Archive for Technical Reference

Common Problems With Starting Jeeps

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

replacement-engineWhen it comes to starting Jeep engines, the three basic elements needed are air, spark, and fuel. There are a variety of issues that can affect whether or not your rig cranks including heat, cold, fluids, and wear and tear on Jeep parts and cables.

Here are a few scenarios and remedies for getting a Jeep started. Keep in mind, there are different fixes for different models – what works for a contemporary 4-liter Cherokee won’t necessarily work for an older YJ. And before you go through too many diagnostics, always make sure you have fuel. Read More→

Keep Recovery Gear Accessible

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Recovery01LYou’re in the middle of nowhere stuck in the sand. Your buddy waits patiently while you paw through your car looking for the recovery strap and gear needed to get you out of your bind.

“I know it’s in here somewhere!” you scream (along with a few choice words).

Your off-road adventure is becoming a disaster because you either didn’t pack a recovery strap, or you packed it so deeply it’ll take you a long time to find it.

Sometimes a vehicle is really stuck, but most situations can be resolved with a basic recovery strap (flat or rope). Problem is, the necessary equipment often isn’t within easy reach if it was packed at all. Read More→

husky-towing-products-logoOwners of conventional-style trailers can begin each trip with confidence knowing that their tow vehicle and trailer combination are properly set up with the help of an instructional video in the “Safe Towing” page at, the home of Husky Towing Products.
Husky is committed to helping trailer owners properly equip their vehicles for safe and comfortable towing. This begins with matching a Husky hitch to the tow vehicle and trailer and continues with properly setting up and adjusting the hitch for the vehicles as currently loaded. In the case of weight distribution hitches, this involves a sequence of steps that measure the effect of the load on tow vehicle and trailer.  Read More→
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FULLERTON, CA (Aug. 25, 2010) – Consumers looking for guidance on how to choose the right tires for their trucks and SUVs can get answers from Yokohama Tire Corporation’s third installment of Tire Tips, a series of short educational videos created to help people learn more about tires, from proper maintenance to improving fuel efficiency.

The “how to choose a truck/SUV tire” video is hosted by off-road racing champions Cameron and Heidi Steele. Cameron, who is also a TV commentator, was the host in the first two Yokohama Tire Tips videos: the importance of properly inflated tires and how to read the sidewall of a tire.  The latest video can be seen on Yokohama’s Website ( and YouTube. Read More→

Impact vs. Chrome Sockets

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Chrome hand sockets and impact sockets have differences that are a lot more than skin deep.  Each is designed and manufactured with specific applications in mind, and they are built to handle that job only.  The user must be careful not to use a chrome hand socket on an impact gun.

The impact socket has thick walls and is finished in a black phosphate or black oxide finish. The design is also distinct as impact sockets have a cross hole in the handle end for use with a retaining pin and ring or locking pin anvil to allow the socket to be securely attached to the square drive of an impact gun.

Power sockets, designed for use with power nut runners, multi-spindle machines and angle head nut drivers, may cause some confusion since they are offered in a black finish.  But, they are stamped “WARNING: NON-IMPACT.”  Power sockets are heat treated to a higher hardness than either impact or hand sockets.  This high hardness, combined with thick socket walls, produces a strong, wear resistant socket.  This socket is ideal for assembly-line work where it is not subjected to high-impact loads.

Hand sockets have a thin wall which allows for clearance in general applications where hand torquing is used. Hand sockets, except for those intended for industrial use, are chrome plated. Although hand sockets and power sockets can fit the impact wrench, they are not the same and must not be used on impact tools.

One difference you can’t see between these two different types of sockets has to do with the way each has been heat treated and/or the composition of the metal used. The impact socket made out of medium carbon alloy steel is heat treated to a low hardness range which has been optimized for impact use.  This means that under heavy, continuous use, an impact socket will withstand the impact blows and will wear rather than break.

Hand sockets are made of medium carbon alloy steel heat treated to a hardness range commensurate with their size and configuration.  Hand sockets are heat treated to a comparatively higher hardness for high strength and more wear resistance than impact sockets. But, they are made to sustain hand applied torque applications only.  In other words, they are not designed for use on impact guns, and should never be used on them.

Using only impact sockets on impact wrenches reduces the risk of injury, delays and damaged work.  It’s relatively easy to spot a hand socket that’s been misused on an impact wrench.  Check the square drive end for signs of damage and distortion.  Cracks and other damage will often appear around the wrench end as well.  Breakage due to impact use is considered misuse and not through any fault of the hand socket itself.

If the right socket for the job isn’t available, the job can be delayed and tools can be damaged. Improperly using hand sockets on impact tools may be hazardous as they may crack.   By knowing the difference between the various types of sockets and using them appropriately, you will be able to ensure a safer and more efficient work environment.

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Jeep Rubicon Locker Bypass

Tuesday, April 1st, 2003

Jeep Rubicon Locker BypassJeep really nailed it right on the head when they released the Wrangler Rubicon. With dual lockers, Dana 44 axles at both ends, 31″ tires and more, there is little more that a Jeeper could want from an out-of-the-box rig.

One area where the Jeep Rubicon does fall just a bit short, however, is the way the lockers are set up to work. Most-likely designed the way they are for safety and liability reasons, the lockers only function when the transfer case is low range.

Who cares, right? If you are sitting there asking that, then perhaps you’ve never been mired in a mud bog, been on a snow run, or hit the sands of Glamis. In these, and certainly other situations, low range just isn’t going to cut it. You need 4WD high or you’re stuck. Therein lies the rub.

So there you are, stuck on a sand dune, nailing it with all you’ve got and you’re doing nothing but watching your fronttire sit still and maybe once in a while catch a little traction. Meanwhile, the rear is catching a bit now and then, thanks to the limited slip in the Rubicon, but it’s still not grabbing on like the real locker would. Oh, if only you could turn on those blasted lockers!

Well, don’t tell your service writer this, but a few Jeepers got their thinking caps on and put their eyes on the Jeepservice manual schematics long enough to figure out how to trick the computer into letting him use his lockers in high range. There are several ways of doing it, and Bill Snowden (Willie G) chose the method shown here. Follow the easy steps below and you’ll be well on your way to locking ‘em up, too.

But first – a little disclaimer. Obviously, if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do the modification. Also, we canshow it to you, but we haven’t tried it ourselves here at RC HQ and we certainly won’t be held responsible for showing you kids how or telling you to do it. Using lockers in high range, especially on the road, can be very dangerous, which is why the good folks at Jeep wired them the way they did. So do the modification at your own descretion, be careful, and if you goof something up, don’t blame us. If you choose to try this yourself, you assume all risk associated with the use of any information contained within this article. And don’t be surprised if your service writer figures out what you’ve done and says no to your next warranty claim. That said, read on…

As with most electrical installations, the first thing you’ll need to do is disconnect your battery. Then disassemble part of your dash. Begin by prying up the defroster vent panel by the windshield. You can use a flathead screwdrive or, like Bill, you can pick up a real trim tool from your Jeep dealer for about $3. Pry the trim in several places along until it pops out.

Rubicon Locker Bypass
Rubicon Locker Bypass

Once the vent is out of the way, you will see two Phillips head screws. Remove these, and this will allow the center dash bezel to be carefully pulled off by pulling straight out and upward.

Rubicon Locker Bypass

Rubicon Locker BypassThe HVAC controls and the switch panel will be exposed. There are four screws that hold the switch panel in place,. Remove them and pull the panel out of the dash. In the photos here, you’ll see the toggle switch for the lockers already installed. Bill chose to use an aircraft-style switch with a safety cover to activate the locker bypass. The switch used in this install is an inexpensive $10 switch. If you go topless and/or doorless often, we’d recommend using a military-spec switch. They are dust and moisture-proof and they do cost more, but they are worth it in the long run. You can get these from Kilby Enterprises.

Looking at the back of the toggle switch, there is a red wire with a white stripe. If this wire is connected to the vehicle ground, it tells the computer that the transfer case is in low range. The computer will then allow the lockers to engage, as long as the vehicle is going less than 10 mph. The object of the modification is to trick the computer into thinking the transfer case is in low range, in order to allow the lockers to be turned on.

Take a piece of wire and tap into the red/white striped wire, and run this to your switch. Then tap into the black wire and run that to other pole on the switch. When the switch is turned ON you will be able to use the lockers in any transfer case range. With the switch in the OFF position, the lockers operate in low range only.

The safety toggle switch was used in order to prevent accidental use of the modification. Although any switch will work, or no switch at all, we do recommend this type of switch for the safest installation. See the chart above for other wiring options. The photos below should help you with the wiring. Click each one for a larger view.

Rubicon Locker Bypass
Here you can see the red/white and black wires.
Rubicon Locker Bypass
Wires clipped on to stock harness.
Rubicon Locker Bypass
Close-up of wires on harness.
Rubicon Locker Bypass
Switch mounted on center dash bezel.

Put everything back together and go test your Jeep out in a safe location. That’s all there is to it!

Grade 5 vs. Grade 8 Fasteners

Making the GradeI have been on a quite a few online email lists over the last 7 years or so, basically since they first came out. From the original Jeep-L list to the XJ-list to the board, a common question comes up time and time again. No, I’m not talking about “how big a tire can I fit” or “which tire is better.” I’ll save those questions for the opinion section of everyone else’s website. I’m referring to the age-old question of “which fastener grade should I use?” It seems that everyone has an opinion on which grade is better but not many people can or will tell you why. Well, I’d like to explain the technical difference between a SAE Grade 8 (Grade 8) and a SAE Grade 5 (Grade 5) fastener. Read More→

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Jeep Wrangler TJ Transmission MountOne thing that every Jeeper will eventually need to replace on their trail rig is their transmission mount. It’s one of those unavoidable things that just go with the territory when using (abusing?) our Jeeps.

How do you know when your tranny mount has given way? Well, if it’s really far gone, you won’t have a whole lot of wondering to do, especially if you have a manual transmission. I discovered my shot mount on the Project TJ one day at the top of a 4+ hill while leaning far over to the side and desperately calling for a winch line. With the Jeep perched nearly on its side, the entire driveline was able to shift over to the driver side, allowing the manual shifter to get pinned against the Tuffy center console. The weight of the transmission and Atlas II transfer case was enough to make the shifters not want to movein any direction. Once I was safe at the top of the hill and on level ground, everything flopped back into place and was fine. There’s the clue!

Once I got the Jeep home I got out my floor jack and a block of wood. I put the wood on top of the jack and placed it all underneath the engine’s oil pan. I slowly jacked it up until there was just a little pressure under the oil pan and cranked slowly while watching over the transfer case skid plate. Sure enough, the driveline went up and I could plainly see that thetransmission mount had come apart.

I took a quick ride to the Jeep parts counter and picked up a new stock replacement transmission mount and headed backhome, sure that this was a do-it-yourself job that I could easily handle in my driveway. For once, I was absolutely correct in my assumption!

Swapping a transmission mount on a Jeep Wrangler TJ is a simple job that requires nothing more than a floor jack, a block of wood if the jack isn’t tall enough to reach, and some simple hand tools.

I chose to go with the Jeep mount for two reasons. First, it was immediately available at the dealer. Second, though there are aftermarket companies making polyurethane mounts, I have heard that some allow a noticeable difference in driveline vibrations coming up into the tub of the Jeep, and I already have more of my share of vibes to deal with.

Follow along as we guide you step by step through the installation:

Jeep TJ transmission mount repairStep 1
Be sure you have your parking brake on and the Jeep in gear (if manual) or in Park (if automatic). Also be sure to chock your wheels in case the Jeep decides to move. Remember, safety first! Also, be sure to wear safety glasses, as there will be plenty of dirt and rust falling from the bottom of the Jeep as you work under there. Place a block of wood on the jack. This not only helps it reach the oil pan on lifted Jeeps but also will spread out the pressure so you don’t dent the pan. Lift the jack until you just barely begin seeing the Jeep lift. This is for driveline support only.
Jeep TJ transmission mount repairJeep TJ transmission mount repair
Step 2
Underneath the transfer case skid plate, you will find 4 bolts. Note that our skid plate has been modified slightly for an Atlas II transfer case so your case may differ just a bit. Regardless, you will have these 4 bolts. The bolts hold the tranny mount to the skid plate. Remove the nuts on each one.
Jeep TJ transmission mount repairStep 3
Remove the six large bolts holding the skid plateto the frame of the Jeep. Be prepared! As you remove these bolts, plenty of rust and dirt will fall all over you. Protect your eyes! We recommend loosening all six bolts almost all the way and then removing them by hand the rest of the way out one by one. Remember, once they are out, the skid will fall. Be ready, as it’s very heavy! Bend your knees up to help support it as it comes down. Slowly ease it down onto your chest androll it out from underneath the Jeep.
Jeep TJ transmission mount repairNote
Here you can see the tranny mount while the skid plate is half-removed. You can clearly see that the rubber bottom has come loose from the main part of the mount. Yikes!
Jeep TJ transmission mount repairNote
With the skid plate dropped, you can plainly see how the tranny mount gave up. The metal rod that goes between the tabs had come loose when the tabs bent outward. Gonzo!
Jeep TJ transmission mount repairStep 4
The tranny mount is attached to the transmission by four more bolts. Simply remove them and catch the mount as it falls loose.
Jeep TJ transmission mount repairNote
Here you can see the old mount in two pieces (left) and the new mount (right). This is a very typical failure for this mount and is to be expected on any rig hitting the trails or high-mileage rigs, in general.
Jeep TJ transmission mount repairStep 5
Finishing the job is a piece of cake. Simply attach the new mount with the 4 bolts then the skid plate, then the bolt the skid back on to the frame just enough to hang it. The skid is the toughest part. Lay it on your stomach and using your knees for support, get it back up in place. If you have a gut, you can push with that, too. Finally, with the skid still slightly loose but in place, align the four mount holes and get the nuts on them. Then tighten the skid up to the frame and follow up by tightening the nuts down on the mount. You’re done! Don’t forget to remove the jack!
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