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Bolt-On Rear Bumper Strength


NAXJA Forum User
I recently purchased a rear bumper for my 96 xj to replace the factory bumper and give me light towing capability. The bumper will attach to the Jeep via the same 8 mounting bolts that the current stock bumper uses I believe, and from other Jeep forum posts I've searched it seems like the consensus is that without uni-body tie-in/stiffeners, those 8 bolts are inadequate or at least questionable for actual towing or recovery. My main uses for this would be a hitch mounted bike rack that would only carry 2 mountain bikes at a time, and for possibly towing a very lightweight flatbed trailer that carries a whitewater raft and gear for multi-day river trips, which fully loaded would not exceed about 1200 lbs total - both trailer and raft.

So for anyone that has used these bumper hitches, what is your comfort level for towing anything at all with these just using those 8 bolts? I'm not opposed to adding the additional frame tie-ins if needed, but this isn't a serious 'wheelin rig that needs super duty recovery points, it's just a light weekend adventurer - for now anyway. Thanks!.
The 8 bolts are completely inadequate for anything other than a stock bumper or car show bumper.
If that's all you expect to do, you will be fine but that excludes any type of recovery. For the minimal cost I would definitely look add some tie-ins to provide you with some assurance.
Ok thanks. Any recommendations on tie-ins? I saw some for sale on JCR Offroad for custom rear bumpers, or should I just make my own?
Smittybuilt bumper's have some Rear Bumper Brackets so you can tow

Don't count on that with the *&()$#built bumper.

I have the XRC on my XJ, and that thing is horrible.
There are many problems with that bumper/tire carrier, and one major one is that the bumper likes to move around on it's mounts.
No matter how much you torque down the 6 bolts that hold it to the rear frame rails, it will move with just shutting the tire carrier.
We wanted to rent a tear drop trailer this last July, and the company that rents them told us NO WAY with that bumper.

Yes it has mounts, yes it has a receiver hitch.

For putting bicycles on the back fine.
For towing a trailer.......................
Given how minimal the effort is needed to install the frame tie-ins, there's no reason not to do it while doing a bumper install.
I purchased some rear bumper bracket tie-ins like the one in the link above from member RCP.

I didn't realize how flimsy the metal for the bumper mount is, and didn't know what overkill would be for my intended uses. This will provide good peace of mind, and seems like a pretty straightforward install.
So I purchased those frame tie-ins from RCP phx's link in his post above. Got them installed and I feel really good about them, seems really solid. I had to do a bit of grinding with the Dremel to open up some of the holes in the unibody because they didn't line up exactly perfect with the holes in the nutstrip on those tie-ins but it didn't take too long.

After having seen the thin metal that the stock bumper was attached to I realize what everyone was saying. There is just no way you could rely on that for anything.
Yeah, those are really nice. I just put a set on my Jeep a couple months ago, and saw the same thing with the bolt holes. As someone said recently in another thread, "it's a Jeep, it came out of the factory crooked". Between that and having wheeled mine off and on for 20 years, I really wasn't surprised that I had to open a couple up (but only about 4 of the 10, I think, I did an install "impressions" writeup in the "Circle S Brackets" thread in this section).

I don't tow with my Jeep, but I run an aftermarket rear bumper with d-ring tabs and receiver, and while I've recovered/been recovered a couple times with it before adding the brackets, I was never really thrilled about depending on that thin metal for that. I have no worries any more about the strength of my rear recovery points - they aren't going anywhere without the rest of the Jeep now...