Should You Buy an Extended Warranty for your Jeep?

I have purchased my fair share of new and used vehicles over the course of my 20 years on the road, and I have been asked by a few people about warranties. So, I figured on this damp Oregon morning, I’d make some espresso and share some thoughts.

1. Consider Your Plans.

If you are buying a commuter car, and you plan on keeping it stock (or mostly stock), a warranty can be a good deal.  This obviously protects you from unplanned breakage on the vehicle, but also as a daily driver, it can save you time and headaches if the dealer can provide a loaner vehicle. It also keeps you from relying on possible other vehicles you own (and perhaps more expensive, like a Jeep) as a daily driver until repairs can be made.

However, if you plan on buying a Jeep and quickly modifying it into a full-time rock crawler, an extended warranty can be a real headache.

I purchased my first Jeep, a 1998 TJ Wrangler in California and declined to purchase the extended warranty.  Over the next few years I would see an engine replacement, radiator swap, transmission replacement, and exhaust system replacement (twice!) all out of my own pocket.  I never really wheeled it, and it was mostly stock.  I wish I purchased the warranty.

Probably not covered under warranty.
Probably not covered under warranty.

On the other end of the spectrum, when I purchased my last Jeep, a 2013 JK Wrangler, I declined all extended warranties (at the protest of the sales guy, of course).

But you would think after the TJ, I would have learned my lesson, right?

Also, choose your dealership carefully.  I know this is hard when you pull into a random dealership to just buy a Jeep, but this can save you time and hassles.  Northwest Jeep Chrysler Dodge is my dealership and they have been awesome with warranty items covered by my standard warranty.  I have heard about other dealers in the area with less than stellar reputations.  A lot of repairs are left to the dealership’s discretion.

From Chrysler's manuals.
From Chrysler’s manuals.

2. Modifications and Warranties do not mix.

Car companies are in the business to sell vehicles and make a profit.  So it is in their best interest to find any way to decline your warranty claim (while also pushing you hard to purchase one).

As you customize your Jeep you will soon encounter certain looks at the dealership as they feverishly make notes in the system about the scratches on your skid plates, the size of your tires, and the suspension you added.  Why?  Because if you come in for a bent track bar, they can simply deny the claim and blame it on the spacer lift you installed.

When I purchased the 2013, I knew from the get go it would be heavily modified.  So to save the headache, I rolled the dice and declined all extended warranties.

He's gonna need that gun when the dealer laughs about his warranty claims.
He’s gonna need that gun when the dealer laughs about his warranty claims.

3. Warranties are not Cheap.

You are in the sales office, still on the contact high from that new Jeep smell.  You cannot wait to hop in it, and drive home, and start placing orders on Northridge.  You sign document after document, just to make the process move along.  Finally, as carpal tunnel starts to set in, the finance guy pushes a laminated card in front of you, touting their extended (maybe even lifetime) warranty options.

Of course, the price of these warranties are spelled out as the increase to your monthly payment.  So that awesome lifetime warranty would only increase my payment by $30!?  It’s a DEAL!  They also like to scare you by showing the prices of “common” repairs such as engine replacement, transmission repairs, etc (right as you are hoping to buy a quality vehicle from them).

But remember you will pay interest on that $30, as the full cost of the warranty is added on your loan.  Second, over the 60 months some people are financing, that can add up almost $2,000 in additional cost before the interest.  That could negate your entire down payment.

4. Weigh Your Options.

The first thing you need to answer for yourself is how you plan on using the vehicle.  If it will remain stock, and you plan on keeping it for a very long time, an extended warranty can make sense.

However, if you plan on lifting it, swapping drive shafts, adding engine tuners and CAIs, bigger tires and electronics, you should stick with the factory 3/36 and call it good.

You will also feel a sense of freedom, knowing that an investment in a lifetime warranty is not guiding (read: restricting) your build plans.  You can do whatever you want to your vehicle.

Robert helping me void my warranty with a quickness (and a cutoff wheel).

Keep these points fresh in your mind as you walk into the dealership and save yourself some headaches and money in the finance office.

Store Review: Viva La Vegan Grocery [Rancho Cucamonga]

When it comes to vegan grocery stores, Food Fight in Portland is considered my own personal “high water mark.”  They just don’t get any better than that.

So I was really stunned to find a vegan grocery store in California that blew Food Fight out of the proverbial coconut water.

Viva La Vegan is a huge grocery store in an old railroad building nestled among the community of Rancho Cucamonga.  With a ton of open space and great lighting, the store is bright and airy, and very well laid out.

A nice, open layout.

The produce section, while small, was clean and had some really nice fruits and veggies.  The frozen food was really impressive, with a lot of the asian vegan analogs, with some even available in bulk (they also had bulk Daiya cheeses and bulk Beyond Meat).

A beautiful produce section.

The usual contenders also had a significant presence – Daiya and their pizzas, Beyond Meat (which is a local company for Viva La Vegan) and Gardein had an entire freezer, with products I haven’t even seen before.

Some of the many vegan frozen items.

Also in the refrigerated section, it was nice to see some self-branded grab and go items such as Jackfruit Carnitas, Mac and Cheese, and some others with the Viva La Vegan label on them.

The cheese section was IN-SANE with products from Miyoko’s Creamery, Treeline, Daiya, Teese, and others.

Vegan cheese for days.

One of the most impressive sections of the store, however was not even for the human vegan, it went to the dogs.  With a huge array of V Dog and other dog stuff, it was by far one of the most impressive vegan dog aisles ever.

Gone to the dogs: an impressive vegan pet aisle!

Last was the very significant supplement selection.  Viva La Vegan has everything from essential oils, to Vega sport protein, and all the standard pills and vitamins.  They also featured lotions, and vegan cosmetics.

A massive cosmetics/oils/supplement section.

Groceries are great and all, but what I really wanted to try was their deli, which is a work in progress at the time of this writing. What offerings they did have, were burritos, tacos, or bowls.  I ordered a “beef” burrito with black beans, nacho cheese, rice, and sour cream.  The beef was actually really good, more of a beef chunk than a beef crumble.  I forget the brand of beef they used but I was not familiar with it.  The burrito was huge and made an awesome lunch.  They also have a small case with fresh vegan donuts.

Last, there was a great section in the back of the building with vegan shoes (some of the men’s dress shoes were from Portugal), clothing, consignment and even wall art.  A lot of the stuff was really nice.

I’ll be honest…in closing, I think the location for Viva La Vegan is weird.  I would never in a million years expect a store of this magnitude in a place like Rancho Cucamonga (there is another location in Santa Monica).  But good for them and good for the people around that continue to support this awesome vegan business!

Product Install: Bully Dog GT Platinum Tuner

Now that my build is pretty established, with the long arm kit, coil overs, and new 37s I figured it was time to start thinking about ways to save money and improve some trail functionality.

One of the areas I have been interested in was the tuner market.  On a recent visit to 4 Wheel Parts in Portland, I decided to pick up a Bully Dog GT Platinum tuner.  I will write an actual review of this unit after I spend some time with it.

The install had some gotchas, so I thought I’d write a more detailed install, to help others save time.

In the box: the tuner, USB cable (tied in with the HDMI cable), HDMI cable, OBDII adapter, windshield mount, power cable, electronic connectors, and two badges.

Continue reading Product Install: Bully Dog GT Platinum Tuner

Alaska Offroad Warriors – Pick Us!

Hello Original Productions!

You are here because you most likely received my email, asking to be  a part of the next Alaska Offroad Warriors.

Chad navigating the Rubicon.
Chad navigating the Rubicon.

So why us?

  1. There is finally a Jeep that can kick Super Jeeps‘ ass.
  2. I am a pesky vegan, and Chad (my copilot) is a ravenous meat eater.  We banter like none other.
  3. I am an ex-Alaskan, and know the state, and unique hazards of the terrain.
  4. We have a lot of offroad experience – from the Rubicon (twice), Moab (twice), Manastash Ridge in Washington, Jim Creek in Alaska, and many, many other expeditions.
Frank will take on Super Jeep.  Any day of the week.
Frank will take on Super Jeep. Any day of the week.

Product Review: Rugged Ridge Heat Reduction Hood

One of the biggest concerns I have had with the JK platform was under hood heat.  The engine bays (in both the 3.8 and 3.6 variants) are super cramped, and we push our Jeeps when offroading, especially in hot and dusty places like Moab or the Rubicon.

I was really excited when Rugged Ridge sent me one of their performance vented hoods to try.  This would be the perfect chance to see just what kind of a difference would be seen with a vented hood.

We push our Jeeps in some pretty hot and arid places such as Moab.

Before the Rugged Ridge hood, I considered a bunch of options. Starting with the cheaper end, I looked at hood louvers from companies like Gen Right and Poison Spider.  The biggest benefit to these, is that you do not need to paint your hood.

Continue reading Product Review: Rugged Ridge Heat Reduction Hood

Product Review: Rugged Ridge XHD Wheels

I have had quite a few wheels on my Jeeps over the years.  My TJ had factory, my first JK had American Racing, and my 2012 Rubicon had MTBs.  All of these rims had one fatal flaw in my opinion – although they looked good, they were scratch and damage magnets when on the trail.

My old TJ, wheelin in Colorado with stock Jeep wheels.

I started looking at beadlocks, because I really wanted a replaceable rock ring (and of course other benefits).  The biggest downside to beadlocks for me was price and legality (many beadlocks are not approved for on road use).

So when I first saw Rugged Ridge’s XHD wheels at Jeep Beach, I was really excited.  These wheels feature an optional, replaceable rock ring that does an awesome job protecting the rim.  And the price is a lot cheaper than beadlocks.

Continue reading Product Review: Rugged Ridge XHD Wheels

The US Doesn’t Need New Gun Policy

NOTE: In a recent poll where I asked my readers what type of content they would like to see on this blog, a handful asked for more personal opinion pieces.  This is my first in this series.

Sometimes I like Bill Maher.  Emphasis on sometimes.  He tends to have anger at a time when I need some sort of angry consolation prize.  But on a recent show, he and his guests were discussing how America needs to completely redo gun policy and implement tough new controls.  But Bill Maher has never really been a fan of gun rights.

It made me realize how far off the liberal, anti-gun agenda is (and I consider myself pretty liberal so this is not a jab).

Continue reading The US Doesn’t Need New Gun Policy

What is the Best Phone for Off-roading?

I have always been a gadget guy, interested in the latest mobile devices.  I had the iPhone 3G, 3GS, HTC Evo, Samsung Galaxy S3, and most recently the Note 3.

All of these devices have their own set of pros and cons.

Recently, it was time for me to upgrade so I wanted to look at my top 3 priorities in a phone:

Continue reading What is the Best Phone for Off-roading?

Product Review & Install: Bestop Under Seat Locker

It goes without saying that us Jeep owners are a pretty easy target when it comes to burglars.  In the winter, most of us run a fabric top that can easily be cut, and in the summer with tops and doors removed, we make it even easier.

I have had my eye on Bestop’s Underseat Storage box for quite some time, but was confused as some retailers said it would fit in my 2013 Unlimited, and others said it would not work with fold and tumble.  So today I purchased one and installed it.

Continue reading Product Review & Install: Bestop Under Seat Locker

Product Review: Gardein Fishless Filets

Tonight I had some MAJOR deja vu.  I was eating dinner, and was magically brought back in time to eating fried fish and chips with my family at Ronnie’s Seafood on the side of Route 20 in Auburn, Massachusetts.

The only difference?  Instead of deep fried haddock I was enjoying an amazing, easy vegan meal in my own home.

The vegan meat industry is rapidly crowding with the latest in burger analogs and hot dog fake outs.  But the vegan fish space seems to be pretty vacant.

Tartar sauce, fries, and fish? All vegan!!???

Enter Gardein’s Fishless FIlets.  And they are absolutely amazing.

Continue reading Product Review: Gardein Fishless Filets


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