The Jeep Geek

The Jeep Geek's Blog
Equipment

The Jeep Patriot and Compass

The Jeep Geek is not sure why these great Jeep vehicles don’t get the market respect that they deserve. They are the perfect solution for folks who are looking to get into a 4 wheel drive SUV but have budget limitations. The fuel economy approaches 30 MPG and they use regular grade of gas. The pricing is in the low to mid $20K depending on equipment and options. The rebates are great right now and this might just be the solution for a small family, young drivers or those on a fixed income.

In addition to saving money on fuel, these are also the #3 and #4 cheapest vehicles to insure. Some of The Jeep Geek’s customers report saving up to $40 per month on insurance. These top IIHS safety picks are going to go a long way toward protecting the most precious cargo in the vehicle...the people inside. They have the same high tech lightweight roll cages you find only in Mercedes and BMWs. This allows us to put more weight lower in the vehicle such as suspension which will survive both off-road rigors as well as Colorado pot holes and the occasional brushes with curbs here...you know who you are.

Jeep as a brand is the most reliable American brand and the Patriot is the most reliable model in Jeep’s lineup. The Compass is the same vehicle with just a different body shape. Speaking about reliability, the Jeep is the #3 lowest cost to maintain brand on the road today...all in all these mean that these are among the very low Total Cost of Ownership vehicles that are available. In fact Edmunds lists the Patriot as the lowest Total Cost of Ownership SUV on the road...the Compass is right behind it.

So, most buyers focus on the monthly payment of the vehicle...what they should be focused on is The Total Cost of Ownership...that amount of money that has to be paid out each month to actually own and operate the vehicle...these units stand out in that category.

As far as ease of driving, these SUVs rock. They handle more like a sedan, easy to park and have very good visibility so they are perfect for both new drivers and those who are new to SUVs. The peppy 2.4L engine combined with the Continuously Variable automatic transmission make these a dream in the mountains. You will never be caught between gears as happens with fixed ratio transmissions. The engine produces 172 HP so they have the power of a 6 cylinder engine with the fuel economy of a 4.

As always, The Geek abides.


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Styles of Off-roading

The Jeep Geek is often faced with a customer who expresses interest in Off-roading and building the equipment that they will need to accomplish their goal. Well, there is Off-roading and there is Off-roading. More questions need to be asked and answered before The Jeep Geek can help.

There are three basic styles of Off-roading. The Jeep Geek can build units that will accomplish any of these...but it is important to determine the style that is desired by the Jeeper. For example, a stock Rubicon can accomplish one style, but would be completely inadequate for the other two styles.

So lets examine the three styles:

Off-road Racing.

This is a style of Off-roading that requires a machine that is capable of lots of speed in order to win a race event. Duh. So an engine upgrade is needed, like a 6.4L Hemi conversion that will produce approx. 500Hp. So far so good, but when one travels fast over rough terrain the suspension experiences significant stresses. So a complete re-do of the suspension is needed. Dana 60 axles need to be installed front and back as well as a very heavy duty lift kit that will survive hitting bumps at high speed. There will be times that the Jeep will become air-borne and land with significant force...the suspension must comprehend these pressures. In addition the likelihood of a roll-over or other accident is increased so the roll cage needs to be reinforced. Racing seats should be installed that support a 5 point harness to hold the driver (and any passengers) firmly in the seat during violent crashes or landings. Finally the brakes and cooling systems need to be upgraded.

Building a unit that will work well for this style of Off-roading often makes the Jeep un-usable (or at least unstable) on the road. A lot of weight must be removed to make the Jeep competitive and that weight is often things like air-conditioning, body parts and other comfort items. This is not your daily driver and weekend fun machine.

Finally the budget for this style of Off-roading is large. To do the build, the costs will run over $150K and frequently there is significant damage that will need to be repaired after the race.

Conquest of Obstacles

OK...all Off-roading involves overcoming obstacles...but the distinction here is that finding and overcoming obstacles is the goal. These Jeepers will find the most difficult trail, regardless of the scenery and conquer the obstacles for the sense of accomplishment that this brings. The Jeep Geek feels that this is a very acceptable goal for Jeeping and has enjoyed this type of Off-roading in the past. Adrenalin junkies enjoy this style of Off-roading and their needs are met nicely. This is not to say that difficult trails are not beautiful...for example the Rubicon Trail in northern California is one of the most breath taking trails from both a difficulty as well as a scenic wonder. However these folks are out for the obstacles not the views. Stickers like: “I conquered metal masher” are what you will see on their rigs.

The equipment needed to accomplish this style of Off-roading are lifts (for ground clearance), bigger tires, lockers, winches, skid plate upgrades, body armor...yes, some scratches are to be expected, and at times a bit more power or lower gearing are needed. The budget for these mods is more affordable at approx. $10K - $15K (on top of the Jeep cost).

Some trail damage is likely to occur, so a budget for minor repairs should also be contemplated.

Scenic Beauty

The goal of this style of Off-roading is to get out in nature and enjoy the views...and the occasional wildlife that is seen off the beaten path. The Y-Hike Off Road club members fall into this style of Off-roading. Obstacles are encountered, as stated above, but the goal is not in conquering the obstacle, but rather getting past it to the next great view. These Jeepers move a bit slower so they don’t miss anything. Often this group will drive around an obstacle instead of driving over it.

The Jeep Geek is not currently in a position to afford trail damage...especially with two daughters in college and having just spent a lot of money on camera equipment. He is able to enjoy the occasional challenge that presents itself on these more moderate trails, but again, the goal is the view.

A stock Wrangler is fully capable of keeping up with us, in fact some of the Y-hikers drive other 4 wheel drive vehicles that are not as capable as a stock Wrangler. This group chooses trails that are less likely to cause injury or trail damage to the vehicles. The trips are pleasurable and the folks are a lot of fun to be around.

If you would like to join us on one of our trips, go to facebook and “like” thejeepgeek where trip details are posted in advance. Let us know if you are going to join us so we can plan food...yes, food is important to these trips.

The Jeep Geek hopes to see you out there.

The Geek abides


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New Gear for Off-Road

The Jeep Geek is rocking some new off-road gear. Not what you are expecting...

Several of The Jeep Geek’s customers are professional nature photographers. They have been gripping about the quality of the photographs on this site...so The Jeep Geek has been shamed into upgrading his photo gear. He has been using a small point-and-shoot Sony that fit comfortably into a shirt pocket. Sometimes he has used the camera that was built into his iPhone. But the point was taken, if you are out in some of the most beautiful countryside on the planet, why use a crummy camera.

Last week The Jeep Geek spent most of the family fortune on a new DSLR Nikon D5100 with two telephoto lenses and a bunch of other equipment...filters, remote trigger, tripod and the such. He used it on the last trip to Yankee Hill and some of the pictures are now on the lifestyle section of this site. They are much nicer than the other pictures and he is generally very pleased with the results. Now, more time photographing his adventures.

This new camera also shoots videos in HD, so there will be some off-road movies coming soon. Mrs. Geek has claimed ownership of the old point-and-shoot, but still needs to learn how to shoot with this new camera. This will represent a challenge for The Jeep Geek. Lots of adjustments are possible, and there are many more knobs and buttons to deal with...kinda like the new Wranglers...more knobs and adjustments.

let us know what you think of the upgrade...photo quality will improve as he learns to use this new equipment.

The Geek Abides

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Roof Racks

The Jeep Geek is often asked how one puts a roof rack on a Wrangler. This is an excellent question in light of the very bad options people choose.

Many folks choose to mount roof rails directly to the fiberglass top by drilling holes and mounting roof rails right on the top. There are several disadvantages to this approach:

  1. The Wrangler roof is not designed to support the weight or the flexing that will occur with skis, snowboards, or thule box mounted to cross rails on the hard top. The flexing from wind pressures will cause some cracks to form and may weaken the top, possibly leading to some leaks.
  2. This configuration may also make it difficult to operate the freedom panels over the front two seats. Part of the charm of the Wrangler’s hardtop is that those panes can be removed and provide an open air feel.
  3. This approach won’t work with the soft top installed. Imagine wanting to go camping when the weather is warm. You will have a lot of cargo to carry to the campsite, but no way to drop the top and enjoy the open air approach to Jeeping. The Jeep Geek removes his hardtop in the May timeframe and replaces it with the soft top. The process is reversed in the October timeframe. This makes it impossible to use this type of roof rack during this transition.

So what does The Jeep Geek recommend you might ask? A safari rack that mounts on the “A” pillar in the front, and to the frame of the Wrangler in the back. This approach will support the weight of a lot of cargo, and even enable a top mounted tent so you can sleep on top of the Jeep away from some animals that you might not want to be napping with.

There are numerous safari racks out there and any of them are better choices than mounting directly to the hard top. One in particular has caught The Jeep Geek’s attention...made by Gobi. Gobi is a local (Colorado) manufacturer and has a number of features that The Jeep Geek really appreciates.

  • All of the parts are welded together. The Jeep Geek has seen a number of manufacturers that screw all the slats and cross members together. This seems like a lot of parts that will eventually loosen and rattle, requiring a periodic retightening...not The Jeep Geek’s idea of a fun afternoon of preventive maintenance.
  • The rack doesn’t require any drilling through the body to mount. It bolts in the back behind the rear bumper directly to the frame, and in the front directly on top of the “A” pillar where there are already mounting holes. A pretty simple and very secure installation.
  • The rack has an integrated ladder that supports enables one to climb up on the rack to position cargo and more easily secure things. The Jeep Geek watched someone try to do this from the ground (on another manufacturers rack) and that didn’t look easy or secure. This ladder is designed to even support The Jeep Geek’s 1/8th of a ton body weight.
  • The top has a load capacity of 600 pounds. This enables one to stand on the roof rack to take pictures (or escape some menacing wild life).
  • Lights can be easily mounted on both the front and back of the rack.

Gobi makes two different models and they will fit either the two door or four door Wrangler. Give these folks a look if you are in the market for a top quality rack at a competitive price...or contact The Jeep Geek who would be happy to coordinate the installation for you.

The Geek abides

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Fiat Lux

No...this article has nothing to do with Fiat cars. Fiat Lux is latin for “Let there be light”. The Jeep Geek was classically educated...a true renaissance man. He found this title while reading the Vulgate...google it.

So our topic today is about lighting systems since many of you want to be off-road at night, wether conquering obstacles by moonlight, or simply camping in a nice remote area. The Jeep Geek feels that roughing it is spending the night in a hotel without room service so you probably won’t find him camping out there...but stranger things have happened.

While The Jeep Geek is a huge fan of the Wrangler, the headlights that come from the factory (while adequate for normal road driving) could use a bit of an upgrade for the trails. The standard headlamps are halogen, which is pretty hi-tech for a decade ago, now High-Intensity Discharge (HID) is the new high end for headlamps. These HIDs can be found on some of the Grand Cherokee models, but would be amazing on the Wrangler...so The Jeep Geek did an experiment. He had some HID lamps (aftermarket) placed into Wranglers and while they did indeed throw a nice bluish light pretty far down the road, it was not without some problems...for example, there is a lengthy burn-in period where the light flickers and vibrates a bit for the first dozen or so hours on many of the units. New ballast units also had to be added to drive these lamps and this whole thing left The Jeep Geek with the impression that these mods would not be reliable...so he is not a fan of that approach.

So adding more halogen lamps to the bumper and A pillar are the solutions that Jeepers have used for many years. As can be seen in the picture below, just increasing lamp count will throw more light...but also draw a lot more current. This may result in the need to upgrade the battery and charging system on older Wranglers...

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This just might be the solution for most of you, some limitations, but if your lighting needs are modest, budget is limited, this is the way to go...and these units look just fine and are out-of-the-way.

Now many of The Jeep Geek’s readers are no-limits kind of off-roaders. They are looking for the perfect solution. Here it is. The Jeep Geek is a big fan of Rigid Industries’ LED lights. He has spec’ed light bars on several of his customer builds, and if Mrs Geek buys off, will add one of these light bars to The Hummer Recovery Vehicle.

Rigid makes a number of different configurations from 4 LED spots that can be mounted on the “A” pillar, short light bars that can be mounted on the front bumper...say on the grille guard of an off-road bumper, to a 50” light bar that fits at the top of the windshield of a JK Wrangler. These light bars come in two configurations, one with a single row of LEDs (50 LED lamps) or one with two rows (yep, 100 LED lamps). The unit that The Jeep Geek is considering is the single row 50” for over his windshield.

E2

Now lets talk about light. This unit produces 16,000 lumens and draws 12.1 amps (173 watts). Lets put this in context. A 100 watt incandescent light bulb produces about 1300 lumens...so this light bar produces the light of over a dozen table lamps for the power consumption of about 2. Now lets talk about life expectancy. These LED lights should last about 50,000 hours of operation. This is about 17 years if you ran them for 8 hours per night every day of the year. You will probably hand these things down to your grand children. That is reliability that The Jeep Geek can get his head around.

The light bar has a combination of spot and flood lenses so the lighting provides a great view down the trail as well as lighting any obstacles to the side of the trail. The picture at the top of this article is a demonstration of the lighting power of this light bar.

The Geek abides

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Questions Frequently Asked

Christmas is approaching and The Jeep Geek is looking forward to family coming into town. He just finished decorating the house (Geek Bunker) for the holidays and is taking a break this morning to answer some questions that he has been asked during the year.

With the buzz surrounding the new 2012 Wrangler and the new Grand Cherokee, there have been a lot of folks who have never driven a Jeep, or even considered one that are suddenly at the Jeep store. They are bringing a boatload of questions with them. So here are a collection of a few of these questions. This might generate some discussion in the comments section below this article.

  • The Jeep Geek is often approached by people that ask either to see a Rubicon or to see a Jeep. What they are asking for is a Wrangler...after some careful questioning to determine what they are really looking for. So why are they asking for one of these two things? Well, for many decades the name of the product was a Willy’s Jeep. It wasn’t until the 90s that the Wrangler name showed up. People who have not been interested in a Wrangler are remembering the Jeeps of their youth...didn’t we all drive them in high school and college? Other folks have seen a Wrangler Rubicon with the Rubicon name there on the side of the Hood and assumed that all Wranglers were Rubicons. So what type of Wrangler should I consider for purchase?

  • There are three models in the Wrangler Family. It is not the traditional Good, Better, Best product positioning...leave it to Jeep to do something non-traditional here. The Sport (formerly the X) is the most popular. It can be configured to be more like the other two models, either dressed up like the Sahara (which is the model that is more refined) or can be built into an off-road beast like the Rubicon. The sport is the model that The Jeep Geek recommends for those whose budget is a bit tight, and will add to their Jeep downstream. Also, this model is good for those that intend to build an off-road monster and change axles (go to dana 60s), engines, suspension (lifting them) and wheels and tires. There is not much sense in starting with the more expensive Rubicon when you are going to replace all the Rubicon running gear.
  • The Jeep Geek recommends the Sahara to those who are going to need a daily driver and want to go off-road occasionally. These folks often want the added comfort and refinement of the Sahara like upgraded sound system, 18” wheels and tires, slightly firmer suspension that will yield a more pleasant driving experience every day.
  • The Rubicon is for those that want extensive off-road capability right from the factory. The Jeep Geek often helps these owners modify their Rubicon to give them more capability without massive replacement of the running gear. The stiffer suspension of the Rubicon, combined with the BF Goodrich tires give a more jarring ride than the Sahara, but this Jeep can be driven as a daily driver as well, it has some of the upgrades like the same sound system as the Sahara that make it a pleasant driver.
  • Two door or Four door is the last question. Families with younger kids will appreciate the 4 door. You can get into the back of the 2 door if you are a Russian Gymnast. So why would anyone want a 2 door? Well, they are fun to drive. The Jeep Geek’s drive is a 2 door Rubicon. The two door models are a bit more nimble, while the 4 door are a bit smoother ride on the highway.
  • The bottom line is you should carefully consider what you want in a Wrangler, what your lifestyle desires are, and select the model that best suits you. The Jeep Geek is happy to help if you desire that.

  • Which top configuration should I consider for the Wrangler?

  • There are three choices here. A soft top is standard. In fact, this choice on the Wrangler Unlimited nets the only production 4 door convertible in production today. The soft top is perfectly capable to handle the cold weather of winter here in Colorado and keeps the occupants warm. They are also much quieter than previous generations of Wrangler soft tops, but not quiet has quiet as a hard top.
  • The soft top can be upgraded to a 3 piece hard top which is how most Wranglers here in Colorado are configured. This enables the driver to remove the two panels over the front seats to get some open air feeling. Additionally the top can be completely removed for those weekend trips to the country.
  • Finally the Wrangler can have both tops (called the dual top option). In this configuration the hard top is left on during the winter months and around April or May, the hard top is removed and the soft top is installed for the summer months. Then in October or so, the soft top is replaced with the hard top.

  • Which is better, Manual or Automatic transmission?

  • The Jeep Geek has written an entire article on this question, you can search the archives to find his thoughts on this subject. The bottom line is both are good choices, get what you prefer. The new 5 speed automatic is a vast improvement over the older 4 speed and closes the gap nicely between the 6 speed manual and automatic.

  • What else should I consider as options?

  • There are a couple of very nice to have options. First, the Limited Slip rear axle is a very nice (and inexpensive upgrade). This will provide a bit more stability in slippery conditions. While all Jeeps have electronic stability control with traction control, having the mechanicals prevent slippage is better than having the brakes correct it when it happens. If your Wrangler doesn’t have a limited slip rear axle, don’t worry, it will operate just fine...the upgrade is worth the couple of hundred dollars in peace of mind.
  • Second, if you have a manual transmission, the Jeep Geek recommends upgrading the final gear ratios from the 1:3.21 to 1:3.73. This is a $50 option from the factory and will provide a nice bump in power delivered to the wheels. This year, the Rubicon’s 1:4.10 final gearing is also an option that The Jeep Geek highly recommends for the same reason.
  • Leather seats, heated seats, power this and that, Blue tooth hands free cell phone, and various radio options are available and make driving the Jeep a much nicer experience if they fit the budget.

One should also consider a whole host of aftermarket upgrades such as off-road bumpers, lifts, bigger tires, body armor and slush mats. The thing about the Wrangler is that it is a platform for your individual expression...there are a ton of options to make your Jeep uniquely yours. Go out and have fun in your new Jeep. It is a Jeep Thing after all.


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6.4L Hemi Powered Wrangler

The Jeep Geek just test drove a 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Call of Duty Rubicon that we modified with a 6.4L Hemi engine. The Jeep store here tweaked the output to produce 500 horsepower, added some AEV accessories such as 4 1/2” lift, 35” tires, AEV wheels, AEV off-road bumpers and a Warn winch.

What a rush, The Jeep Geek was very impressed. The Jeep started with a wonderful throaty rumble giving a very satisfying feeling. At last a Jeep Wrangler with so much power that there was nothing on the road that he couldn’t pass. What a feeling. Acceleration was smooth, and accompanied by real head snap...don’t remove the head rests or you will experience whip-lash. The roar of this SRT8 engine was loud. So loud that it was almost distracting at around 50 miles per hour.

The Jeep Geek took one of his friends (who used to race Jeeps off-road) and his friend was duly impressed with the performance. This is likely the most powerful Wrangler in the US today. The Rubicon gearing delivered a tremendous amount of torque to the wheels even though they were very heavy Goodyear M/TR Kevlar 35” tires installed on black AEV wheels.

As can be seen in the photo at the top of this article, this unit looks as tough as it performs. Very muscular appearance with the AEV modifications adds to the excitement of this one-of-a-kind Jeep. Everything on this package says “get out of my way” including the exhaust roar.

The AEV lift performed just as The Jeep Geek expected with a smooth ride...just like the factory ride. Mrs. Geek had a little bit of trouble climbing up into this Wrangler, but once in, she was blown away by the power. She has consented to letting The Jeep Geek add some of the mods to his incoming Wrangler...lift, wheels, tires, bumpers tire carrier and such. The Jeep Geek doubts that he will be able to sneak the expense of a Hemi conversion to The Hummer Recovery Vehicle II. At least not in the near term. However with the new Pentastar engine, he doubts he will need such a boost.

So what would The Jeep Geek do differently to the 6.4L Hemi powered Wrangler? Well, he did notice a slight throttle lag from a dead stop, this is easily corrected by boosting the throttle voltage a bit to improve the throttle response. This won’t add any power, it will just deliver the power a little bit sooner when the accelerator is depressed...other than that, it was a perfect experience.

By the way, this Jeep is for sale. If you are interested in purchasing this one-of-a-kind Wrangler, drop The Jeep Geek a short message and he will get you pricing and details regarding the modifications.

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Natural Male Enhancement

No, this is not about anatomy. This article is all about The Jeep Geek’s favorite ride...The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. This exceptional Jeep is also a natural female enhancement...in fact, any driver will appreciate the places this Wrangler can go...if you can see it, you can probably get to it in a Rubicon. The moon is the exception that proves the rule.

So what makes a Rubicon so capable? Well, The Jeep Geek is glad you asked. First, it is built on the great Wrangler platform. Solid axles, body-on-frame, 4wheel disk brakes, a sturdy V6 engine and a true off-road transfer case. In fact in the 2012 models, the engine develops just under 300HP providing as much horsepower as you would want either on road, or off.

With that starting point, the Jeep designers added the type of upgrades that serious Jeepers have added for years. These include, Locking differentials, 4.10:1 axle ratios, upgraded front axle (dana 44 in both front and back), 4:1 gear ratio in the transfer case’s low range, stiffer springs and shocks, 32” BF Goodrich off-road tires, rock rails, and an electronically disconnecting front anti-sway bar.

These things are come together to provide a unique off-road capability that is unrivaled in our industry. This Jeep was designed to conquer the Rubicon trail (which is where this beast gets its name) right from the factory...without further upgrades.

Now add to this capability, the fact that it can be further upgraded to provide even more capability. In fact The Jeep Geek has helped dozens of folks upgrade their rubicons by providing lifts, larger tires, off-road bumpers, winches, and additional body armor and skid-plates. All this in the hunt for a “No Boundaries” off-road experience.

Go down to your local Jeep store and test drive one of these classic off-roaders. If you live in the Front Range area of Colorado, stop by Pollard Jeep in Boulder and see The Jeep Geek.

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2012 Wranglers are Close

The Jeep Geek was poking around the tool that enables the Jeep store (where he works) to order vehicles from the factory. Lo-and-behold the 2012 Wranglers are available for order. Oh happy day. Barely able to contain himself, he had to check to see if the Bill of Materials showed the long awaited new engine. More on that subject in a minute.

Scarcely a day goes by when The Jeep Geek is asked about the new 2012s. This has gone on since last summer...when we were getting our first 2011s. What changes will be made...the answer...we just don’t know. Wranglers have been the top seller for Jeep as long as The Jeep Geek can remember...2011 stands in contrast. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee has taken top spot. Two factors have contributed to this reversal. First, the Grand Cherokee was completely redesigned for 2011 and Chrysler did a stunningly good job. Every automotive magazine and reviewer agreed. It has won so many awards that it is hard to keep up with all of them. But this is not the chief reason for the reversal. The Jeep Wrangler sales have fallen dramatically. The market was ready for the new Pentastar engine in 2011 but Chrysler was not ready to ship this powerful engine, in the Wrangler, at that time. Potential customers decided to wait and see if the 2012 model would have this engine. Wrangler sales slowed significantly...for no other good reason. Yup, they slowed in a rising market.

The 2011 Jeep Wrangler market did not fall to zero, there were (and still remain) good reasons to purchase this very capable machine. One reason is to get out on the trails where the difference in horsepower is not an issue. The 200 horsepower of the current model is sufficient to move the Wrangler through almost any obstacle one might find out there...remember that speed on the trail is not a virtue.

The Hummer Recovery Vehicle (The Jeep Geek’s main ride) is a 2 door Rubicon. The Rubicon gearing together with the adaptive engine controller allows for very good acceleration and is able to handle highways, hill roads and the like just fine. The Jeep Geek is able to get his yayas out.

So why all the pent up demand for this new engine? Everyone wants just a bit more power from time to time in their vehicle. The Jeep Geek doubts that anything short of infinite power would satisfy everyone. Some forums’ users have labeled the 2011 Wrangler as severely underpowered...this just isn’t true. This is not a modified fuel racer...it is an off-road beast...the best on the planet for off-roading. In fact, nothing is better in bad weather on the road either. This is a mighty capable vehicle and should not be dismissed just because it might be better somehow. What vehicle can’t be improved? Do people use that same criteria when talking about other vehicles?

So back to the subject. The Bill of Materials list the 3.6L VVT engine and a new 5 speed automatic transmission as included in the new 2012 Wranglers. The 6 speed manual transmission is still an available option. The Jeep Geek can’t tell if there is any other change to the Wrangler based on the Bill of Materials. But in all likelihood there is not much else that has changed. The 2011 had a pretty extensive interior refresh in 2011, so it is unlikely that much will change here. The exterior won’t change much since the appearance of the Wrangler is iconic. Will a couple of body panels change shape? Possibly slightly, but uncertain.

Additional changes are that the Rubicon can be ordered with matching body colored hard top and body colored fenders (similar to the Sahara model). Colors that are available are White, Sahara Tan, Flame Red, Cherry Red, Natural Green, Cosmos Blue, Silver but at this time no Black...although that may change. Chrysler had a pigment supplier that was located in Japan and their production was halted due to the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year. More colors may become available once their production is restored.

So what should you do? Wait for the 2012 to get the new engine? Or purchase the 2011? Well the answer is, it depends. If you have a JK today...you might want to wait to upgrade. If you don’t, then the 2012 won’t be on lots until late September or October. This is the end of the off-road season...most Jeep trails are only open from July to October due to snow and snow melt. If you want to get off the pavement this summer, the 2011 Jeep Wrangler is a very satisfying vehicle that will let you get out and have fun in the great out doors.

Late September or October? Do you really have to wait that long to get one of the 2012s? No, you can order one today and it will probably be delivered in late August or early September. Dealers probably won’t see Wranglers in their inventory til later because of the pent up demand. Customer orders are prioritized over stock units. So most of the units that will be built in August will be customer (pre-sold) orders. It is likely that stock units will not be built until September. Those won’t arrive at dealers until late September or October. You can order today and be one of the first to receive these new units. The only hitch is that you won’t be able to test drive one before you order.

What can you do if you want the horsepower of the new units before the 2012s are available. Buy a 2011 and upgrade the engine power via one of the methods that The Jeep Geek wrote about earlier. You can read these articles in the archive section of this website.

As The Jeep Geek has written about, the key is getting torque to the wheels. The current 3.8L engine is a very torquey engine, even at low RPMs. The delivered torque can be improved by changing gear ratios, adding cold air intake and free flowing exhaust, or by bolting on a supercharger. All this can be accomplished easily and without voiding the factory warranty...of course, you can also swap the 3.8L V6 engine with a 5.8L VVT Hemi conversion that Pollard Jeep has done a number of times. This conversion will give you much more power than even the new Pentastar engine will provide.

Or you can just wait and see what the new units will be like. If it was The jeep Geek’s decision, he would buy now and enjoy the trails and see what the new engines were like next year.

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AEV is In the House

The Jeep Geek has always been impressed with Mopar upgrades for Wranglers for the simple reason that they are well thought through and just work well. He has not changed his mind despite this article. The Jeep Geek likes to have options, choices, you know...like most jeepers, he likes to break the rules sometimes and do something totally different.

A week ago, The Jeep Geek tested a wrangler that had been outfitted with a 3 1/2” lift, Hemi engine, off-road bumpers, heat reduction hood, side armor, 35 inch tires, off-road wheels. It was quite eye-opening.

Of course the Hemi engine provided a good deal of head snap as expected, The Jeep Geek still feels that this is a bit of overkill. What really impressed him was the suspension kit. The AEV 3 1/2” SC lift performed beautifully on the road. Most do not. Even the Mopar lifts show a bit more stiffness on the highway...not really uncomfortable, but noticeable. The engineering on the AEV lift allowed for a very smooth ride on the highway. The way the arm brackets are dropped, allow for the feel of a very long arm suspension, which puts the energy absorption of bumps into the springs and shocks, rather than the trailing arm link. Very clever. This combined with the progressive rate springs yields a ride that is as close to unmodified as The Jeep Geek has experienced. On the trail these lifts have proven themselves to be as capable as any on the market.

What The Jeep Geek appreciates is that this lift has the best ride on highway of any lift he is familiar with, and is as capable as the best off-road. It is able to use all the Electronic Stability Program functionality...just like the factory suspension. Another virtue of this lift is the price. While this lift is priced in the premium portion of the market, it is about the same price as the Mopar 2” lift, and the 4 1/2” version is much less than the 4 1/2” Mopar lift. It would not surprise The Jeep Geek if Mopar assigns a part number to this lift soon, as they have done to many of the other AEV products.

So, AEV is in the house. For all of you in the Boulder Colorado area, we are having a big event on Saturday June 18th. AEV, the JK krawlers group, and Pollard Jeep are putting on a Jeep show, swap meet, and various informational presentations. Come out and join in the fun. Meet other off-roaders so you can connect to some of their outings and get the most out of your rig.

If you are new to jeeping, this is a great opportunity to see what is going on, test drive some rigs, and get the information you need to make this hobby safe and fun. The Jeep Geek will see you there.

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Computers Everywhere

The Jeep Geek was driving his daughters to school today (and then on to work). The conversation centered on the many computers in cars today. You might want to know why this obtuse conversation occurred...well The Jeep Geek just paid $1600 to replace a computer in his daughter’s Volvo (as well as a few additional bits of maintenance). Sigh. The computer that was replaced was the one that controls the steering wheel. When this particular computer dies, then the turn signals don’t work.

The Jeep Geek observed that when the computers work, every thing is wonderful. We all love all the gadgets, capabilities, luxuries that the many computers in a car provide. But the law of increasing numbers works against the reliability of simple solutions to problems. For example, if a company has 30 computers in their organization, and the average failure rate is one in 10 years, then this company will see 3 failures per year. Guess what...many modern cars have over 30 computer modules in them. Three failures per year would be unacceptable to any car buyer. The auto industry average is between 1 and 1 1/2 failures per year overall. Chrysler’s scores in this area are improving against the competition...it is interesting to note that the Japanese auto companies don’t stack at the top for reliability any more... US companies have overtaken them.

But The Jeep Geek digresses. If one can expect regular repair bills to replace computer modules how does one afford such a situation? Well, two things here. First, the computer modules in the auto are far more reliable than the ones we buy for our homes and businesses...most of the failures that are discussed above are not computer module failures...many are little things that don’t cost much money...some are expensive computer modules.

The Jeep Geek sells many Jeeps with the optional Lifetime extended warranties to those customers who typically keep their vehicles longer than 3 years. The cost of these warranties are typically about the price of a computer module failure...or other major component failure and is a good way to prepare for the unexpected. A recurring theme in The Jeep Geek’s life...he is, after all, married to a reliability engineer.

Failures are often preventable by good design, careful manufacturing and regular maintenance...but until GOD makes the vehicle there will be failures. Jeeps are particularly reliable these days thanks to the 6 sigma quality programs that Chrysler has put into place, but everyone should be prepared to deal with the cost of a failure of their vehicle...either by making sure that a good warranty is in place, or by saving up for repairs.

Hopefully you will experience problem free driving that most of us Jeep owners experience. But mechanical things do break and The Jeep Geek hopes you are prepared.
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Mag-chloride

Winter here in Colorado is rough. That’s The Jeep Geek’s story and he is sticking by it. While we are having a mild winter this year, we have still had some snow, ice and some extremely cold days (-8 F). Every one of these days The Jeep Geek was glad he was driving a 4x4...although if he were not he may have gotten a few days off this winter.

While there is not much happening off-road this time of year, The Jeep Geek is seeing a lot of vehicles coming off lease with corroded chrome. Being the curious lad that he is, The Jeep Geek began investigating the cause of this malady.

Turns out that the very de-icing compounds that are used in the winter weather cause this corrosion. People on the east coast understand this salt damage on the underside of their cars...the salt is on the road for a large part of the winter, however here in Colorado we don’t get that much snow down here where it is only 1 mile high. So our under-carriages don’t rust out...in fact very few vehicles here have any body rust.

However we do have chrome damage. There are three things that can be done to prevent this problem here in Colorado.

  • Don’t buy a Jeep with Chrome. The Hummer Recovery Vehicle only has one tiny piece of chrome on it...the Jeep Logo on the front of the hood. The Jeep Geek prefers this approach since an off-road vehicle will be damaged on the trail anyway...scratches and scraps are common and referred to as Colorado Pin Striping. Chrome and scratches just clash. The Jeep Geek is such a fashion horse that he would not be seen in such a vehicle.
  • Wash the Jeep every day that it is driven in snow. Get the Mag-chloride off the chrome before it has a chance to react with it. This approach seems like too much work to The Jeep Geek so he does not recommend this method. But some of his customers are this anal and use this to keep their Jeeps show room clean.
  • Chrysler has a couple of products that can be installed at the Jeep store that bonds to the chrome (and paint for that matter) and prevents the mag-chloride from attaching to the vehicle. This is the approach that The Jeep Geek recommends to his customers who purchase Jeeps with lots of chrome on them, such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee. These are beautiful vehicles and will benefit from the application of Mopar’s Master Shield products.

Master Shield lasts for about 3 years and re-application is free at the Jeep store that The Jeep Geek works at. This approach provides a lifetime guarantee for all the chrome and painted surfaces. (as well as a free detail every three years!!!).

The value of any vehicle, when it is traded for a new vehicle, is based on two things...miles on the odometer and the visual appeal of the vehicle. Does it look like it was cared for or does it look like it was trashed. This will determine if the vehicle is in execellent condition or is it in poor condition. This can contribute up to a $3000 difference in the value of the vehicle.

So you can choose from the three choices listed above to deal with the ravages of mag-chloride. Life is too short to stop and wash your Jeep after a tough commute in the snow.

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Selec-Terrain

The new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a new feature that is a must have capability. Selec Terrain is a user tunable 4 wheel drive system that modifies a number of components based on the conditions of the road. This system makes the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee a far more capable system than the previous generation...on road or off.

The Jeep Geek will now explain how this marvelous system works. First, it can be left in the auto position and the system will perform much as the previous generation of Grand Cherokees did. No need to think about it. The system leaves the traction control system in nominal mode, 45% of the engine power is delivered to the front wheels and 55% is sent to the rear wheels and the Transmission behaves normally.

If the driver places the switch in the snow position, then the system puts a bit more power in the front wheels, starts the vehicle in 2nd gear and makes the traction control system more aggressive. This gives a superior response in snow conditions...much like we are having today throughout the US.

Now once the weather turns nice and the driver wants to get their ya-yas out, the switch can be placed in the sport position. What happens is 80% of the power is delivered to the rear wheels (this is where you want power for racing...improves acceleration and handling). The traction control system is also turned off so that the driver is able to drift through corners. The shift points on the transmission are also tuned to be a bit stiffer. Finally, if the Grand Cherokee is also equipped with Quadra-lift then the Jeep will be lowered by about half an inch to improve aerodynamics.

Sand and mud settings are similar to snow, except that the Jeep is started in 1st gear. As The Jeep Geek wrote in last week’s article the key in navigating sand is to not spin the wheels...the opposite is true in mud so some driver intervention with the system may be needed.

The final selection is Rock. To enter this mode the 4 wheel drive system must be placed in low range. This is done by placing the transmission in neutral and pressing the 4wd Low button right next to the Selec Terrain switch. Once the Jeep is in low range, the switch can be turned to Rock and this mode is engaged. As before the traction control system is more aggressive. If the Grand Cherokee is equipped with the Quadra-lift system the Jeep is raised up to 4 inches giving a pretty good ground clearance. In this mode the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a pretty capable off-roader.

The Selec Terrain system can be ordered on any level of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and is a “must have” feature. This feature will improve the already impressive safety profile of the Grand Cherokee and allow you to “get there”.

Now The Jeep Geek will brave the sub-zero temperatures we are experiencing and conquer the snow build up from yesterday to get to work. He will do so without the selec terrain as The Hummer Recovery Vehicle is not equipped with this feature...maybe next year.
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Gears, Gears, Gears

Jeep performance is as much about gearing as it is engine horsepower. To improve vehicle performance the goal is to get more torque to the wheel...where it will be imparted to the ground. Traction does play a factor in all this...it does no good to stomp on the accelerator and spin the wheels...no power is imparted to the ground...speed is not attained. However, the primary issue is getting the power to the wheel.

The Jeep Geek has explained (in previous articles) how to improve the performance of the engine. In this article he will take a different approach to accomplish the goal of more power.

So a little basic math is involved...the Wrangler Sport (or Sahara for that matter) come with differential (final gear ratio) gear ratios of 3.21:1 What this means is that for every rotation of the tire the drive shaft rotates 3.21 times. The Rubicon has a final gear ratio of 4.11:1...this represents a 28% improvement in power (Torque) delivered to the wheels. Instead of 3.21 turns of the drive shaft causing one turn of the Rubicon’s wheel, it takes 4.11 turns of the drive shaft to turn the wheel once. This increase in torque is called the torque multiplication by gearing effect. This is why The Jeep Geek’s Rubicon is able to accelerate so rapidly...gearing...even though it has the same engine as a Sport.

In fact, the effect of this increase due to torque multiplication is the same as adding 60 horsepower to the Sport engine. (The standard 3.8LV6 engine in the Wrangler produces 208Hp...a 28% increase would be near 60Hp). Wow...gearing can really help energize a Wrangler. So is it possible to upgrade a wrangler gears with those with higher gear ratios? Yup...plenty of gear choices out there and you should consider this option. Especially if you are putting a lift kit on with oversized tires.

So if one adds larger tires (tires with a larger diameter) then this effect works against us because the tire must travel a larger distance for each revolution...this robs power. Adding a higher gear ratio can overcome that effect.

The Jeep Geek recommends that you increase the gear ratio of a Wrangler to 4.88:1 if you are running 35” tires. If you want to run 37” tires, then consider a jump to 5.13:1 gears. Both of these are widely available and will provide good power without unduly sacrificing fuel economy. It may be difficult to get these higher gear ratios into a Rubicon’s differential and still maintain the electronic locking differential functionality. It can be done, but the gears may not fully mesh...check with your local jeep technician.

Gearing may be the way to go if you are trying to boost power...especially if you have an automatic transmission powered Wrangler. In these units, the computer for the automatic transmission tends to de-tune the engine so some milder engine modifications don’t seem to unlock the engine potential.

A word of caution...if you change the gear ratio...be sure to have the odometer/speedometer adjusted to reflect this change. If you don’t you may find you are collecting speeding tickets...just a thought.
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Preparing for Winter

So where you are the weather may be fine...where The Jeep Geek lives we are preparing for the long winter here in the Rocky Mountains. Most of the Jeep trails here are closed (or rapidly closing) and won’t re-open until mid-summer. What is a Jeeper to do in the winter here?

Well, two options. One is to go somewhere else. Duh... There are still some Arizona trails open that are gorgeous...neat red sandstone formations...great critters that can be encountered as well.

Or

You can take the next few weeks and winterize your gear. Here’s what The Jeep Geek recommends:

  • First, clean the jeep. The Jeep Geek recommends that you steam clean the engine compartment and underside of the Jeep...get all that mud and caked dirt off the jeep.
  • Inspect the underside for bare metal areas that may rust when road salts hit them. Apply a bit of rustoleum paint to these areas. Remember this is the price you paid when you scraped bottom on those rocks last summer.
  • If you have a winch...now is the time to pay out the line and if it is steel cable, inspect it carefully for frayed or kinked areas. Also a little oil wiped on now will go a long way to extending the life of the cable. If you have a synthetic line...you lucky dog...inspect it for frays, you just don’t have to be as careful as steel cable frays will cut your hands pretty badly. Replace any line that is frayed, steel or synthetic...you don’t want to risk a break on the trail just when you need the line to hold. Also clean and lubricate the winch and slowly pay in the line and wrap it neatly. Did you hear, oil the line alot if it is steel.
  • Inspect your winch kit. Look for frayed tree straps and recovery straps. If they are frayed, time to replace them. Check the condition of your heavy duty leather gloves at this time...not the place to skimp...there should be no holes. Finally, inspect the snatch block. Look closely at the central bearing area...check for any slop here or binding...time to replace this if it isn’t perfect. These things are cheap to replace and if they fail can cause expensive damage.
  • Check Hi-jacks, shovels, axes etc. A dull and rusty axe or shovel is dangerous. The heads should be cleaned and oiled. You should take this opportunity to sharpen them fresh. Also, inspect the handles should be free if splinters and in general should be in good condition. The Hi-jack should be inspected for damage, worn holes or ratchets and should be cleaned and oiled.
  • Now go down to your closest Jeep store and have your vehicle serviced. Particularly a lube, oil and filter service. Also have them check the radiator...these things get a lot of abuse on the trail, good time to get the radiator flushed and pressure tested so you won’t be left stranded on the trail. Also, Brakes get a real workout on the trail and these should be inspected. The Jeep Geek recommends that all this be done at a Jeep Dealer because they don’t use skinny high school students to perform these checks...they use trained and certified technicians...many of whom share your passion for off-roading. The store that The Jeep Geek works at has very low cost maintenance packages available...like buy one oil change and get three free. What ever you do here, make sure whoever is under your jeep cares as much about it as you do.
Now that all this is done, your rig is clean, lubed, and all your equipment is put away in the garage until summer you have nothing to do till the trails open up. How will you survive till then?
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Different Differentials

The Jeep Geek is often asked what the differences are between the Sport and Rubicon (they both look similar). When he tries to answer the question it becomes clear that often the questioner doesn’t have a fundamental understanding of four wheel drive systems. So The Jeep Geek thought it would be good to lay out the different differentials that one encounters in 4 by 4 systems.

First, the differential is the pumpkin sized bubble roughly in the middle of the axle. In the case of a four wheel drive vehicle, there is one differential on the front axle and one on the rear. These connect to the transfer case which splits the engine power (from the transmission) to each axle.

The job of the differential is to enable the wheels on an axle to turn at different speeds. Yup, different speeds. The Jeep Geek will explain. When a vehicle turns around a corner, the wheels on the outside of the corner turn at a faster speed than the wheels on the inside. (The radius of the turn is shorter on the inside of the turn by the width of the car. This makes the outside wheels travel a greater distance in the same amount of time...hence faster.)

If there was no differential it would take two men and a strong boy to turn the steering wheel, and the vehicle would buck violently as it makes the turn.

The power going to the axle moves to the outside wheel (which is turning faster) whenever the vehicle makes a turn. This is an “Open Differential”.

Open Differential

Most 4 wheel drive vehicles have open differentials. This improves drivability on paved roads. It also makes steering easier and reduces stresses on the steering system, tires, front suspension and driver’s nerves. All-in-all an elegant solution with only one drawback.

The trouble with open differentials is when one wheel loses traction (such as off-road or snow) then all the power on the axle goes to the wheel that has lost traction. If the transfer case is also an open transfer case, then all the engine power goes to the wheel that is slipping uselessly...and you are stuck.

Now there are ways of dealing with this situation if you have open differentials and are stuck. One method is to apply the brakes (lightly) which will slow the spinning wheel. At the same time apply gas to the engine and the differential will “think” that the formerly slipping wheel now has traction and move some of the power back to the other wheel(s) which hopefully do have traction. This effect is at the heart of all modern traction control systems. They automatically apply some brake pressure to a spinning wheel to make sure that all the power doesn’t “leak out” of the axle.

So what if someone designed a differential that only transferred some of the power to the wheel that was slipping...say 60% of the power and retained 40% on the wheel that had traction (or in the case of going around a corner, only transferred 60% of the power to the outside wheel)? That might be called a “Limited Slip Differential”. How would that be?

Limited Slip Differential

A limited slip differential does just what the name suggests. It limits the slip of the power from the wheel that has traction to the wheel that lost traction. In fact it keeps 40% of the power with the wheel that has traction and only allows 60% of the power to slip. This enables enough slip to make it easy to navigate a turn on dry pavement and still leaves enough power in each wheel so that if you are off-roading you won’t lose as much traction and momentum.

Most manufacturers offer limited slip differentials on the rear axle only, leaving the front axle open. This is done to improve steering and ride quality while still giving some ability to get out of a difficult situation. It’s not perfect, but offers good performance in snow and normal off-road conditions.

On the subject of limited slip differentials not being perfect, here is a story about one of The Jeep Geek’s friends. He was driving his large 4 wheel drive pickup trucks in farm country. After passing the road he wanted to take, he tried to do a u-turn and ended up in a deep drainage ditch, nose first...rear end sticking up in the air...rear wheels off the ground. Since his truck had an open differential and limited slip differential in the rear, he was stuck. One of his front wheels was slipping and all the power was sent to this wheel, no traction at all in the rear (air has low co-efficient of traction). He had to be pulled out of the ditch by a friendly farmer and his truck was no worse for wear.

While the story above is an extreme example of what could happen to defeat the power of a limited slip differential, most people will find that this type of differential works best for their needs. If it doesn’t, wouldn’t it be nice to throw a switch and turn off the slip and lock up the differential when needed? That’s possible.

Locking Differential

The third type of differential that we will look at is the Locking Differential. This differential is normally open. So as you drive around with this vehicle you find that it drives normally. But when you approach an obstacle (in low range please) you can throw a couple of switches and a relay (or air supply) causes an extra gear to engage in the differential that locks the two wheels on the axle to turn together at exactly the same speed. No power is transferred across the differential...it is locked 50%/50%.

This setup is ideal for rock crawling where one wheel may be hanging in space when the other wheel is crawling up a large rock. This setup allows the maximum mechanical energy to be left with the wheel that has traction. No traction control braking to slow down momentum. No power slipping out the spinning wheel, just a slow steady crawl up a boulder strewn path.

The only downside of this solution is that the Jeep is very difficult to turn while the axles are locked...again two men and a strong boy are needed. Some Jeepers just lock the rear axle and leave the front axle unlocked when they approach an obstacle that may require some maneuvering to avoid things that can’t be crawled over. This at least provides optimum traction in the back, ok traction in the front and the ability to turn. Then when the path ahead is clear of the need to steer, the front axle can again be locked.

So the type of differential that you need depends on the conditions that you expect to encounter. The Jeep Geek loves the locking differentials that came in his Rubicon...but they are not perfect for every condition and perhaps a Limited Slip Differential is a better choice for you.

The Jeep Geek is willing to provide a free consultation to any of you who would like his advise, just drop a note on the Contact Us page and he will respond.
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Manual vs. Automatic

The battle lines have been drawn for decades and now The Jeep Geek wades into the fray. Many beginning Jeepers have asked The Jeep Geek if they should purchase a Wrangler with automatic transmission manual transmission. The answer he gives is:...well it depends.

If you want to roar down city (or country) roads like a bat-out-of-hell, then the Jeep Geek recommends a corvette (ok...just kidding The Jeep Geek wanted to see if you were paying attention). The Jeep Geek recommends a manual transmission. This is because you can pick shift points that are at the top of the torque curve. In addition most of the power boosting engine mods available for the Wrangler only work well on manual transmissions. Apparently the automatic transmission computer tends to de-tune the engine performance a bit which wipes out any gains made by opening up the breathing of the engine.

The Jeep Geek recommends the automatic transmission if the new Jeeper wants to do some off-roading with their new Wrangler. Huh? Automatic is better for off-road? Yup. The rumbling sound you hear is old Jeepers turning over in their graves.

The key issue on off-road use is control. Slow and easy, carefully executed maneuvers yield the desired result, getting over an obstacle with a minimum of damage to the Jeep (and the ego of the driver).

So given slow is good when rock crawling, lets examine what that looks like on the trail. When you start going over a rock you are going to be moving slow as you climb it...however once your wheel gets to the upper portion of a large rock (or small boulder) it will pick up speed if you aren’t using your brake. Going down the back side of a rock requires just as much slow going as the front side. If you allow the Jeep to lurch forward as you transition to the back side of a rock, you will allow the Jeep to slam down on the rock and this is a potential cause of damage to your Jeep. So rock crawling requires one foot on the gas pedal and one on the brake. In a manual transmission you will also need one on the clutch. (not really, The Jeep Geek will explain in a few moments).

It is just a lot easier to rock-crawl with one foot on the brake and one on the gas. Then you can control speed on obstacles a lot easier. Yes, you do have a hand brake, but that activates only rear wheels, and your hands are going to be busy on the steering wheel as you are crawling...don’t use the hand brake unless you stall and need to restart the engine.

So is it even possible to rock-crawl with a manual...yes. The technique is similar to crawling with an automatic, one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake. It is a bit more difficult to do this without stalling, but stalling your Jeep is not the end of the world. If you do stall, just apply the parking brake (so you don’t slip off the rock), take your left foot off the brake and put it on the clutch and restart the engine...let the clutch out slowly as you release the hand brake...then get that left foot back on the brake.

So what about heel-toe technique with the brake and gas pedal? Leave that for your roadsters out on country roads. It is just too dangerous on the trail. You need to concentrate on keeping the vehicle moving (slowly) and riding the brake is the best way to keep things from getting out of control. (Things can get away from you fast on the trail.)

So what do you do if you bought a manual transmission Wrangler and you want to go off-road? Learn the technique above and have a ball out there. Don’t beat yourself up if you find you are restarting the Jeep often as you learn the technique.

Which transmission is right for you? The one you enjoy driving most. Both choices are good, personal preferences should dictate. Just don’t think that with an automatic you are somehow impaired off-road.
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A Few Notes on Tires

The Jeep Geek has a new favorite tire. Over the years he has gone back and forth between BF Goodrich and Goodyears. However the new Goodyear Wrangler Kevlar has captured his cold hard heart.

One wonders if The Jeep Geek will have enough to say on the subject of tires to fill a blog article...doubtful, but he can be surprisingly pedantic and verbose.

We digress, tires make the world go round. Well maybe they don’t, but tires are an often overlooked consideration when contemplating modifications that will perform both on and off-road. The quality of tires will either provide the traction needed to gain full enjoyment out of your 4 wheel drive system, or slip and slide on both the rocks and snow covered roads. The Jeep Geek is often surprised to see someone spend thousands of dollars on lifts, bumpers, body armor, winches, compressors, engine modifications and then purchase awful tires that don’t perform well and make a ton of howling noise on the highway.

So the primary job of the tire is to transfer the torque of the drive line to the ground via traction. Traction is measured on various surfaces. A tire that works well on dry pavement may not provide much traction on a slippery rock, or snow. Designing a tire that performs well on all surfaces is extremely difficult...if not impossible. Design trade-offs have to be made to provide a tire that excels on a particular surface. They will not perform as well on other surfaces. So the trick is finding something that is balanced for a number of surfaces.

Off-road tires have, historically, had two annoying characteristics: They tended to be noisy on the highways, and the tread life was low. Improvements have been made. While there are still in-expensive off road tires out there with these same short-comings, the BF Goodrich Mud Terrain T/As and the Goodyear Wrangler Kevlars are notable exceptions.

Both of these tires use a variable spacing on the tread to reduce highway noise. This makes for a much more pleasant highway driving experience...much quieter than other off-road tires. They also have great off-road traction as well as good traction on roads. The Goodyear tire also has very good traction in snow which makes this an ideal tire for our conditions here in Colorado.

As far as tread life is concerned, the BF Goodrich tire is rated at 40,000 miles (The Jeep Geek’s experience is that the BF Goodrich gets just under this lifespan). The Goodyear tire really excels here. It is rated at 60,000 miles. This additional lifespan makes the premium paid for the tire a more cost effective choice.

One further advantage of the Goodyear tire is the quality of the construction of the bead. The tire bead is so well formed that for tackling slippery rock, the tire can be aired down to 8 lbs. This increases the surface patch. This larger surface patch allows for more traction. In fact the tread of the tire extends pretty far down the sidewall of this tire. The BF Goodrich tire can also be aired down to about 15 lbs allowing for a large surface patch as well, but smaller than the Goodyear.

One final advantage for the Goodyear tire is that it uses Kevlar belts which makes it much harder to puncture that other
blogEntryTopper fabric or steel belts. All-n-all this Goodyear tire is a great tire and is the recommended tire for all of The Jeep Geeks friends.
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