Category Archives: Helpful Tips

Advisory: Failing Radiator Fans in Jeep JKs

My Jeep had been sitting in the garage for maybe a week.  So I decided to start it up one day, and was greeted with a new chime, and the dreaded Check Engine Light.

I ran my diagnostics through the Bully Dog, and the result was surprising – it returned codes for P0113 – Intake Air Temperature Sensor Circuit High, and P0480 – Fan 1 Control Circuit.

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I forced the fan on via the Bully Dog, and nada.  As a friend of mine recently replaced his fan assembly, I figured I was also looking at a $120 bill and 10 minutes of work.  Well I was wrong.  He has the 3.8l.  The new fan (OEM replacement) is a whopping $500 and very hard to find in stock.

With my wedding approaching (and the Jeep playing a key role in it) I was desperate to find out what was happening.

  1. Fuse and relay check.  I purchased some new fuses, and replaced it.  I ensured all relays and other stuff was firmly seated.

2. I inspected all wiring for abrasions and issues.

3. Last, I went on eBay and found a listing for a new fan for $300.

Before getting the new fan, a good friend came over with a much better understanding of vehicle electronics, and helped me further diagnose.

We soon found the problem!  There are 3 wires that comprise the fan harness.  Black is ground, red is hot, and green carries a signal between 9v-12v and that basically allows the fan to operate on a scale based on engine temps.  It isn’t a straight on/off fan.

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That little green wire had some sort of a short in the connectors.  We disassembled the connectors, reseated everything, and put everything back together.  I cleared the codes, and it has been great ever since.

So, before you panic and replace a $500 fan, check your wiring!

PS.  To the eBay seller in Miami that graciously let me cancel my order, thank you!!!

 

ADVISORY: 3.6L Pentastar Oil Assembly Explosion!

Ok, well maybe an explosion is a strong statement.

Anyway, I just had a crazy thing happen to me while changing my oil.  And, after a quick scan of the web, this is a relatively new issue now that many of the 3.6l Pentastar engines are aging.  This issue seems to only affect model years 2012-2013. 

As with all my oil changes, I left the oil filter cap off while the oil drained.  I was actually in the process of attaching the new o-ring to the cap, and pulling the new filter from the box when BANG!  The sound of a gunshot echoed in the shop.  On the floor was a long plastic piece, and a large spring rolling around.  Oil was sprayed on the fenders, under hood, and the floor.

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The parts I was able to find on my floor.

Upon closer inspection, the long black tube is part of the oil filter bypass valve assembly.  It was missing the smaller spring (from inside the tube) and the valve part itself, which is typically seated at the end of this long tube.  I scoured the shop, and have not been able to find those parts.  They either bounced off the inside of my hood, and into another dimension, or will provide a nice waft of burning plastic someday.

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Dirty oil is everywhere.

The internet also showed me the $200 part I needed to buy. However, on further Googling, I saw that Dorman now makes a little replacement kit $21.95 on Amazon).  Of course, Chrysler’s revenue agents would not allow an OEM kit, unless you buy the entire $200 assembly.  Video here.  Forum links here.

I ordered the replacement parts on Amazon, and will update this post once I install them on Tuesday.

**NOTE: The force this stuff came flying out of the oil filter canister could cause serious injury, especially to the face!  I think it dented the inside of my hood.  PLEASE keep your face away from the oil filter assembly, or replace it with the new filter and cap right away.

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.

Continue reading Should You Buy an Extended Warranty for your Jeep?

UPDATED: Fixing the “Dashboard Christmas Tree” in Jeeps

UPDATED 09/11/2017 with something new!  I was delaying changing out the positive terminal, due to all the aux wiring and everything.  I found a set of “Battery Terminal Shims” at my local auto parts store, and they work awesome!  Just remove the stock terminal ring, slide on the shim, and use a mallet to gently tap the ring back over the new shim.  No gap, no movement!

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UPDATED 10/8/2014 with a very important update!  Even though I applied this fix to my battery terminals, there must have been a very tiny gap that remained between my terminal and the battery post.

On a recent offroading trip, I was winching another vehicle and the additional strain on the battery caused a spark to arc and actually fused the terminal to the battery, causing battery failure.  The ground winch cable was too hot to touch. I was lucky to get out under power and make it home.  It remains an expensive fix (the OEM battery was only a year old) but if you are stuck in the woods, the costs and risks increase. Based on the temperatures, I would not rule out a fire risk. Please REPLACE your terminals immediately to prevent you from getting stuck, or worse.

Battery post with molten lead, fused terminal.
New battery, new terminals. I do plan on upgrading the terminals. These are temporary.

Original post follows:

The forums are ablaze with questions around concerned Jeep drivers, that their gauge cluster will suddenly light up, chime, and do some weird things – but only for a second or two.

I found myself dealing with this exact same problem in both my 2012 and 2013 Rubicons (the videos above are mine).  Taking the 2013 in under warranty, the dealer was just as perplexed as I was.  Eventually they changed the electronic sway bar disconnect motor (claiming it was not sealed for water and thus causing the short).

Continue reading UPDATED: Fixing the “Dashboard Christmas Tree” in Jeeps

Vegan in Moab

**UPDATED!** I added more information about City Market based on our June 2015 trip!

Vegan and heading to Moab?  There are actually quite a few cool places to check out, but there are some tips to also keep in mind.

1. Load up before heading out.

Coming from Portland, we are always sure to stock up on the things we really want, and are not 100% certain we can find in Moab.  Some of these items:

  • Soy creamer (for coffee)
  • Meat analogs
  • Earth Balance
  • Other specialty items (pancake mix, soy curls, etc)
Stocking up in Portland.

Continue reading Vegan in Moab

Finding a vegan concealed carry holster **UPDATE!**

UPDATED!  I have purchased another vegan holster, from Bladetech and included it at the end.

I’ll save the whole “Wait…you’re a vegan and you have guns!?” discussion for another day.  Yes, yes I own guns and enjoy self-defense and target shooting.  Moving on.

One of the hardest things to find for me, is a vegan concealed carry holster.  Most brands, made by companies like Galco and others are made mostly with leather and polymer.

BLACKHAWK

Fortunately, when I recently purchased my Springfield XDS .45, the store had an ample supply of vegan holsters made by Blackhawk.

My Springfield Armory XDS chambered in .45 in the Blackhawk size 5 holster.

It is important to note that these holsters are not marketed (for obvious reasons) as a vegan holster.  They are basically an inexpensive option for people that can’t afford (financially or morally, I guess) the leather versions.

I’ll take it!  This puppy was $12.00 and works like a charm.  It’s like the Payless shoes for vegan gun owners (vegans will get the joke)!

The holster material is already forming to the shape of the pistol in only 2 days.

The nice part about their website is that they also organize the holsters by material.  So you can quickly identify which are vegan and which are not.  The nylon options are here.

My only complaint is the tapered section (as you see in the image) leaves the grooves on the rear of the slide exposed.  When seated, this presses those metal grooves into your back which is not the most comfortable.  Eventually this may affect the gun’s finish, but we’ll see.

For a $12.00, non-leather holster you cannot go wrong with this option!

BLADETECH

In December, 2015 I was strolling the aisles of my local cabelas, and looked at the plastic CCW holsters they offered.  I found this option for the XDS, priced at $23.

Unlike the Blackhawk above, I wanted something that offered more positive locking of the pistol.  The holster from Bladetech was inexpensive, solid plastic, and has a positive “click” when the gun is fully seated.

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The Bladetech offering.

The belt clip also has a much better “barb” that provides more secure carry in the belt.

I have not spent a ton of time with the holster, but the past few days I feel it is comfortable and easy to carry.

UPDATE #2!  12/18/2016

I added a beautiful Sig Sauer P320 to my arsenal and added a Streamlight TLR-1s tactical light to it.  This is a full frame pistol, so I gave up on CC.

I added a kydex Multicam holster for it, which accommodates the light.  Holster is from TR Holsters.  It’s an OWB configuration and so far, so good.

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