Jeep Off-Road Questions Answered in Monthly Q&A

Oct. 20, 2015 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 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.

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Two Jeep recalls from NHTSA this month
15V-508: Chrysler is recalling certain model year 2015 Jeep Renegades manufactured September 18, 2014, to June 25, 2015. The affected vehicles are equipped with radios that have software vulnerabilities that can allow third-party access to certain networked vehicle control systems. Exploitation of the software vulnerability may result in unauthorized remote modification and control of certain vehicle systems, increasing the risk of a crash. Chrysler will notify and mail affected owners a USB drive that includes a software update that eliminates the vulnerability, free of charge. Optionally, owners may download the update to their own USB drive from or take their vehicle to a Chrysler dealer for immediate installation. In an effort to mitigate the effects of this security vulnerability, Chrysler has had the wireless service provider close the open cellular connection to the vehicle that provided unauthorized access to the vehicle network. This measure may not have been implemented on all vehicles and does not address access by other means that will be remedied by the software update. The recall is expected to begin on October 2, 2015. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is R45.

15V-509: Chrysler is recalling certain model year 2014 Jeep Cherokees manufactured January 4, 2013, to July 11, 2014. Use of the front windshield wipers on dry glass may cause damage to the body control module (BCM). BCM damage may result in the failure of the windshield wipers, impairing the driver's vision and increasing the risk of a vehicle crash. Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will install a ground strap to protect the BCM from damage, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on October 10, 2015. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is R39.

Spring Relocator
In regards to the Rustyís Off-Road Wrangler Spring Relocator article, I believe that the Nth Degree spring relocator kit was easier to install.
Nathan Woods
(no city given)

Nathan, if weíd installed the Rustyís kit while doing the lift kit install, as I mentioned, it would have been much easier on us. However, other than removing the OEM spring mounting hardware, this was a very easy kit to install.

Head Gasket Replacement
I just got a 2000 Cherokee Sport with 243,000 km. Some oil is burning, and the smell is there, as well as black residue on the valve cover. Could it be the head gasket on the 4.0L? Should I change it anyway?
Wilder Penfield
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

With that many miles on the XJ, Wilder, youíll enjoy a much better running engine if you do change it out. Refer to Head Gasket Replacement on 4.0-Liter Jeep Engine for replacement tips.

Jeep Prep
I recently purchased a 2000 Cherokee. Being new to the four-wheeling community, I have a few questions. What modifications should I do to allow me to do some mild off-roading? Also, the Jeep has 120,000 miles on it and besides routine maintenance what other thing should I look at? I need it to be functional for family but a capable off-road toy. I already got some more aggressive tires on it, and I plan on changing all the fluids next week. Iím not driving it right now. What about a Hi-Lift jack?
Stan Hurley
Great Falls, MT

Initially, changing all the fluids and the hoses and fan belt are good beginnings. Also, save the retired hoses and fan belt and carry them with you just in case something happens while youíre on the trail. Youíll also need to build a small toolkit for the trail. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with a Hi-Lift. The problem is finding a place to carry it. Youíll also want to throw in a bar of good hand soap. It makes cleaning up easier, plus rubbing the soap liberally on a hole in a leaking gas tank/hose will seal it temporarily. Many auto parts stores sell well-designed toolkits in secure tough plastic cases, so buy one and keep it in your Jeep. Youíll also need a 12-VDC circuit tester for those electrical troubles on the trail. One last thing, Iíd keep your eyes open for an off-road club. Itís safer and more fun than traveling alone.

Leaking Gasó10/15
Iíve got a problem; big gas leak around the gas tank. My Jeep is a 1995 Wrangler, automatic, 2.5L 4-cyl. Iím looking to price replacement gas tanks and everywhere I look I canít seem to find anything newer than for a 1990. The 1990 tank (from pictures) appears to be the same tank, and is the same size, 14.5 - 15 gallon (with 4- and 6-cyl. variations). My question is, would the 1990 version tank be the same one Iím looking for?
Louis Gould
Pittsburg, PA

If you can get at the leak, you can temporarily seal it by rubbing it with a bar of hand soap (I usually use Palmolive). A product called Super Tape will also work if itís in the hose, although you should replace all the fuel lines and filler hoses. If one is leaking, theyíll all be leaking soon. The two tanks should match. Once youíve removed your tank, compare the two tanks side by side. Make sure all the fittingsóhoses and mountingóall match. Omix-ADA ( offers a new replacement tank if you want to start fresh (and itíll fit for sure!).

No A/C Fan
We checked the fuses hoping thatís what it was but they were fine. I once had an Oldsmobile Cutlass do this and it was a switch for the fan (a $25 item). Then we found a broken wire (had to bypass a section) and itís working now. I am so glad itís fixed; Houstonís weather is horrible without A/C. Let me know if you think we should watch for something else.
Leo Coleman
Houston, Texas

Iím glad youíre cool again, Leo. It sounded like a loose or broken wire to me, either on the hot side or the ground.

Check Engine Light

My 1999 Wrangler 4-cylinder has the check engine light on and the air bag light on. Could it be a fuse? How do I fix it? Is there a fuse for the onboard system I can check?
William Smith
Portsmouth, VA

Itís not a fuse, Bill. You need to have the codes checked and cleared through the onboard computer with a control module. Some parts stores can do this; otherwise youíll have to visit a shop. The codes will lead the technician to the problem.

Jerking and Juddering
My 1997 Wrangler 2.5L has a couple of problems. Itíll start and idle smoothly, but then when I start driving the Jeep will bog and jerk and die. Then I have a hard time starting it again. After a while itíll start and the cycle continues. What can I check? Also there is a ground strap on the frame near the starter. Where does the engine side connect?
Bill Kendricks
Atlanta, GA

Your Wrangler is suffering from fuel starvation. A dirty fuel filter or restricted fuel line will allow a reduced fuel flow so that itíll start and run okay until insufficient fuel is received. Start with a clean filter. If that doesnít work, trace all the fuel lines for a possible kink. As a last resort, make sure the tankís venting system is working correctly. The easiest way to the check this is the next time the engine starts surging, stop the Jeep safely, leave the engine running, and jump out a remove the gas cap. If the engine smoothes out, the venting system is clogged. Find a bolt into the engine block that the ground strap can reach and use it. You should also get a Jeep shop manual.

Lifting a TJ
I have a 2005 Wrangler basic with 4.0L engine. For a mild lift do you recommend spring spacers? I found a 3-inch spacer lift, front and rear, but thought that was too much in between the coils and the mounts to be safe. This Jeep is 90% street driven. I have an Ď89 for the rougher stuff, and just want to get the TJ up a little for that other 10% of play time.
Michael OíShaughnessy
Clarksville, AR

I wouldnít use more than a 2-inch pad lift to be safe on your TJ. You can find kits for around $100.

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.

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

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