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Old 03-01-2015, 09:16 AM
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Towing Issues with Quadra Lift

Hi, I am from Melbourne, Australia and new to this forum. I have been researching the topic of towing with a JGC fitted with Quadra Lift Air Suspension.

I am starting to think that there could be a case of the technologies (automated electronics) for the car the and caravans industries advancing so fast and the industries not keeping up with the compatibility issues. Vehicles like the JGC have self-levelling suspension and trailer sway control and most caravans now have ESC and most are towed (in Australia) with weight distribution hitches (WDH). In the case of the JGC’s I have now spoken to a few different people who have quoted “strange swaying” issues when towing with a modern van. The majority of users report no problems so it is only certain set up’s that have the issue.

The issues seem to be with JGC’s fitted with QL and when using a WDH. What is very puzzling is the question of what is causing the incompatibility problems. Are the QL and the WDH fighting each other? I personally cannot see how those things could cause a bad towing experience, as long as the WDH is not over tight and the van is loaded correctly. I have spoken to the makers of the ESC units and they say they cannot see how their units could cause any problems with the towing vehicle. All those units do is brake, either one or both caravan wheels, when a sway is detected. How could that possibly cause more swaying or strange behaviour? But I recently spoke to a Jeep dealer who has also had some of his customers report bad towing experiences. His theory seemed to be that the JGC’s trailer sway control unit is detecting a sway and braking one rear wheel to stop it. The caravan’s ESC then picks up through the A frame that the Jeep is veering slightly in one direction so breaks one or both caravan wheels which drags the Jeep back in the other direction. This cycle continues for some time like a harmonic wave effect making the driver hang on to the steering wheel very tight wondering what is happening. That is the experience that a couple of caravan dealers have told me that their customers feel when towing with JGC’s fitted with QL.

All JGC’s have trailer sway control fitted but it appears to be only those fitted with the QL suspension that get bad towing experience. I am not sure why the QL makes any difference to a swaying effect. Unless it is to do with how the Jeep’s trailer sway control electronics work in conjunction with the self-levelling suspension and in combination with the caravan ESC electronics. Or that the WDH causes the QL to pulsate up and down tricking the sway control systems into to reacting in some way.

I have on order a JGC Summit model that I will be using to tow a 23ft van and are taking the chance that my rig does not have any issues or that I will be able to sort it out. The sales staff at my Jeep dealer are not aware of any problems but most of them do not use a WDH when towing. If I do have issues I will most likley experiment with such adjustements as height of hitch on tow bar, how tight I pull up the WDH, what settings I have the QL in when connecting up, weight distribution of the load in the van and maybe even try disconnecting the caravan’s ESC (Dexter). If all that fails I would then consider fitting a Hayman Reese WDH with a pro-active anti-sway cam system (which should not really be necessary with all the other technology).

The examples I have been quoted could have been badly loaded vans or vans with bad suspensions, but I very much doubt that. They have been with modern vans and they have been taken back to van dealers or towing specialists to try and sort it out. I heard in one case where the Jeep owner ending up selling the Jeep. One Jeep dealer I spoke to (not on record) said that if anyone was concerned about the towing issues with QL then he was recommending JGC models that do not have QL. (I agree that QL is mainly an off-road aid but I also like it as a self-leveller when you have high cago weights in the back compartment or even when towing trailers and the abilty to set a low parking/exit height……and it is standard on the Summit model).

I believe that a WDH is a significant towing safety aid which helps braking and steering where significant ball-weights are involved. Jeep are one of the very few car manufacturers with self-levelling air bag suspension that say “WDH required for towing loads exceeding 2,268kg”. So for protecting an insurance claim as well as for safety purposes I would always use a WDH with my Jeep. It seems however that in certain circumstances with certain rigs there is some sort of issue with the self-levelling suspension models that results in some tensing up on the steering wheel trying to keep the rig straight. I would like to hear from anyone that has had these issues and especially from anyone that has done any testing to see what causes or fixes these issues.


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Old 03-01-2015, 10:35 AM
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Re: Towing Issues with Quadra Lift

This has come across unanswered from Caravanner's Forum. Anyway, assuming such a problem exists...

ESC only operates in serious sway conditions, so that can be eliminated from potentially causative factors. Same with TSC on the car... it doesn't take effect unless significant sway has occurred. For all intents and purposes, the remaining elements proposed, comprising the WDH and Quadralift, deal with the vertical plane only. Therefore it's hard to see this theory gaining traction aside from poorly set up loads bringing about sway.

For what it's worth, setting up a WDH on a self levelling car requires more detailed attention than conventional arrangements. Perhaps the vans with a propensity for towing badly are not receiving the bandaid they need?

Also, the wording in the handbook regarding WDH on the Grand is "recommended". Mine handles 2.5T / 200kg very nicely without one, though on really bad undulating pavement at speed, there is a degree of porpoising due to insufficient dampening. I think if the ball weight was much higher I'd be fitting bars. I have no concerns that I might then suddenly run into problems with sway, as my rather tall van obviously knows how to behave itself.

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Old 03-01-2015, 11:17 AM
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Re: Towing Issues with Quadra Lift

Most of our Travel Trailers (Caravans) in the US don't have ESC.
However, I do have trailer brake control (Tuson) that works in conjunction with the trailer brakes and the Jeep braking system. It plugs into the OBDII port of the Jeep and takes brake information from the Jeep computer system. It works very well.......

Our "Caravan" is just over 20' long and weighs in at 5500lbs loaded. We use the Andersen WDH system and, like all WDH systems, you need to first set it up with the QL system OFF. If installed correctly, the Andersen WDH system is pretty much idiot proof and easy/light to hitch/unhitch!

To pick whatever WDH system, you first need to measure your hitch ball receiver height on your trailer and then the "normal" hitch receiver height on the Jeep. That dictates any 'drop' required on the hitch system you wish to use.

Here's a handy vid on the Andersen system from 'Down Under'

You turn off the QL, measure the unloaded wheel arch height front and rear. You then put your trailer on the hitch ball and adjust the WDH so that you get the equivalent differential on your wheel arch heights.
i.e. If you had, say, 51 inch front and 52 inch rear unloaded, you would want to see, say, 50 inch front and 51 inch rear (1" differential as near as dammit) when your trailer weight was on the ball and the WDH was adjusted. You can then activate your QL suspension. This is the correct way to set up the tow system for your caravan. The Andersen system virtually eliminates porpoising and is very quiet and smooth. I like it a lot.

As the previous poster stated, for the Jeep Sway control to kick in, you would have to get some serious sway from your trailer, which could be due to a badly set up trailer. You should have about 15% of the trailer weight actually on the hitch (tongue weight). A trailer too "rear end heavy" or a badly set-up WDH system (not set up with the QL off) might cause these undulations.

Also, have you also checked your tongue weight as a percentage of your trailer weight with a scale?
Phil C.
2014 GC Overland 4x4, 3.0CRD, ATG, ORAII ("Smiffy")
2015 Lance 1685 Travel Trailer "#4"
2011 Kia Optima EX-L ("MC"
2003 BMW R1150RT "Darth"
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