Jeep Creep: Off-Road Jeep Questions Answered

Apr. 30, 2014 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. Send your Jeep questions to [email protected], Attn: Jeep Creep.

Previous Jeep Creep Columns
March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

No Jeep recalls from NHTSA this month.

This truck needs a home!

J10 Steering
We have a 1984 Jeep J10 long-bed 4X4 truck with tilt steering, automatic 4-speed and a shifter on the column. We are trying to find a replacement steering column for it. Would any 1976-86 AMC CJ Jeep steering column work on this truck? Itís my sonís truck and he broke the column while trying to fix the ignition. We want to be sure we can get something that matches.
Ratha Cat
Patterson, CA

Hey Ratha, I think youíre mistaken on the four-speed automatic transmission. All the Jeep pickupsóJ10s and J20s (plus Wagoneers, Cherokee Chiefs, and CJ7s)ócame with the TH400, a fairly heavy-duty three-speed transmission from General Motors. Also, almost any Saginaw steering column will work. Go to a local pick-a-part lot and check out Chevy and GMC pickups and Suburbans from the Ď70s and Ď80s. Any of them should work for you. A CJ steering column from that era should also work.

Gear Torque
Iím putting in new gears for the front differential of my Ď88 Cherokee. How many ft.-lbs. do I need to torque the carrier bolts? Thank you.
Kevin Putt
Minersville, PA

Youíll want to tighten both carriers to 55 ft.-lbs. in an X-pattern using three or four increments to work up to the 55 ft.-lbs. In other words, donít tighten the bolts down all at once. Youíll need to use red Loctite on the threads of all the bolts, which will keep them from vibrating back out. Also, youíd do well to buy a good shop manual for your Jeep as well. If youíre doing work like changing out the gearsets, youíll need one. Hope you have a good torque wrench Ė this is important!

Torn-up TJ
Can anyone tell me whatís wrong with my 1997 TJ? Three days ago my ex stole my Jeep and later texted me it had broken down. Upon checking, I found it will shift from gear to gear but when letting out the clutch it doesnít move. Iíve got it to move in reverse after pumping the clutch pedal several times.
Jeff Dean Nys

What a bummer, Dude, on both countsóyour ex stealing your Jeep and the lack of information! You really didnít give me enough information to diagnose your problem. When you say ďit doesnít move,Ē does the engine race like itís in neutral? Does the engine die when you let the clutch out and it doesnít move? Will it shift through the gears while the engine is running or when itís off? See what I mean, Jeff? I need much more information. However, with the little information youíve provide, it sounds like a failed clutch friction disc. That would cause no movement in gear although pumping the clutch should not have any effect in reverse. Put the transfer case in low range and try to move the vehicle. With the little info youíve given me, about all I can say is take it to a tech.

Swappiní T-cases
Can I swap my 242 T-case in my Ď93 ZJ for a 231 transfer case? Has anyone done this?
Matt Nice

Yes, Matt, it will fit but with lots of minor modifications. Go to Advance Adaptersí website for parts and information.

Hot Rubi
I have a 2005 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4.0L I6 with the six-speed, completely stock. It is my daily driver with 60k miles. In the last two weeks I have noticed that the temperature needle goes over the 210 degrees (which has always been the normal operating temperature) and creeps closer to about 230. On one trip on the interstate the temp shot up to 260. I changed out the thermostat and flushed the coolant; however, it is still doing this. Also, the heater is no longer working. I think that my water pump may be broken, but it is not leaking as normally happens when the bearing goes. And I donít just want to throw money at it until I find a solution. Can you offer any advice? I am very worried about this as I live in the desert southwest and need it before the summer hits and can only take surface streets (very annoying). The hose that comes out of the radiator to the thermostat housing is very hot, and the hose coming from the engine block to the radiator is cool? I thought that the reverse is true?
Chido Chilango

So far youíve done all the right things, Chido, but I think youíre also correct in thinking that the water pump is shot. Since itís moving coolant at lower speeds, it isnít completely gone; however, I think the pumpís impeller is worn and therefore cavitating at the higher RPM. Unless, of course, your fan belt is glazed and slipping, although a slipping fan belt should cause squeaking noises. And the heat in your radiator hoses is correct. I suggest you change out both the pump and the fan belt. Then take your old belt and tie-wrap it to one of your grille support bars. A fan belt will never break in your driveway, and a snapped fan belt puts your Jeep out of commission completely until itís replaced.

Walla Walla Wrangler

We are brand new owners of a 1999 Jeep Wrangler 4.0L. We managed to get the soft top on today, but weíre wondering if there is specific order to getting windows in? They seemed really tight. The back window zipper just about gave out on us, so we gave it a rest. We couldnít find any manuals or directions online.
Kate McDonald
Walla Walla, WA

Ah, Walla Walla, so nice, they named it twice! I havenít been there for a few years, though. But I bet the weather hasnít warmed up yet has it? Thatís your problem with a tight top and window wrestling. If you have access to a garage that you can warm up above 72 degrees F, park the Jeep in there for about 12 hours and then everything will slide together easily. Youíll find a complete installation manual at Bestopís website under soft tops for your model Jeep. Itíll still be tight, and itíll take two people, but everything will fit nicely with warmer temperatures. I remember years ago at Glamis a friend who was camping with me, pulled his FJ40ís top off when it was about 80. It was New Yearís and that night a cold front moved through and the temps dropped down to the 30s. He couldnít get his top to fit again until the next summer.

Kookie Cherokee
I just bought a Ď93 Jeep Grand Cherokee today. It has what looks to be a 4- to 6-inch lift. One question I got is the rear tires are really close to the back doors. They have a lot of room behind them, and seem to be too far forward; definitely not centered in the wheel well. What would cause this? Also when I get up to about 50 mph the Jeep starts shimmying back and forth like the rear and the front want to go in different directions. Itís almost uncontrollable, feels like Iím driving fast on ice. The rear end is tracking straight, and the measurements between the axles are the same (8 foot 71/2 inches). It has adjustable lower control arms in the back, should I adjust them out a little bit or would this put stress on my driveshaft? Also the control arm bushings in the front are worn out and have a lot of space between them and the bracket, so could this be causing the shimmying?

I have another big problem right now: the battery was dead when I got the Jeep so I bought a new one. The Cherokee started right up, then I let it sit for two days and the new battery is completely dead. Nothing is staying on so I canít figure it out.
Dustin Wilkerson
Kissimmee, FL

OK, Dustin, first of all, you should take it back to the purchase location and have it tested. Then, if it tests OK, you need to do the following on the battery:
1. Disconnect the negative (-) side.
2. Use a test light between the negative post and the cable. If it lights up bright, there is a big draw on the electrical system.
3. Remove one fuse at a time. If the light dims or goes off, itís in that circuit. Donít leave the fuses out, replace them after each test.
4. Also disconnect the alternator plug.

Also, a stock Ď93 Grand Cherokee has an 8í 9Ē wheelbase, so your rear axle is 1.5 inches too close to the transmission. Move it back to its proper location with the adjustable control arms (make sure you donít over-extend the driveshaft). Also, replace the bushings in the front control arms with neoprene bushing and your death wobble should go away.

With multiple problems, Iíd suggest strongly that you buy a good shop manual on your model Jeep (a Haynes manual for í93 thru í04 Grand Cherokee would be good), and make sure the book has an extensive troubleshooting sectionóit looks like youíre going to need itóalong with wiring diagrams.

Russian Eagle
I own 1981 AMC Eagle Kammback with a four-cylinder 151 engine and manual transmission. The bellhousing is dead. What can you recommend to solve the problem? I mean, what other bellhousing can fit this engine? Would be very much appreciated for the information.
Pavel Vox
Moscow, Russia

Iím not sure but I think there may be a language problem here. How does a bellhousing die? What exactly is wrong with it? In the meantime, almost any Jeep bellhousing can be used. Not sure if there are junkyards in or around Moscow, but you should be able to find a matching bellhousing on any dead Ď80s Jeep four-banger. If not, the Advance Adaptersí website can help you.

Texas Cherokee
I want to buy a Jeep Cherokee 1988 XJ. It looks clean and the price looks right. I cannot find any information on this model. It has a fuel rail and is a straight six with an automatic. When I try to shift into 4-wheel nothing happens. No sound or tightening of the lever next to the shifter. I was told I had to put the selector in neutral first and then put it into low or high 4WD but still nothing. What can be wrong? The lever seems to not be attached to anything under the floor at the transfer case. It does look like a 231 transmission. Do you think it could be just the shifting rod?
Roy Valdez
Houston, TX

It sounds to me like the shifter has worked its pin loose. Youíll need a shop manual to show you how it should be assembled.

Jeep Level Red Concept
Re: Jeep Level Red Concept from Easter Jeep Safari 

Finish the jobÖ finally with the 3.0 Diesel engine from the RAM 1500
Ron Spins

Wow a painted, mildly lifted jeep wrangler on beadlocks and fancy interior! So ground breaking for even a "concept" vehicle!

Ron, a 3.0-liter diesel would be cool in the Wrangler! Utter, we realize these arenít the most extreme concepts Jeep and Mopar have made over the years, but this year, they made a concerted effort to produce vehicles with parts they actually offer, or that they plan to offer. Ron, thatís probably part of the reason they didnít plop the diesel into any of the Wranglers, as they kept the current powertrains in each and updated them with Mopar performance accessories. While these arenít the most extreme concepts Jeep as made (see 2013 EJS or 2012 EJS vehicles), we do applaud them for offering parts the average consumer can actually buy Ė not just something to drool over.

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 2014

February 2014

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