Jeep Creep: Off-Road Jeep Questions Answered

Aug. 14, 2013 By Jim Brightly
In your Jeep Creep questions, please list your first and last names, your hometown, and your state/province/country, so that we can publish that information here. If you don’t provide this information, we may not be able to publish your question and answer. Don’t forget to be as complete as possible with the description of your Jeep and its problems, too. Send your Jeep questions to, Attn: Jeep Creep.

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July 2013

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May 2013

Two Jeep recalls from NHTSA this month.
13V-282: Chrysler is recalling certain model year 2011-2012 Jeep Liberty vehicles manufactured June 17, 2011, through August 15, 2012. Electrical over-stress of a resistor in the occupant restraint control module may lead to the non-deployment of the active head restraints during a rear impact collision. In the event of a crash necessitating the deployment of the active head restraints, their non-deployment could increase the risk of injury. Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will flash the Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) or replace the occupant restraint control module, as needed, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in August 2013. Owners may contact Chrysler at (800) 247-9753.

13V-289: Chrysler is recalling certain model year 2014, non-SRT trimmed, Grand Cherokee vehicles manufactured January 14, 2013, through March 20, 2013 equipped with premium headlamps. In the affected vehicles, when switching between daytime running lights and parking lights, electrical spikes may cause the parking lamps to turn off. Without properly functioning parking lamps these vehicles fail to conform to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108, “Lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment.” Without parking lamps, the vehicle may not be as visible to other vehicles, increasing the risk of a crash. Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will update the Central Body Controller software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in August 2013. Owners may contact Chrysler at (800) 247-9753.

Alaskan Full-Timer
I have a problem of leaving my 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 in “Full-time 4 wheel drive.” It snows a lot in Alaska and I always switch back and forth depending on what street I happen to be driving on. With gas prices so high, I cannot afford to keep buying gas so quickly because of my lack of awareness. I understand it is also bad on the drivetrain. The first setting after park is “Part-time 4 wheel drive” and has an indicator light. Since I never or hardly ever use the “Part-time 4 wheel drive” I do not want or need the indicator light to turn on. Is it possible I can unwire that part time indicator lamp and make the lamp only light up when I shift to full time? Can you please describe the procedure to do this if it is possible? I feel that once I have an idiot light constantly reminding me, I will switch back to two-wheel drive sooner rather than later.
Daniel Sanchez
Anchorage, Alaska

Sorry, Daniel, you can’t just change some wires around to light a full-time 4WD indicator. It takes a micro switch on the transfer case shifter, the mounting of which would have to be fabricated (you’d need a good transmission or 4x4 shop for that). You could rig a toggle switch and light to remind you to shift out of full-time, though.

Wagoneer Question
I have an ‘83 Wagoneer. The four-wheel drive system is not currently working because of the vacuum system. I was wondering if there is a fix or bypass to this? Can I just use some Warn manual locking hubs? Posi-Lok says they don’t work for a Wagoneer but I am wondering if I can do that instead? Any ideas?
Jason Cummins

The Wagoneer should have a QuadraTrac system, and the vacuum pod is on the transfer case, but it is just for the emergency lock-out (the switch should be located in the glove box). If your 4WD doesn’t work, then the chain, gears, etc., in the T-case may be worn out. You may have to replace the entire T-case.

TJ AT Problems
I have a 2006 Jeep Wrangler Sport with a 4.0L engine and an automatic transmission with 71,000 miles. The problem is that when I come to a quick stop and then try to accelerate the transmission makes a slight whining sound and slips for about three seconds, especially when I make a turn. I checked the fluid and it is clean and up to the proper level. Is this normal? Thanks, your advice will be appreciated!

Sean, you could have a filter issue or the dipstick is incorrect. Take it to a Jeep dealer and have it serviced, and include a transmission and transfer case complete drain and refill in the servicing. At that time, mark where the fluid level is on the dipstick—that’s where you want to keep the level afterward.

Willys ID?
What is year of production of my Jeep? Engine no. 72010, chassis no. 203573, Indian old Reg. WBV 5176 (up to June 1994). Now registered as DL 4C--B 9628.
Sandeep Singh

If you’d submitted a photo, Sandeep, I could tell you in a minute what model you have, which would aid in pinning down the year. However, the numbers you’ve sent do not compute into a model year, and the Indian numbers don’t help either, so I’m giving you two links that might help you find your model year if you have the vehicle right there to consult: or

Rough Idle
I have a 1994 Jeep Cherokee Sport 4.0L. It’s hard to start and idles rough. I replaced the fuel filter and it still has the same problem. If I turn the key to the ON position, I hear the fuel pump come on for a couple of seconds but it’s still hard to start.

Begin with some diagnosis: fuel pressure, ignition wires, distributor cap, rotor, spark plugs. Check all these items to make sure they are doing their jobs. Once those items are all verified, look for a vacuum leak.

Four Banger Gear Sets
I have a 2000 Jeep Wrangler with a 2.5l. The Jeep has a Dana 30 front end and a Dana 35 rear end with factory 4.10:1 gears. I’m running 31x10.5R15 tires now, but I am swapping out the tires for 32x11.5R15 tires. I am going to change the gear ratio to 4.56:1. Is there anything else I need to buy besides the master overhaul kits for the gears?
Tom Reynolds

If you buy the complete master overhaul kits for both differentials that should do it, Tom.

Bestop Supertop
I installed a Bestop Supertop NX yesterday on my 2012 Sahara Unlimited. It fit well and looked good. However, it rained today and I got water behind both rear doors inside the Jeep. What do I do?
Bryan Fought

Check the door seals’ alignment first, including the lower and upper doors. It that checks out, contact Bestop (800.845.3567 or Bestop has one of the best customer service departments in the off-road industry. When I installed the Supertop NX on my four-door, I experienced no problems whatsoever.

CJ5 Model Year
I have what I think is a CJ5 possibly early 1960s. The serial number on the firewall is 57548 140954. Is there any way to find out the actual year?
John Redding

As I said earlier, if you’d submitted a photo, I could tell you in a minute what model you have, which would aid in pinning down the year. However, the numbers you’ve sent do not compute into a model year, so I’m giving you two links that might help you find your model year if you have the vehicle right there to consult: or

Hot Cherokee
I have a 1985 Cherokee Pioneer with a 2.5 inline 4-cylinder engine. When I turn it over some of the wires short out and catch fire. Any suggestions on what that will be?

I’m assuming, Thomas, that after the first time this happened you replaced the wire and tried it again? Replacing the cabling would make sure the new cables were not shorting against the frame, engine, etc. If you haven’t done that, do it now! If you replaced the cable and it shorted again, it sounds to me like your starter itself has an internal short. Replace the starter and you should be good to go.

“New” Jeep
My son just bought a Jeep with 50,000 miles on it, 5.5-inch lift, auto transmission, 3.07:1 rear axle ratio and has 33-inch tires. I have a few questions for you:
1. I know there won’t be much performance with the current set-up, but will he damage the truck?
2. If the rear axle ratio is changed, does the front need to be changed also?
3. How is the speedometer calibrated and does he need special tools to do it?
Thanks so much for help, someone at a windshield repair shop told him his rear end will lock up because of the big tire/ratio combination, and now he is heartbroken over this.
Bob Staniszewski

The windshield repair shop’s “tech” should stick to gluing in glass and forget giving out mechanical advice. The tall gear ratio (3.07:1) and taller than OE tires will lack highway performance, but if your son uses lower transmission gears, he’ll be OK—just tell him not to allow the auto tranny to rapidly shift up and down on the highway or he’ll overheat the transmission and could blow it. To avoid tranny overheating, tell him to pull the shifter down into a lower gear if it starts hunting up and down. Off-road performance will also suffer because of the lack of gear multiplication with the 3.07 gears and he’ll have to use more engine RPM going uphill and more brakes going downhill. Since it’s a four-wheel-drive Jeep, both differentials have to match gears, so it’s double the cost but also double the pleasure. And, since you failed to give the Jeep’s year and model, I have can’t tell you what’s needed to adjust the speedometer. If it’s electronic, you can use an electronic module to correct it. If it’s mechanical, you need to change the speedo gear on the transfer case.

As usual, each month, I’m shouting out a huge THANK YOU to Paul Schupp at Rock Lizard 4x4 in Kingman, Arizona, for his invaluable assistance in answering many of the Jeep Creep questions.

Send your Jeep questions to, Attn: Jeep Creep.

Previous Jeep Creep Columns
July 2013

June 2013

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