Tag Archives: jeep

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!!!

 

Product Install: Redneck Ram Hydro Assist Kit + Synergy Sector Shaft Brace

I always wanted to add hydro assist to my Jeep but questioned the PSC kit’s price point.  Being a simple system I figured others would work just as well or better.  Enter Redneck Ram from West Texas Offroad.

I found myself once again calling my buddy Dirk to help lend his expertise with this somewhat complicated install.

This was a two day install, as we could only work nights.

First things first, we put the Jeep on the lift, removed the front driver tire/wheel, tie rod, and sway bar links.   We also removed the pitman arm from the drag link (leaving the passenger side connected).

Continue reading Product Install: Redneck Ram Hydro Assist Kit + Synergy Sector Shaft Brace

UPDATED: Fixing the “Dashboard Christmas Tree” in Jeeps

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

Product Review: Jeep’s Badge of Honor Program

UPDATE 3/25/2015: Jeep has been in contact with me (per the comments) regarding changes and fixes they have been making on this program.  I downloaded the new version from Google Play this week, and so far the app looks like a total redesign and it seems nice.  Time will tell when I attempt trail logins and other activities on the site, if I decide to give this another shot (I did notice my previous achievements are still missing in the big browser version).  Check back here and I will update my review!

I suppose by the featured image you can guess what I think about Jeep’s “Badge of Honor” program.

In principle, it’s brilliant.  The program has Jeep owners create a profile (linked to their Jeep’s VIN) and perform certain tasks to rank up among fellow Jeep owners.

A well-branded, well-intended failure.
A well-branded, well-intended failure.

If you upload a photo from the trail you get 15 points, you can give a virtual Jeep wave for 5, or comment on a thread for 5 points.  You also get 10 points for each day you log into the system. But the real points come rolling in when you check in at a trail for some Jeeping with a whopping 200 points per check in. Continue reading Product Review: Jeep’s Badge of Honor Program

Jeep’s New Renegade is far from a concept

UPDATE: Jeep’s official microsite is online!

This week, the auto world was thrown into a tizzy over Jeep’s latest salvo in bringing more fuel-efficient vehicles to the fleet.  This of course, is mostly to offset the MPGs of their core vehicles (Wrangler and Grand Cherokee), but also aims to make the Jeep brand more appealing to a larger audience.

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When Jeep (a.k.a. Chrysler, a.k.a. Fiat) introduced the new Cherokee, I feel they missed the mark.  But most of that was simply because they blew the Cherokee heritage.  Had they called it something else (maybe something patriotic like the “Justice” or “Freedom” to match the “Liberty” already in their line up #sarcasm), I am sure the reception would have been warmer.

Continue reading Jeep’s New Renegade is far from a concept

Trail Day: Tillamook State Forest [Oregon]

February 1, 2014, 7:00AM

I always get excited the night before a big Jeep day.  I meticulously pack all my recovery gear, load up the ARB with my vegan goodies, check under the Jeep, check the fluids, and try my best to get some sleep.

As I lay there in bed, I think about what the next day will hold – will I break anything?  Will anyone do something awesome (i.e. will they break anything?) Will we all have an awesome time?

The answer to the latter is always a resounding yes.  And this day was no different.

My morning began by speaking into this lovely box. On the other end? A Soy latte!

I departed Rhododendron early, in time for a mandatory coffee stop and to pick up some veganaise at Fred’s.  Once on the road, I made my way to our typical meeting place in North Plains.  I arrived about 30 minutes early.

Once the group was finally fueled up, we departed for Tillamook State Forest (TSF).

On the open road.

We pulled into Brown’s Camp to air down and plan our route.  I was always interested in Little Rubicon (I mean, I did ‘Big Rubicon’ how hard can this one be?) so we headed off in that direction.

The early morning sun had not yet warmed the rocks of the Little Rubicon. Click to enlarge.

We all decided to walk the hardest part of the trail, choose our lines, and determine who would be the crazy one to go first.  As Robert had the best rig for the job, we decided that he would be the guinea pig.

Jeff, claiming the best spotter’s spot. Click to enlarge.

After climbing the initial trail segment, Robert soon hit some of the famous TSF mud.  Even his well-equipped JK with Tera Grapplers could not tame the mud, and we all decided it was in his (and his Jeeps’) best interest if we save this trail for another day.

Robert navigating the Little Rubicon. Click to enlarge.

After a regroup, we decided it was time to hit the famous Firebreak 5, similar in it’s intimidation to the Vonnegut namesake, yet lacking the intellectual depth.  Nevertheless, we were off to sling some mud, do some good ol’ American cursing, and eat some Beyond Meat.

The lower sections of Firebreak Five. Click to enlarge.

The initial segments of FB5 were fun yet uneventful.  At this point, the early morning clouds were burning off and the sun was filtering through TSF’s majestic pines.  Of all the things I love about Jeeping in this forest, the smells are my favorite (and no, not just the burning rubber). Sadly, I was amazed at the timber harvest along this famous trail – it was unrecognizable.

GoPro Still: The rocky sections of FB5.

We stopped for a quick lunch break, and I busted out the Beyond Meat, giving everyone a try.  My trailing buddies also got free Beyond Meat coupons and recipes to make their own goodies at home.

Vegan goodies on the trail!

After lunch we continued up the hill.

The one spot that we all struggled with (even Robert spun his tires once, I think) was a short muddy section with just enough of a mud/rock ratio that we needed to winch.  Robert was the only one in our group to make it on his own.

Jesse hung up on the muddy rocks. Click to enlarge.
Even Jeff with his 37 M/Ts struggled in the slop. Click to enlarge.

We all (except Robert) got stuck and needed to be strapped and winched.   And, before my friends blame me for not putting photos of my own recovery, well I was driving…

GoPro Still: Jeff getting tugged by Robert.

Once past this section there were a couple of small hang ups but for the most part we made our way along.

The final section saw us punching through the snowline for a nice change in scenery.  The white forest was a stark contrast to the brown, mucky slop we had been fighting with.

Jeff navigating the tight trees on upper FB5. Click to enlarge.

The forest changed her challenge for us in this upper section, from mud to tight, narrow trees.  These trees threatened to take off mirrors, fenders, and door handles, and could really make a mess of a nice JK hard top.

We all made it through this gauntlet without issue and soon popped out into a beautiful sunny opening that signaled the end of our day in TSF.

The required group photo at the top of Firebreak Five. Click to enlarge.

My day ended where most days should end – in front of a Buffalo Bomber wrap (with mac, of course) at Veggie Grill!

Frank, parked at Veggie Grill.

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I struggled mostly in the mud on this trip, so most of my recommendations would focus on ways to get me the traction I needed in the slop.

WHAT CAME IN HANDY:

WHAT WOULD HAVE MADE IT BETTER:

FINE-PRINT-2

Everyday People doing Beautiful Things

It isn’t everyday that the Jeeping community gets to do something that dramatically helps other people.  So when we heard about a restored 1974 Jeep J20 being donated to a family to help them, I jumped at the chance of being part of the Jeep family that would deliver the truck.

Our small group of Jeeps met in Troutdale and convoyed out to Hood River where we finally met up with others and the Hood River Police Department.  Aaron is a retired Hood River Police Officer that ended his career early to stay home and assist his son, Thomas who needs special care.

The Jeep convoy from Troutdale to Hood River.

The group “Keeping Disabled Vets Jeepin and Free” works on and provides Jeep vehicles to vets and those needing a little Jeep love to keep them offroading and to allow them respite from their day to day.

They do wonderful things.

With a full police escort, our group snaked through Hood River, and ended up 11 miles out at the Jubitz family home.

There, the family was surprised with their fully restored Jeep J20.

After some walkthroughs of the Jeep, and some words shared by most, it was time for the maiden voyage as Aaron drove his wife off in their new Jeep.

Below is a video from the day I put together:

The thought I walked away from is how there are so many people around us doing beautiful things, and we don’t even know it.

If you can, please make a contribution to the program by contacting the group on their Facebook page.

Am I Really an Earth Raper?

I have been called many things in my life. But “Earth Raper” really takes the cake.

I was waiting at a light one beautiful Summer day in NW Portland.  The Jeep had no doors or top on.  A “hipstery” guy crossed the street in front of me, staring condescendingly.  He then shouted at me, calling me an Earth Raper.

It stands as one of my favorite titles ever.

So I always wanted to dive into the question of how my vegan diet offsets the CO2 emissions of my “earth-raping” Jeep.

Michael Pollan addressed this issue a long time ago, tracing the carbon footprint from the oil needed to create fertilizer to grow grain for cattle, all the way to the trucks backing up to the grocery, delivering the meat for purchase.

He also compared the average Prius to a Hummer, to determine if a vegan in the Hummer could equal a meat eater in the Prius.  I would never drive a Hummer, so let’s sub that for a Jeep Wrangler.

Taking a look at the website fueleconomy.gov, I was able to determine that the 2013 Jeep Wrangler emits 6.9 metric tons of CO2 per year on average.    I then pulled equal stats for a Prius of the same year – 2.7 metric tons.

Side by side comparisons.

I then checked out shrinkthatfootprint.com to see the different emissions for different diets.   I found a “meat lover” was responsible for 3.3 tons of CO2, while a vegan owned 1.5 tons.

Courtesy shrinkthatfootprint.com

Next step was to assemble all this data into a simple table showing all the possible outcomes:

So based on the above data, a meat lover in a Prius is still slightly better than a vegan in a Jeep.  But, a meat lover in a Jeep is still much worse than a vegan. I am still removing 2.8 metric tons of CO2 each year, with a vegan diet.  However, this leaves me with an overhead of 2.4 tons per year.

This doesn’t sit well with me, so I need to dig a little deeper.

According to an in-depth study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, hybrid cars do, in fact, require more energy to produce than conventional cars, emitting more greenhouse gases and burning more fossil fuels during the manufacturing process.

This report is unbelievably detailed (take a look if you want to check it out).  But in the end, I found some interesting statistics:

  • Conventional vehicles contain 56% – 65% steel, while lightweight hybrids contain 21%-31%.  This means more plastics (aka petroleum products) are used.
  • Hybrids contain many more metals in their fabrication of the batteries, where conventional vehicles contain mostly steel, aluminum and copper:

In conclusion, the report summarizes that there are, in fact, more emissions in the manufacturing of hybrids and Fuel Cell Vehicles than conventional (ICEVs – Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle) vehicles.

Unfortunately, the report stops there and does not provide actual estimations of the CO2 impacts.

I am content knowing this:  I recycle.  I am vegan.  I drive a GAS HOG and I love it.  While I may still be emitting more than I am saving, at least my diet offsets some of my impact.

But for now, I am going to keep the “Earth Raper” name.

And I am okay with that.