheels could not go to full turn on their own as he describes. At least not without breaking the steering colum lock or  the tie rods!
 

mlower

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I have read all of your replies and the back notch is the Acc position.  This trip the steering locked up 6 times (Acc position) in the 3000 miles we traveled.  You could tell it immediately with the steering of the motorhome so no damage was done.  I used that position because the power for the cig lighter was on for the Brake Buddy. In the off position there is no power to the lighter.  The book does say to tow in the off position but when the steering was unlocked and I had power in the Acc position I thought Jeep might have overlooked using the Acc position.  I will power up the BBuddy direct and use the off position on our next trip and see what happens.  Thanks for all of the feedback. 
 

Ron

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Karl said:
I'm still a little confused when you say the steering locks up. Do the front wheel go completely to one side or the other, or does the steering wheel turn slightly left or right and then engage the locking mechanism?

Basically on the Jeep the steering lock does not lock in a straight forward position but when the wheels are turned? a few degrees left or right.? When the ignition switch is not in the off unlock lock position position, as called for in the owners manual, or the run position the front wheel steering will become locked a few degrees of center when a sharp enough corner is negotiated and will not return to straight ahead when the turn is completed.? Jeep is a great toad and instructions for towing are contained in the owners manual.

 

Ron

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I think the most probable cause is the steering is locking up because he has stated that he tows the jeep with the ignition in the ACC position.  In this configuration the steering will lock up as soon as he make a turn that is sharp enough.  It is true an alignment anomaly can cause this even if the key was in the correct position but he has stated that he HAS DEVIATED from the owner manual and is attempting to tow with the key NOT in the off unlocked position.  The chances of the alignment being the cause in this case not  likely in this case. It is possible has caused an alignment problem attempting to tow in the wrong configuration.

I recommend he try towing the Jeep following the owners manual precisely and see if that will cure the problem.
 
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