Doofus Of The Day #1,078


Today’s award goes to the proud (?) owner(s) of a 2021 Jeep Rubicon that they’ve just utterly destroyed, mechanically speaking.

Last month, we asked you about your absolute worst towing experiences. Many of you had some great stories to share, but I think I’ve finally found one that takes the cake, and it involves destroying a new 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon by flat-towing it improperly.

. . .

Tuten told The Drive that when the techs began diagnosing the vehicle, they noticed it had been left in “4-Low,” which is what you’d want when traversing rough terrain at low speeds, or if stuck in a rut—but most definitely not while being towed at highway speeds. For reference, the JL Wrangler manual explicitly states not to exceed 25 miles per hour with 4-Low engaged.

What’s even more damaging is that the vehicle was also left in first gear, meaning that as the wheels of the Wrangler turned, so did the driveshaft, transmission, and the rotating assembly of the engine. Tuten did a bit of napkin math and figured that at 55 mph, the engine was spinning somewhere around 50,000 rpm, well above the factory redline of 6,600 rpm.

The engine revved so high that the crankshaft sheared off, sending the two rear-most pistons and rods through the block. The clutch and flywheel also went flying through the transmission’s bell housing and lopped off its input shaft.

As you might expect, this job quickly turned into a rather expensive fix. Tuten said that the final bill of replacement parts is close to cresting $30,000, and that doesn’t include labor.

There’s more at the link, including photographs and a video of the damage.  (Language alert on the video – several F-bombs, etc.)

I know that the Jeep Wrangler (and presumably its derivative pickup, the Jeep Gladiator) is designed to be towed safely on its own wheels, rather than a trailer, provided one uses the correct drivetrain and gearbox settings.  I hadn’t expected using the wrong settings to be so catastrophic!  I doubt their auto insurance company is going to be willing to pay for that . . .



  1. Bummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmer!!!11!!

    Also, the STUPID was STRONG in these ones.

  2. As an RV'er who has towed 4-down for over 100k miles I find this truly cringe-worthy. Brings to mind what happened to a friend who towed a CRV like ours. In the Hondas it was important get the transmission valves set up properly by going from Drive to Neutral when setting up to tow. He inadvertently went from Reverse to Neutral one time. His comment later was "The people around there sure were friendly because everyone who passed us was waving to us."

    The light finally came on as he realized they were trying to tell him something. His transmission was smoking pretty bad but the mechanic was able to resurrect it by flushing and new tranny fluid.

  3. "Tuten did a bit of napkin math and figured that at 55 mph, the engine was spinning somewhere around 50,000 rpm, well above the factory redline of 6,600 rpm."

    That's a fine piece of understatement.

  4. Had a HEMMT driver that bet a M113 APC driver that he could take his truck up a hill the APC wouldn't climb. These two young soldiers were left pulling guard duty somewhere and not enough adult supervision. He beat the 113 (the 113 driver chickened out when he started to slide from what I understand) but he also snapped the driveshaft on the HEMMT. Your tax dollars at work (only if you were paying taxes around 1998 or so).

  5. Go to a wrecking yard, find a low mileage replacement motor (most 2021 models will be low mileage), maybe 1200.00-1500.00, Call all over including other states. I never take the first appraisel as gospel as the fix-it shop and I are on opposing teams. You might have 4 grand into replacing the motor including installation. Always ask if they will install a engine if you find it, you will save big bucks. There, I saved you 26,000 bucks, buy me dinner.

  6. Find a 5.7 Hemi 4×4 truck and do a engine and transmission swap. It will need new driveshaft's but that is becoming a popular swap for the V-6's that take a dump.

    Or do what a buddy of mine is doing. He acquired a mid 90's 2500 Ram 4×4 with the Cummins and auto transmission. His wife's 08 Jeep Sahara that had over 300k on it with a broken engine has been sitting in his back yard for more than a year. He was an air-frame mechanic in the USAF and went on to be a Satcom guy in the Air Guard. He has pulled the trucks bumpers, front end clip, cab, and bed. He had the Cummins and transmission gone through and is in the process of putting the Jeep body on the truck frame. He has stretched the hood and fenders. His plan is to cut off the tailgate and make a smooth rear cab that will work with the hard top of the Jeep. He is planning a full fab for the bed with the Jeep tail gate on the rear. It is his retirement project.

  7. The fact that he bought a Jeep at all says a lot.

    I have a friend who owns a Jeep Cherokee and he tells me that the name "JEEP" is an acronym that means "Just Empty Every Pocket".

  8. Jeeps are a popular Toad (towed vehicle for an RV) because they are designed for the job, to some extent.

    You can flat tow it, no trailer or dolly needed, which is a big consideration when it comes time to park the RV, and to use the toad.

    It has a transfer case that has a neutral position. Most 4×4's have an electronic shift tc, which has had the neutral deleted. (Dumb design, but it saved a dollar or two) You cannot tow an automatic trans in neutral, it will self-destruct without the engine spinning the trans internal oil pump. (you can go a few miles at city speeds)

    Most AWD's (all wheel drive) vehicles must have all 4 wheels on the same surface, ie: trailer or road. They normally don't have a shiftable transfer case, and it must have a manual trans to flat tow.

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