Jeep Creep: Off-Road Tech and Maintenance Q&A

Apr. 17, 2015 By Jim Brightly, KF7SCT

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 donít provide this information, we may not be able to publish your question and answer. Donít forget to be as complete as possible with the description of your Jeep and its problems, too. Send your Jeep questions to [email protected], Attn: Jeep Creep.

Previous Jeep Creep Columns
March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

Jeep recalls from NHTSA this month
15V-115óChrysler is recalling certain model year 2012-2013 Jeep Grand Cherokees manufactured September 17, 2010, to August 19, 2013, and equipped with a 3.6-, 5.7- or 6.4-liter engine, and 2012-2013 Dodge Durango vehicles manufactured January 18, 2011, to August 19, 2013, and equipped with a 3.6- or 5.7-liter engine. In the affected vehicles, the fuel pump relay inside the Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM-7) may fail, causing the vehicle to stall without warning. A vehicle stall increases the risk of a crash. Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel pump relay with one external to the TIPM. The recall is expected to begin April 24, 2015. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chryslerís number for this recall is R09. Note: This recall is an expansion of recall 14V-530.

TJ Door Handles
I have a 2004 TJ Rubicon with a hardtop. I tried to open the driverís door on Saturday and the handle seemed to break off. The paddle just kind of flops now. I donít how it could happen, but Iíve been told the salt from New Hampshire winter roads can get up there and rust out the handles. Itís really a pain to have to keep the window down in order to stick my arm in to open the door or have someone else open it from the other side. I figured Iíd replace both handles at once since my side rusted out, but Jeep wants about $125 a piece and Iím retired. Can you help?
Keith Foletta
Manchester, NH

Yes, I can help you, Keith. Go to or (Amazon now has a section for Jeep parts) and search for ďJeep door handles.Ē Be very careful, however, when you order because door handle parts can be a bit confusing. Make sure itís the outer door handle.

Road Rust
I crawled under my Ď06 Wrangler this weekend to adjust the parking brake and discovered the adjuster is all rusted up. I was afraid to try and break it loose because I thought I might break the adjuster bolt. I also discovered the brakeís backing plates are pretty rusty from Ohioís winter salt. Short of replacing everything, what can I do?
Paul Kelly
Toledo, OH

It seems that every spring I receive questions about rust. Folks are sliding under their Jeeps and prepping them for the summer fun. First of all, Paul, I would suggest replacing the parking brake adjuster assembly, but for a short-time fix, use a spray product called PB Blaster. PB Blaster is a penetrating catalyst that cuts through the rust, breaks it down, and then lubricates the metal so that you can free up the metal pieces. Adjust the parking brake cables so that there is enough slack that when the tire falls into a hole or off a rock it wonít tighten the parking brake on that side. Iíd still order a new assembly for future replacement. As for the rusty backing plates, Iíve found another spray product called Rust Converter works really well. Its label claims that it converts rust to primer, thusly prepping the surface for paint. Iíve used Rust Converter and Iíve found that this claim is correct. Liberally spray the #backing plates with Rust Converter. It goes on clear and slowly turns dark as it works. Allow it to dry thoroughly, and then spray Rustoleum paint onto the backing plates to protect them during future winters.

Gas Leaks
It hasnít happened to me yet, but it did to a friend of mine last week. He scraped his TJís gas tank on a rock somehow and it started leaking. He got the Jeep home without a fire but we were really worried. It started me thinking: how do you prepare for a possible gas leak so that you can get home safely?
Gary Benson
Bisbee, AZ

Actually, Gary, I have a number of solutions, some of which Iíve included here in Jeep Creep in the past, and others are brand new. First, and this one sounds like a fantasy, is hand soap. In the Ď60s and Ď70s there was a huge selection of hand soap available that would chemically seal a gas tank leak temporarily. Now the only two that Iím sure of are Lava and Fels Naptha. Lava, as you probably know, is an excellent hand soap that cuts grease and grime better than almost any other soap, so itís great to have along on the trail if you have enough water for clean-ups after repairs. Fels Naptha is a large bar soap for laundry. Its advantage, other than temporarily sealing gas leaks, is that it keeps your Jeep smelling good while itís waiting to seal. For a more permanent seal, look at Permatexís new Fuel Tank Repair Epoxy Stick (, which is designed for quick and easy on the road or trail fuel tank repairs. This industrial-strength epoxy is resistant to most solvents and features an ethanol-resistant formula. The company says it is best for filling holes and damaged seams. The Permatex Fuel Tank Repair Epoxy Stick comes as a two-part putty in stick form, which makes it very easy to measure and mix the proper amount of epoxy. It sets in about an hour and can be drilled, sanded, threaded, or filed after five hours. One more suggestion (for your Jeep, Gary, or for your friendís Jeep after itís repaired): Rugged Ridge ( offers a super-duty steel gas tank skid plate. Itís made from high-strength steel, weighs approximately 45 pounds, and it will protect your Jeepís gas tank for as long as the Jeep is on the road.

Five Questions
I have a 1975 CJ-5 that has 36,000 actual one-owner miles (I bought it new). Itís been playing ďSleeping BeautyĒ under an elm tree in my backyard since about Ď01. I am thinking about swapping out the transmission and transfer case (or the entire drivetrain) for something of later vintage. I would like to stay with a 258-cubic-inch type block, but have an automatic tranny, and modern transfer case (preferably selectable for two- or four-wheel drive), and disc brakes. I can keep the stock axles, as they have automatic hubs, and 3.73 gears. Iím also interested in an OBDII unit with fuel injection for reliability. So an engine (or parts) swap could come along with the project. Currently, I have a 258 with a Holley 750, big valves, cam and headers, thatís a little too Ďtorkeyí for the street. Iíd keep my engine, but I want to be able to switch back to the current drivetrain setup if I decide to. This car is a Ďsurvivor,í itís never been repainted, only mods were as listed above and I installed a GMC truck type 4-speed driven by an 11-inch clutch/pressure plate from a 1-ton GMC wrecker, due to input shaft problems. Oh yes, it has Mopar high-back bucket seats, roll cage, and five-point harnesses for when I was racing it. What Ďdonorí vehicle would you recommend I search for to make this a bolt-in swap? I figure I will have to get new driveshafts built, so thatís not a problem. Iím thinking Liberty, Patriot, Cherokee, or Wagoneer, year and type? I donít know the new designations for Jeeps, all these XJ, TJ, JK, etc. mean, so please be kind and use names. Iím turning 68 in January, and have had two heart attacks, a broken back, and hip replacement; but I still want my old CJ to putt around in (now that it is an antique) in my retirement years. It could become a daily driver if I can get it working to suit me.
Rick Baker
Haysville, KS

Rick, I bought a new CJ5 in í74, but I ordered it with the 304 V8 and 4.27:1 gears (I later installed a 401 and a Super T-10 four-speed with a Center Force 10-inch centrifugal clutch). I thoroughly enjoyed it in both forms. But to get to your question, Iíd stick with a Wrangler engine and transmission combination, rather than the other Jeep models you listed. The 4.0-liter engine will almost bolt right in (with minor modifications) and youíd have a choice of automatic transmissions. If you went with a YJ (1987-1995) donor Jeep, youíd get a three-speed automatic transmission (no overdrive). If you went with a TJ (1997-2006) donor Jeep, youíd get a four-speed automatic transmission with an overdrive gear. With a 4.0-liter, you also get electronic fuel injection (youíd need a location for the computer). For reasons of economyóand your 3.73:1 gearsóa YJ donor would probably be your best bet, since you shouldnít need an overdrive. In Kansas the carburetor should not be a problem, but if you travel a bit west into the Rockies, youíll need fuel injection or itíll be constantly choking out.

Leaking Cherokee
I was returning from a club event in my 1990 Cherokee this past weekend when I started smelling gas. I stopped and checked the engine (4.0-liter) and the only thing I could find were wet injectors. At least I think they were the injectors. Should I replace them? Are they expensive?
Peter Robinson
Cortez, CO

Iíve included a photo of a Jeep injector (above) for the 4.0-liter engine, Peter. If what youíre calling injectors looks like this, then it is an injector. If the injectors are only slightly wet or damp and not dripping, depending on the amount of wear and tear on them, you might not need to replace them at this time. You may only need to replace the O-rings. An O-ring is found at each end of each injector and they are fairly simple to change, although you should consult a good repair manual before you attempt doing it.

Deep Gears
Iím setting up my Dana 30 front axle in my Wrangler with a set of 4:88:1 gears. Instead of playing guessing games, Iím trying to figure out if anybody knows the pinion gear depth variance on the 4:88 eight-tooth gear. The number is usually etched at the head of the gear and mine doesnít have it.
Chevy Arnez
Poughkeepsie, NY

Wow! 4.88:1 gears in a Dana 30 is going to give you a really tiny pinion gearóyou might reconsider and use 4.56 gears like I have in my 2005 Rubicon Unlimited. Every gear set has a different depth unique to itself. Call the gear manufacturer for the average shim to start the setup. Alloy USA ( has a lot of information on its website.

Mucho Mileage
Iíve got a V6 1989 Jeep Cherokee Laredo 2WD automatic with 266K miles on it. I want to service the tranny (fluid, filter and gasket only). What is the correct fluid to use? The fluid is not burnt now and I have no shifting problems other than it occasionally slips out of overdrive at low speeds. Also, would an additive such as Lucas be beneficial? I checked the dipstick and the fluid type is not printed on it. Will you please check your resources?
Robert Greeves
Dallas, TX

Actually, Robert, you have an inline-six, not a V6. And, normally, Iíd tell you to check the trannyís dipstick for the correct fluid. However, since it isnít on the dipstick, use Dextron 2 or 3 for a 1989 Jeep auto trans. Lucas extended mileage additive couldnít hurt and would probably help a lot, but just make sure to read everything on the container to make sure itís compatible with the ATF youíre using. I also strongly suggest that you order the appropriate shop manual for your Jeep from 4-Wheel Parts or Amazon. Itíll answer all your questions.

Parts is Parts
Can I use a 1994 Cherokee 4L for parts on my 1995 Cherokee 4L (i.e., doors, transfer case, starter, and muffler).
Thomas Stansfield
Mclean, VA

Yep, Thomas, most of the parts are interchangeable.

I have a request of all the readers out there. Send us your questions. For some reason the questions have fallen off, and I know we havenít answered all your Jeep technical questions. There are no dumb questions; only unasked questions. Send them in and try to stump us.óJim Brightly

As usual, each month, Iím 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 [email protected], Attn: Jeep Creep.

Previous Jeep Creep Columns
March 2015

February 2015

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