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2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon - 4x Forum

Posted in Features on April 1, 2006
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Send questions, comments, and suggestions to: 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility MAGAZINE, Attn: Christian Lee, 2400 E. Katella Ave., 7th Floor, Anaheim, CA 92806, or

Rubicon Axles Fit WJs?Q: I have an '03 Jeep Rubicon and I want to take the front and rear differentials and transfer case and put them into an '02 Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ. Will they fit? If so, will an ARB air compressor run the factory Rubicon front and rear lockers? Thanks, and I enjoy your magazine.Steve Schlaxvia e-mail

A: Steve, I don't like your idea at all. Whether the axles will fit or not is the least of my concerns. The fact that you want to tear apart an '03 Wrangler Rubicon has me more bothered. Why not just wheel the trail-ready rig and leave your WJ be? Right out of the box you'd have more off-road capability than a WJ with the same axles can offer. If you must have Dana 44s in your Grand, you'd be much better off finding a used set of complete axles and using those, or better yet, having custom units built to your WJ's specifications. Besides, the Rubicon Dana 44s won't be a direct fit to your Grand anyways, and they use the same axle tube diameter and thickness as the Dana 30 and Dana 35C, so your only real strength gains will lie with the carrier and in the 30-spline axleshafts. The fact that the Rubicon is already equipped with lockers could be debated, but with the time and effort you'll spend making everything function properly you could already have a set of ARBs or other automatic lockers installed. As for the NVG241OR Rock-Trac transfer case, this should be a fairly straightforward swap requiring just a few custom modifications. You'll need a universal T-case shifter such as one available from Novak [(877) 602-1500,], and you'll need to modify your rear driveshaft. Lastly, ARB air compressors are theoretically able to operate the Rubicon lockers, but you'd need to locate a very low-pressure switch since the Rubicon lockers actuate at just 5 psi. Conversely, ARB lockers use 80- to 110-psi pressure switches. Good luck.

Tacoma 4WD ConversionQ: I have an '03 Toyota Tacoma prerunner that I will have paid off in about six months. I was wondering if you knew of any companies in the Southern California area that would be able to convert my truck to four-wheel drive and add a solid front axle. If not, what would be involved in doing so? Thank you.Justin M.via e-mail

A: Justin, this type of conversion is very common and a number of shops in the SoCal area should be able to help you out. The first company that comes to mind is All Pro Off-Road [(951) 658-7077,], which recently introduced its Solid Axle Swap (SAS) Conversion Kit. The kit uses coilover shocks and a three-link suspension design with a panhard bar and will accommodate Hybrid Dana 60 or Dana 44 front axles. A crossmember designed to support single and double transfer cases is also included with the kit. If leaf springs are more your speed, the Northern California shop, Bentup [(916) 207-7467,], has an SAS leaf spring conversion kit that includes front and rear spring hangers, shock towers, and an IFS steering box frame reinforcement kit with frame sleeves. You'll also require a Toyota transfer case, which either of the aforementioned shops should be able to provide. Wheel on.

Liberty LimelightQ: Hey, your magazine rocks (that's how people always start out these letters)! I always knew that if I subscribed for long enough that I would see something good on the Jeep Liberty KJ. Your "Frankenlift" install article (Jan. '06) was really informative and helps bring to the forefront the fact that there are Liberty owners out there who are using their KJs like real Jeeps. I will continue to sift through your magazine from cover to cover every month to find any tidbit that will help me on the trail. Thanks again for bringing a much underestimated vehicle into the limelight. KJ owners appreciate it and will continue to wheel their rigs and read your mag.NeatusL.O.S.T. in NY

A: Neatus, thanks for the kind words. I've had the chance to witness a few stock and mildly built Liberty KJs tackle trails, and each time I've been impressed with their capability. And as more aftermarket parts are made available, I'm certain that I'll be seeing even more trail-prepared Jeep Libertys in the not-so-distant future. Currently, we're working to organize a trail ride with a local group of Liberty owners and will offer coverage of this event in an upcoming issue. We'll also work to produce more tech articles on these vehicles, so keep reading. Thanks for writing.

Cherokee BumpersQ: I am looking for a rear bumper for an '00 Jeep Cherokee that has a trailer hitch and two D-ring mounts built-in. I cannot seem to find a bumper like this anywhere. I have seen one that I like but cannot remember where. Please help. Thanks.Lance via e-mail

A: Lance, finding the rear bumper you're after shouldn't be too big of a problem. A variety of aftermarket companies manufacture products that meet your criteria. Rock Hard 4x4 Parts [(308) 750-4690,] offers its XJ rear bumper/tire carrier capable of supporting up to a 38-inch tire, and it also has the trailer hitch and two D-rings you're seeking. Another option is Durango 4x4 [(888) 259-8676,] and its XJ rear bumper/tire carrier assemblies, which offer provisions for dual jerrycans and a basket rack, in addition to the desired receiver hitch and D-rings.

Irresponsible AdviceQ: First and foremost, I want to say that I love the magazine, especially since it is very Jeep-oriented. However, I was shocked at the recent advice given in the January 2006 4xForum. When a reader asked how to make a pieced-together Jeep street-legal you made some pretty good suggestions, such as where to look for the VIN or checking with the DMV/CHP for a helping hand. I was shocked when you suggested, "Another not-so-legal method is to purchase an existing title of a wrecked vehicle and use it as if it were your vehicle's title and license it as so."

Thankfully, you did not recommend this method; nevertheless, it was irresponsible for you to even suggest it! I am in my eleventh year as a police detective in Fort Lauderdale and I worked for over one year in the auto theft unit. What you suggested is a felony and could get someone really jammed up! I know you probably weren't being serious, yet I am sure you unwittingly planted the seed in a few of your reader's heads. I'm not going to preach to you or cancel my subscription, but you should probably mention this snafu in your next issue. Keep up the good work, and sorry for the rant.Ryan KennersonFort Lauderdale, FL

A: Ryan, you're very right that I should have chosen my words more wisely. In my line of work I invariably hear about and see a lot of vehicles that might have been pushed through the registration process under this guise, so I assumed that it was common knowledge or at least an explained urban myth, that it did occur from time to time. I don't typically waste my time speaking to scum who would rip off a 4x4, or any vehicle for that matter (luckily I'm not in your line of work), so it didn't immediately occur to me that my words might have an adverse affect if they fell into the wrong hands. My intentions were to help an honest guy register his old rig, not land him in the slammer. Nonetheless, even mentioning an illegal activity as a registration option was entirely irresponsible. Thank you much for pointing me in the right direction, and I'll do my best to lay off the "not-so-legal" suggestions. Keep up the good work yourself, and be careful out there.

Scouts RockQ: I was very excited to see the International Scout tech articles and event coverage in your magazine lately. I usually buy a magazine or two a month looking for good ideas that I can adapt to my Scout. I'll be looking forward to the next issue and most likely subscribing. Thanks for putting in some varied information!Scott

A: Scott, you're very welcome. Scouts were due for a comeback and I figured we were the magazine to do it. You can look forward to continued Scout tech coverage as we make our way through the buildup of a '77 Scout II at Rock-Tech Off-Road. Next modification on the list will be a set of Dana 60 axles prepped by Currie Enterprises. Glad you're liking what we're selling, Scott. Thanks for writing.

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