Jeep Creep: Tech, Maintenance and Aftermarket Jeep Questions

Sep. 17, 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.

Previous Jeep Creep Columns
August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

No Jeep recalls from NHTSA this month.

Unlimited Wrangler
I have a new Wrangler Unlimited and I really love it. What’s a must-have accessory list for an outdoorsman like me? I like to race and I like hunting. I also want to know which brand tires and wheels should I purchase to ensure durability and affordability.
John Marry

First of all, John, this question is really an open-ended one. Plus, for me, it’s a heck of a lot of fun! It’s kind of like what many of us do when we’re buying a Mega Lottery ticket; mentally listing what we would do when we win. And I really wish you’d told me where you live because otherwise I can’t really suggest a tire. Although I can say that any major brand name tire (Goodyear, BF Goodrich, Toyo, Mickey Thompson, Pro Comp, etc.) with an aggressive tread pattern will give you just about the same durability, traction, and affordability. As far as wheels go, Jeep’s OEM wheels are fine up to and including 33-inch tires. If you go with taller tires, you’ll need wheels with a positive offset (the tires are mounted farther away from the frame), with an inch offset okay for 35-inch tires, and more offset for taller tires.

Just as overall suggestion, take a look at ORC’s archives and read my “Mopar Jeep” article on a JK with several aftermarket options installed at a Jeep dealer. For all these accessories, all warranties remain intact on the vehicle and all accessories are under warranty. Performance parts are different and the warranty will depend on the type of part. Some performance parts, due to their racing and off-road intention, do not come with a warranty. However, the installation of performance parts does not void the vehicle warranty unless the modification causes a warrantied part to fail. You should understand all terms highlighted in the warranty information. All warranty information is available on Jeep’s website. Having the work done at a Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge or Ram dealer is recommended as service specialists understand the vehicle and all warranty information.

As I said in the “Mopar Jeep” article, I sincerely hope your Wrangler Unlimited is a Rubicon model. You can check what a Rubicon brings to the trail at Jeep’s website if you didn’t buy one. So the first thing to do is to upgrade your Jeep to equal a Rubicon as much as possible—i.e., lockers, deeper gears, 4:1 low range, etc. Next, since you indicate you’ll be hunting and competing with your Jeep, you’ll need a winch and winch accessory kit, heavy-duty nylon tow strap, at least one fire extinguisher, CB radio, ham radio, GPS, Trasharoo, and if you travel in snow country at least one set of tire chains (for the front wheels). I’d also suggest a first aid kit, several flashlights, and a spare fan belt (a broken fan belt can cause a complete shutdown on the trail but it won’t ever break in your garage). In addition, I suggest a complete air deflation kit and an air inflation system, plus a tire repair kit.

That should do it, John, happy trails.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Wrangler
We are Canadian snowbirds who go to Arizona in the winter for a few months and like to go into the desert with our ‘05 Wrangler stock LJ. Last year we followed a couple of ATVs and were doing fine till we hit open sand washes. As I went to take off, not even 10 mph, the Jeep just rocked from side to side and we could not gain any speed as it would get worse to the point where we thought something would break. We stopped, tried again, and the same thing happened. It was like the shocks were way too stiff. We were in high range at 29 psi.
Jim W.

Not having been there to see the action or the terrain, it sounds to me more like you were in a gear that was too tall for the surface. Therefore, your Jeep was rocking due to one side grabbing traction and then the other side grabbing it. In my opinion, if you’d used a lower gear or more RPM you would’ve cut through the surface and the ride would have smoothed out. Next time it happens, stand on it.

Red Renegade
I have a 1991 Jeep Wrangler Renegade, 4.0L, fuel-injected, 5-speed manual (AX-15?), with 175,000 miles. I started to have a vibration when starting out in first gear. I thought it was the locking differential. Then I thought it was my clutch. I took it to a specialist and he put in a new clutch, pressure plate,  pilot bearing, slave cylinder and transmission front seal. I still have the same problem. After talking to another Jeep owner he said first gear in the transmission does that and it will get worse, but you can have heavy-duty parts installed in your transmission and that will take care of my problem. Can you add or confirm this, or tell me what you think? I also have an idling problem (once in a while). If the red light comes on, on the dash, I know when I get off the gas the engine will die. If the red light stays off it runs like new. The more I drive it the less chance the red light comes on.

I have not heard anything about a transmission vibration in first gear nor anything about heavy-duty parts for transmission in that year. Your idling problem may also lead to the vibration on take off in first gear. Check the tune-up, fuel pressure, spark plug wires, distributor’s condition, distributor cap and rotor, distributor pickup, crank sensor, and engine compression. You may also want to remove the carbon on the valves (it might help).

Transfer Case Information
I bought a 1993 Jeep Cherokee that originally had an NP-242 transfer case but it now has an NP-231. The NP-231 exploded and the previous owner put an NP-231 out of a ‘98 Cherokee in it. Now the Jeep will not drive. Should I get an NP-242 for the Jeep or what would be the cheapest fix?
Sam Marler

While it might not be the cheaper fix, stick with the New Process 231. It’ll be the better repair in the long run. Either replace the NP231 transfer case with one from a “pick your part” yard, or find a shop that can fix what’s in your Cherokee.

Find My Fuel
One morning, about two weeks ago, I tried starting my Jeep. I unlocked it with my remote, turned the key, and the first thing that I saw was that my fuel gauge did not respond and the empty warning light came on. This was very strange as I had just filled it up the day before. I tried turning the ignition and the engine cranked over but did not start. Can you help me?
Cape Town, South Africa

Did someone steal your fuel? Have you tried adding fuel to the tank and trying to start it again? Or try spraying starter fluid into the intake? If someone didn’t steal all your petrol, you have a major problem with the electrical system. I’m guessing that you’ll need to replace your ignition key assembly and/or your starter relay.

Dana 44 Swap to ‘83 CJ 7
I bent the rear axle tube on my ‘83 CJ 7 (AMC 20), and I have purchased a ‘77 J-10 Jeep pickup. I plan to replace the stock front and rear axle assemblies with the Dana 44s from the J-10 and I have several questions: 1) The previous owner of the CJ 7 did a spring-over, so should I stay with the spring-over with these Dana 44s? 2) I would like to replace the stock springs with a 4-inch lift kit, without the spring-over. 3) Is this possible? And what kind of problems will I encounter if any? 4) I have been told the best way is to relocate spring perches on the Dana 44s and bolt them on. 5) Should I use the driveshafts from the J10? 6) Any tech advice will be appreciated.
Hurricane, Utah

Don, the same thing happened to my ’82 CJ7. I bent the left rear axle tube at the spring, so I went a cheaper route. I replaced it with another AMC 20 rear differential from a “pick-ur-part” and built a truss onto it. Haven’t had a problem since. However, I’ll answer your questions in the order you asked them. 1) No, SOA set-ups tend to be unstable, so go to a good lift kit from Skyjacker, or another manufacturer, with new shocks. 2) See No. 1 answer. 3) It’s the better choice, and you’ll receive a complete list of instructions with the new kit, so you shouldn’t have any problems if you’re an experienced mechanic. (I’ve done half a dozen Jeep lifts and several Chevy truck lifts, too.) 4) Yes, that’s true. But you need to know what you’re doing for safety’s sake. 5) No, use the CJ’s driveshafts. 6) Unless you have complete confidence in your abilities, take your Jeep to a good off-road shop for assistance.

Hard Starting Wrangler
I have a ‘98 Jeep Wrangler Sport that is hard to start. If I turn off the ignition and try again, it often starts straightaway. I have had it on an auto electrician’s computer with no reports of any problems. When I try to start it winds over for several times (much longer than you would expect) then starts fine. It seems intermittent, perhaps depending on how long it has been left. Although I am not saying it’s left for days, sometimes it will be only a matter of 20 minutes to half an hour. Once started, I can immediately turn off and then restart and it will fire straightaway. I have read that it may be a problem with the anti-drain-back valve or a pressure fuel regulator. I live in Taupo and we don’t have a Jeep expert in our town.
Tony W
Taupo, New Zealand

I think you’ve already diagnosed it, Tony, but you should check your in-tank valve and your fuel pump as well.

AMC 20 vs. Dana 44
I had the axle shaft come out of my 1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I am on a tight budget. I have a rear differential from a 1985 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I believe mine is a Dana 44 and the ‘85 is an AMC 20. The 20 will bolt in place but is it a good choice or should I fix the 44?
Jim Davenport
Omaha, NE

My answer would depend upon how hard you use your Wagoneer. If you’re just going to drive it on the street and a few dirt roads, then by all means install the Dana 20 (assuming, of course, that the gear sets match). If you enjoy trail riding, rebuild the Dana 44--it would be much cheaper in the long run.

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
August 2013

July 2013

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