Jeep Creep: Off-Road Tech Questions Answered

Jul. 18, 2011 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 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.

One Jeep recall this month- 11V-315
Chrysler is recalling certain model year 2011 Dodge Journey, Jeep Wrangler, Chrysler 200, Chrysler 200 Convertible, Dodge Avenger, Dodge Nitro, Jeep Liberty, Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country vehicles. Some of these vehicles may have been built with a missing or incorrectly installed steering column pivot rivet. A missing or incorrectly installed rivet could compromise the ability of the steering column to support the occupant loads in the event of a frontal crash, decreasing the effectiveness of the frontal impact safety system. As a result, the condition may increase the potential for injury in a frontal crash. Dealers will inspect for rivet presence and alignment and repair the steering column pivot as required, free of charge. The safety recall began on July 4, 2011. Owners may contact Chrysler at 800-853-1403.

Recent Jeep Creep columns:

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

Double Sammy
Iíve been wheeling for over 20 years and have built almost every type of truck. I got my first Samurai about seven years ago, and I love it. It has every upgrade possible, but itís not a family rig. Weíre expecting a third child and five wonít fit in the Sammy. If I build the back half of a Samurai into a trailer with a full cage rollbar and safe seats (with belts, of course!), would be safe to haul the kids in it on trails only?
Kevin Dornbush
Ranch Santa Margarita, CA

While this isnít exactly a Jeep question, I thought Iíd answer it anyway because itís a Jeep answer. First of all, I have to tell you, I love towing a trailer on the trails. It makes an easy trail more technical, and a difficult trail even more fun! And allows me to bring along a lot more stuff to make life on the trail easier; see However, Iíd never drag my kids along in a trailer, on or off the highway! Itís just too dangerous! Instead, I have two suggestions for you. If you can afford it, a 2007-2011 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited is the best solution. Itís arguably to best out-of-the-box Jeep ever built, and itís belted and rated to carry five people. Second suggestion: A Jeep Scrambler. My sonís 1984 Scrambleróshown in the pictureóis equipped with a full cage (courtesy of Rock Lizard 4x4 in Kingman, AZ) and seats for six. It has two buckets up front and two flip & fold rear seats (all from Bestop), and all seats are equipped with seat belts.

CJ Hood Alignment
I have a Ď79 CJ5. I removed the hood to re-paint it and canít get the hood to align correctly back to the fenders. The driverís side of the hood sits about 1 inch off the fender, while the passenger side sits right about where it should be on the fender. The lines between the tub and hood look to be correct/consistent. There doesnít seem to be any adjustments that can be made to the hood hinges. Any place else where an adjustment can be made? It sat fine before I took the hood off.
Chris Tetlow

The frame and/or body may have been tweaked over the past 30 years and it didnít show up until you removed the hood. Loosen all eight bolts in the two hood hinges without removing them, and move the hood around until itís realigned again, then tighten up the bolts.

Dialable ESP
I own a 2008 four-door Jeep. I recently had installed a 4Ē suspension lift and replaced factory wheels and tires with a set of larger tires (35Ē). Since the above was completed, the vehicleís ESP (Electronic Stability Program) prematurely activates when I simply make a sharp turn at 20 mph or hit a bump in the road while making a gradual turn. I followed the operatorís manual on disabling ESP for modified vehicles to permanently turn the ESP off. While following the instructions, I get the display on my dash that the ESP is off but when I go down the road and turn through a sharp turn the ESP system engagesóit is extremely annoying. I considered pulling a fuse for the ESP but they have this fuse tied into the brake lights and fuel pump. What else can I do to eliminate this feature?
Sam Rascona

You need to contact American Expedition Vehicles ( and ask about the ProCal Module. This is a recalibration device (specifically for your particular JK) for your onboard computer to correct your speedometer and other computer glitches that may arise due to the lift and tire size change. I recently went to 35Ē tires and 4.88 gears on my Ď07 Rubi and used the ProCal Module to recalibrate the computer and nothing like that has occurred during the break-in period.

Grand Cherokee Brake Problems
I have been off-roadiní since my pops taught me how to drive on his lap, and I have opted for a 2004 Grand Cherokee Laredo straight-six 4x4 for a second family car. A few days ago, my driverís side rear caliper locked up. A few days before that, I noticed it popping and squeaking in a certain spot while driving (not the worn out pads sound either). At first it would be only when I hit the brakes, then turned into a constant noise sounding like it would be after the wheel hit a certain spot.

I replaced the caliper and had the rotor turned; low and behold, not but three miles after driving to test her out, the same symptoms were back (except for the caliper dragging on the rotor). I really do not feel like replacing calipers every week since that would be very expensive. I am at a loss here. The GC has 102,000 miles on it, but I am the second owner. Never off-road until I got it and even then, I would only take extremely light trails. My wife says they are nothing but a back road in a bad mood. It has been very well taken care of and maintained. Any help is appreciated.
Scott Boggs
Oak Hill, Ohio

Sorry, Scott, brake noises canít be diagnosed from afar. You need to take the Grand Cherokee to a brake specialist.

Gear Ratios?
I have a Ď97 Wrangler 2.5 4-cyl and automatic tranny with a 2Ē lift. I also installed 32x11.50 Mud Terrains, so my problem is with gas mileage. I believe I have 4.10 gears. Would re-gearing help my mileage and power? I think I want to get 4.56 gears. Correct me if Iím wrong, but wonít that ratio get me backing to feeling like stock and help on my gas?

First of all, Rick, you need to step away from the concept of fuel economy and Jeeping. All the stuff you do to your Jeep to make it better on the trail also works against your fuel mileage. Tall tires and low gears increase its trail worthiness but also pay havoc with mileage. However, read my recent article on changing the gears in my JK (see ). Among other information, it gives you Randyís Ring & Pinionís website, on which youíll find a gear calculator to determine which gears you should go to. I think youíre correct in thinking 4.56, but Randyís will tell you exactly. The juryís still out on the mileage improvement, but 4.56 gears should get back that old stock feeling.

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. Newsletter
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