Jeep Creep: Wrangler, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee Questions Answered

May. 27, 2016 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 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 [email protected], Attn: Jeep Creep.

More Jeep Creep Q&As
April 2016

March 2016

February 2016


No Jeep recalls from NHTSA this month 

JK Upgrades
Where do I find honest reviews of current suspension lift kits for 2015 JKRU (Rubicon Unlimited) daily driver? What’s the minimum lift on a 2015 JKRU to run 35- or 37-inch tires? Is a fender change or wheel well trim needed, especially with a 2- or 2.5-inch lift? When selecting a lift kit for expedition use, is front or rear wheel travel more important? Which do you maximize?

Where can I find unbiased side-by-side reviews of bead lock wheels? Most bead lock rims appear to only clamp the outside rim, leaving the inside rim subject to bead unseating, correct? Is the use of internal bead lock items (Coyote Enterprises, Hutchinson DOT bead locks, Bead Assist Device Wheels) more effective than “standard” bead locks? Do you have any recommendations for bead locks to be used in sand and rocks and street legal?

Is there a rear bumper with tire carrier available that will lift up the spare from the ground to the carry position and lower the tire to the ground when the spare is needed? That will also carry a 37-inch tire? Is the tire carrier compatible with a Trail Trekker or AEV tire carrier fuel tank?

Where are the upper ends of the factory axle breathers located on a 2015 JKRU? What are the items that limit the depth of water/mud that can be crossed? How can these limits be increased?
Jim Boyer
Astoria, Oregon

We here at Off-Road.Com have done several JK lifts in the past nine years; do a simple search for “Jeep lift” and you’ll pull up a number of articles (such as here and here). You could also check the Off-road.com Forums for topics or our sister site at www.jk-forum.com for discussions on various lift kits. You’ll need at least a 2-inch lift for 35-inch tires and a 4-inch lift for 37-inch tires (although I’d highly recommend a 4-inch lift with 35-inch tires).

Outside of competition vehicles, I’ve not seen double bead locks on the trail except for a friend of mine who ran Hummer wheels on his J200 truck. You shouldn’t need any type of bead locks unless you plan to do a lot of rock crawling. They add a lot of weight to your driveline, which translates into additional fuel usage for your daily driver.

You’ll have to fabricate a rear bumper that will lower the spare to the ground when needed. With a design like that, you’ll also need to fabricate a strong point to secure it in place while traveling. I suggest you consider one of the major brands that already offer a swing-away tire carrier that will also carry a Hi-Lift jack.

The breather tube ends are: front, engine compartment; rear, near the gas tank filler tube. Even with the breather tubes intact, if you completely immerse the axle housing(s) in water, you should replace all the fluids in both axle housings. If you go that deep, you should also consider changing out the fluids in the transmission and transfer case. In any case, if you go any deeper than that, you’ll likely drown the ignition. If you insist on multiple deep-water crossings, you’d be better off with a diesel engine and a snorkel—and a fully sealed driveline.


Front Clunk

I have 2000 TJ Jeep Wrangler with a new 4-inch Procomp lift and I’m running 33x12.50x15 tires. Every time I go in reverse and turn the steering wheel left or right the Jeep makes a clunking noise in the front end. Any information would be helpful.
Ray Vengar
San Diego, CA

It could be your track bar moving around in its brackets. The shop may not have shared the installation instructions with you, but the instructions of every lift kit I’ve ever installed always included a warning to retighten all fasteners after driving about 100 miles, so tighten all the new stuff again.


Tranny Troubles
I have a 1976 CJ-5 with a Chevy 350 small block in it. The problem I have is trying to find a stronger transmission for it, the stock T-150 just won’t hold up.
Brian Carp
Carlsbad, CA

Depends on what type of tranny you want. You’re really limited in choices because of the Five’s short wheelbase, though. I suggest as No. 1 choice an NV-3500 5-spd, with a Muncie Super T-10 4-spd as the second choice (I had one in my ’74 CJ-5 with an AMC 401 and I loved it). I also suggest a top-of-the-line clutch with centrifugal weights so you can slip it if you want and yet it’ll lock up with higher RPM—check Summit Racing’s website (http://www.summitracing.com/). In addition, you should also go to Advance Adapters’ website (http://www.advanceadapters.com/), they have several transmission choices listed.


Cherokee Chips
I have a 2001 Jeep Cherokee with the 4.0L straight six engine, and I’m thinking of installing a Stage 3 Surge 02 chip combination. What can I expect?
Tom Berger
Tucson, AZ

I’m not familiar with reprogrammed chips for Jeeps. You’ll have to take your chances, but read all the literature carefully. I know your Jeep isn’t new, but some of the new vehicle manufacturers I’ve queried about chip changes tell me that if something happens to their engines after a reprogrammed chip is installed that they void the warranty. Make sure that you can return the chip to its source—difficult with electronics—if it doesn’t work as promised.


Choking Cherokee
I have a ‘94 Jeep Cherokee and when it gets warmed up it will spit and sputter when I accelerate going forward, but when in reverse it won’t spit or sputter at all and runs like it should. I have replaced all the sensors but that did not fix it. Any ideas?
Chris Parker
St. Louis, MO

I could use more information before I can try to diagnose the problem, but it could be a bad ground in any number of locations, such as the engine-to-frame ground strap, etc. It could even be a bad motor mount, allowing the engine to pull on the wiring harness when it torques over. Does the tach jump or flicker? Do the dash gauges act up when this sputter occurs? All this is indicative of a bad or loose ground or loose connections.


Rough Rumble
I recently had a 2 1/2-inch Rough Country suspension lift added to my ’95 Wrangler. Now there is a rumble that rattles the whole Jeep. It only does it when my foot is on the gas. If I ride the clutch or put it in neutral, it will go away. There was no change in tires or anything else. I ride on 31-inch BFG All Terrain tires. All I did was have the lift added and now I have the rumble. What could it be?
Christine Caulfield
El Paso, TX

Since your Wrangler is a 1995, I’d say you have more than 150,000 miles on it. Right? I’d also bet the driveshaft U-joints have never been changed. You probably had the vibration before the lift but it had come on so slowly that you became used to it as it increased. Once you had the lift installed you became hyper-sensitive to each little noise and rumble, and the changes in U-joint angles increased the noise and vibration because of the wear. Change out all your driveshafts’ U-joints and make sure the U-joints are aligned in the rear driveshaft. You also might need a slip yoke eliminator kit in addition to the new U-joints.

Lock Cylinder
I am having trouble removing the key lock cylinder from my ‘85 CJ-7. Is there some sort of trick in using a screwdriver to get the cylinder to release? I look down the slot with a flashlight and cannot see the release tab. In working the key in concert with the screwdriver, the darn key broke off in the cylinder. It is stuck in the off position. At this point, should I get my drill and just drill the cylinder until I can get the thing out?
Dave Cushman
Kansas City, KS

That model year had a screw holding the cylinder in, or the casting has no hole for the tooth to be released. If this is the case, it’s locksmith time.

Grand Wrangler
I have a ‘94 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.0L fuel-injected inline 6-cylinder with an automatic transmission. It’s bone stock and has been totaled. I want to swap the drivetrain out into a Wrangler. What is the best year range Wrangler to look for that will make my job as easy as possible?
Thomas Todd
Everett, WN

Thomas, you need a ‘98 or newer Wrangler. You can use the engine, transmission and transfer case, and you might even be able to use the differentials, but that’s a definite maybe.


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 [email protected], Attn: Jeep Creep.

More Jeep Creep Q&As
April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

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.


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