Jeep Tips on Wranglers, Grand Cherokees and More in Jeep Creep

Sep. 25, 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 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.

Previous Jeep Creep Columns
August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

Two Jeep recalls from NHTSA this month
15V-461: Chrysler is recalling certain model year 2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500, 3500, 4500, and 5500, 2015 Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Challenger, 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Cherokee, and Dodge Durango, and 2013-2015 Dodge Viper vehicles. 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 vehicles 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 was expected to begin the last week of August 2015. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 800-853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is R40.
15V-469: Chrysler is recalling certain model year 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango vehicles manufactured June 12, 2015, to June 20, 2015. The affected vehicles may be equipped with rear lower control arms that may have been incorrectly heat treated. This may cause the rear lower control arm to fracture. If the rear lower control arm fractures, it may result in a change in ride height, loss of rear end stability, and reduced braking capabilities, increasing the risk of a crash. Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and if necessary replace the lower control arms, free of charge. The recall began July 29, 2015. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 800-853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is R38. Note: This supersedes Recall No. 15V-407.

XJ Radiator
I have a 1990 two-door Cherokee with about 100,000 miles on the odometer. During this past summer I started experiencing overheating problems with it. It didn’t boil over. It just started running above 210° whenever I had the air conditioning on. I had a new radiator installed, which had that dumb remote filler container, and made sure the techs “bled” the cooling system properly. Everything seemed to be working okay until I had to drive to Aspen and then I thought it was going to boil over. I had to turn off the A/C and turn on the heater to try and control the temperatures. It didn’t boil over but it was really uncomfortable. I like the Jeep and I don’t want to replace it but I can’t have overheating problems. Have you talked with anyone who’s experienced this?
Jaqueline Reacher
Manhattan, KS

One of my club members was experiencing this very problem with his XJ. Since he’s also a member of an Arizona county sheriff’s search and rescue team he couldn’t put up with it (and the Arizona summer heat didn’t help either). He experimented with several different cooling system designs until he hit upon the solution. He installed a letter carrier Cherokee’s radiator. The US Mail version has right-hand steering, and the automatic transmission’s cooling lines go into the radiator’s reservoir on the opposite side, and as far as he could tell this was the only difference in the two radiator designs that he could see. A bonus was that this radiator also gets rid of the remote filler bottle, so the system “bleeding” isn’t necessary. Be sure to reinstall the fan shroud and make sure the cooling system is topped off. He told me that he tested the system on an August day making several 7% climbs on a hill east of Bullhead City, Arizona, with the A/C running full blast. The temperature gauge didn’t move at all. Problem solved!

Phone App
I just discovered an application at the app store that I might like to use on my phone while driving my Jeep. It shows a representation of two Jeeps—one from the side and one from the end. According to the information, if the phone is mounted in the proper cradle and the cradle is mounted in the Jeep, the Jeeps will show my Jeep’s attitude while on the trail (angles up and down and from side to side). The app is called the inclinometer. Will this help me negotiate the trails better and safer?
Lee Childress
Durango, CO

This brought a big smile to my face, Lee. I saw my first inclinometer in the ‘60s when I attended my first High Desert Roundup in Southern California (it was part of a raffle prize I won). It was built on the same idea as a carpenter’s spirit level, but was exactly like you described. As far as I know, it was invented in the ‘50s. I mounted it on my first Jeep’s dashboard with the idea to watch my side-hill angles. I never looked at it again, except when I was dusting it. I found that if I was on a steep side hill, what we call “tippy-tippy.” I was too busy watching the trail and my line to worry about what angle I was reaching. I guess, Lee, if you have a navigator who can keep an eye on the phone when you’re in touchy situations, at least you could document your “tips” for later fireside chats.

TJ Lights?
I installed LED taillights and front turn signals in my ’06 TJ, now they flash so fast it’s hard to see them. What do I need to do?
Craig Holden
St. Louis, MO

Craig, there are two ways to correct your flasher problems. The more difficult method is to install what’s called an LED flasher. In order to do this, though, you have to open up your dashboard. The flasher is located behind the gauge face. The easier method is to add resistors to the turn signal circuits. You’ll need one LED resistor per LED in the turn signal circuits. In other words, you need four resistors. Any knowledgeable auto parts store (NAPA, Auto Zone, O’Reilly’s, etc.) should be able to point you at the LED resistors. The resistor is then wired into the circuit by attaching one lead to a good ground and the other lead to the power source close to the LED. Be careful where you locate these LED resistors because during the time your turn signal is on they become extremely warm (they’ll burn your fingers if you touch them).

Spring Spacers
I just recently had 2-inch coil spacers installed on my ‘05 Jeep Wrangler. The installation went well, but every time I hit a bump or a hole in the road at any speed above 35-MPH, the whole Jeep shimmies and shakes back and forth from side to side uncontrollably for five or six seconds. Can you please help and tell me what I can do to fix this problem.
Michelle Chang
Brownsville, TX

I sure can, Michelle. I just added heavy-duty steering to my 2005 Rubicon Unlimited. This Rugged Ridge HD steering works beautifully and should take care of your “death wobble.” I’d also say that you need to align your Jeep. You’ve changed the steering geometry with the addition of the spacers. You may also need to install an extended Pitman arm on the steering gear box because the Pitman arm-to-steering arm drop link has to be as level as you can make it for the steering to operate properly.

I have a 2003 Jeep Wrangler and I’m having trouble getting the doors off. They’ve never been off before. Is there a secret to this?
Matt Harris
Bethesda, MD

No secret. Some hinges are not properly aligned, so you really need to work at it. Keep pressure on the door while you swing it back and forth. If you have a large crow bar (about 3 feet long) place the flat end near the hinge end of the door and apply upward pressure while you wiggle the door back and forth. If you want to protect the paint, use a couple of shop towels. Do you have a shop manual and/or an owner’s manual for your Jeep? You need both.

I have a ‘97 Wrangler Sahara. I just found small drips of clean oil in the interior of Jeep. A bead of oil (a bead of oil as small as a pinhead) inside the glove compartment drips down the side by the gas pedal (coming from behind the stick shift and dripping down the side of the carpet). One of the beads is in front of the driver’s seat on the floor (like they are flying). A couple of beads on the floor mat on the passenger side. I cannot find where this is coming from. I opened the hood and could see any oil anywhere. Can it be coming from the heater hoses? The heater is broken, but has been for a while. The oil is a very light grade and very clean.
Walt Adams
Truth or Consequences, NM

Are you sure it’s oil and not something else such as brake fluid? It could also be from the transmission. Are there any indications of leaks beneath the Jeep on the garage floor? Jeeps have a reputation of leaking, so if you can’t ascertain what’s leaking, or if the tranny or crankcase oil levels do not change, you may have to just live with it.

I have a 2002 Grand Cherokee Sport with the six-cylinder engine. My manual heater/defroster/air conditioning temperature control only lets A/C or heat out of the defrost vent. Both the heat and A/C work fine, however, even when switching the manual control, there is no air coming out of the regular vents besides the defrost.
Irene Kennedy
Suquamish, WA

You’re going to have get upside down. Your in-dash duct work has become dislodged and you’ll have to reconnect it. Turn on the system before you stick your head under the dash and maybe you’ll even see/feel where the errant air is coming from. If that’s not the problem, your vacuum controls of the vent shutters are non-operating or disconnected. For the vacuum system you’ll definitely need a knowledgeable Jeep technician or a good manual—see the website of 4Wheel Parts for ordering the correct shop manual.

One-Piece Axles
I am trying to replace my two-piece axles with a one-piece kit. I am having trouble figuring out how to remove the old axles. Should I remove the dowel pin that holds the ring and pinion mate shaft to reveal C-clips or is there some magic words besides the ones I’ve said already. Thanks for anyone’s insight to this “so simple I can’t fix it” problem.
Skip McMahon
Fargo, ND

The vehicle must be supported safely by the frame or differential on a lift or jackstands. Remove the rear tires, drums, shoes, all springs and clips used to assemble the brakes and the brake lines and wheel cylinders. Separate the splined hub from the axle shaft before removing the axle shaft. This is not an easy job and you’ll need a large hammer and a special tool to pull them apart without damage. Once you separate the hubs and shafts, you can remove the brake backing plates. The axles can now be removed using a slide-hammer. Do not damage or lose any of the parts you remove, as you will be reusing them.

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 haven’t answered all your Jeep technical questions. There are no dumb questions; only unasked questions. Send them in and try to stump us.—Jim Brightly

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 [email protected], Attn: Jeep Creep.

Previous Jeep Creep Columns
August 2015

July 2015

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