Jeep Creep Q&A: Power Steering Trouble,Window Trouble, Loose Steering and More

Our Jeep expert answers your off-road questions in his monthly column

Mar. 20, 2015 By Jim Brightly, KF7SCT
Jeep Cherokee XJ

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.

February 2015

January 2015

December 2014

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.

Window Tracks
I have an í89 Cherokee and this winter caused a lot of problems for it. Iíve corrected most of them but the driverís side front window fell out of the channels because of the freezing weather. When I examined the window I found that the channels were pretty much dried out and worn. Where can I find new ones?
Alex Crossman
Baltimore, MD

Snow-Covered Jeep

Alex, if youíll follow this link (, youíll find diagrams from which you can determine which tracks youíll need to repair your window. Omix-Ada is also the parent company of Rugged Ridge should you decide to enhance the performance of your Cherokee.

Power Steering
Something weird has started happening with my TJís power steering. It works OK on the road but gets hard to turn on the trail and when parking. The power steering seems tied to the engine RPM; above 1,000 RPM and everything works. Below 1,000 and I can hardly turn the wheel. The odometer just turned over 100,000 miles.
Alan Chase
Tallassee, FL

Your power steering pump needs the higher RPM to pump the fluid through the system. Itís becoming worn out. You may have to replace the pump; however, Iíd suggest trying Lucas Oil power steering stop leak additive first. If the power steering pump isnít too badly worn yet, the Lucas additive may correct the problem. If it does, youíll still want to think about replacing the pump in a few months.

Power Windows
I recently bought a 1990 Cherokee Laredo. It has all the bells and whistles; power door locks, power windows, electronic compass and temperature, air conditioning and an automatic radio antennaówhich doesnít work by the way. The driverís window is intermittent. It doesnít work all the time and I canít tell when itís going to quit or keep working, and it doesnít matter when it quits whether itís up or down. Do you have any ideas? Is it a loose wire, bad ground, or worn out motor.
Brad Fletcher
Austin, TX

While it could be a loose wire or bad ground, Brad, I donít think so. Iím afraid youíll have to pull the inner door panel and replace the electric motoróbe careful with the vapor barrier and donít tear it. If you Google Cherokee window electric motor, you find vendors and replacement instructions.

Loose Steering
I quit driving my í85 CJ7 for a while. My husband had to replace the radiator. When I went back to driving it, I realized that its steering had become loose over the years without me knowing it. I guess I had just gotten used to it. Now that I know itís loose, and something creaks up front while turning or climbing rocks and ledges. Whatís up with it?
Margaret Todd
Cheyenne, WY

Jeep Leaf Springs

It could be a number of things or a single thing, but I think itís a combination of minor problems. The creaking is probably from the leaf springs moving on the shackles, or it could even be the springs scraping on the axle spring pads. I think you need to start at the U-bolts and tighten up everything: the U-bolts, the spring shackles and hinges, and the tie rod ends. You should also check the steering gearbox mounting bolts through the Jeepís frame. Also, if you do a lot of off-roading, I suggest you install a gearbox brace; it braces the bottom of the gearbox from the opposite frame rail and almost eliminates the wear that causes the gearboxís mounting frame holes to enlarge.

Front Axle
Iíve gone for years without breaking axles in my í82 CJ7 but now every time I visit Farmington, New Mexico, I break an axle in the Dana 30. Iíve broken two short-sided axles and one long-sided axle. Iím tired of using up used axles from a junkyard. Do you have any suggestions?
Murray Kaplan
Amarillo, TX

I have several suggestions, Murray. First of all, you could replace the OEM Dana 30 differential with a Dana 44, namely a Dynatrac ProRock 44 (re: or a Currie-built Dana 44. Either one of these differentials would more than likely last the rest of your life without breaking or causing you any distress. However, youíd have to add the price of a locker to the mix. An alternative would be a pair of lifetime warrantied RCV axles which use constant-velocity joints in the front axles (re: or Alloy USA alloy steel axles. By retaining the Dana 30 front differential you also retain its locker, if you have one installed.

Rear Axle
My CJ just snapped a rear axle. At least I think it snapped. Thereís a hub on the end of it and the hub just spins on the axle shaft now. How do I fix this?
Gary Clinton
Little Rock, AR

The AMC 20óalso known as the Model 20órear differential has two flaws. Even though its ring-and-pinion set are larger than a Dana 44, its two-piece axles are its major flaw. What you suffered was a broken Wentworth key, which mates a slot in the axle with a slot in the hub. When the Wentworth key gives up, the hub spins on the axle shaft. Replace the two-piece axles with one-piece replacement sets. Several companies make replacement axles, and I find it strange that it has taken you so long to break one. I also suggest that you have a good fabricator build you a truss for the Model 20 because its other flaw is weak axle tubes. Strengthen the axle tubes and the axles and youíll have a rear differential thatíll see you enjoying many miles of off-roading trails.

Deep Scratches
I recently moved to Casa Grande from the Northwest and Iím not used desert trail riding yet (but Iím really liking the warmer weather!). No mud (the dust is a lot easier to clean off) but the pine trees didnít leave the deep scratches that desert plants do. Iíve heard them called ďArizona pin stripingĒ and Iíd like to eliminate them.
Jerry McKnight
Casa Grande, AZ

For invisible paint repairs, Jerry, a perfect color match is essential. The Automotive Touchup website provides access to a very comprehensive library of OEM colors. It also features detailed videos demonstrating a range of paint techniques and other useful info. For more information, call 888.710.5192 or visit or

Differential Gasket
My friends have given me conflicting information about working on differentials. Iíve been told to use a gasket and to use silicone when reinstalling the differential covers. Which is right? I donít want to keep repairing it or seeing it leak all over the garage floor.
Raymond Cruz
Carlsbad, NM

Youíre in luck, Raymond, a well-known company, Permatex has just released a video that answers that question. The instructional video shows how to use the Permatex ďPowerBeadĒ Applicator Nozzle, to show customers how to use it properly. The video demonstrates a step-by-step procedure for using the applicator, which is used on the 7-1/2 oz. the Right Stuff Gasket Maker can. The video demonstrates the proper techniques for cleaning and preparing the application surface and applying the gasketing material. It also shows how to use the PowerBead Applicator Nozzle to control the flow of gasketing material in order to make an accurate gasket with minimal waste. It can be viewed by visiting Permatexís Right Stuff is a long-lasting, elastomeric, formed-in-place, rubber gasket material that seals instantly and allows the part to be returned to service immediately. The Right Stuff can make custom fit gaskets to any shape or size for different applications, such as thermostat and pump housings, gearboxes, valve covers, machine tools, oil and transmission pans, compressors, and more.

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. Newsletter
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