Jeep Parts Buyers Guide: Stuff We Love To UsePosted in Features on October 20, 2016 0) (
Jeep owners don’t know how lucky they are. It’s not until you are trying to modify or restore some obscure non-Jeep 4x4 that you realize that everyone makes practically everything for darn near every Jeep ever built. OK, it’s best to own a CJ or Wrangler if you want parts, but people love all Jeeps, so if someone else wants a part, chances are it already exists and is relatively easy to get. We here at Four Wheeler love all off-road rigs, but there is a special place for that first commonly available 4x4, the icon, the Jeep. Since 1941, almost every 4x4 made has some influence that came directly from those WWII jeeps, and it’s hard to deny the appeal of any Jeep from the first to the latest. When it comes to buying parts please allow our years of experience with Jeeps (we’ve spent time with them all from flatties to wagons to JKs and everything in between) and aftermarket parts to help direct your purchases. Here, we’ve assembled companies that sell and manufacture parts, tools, gear, and more that will compliment your Jeep, and many are Four Wheeler staff tested and approved. Several of our favorites use modern technology to keep those old Jeeps going without changing their look and flavor, all while improving usability. Of course, new Wranglers are hot, hot, hot, so we won’t leave them out either. These are the parts and the companies we know we can trust to equip our Jeeps for the trail ahead.
Old, Better Than NewThe ignition system on any older Jeep can cause a vehicular headache. Points, coils, and factory ignition control boxes can all leave you stranded or at least inconvenienced on the side of the road or trail. From commonly swapped in V-6s and V-8s on up to the venerable AMC 258 I-6 and almost any AMC V-8 found in a Jeep, older Jeeps can benefit from the technology delivered by Davis Unified Ignition (DUI) Performance Distributors. Replacing your factory ignition parts with an HEI-style distributor from DUI is simple and yields a more powerful and reliable ignition system, plus installation is simple (assuming you can change a distributor and connect one wire). We’ve used DUI distributors on Jeep projects for years and you can take our word for the fact that this is one part that will instantly increase the usability and reliability of your Jeep.
Info: Performance Distributors/DUI, 901/396-5782, performancedistributors.com
Reliability Injected Into JeepCarburetors, an antiquated mechanical device loved by few and misunderstood by many, when maintained and adjusted properly, do an adequate job of moving Jeeps around. Many Jeeps—from the first jeeps in 1941 and up into the early ’90s—came with the carburetor as the only method of delivering fuel to the engine. Carburetors work when new, adjusted properly, and maintained well, but with time and in certain off-road conditions, they generally leave something to be desired. In today’s modern age, fuel-injection systems for old Jeeps are many, and we’ve used many. One fuel injection system that is easy to install and has worked reliably on-road and off for years is the Howell Engine Developments EFI TBI system. From swapped-in even-fire Buick V-6s (swapped into an early flattie) on up to 50-state-legal emissions-controlled EFI systems for AMC engines, we have used Howell EFI for more than one Jeep project. You can be sure that we will use Howell again in the future. If you want to improve your Jeep’s reliability and drivability, you should too. It’s also worth noting that Howell keeps expanding their applications like the pictured kit for the ’71-’93 Jeep Wagoneer.
Info: Howell Engine Developments, 810/765-5100, howellefi.com
Jeep LinerThere is little doubt that carpet can be more than a little out of place in a Jeep that sees heavy use in the dirt. The piles and fibers act like a filter trapping dirt, sand, and water in the floor of your Jeep. With time, that can cause abrasion and rust. Rust leads to holes. Many a Jeep owner tugs the carpet out in short order…that is assuming a Jeep has any carpet. Bedliner material offers some of the insulation, heat absorption, and sound deadening that carpet offers and since Jeeps are so DIY why not apply your own bedliner? Durabak is a name that is synonymous with DIY bedliners and with tons of product Durabak has your carpetless Jeep covered—literally—with 16 colors and smooth or textured finish. Durabak is easy to apply. Prep the surface by roughing it up and then clean and roll on the Durabak in two coats, about an hour between coats. And with two new colors, Military Olive and Sand, this polyurethane coating requires no special mixing of components. With proper preparation, Durabak will stick to almost any common Jeep surface including metals (including aluminum), painted metals, fiberglass, and any wood, or concrete your Jeep may be made of.
Info: The Durabak Company, 303/690-7190, durabakcompany.com
Ello GovnaDid you know the first Land Rover used lots of parts from a military surplus WWII Jeep? It’s true, and today you can continue the alliance by using some British parts from EBC Brakes on your Jeep. Unlike the one-type-fits-all brake pads available at your local parts store, EBC sells a variety of brake pads for your Jeep making tuning your braking performance easy. With OE replacement pads and optional Performance pads (Greenstuff, Redstuff, Yellowstuff, and Orangestuff), as well as a few optional Performance rotors and more, EBC has all your Jeep or tow rig stopping needs covered. Like us, you’ve modified every other system on your Jeep thus far, so why not tune your brakes just like we have using parts from EBC Brakes?
Info: EBC Brakes, 702/826-2400, ebcbrakes.com
Replacement Parts For That Custom JeepSometimes owning a modified Jeep means buying replacement parts for aftermarket systems and that’s not always easy. If your Jeep’s modified suspension needs new bushings or that upgraded rear driveshaft has worn joints you might need new parts. The fact is the parts store up the road may be useless to help. That is unless the parts store up the road just happens to be 4 Wheel Parts. With 68 retail stores in the U.S. (and seven in Canada), chances are there is a 4 wheel Parts near you, and if not, there are five warehouses that can ship you parts after visiting the 4 Wheel Parts website or calling the number below. Either way, you are sure to get the advice and parts you need to maintain that customized Jeep. Staffed with enthusiasts and industry professionals, you can be sure the folks at 4 Wheel Parts will know how to help.
Info: 4 Wheel Parts, 877/260-5452, 4wheelparts.com
FlowKooler Is Not The Same As Flo RidaApparently Flo Rida is a thing—or rather a person who raps. That’s nice. We like four-wheeling and especially Jeeps. The name FlowKooler is practically synonymous with high-flow water pumps, but the company makes more than just that. One new item that FlowKooler makes that stands out from the crowd is the SideKick, which is a supplemental heat exchanger for Jeeps when things just won’t stay cool. Maybe your Jeep is making a ton of power. Maybe the grille of your Jeep is blocked with a winch and big lights. Maybe you just bought the wrong radiator. The SideKick can be added and remotely mounted to any Jeep by tying it into your radiator or heater hoses. The unit can be mounted just about anywhere with its flexible mounting brackets. The SideKick also comes with a shroud where two SPAL fans can be mounted to keep things cool as shown here. Made in the USA and available in custom sizes, the SideKick is a cool idea—see what we did there?
Info: FlowKooler, 800/239-2501, flowkooler.com
Maintenance is Not OptionalDespite our many attempts to follow a “light maintenance schedule,” we know that our Jeeps need maintenance with use (and occasionally abuse). When it comes time to get replacement parts we, in the past, used to run down to the local parts house for filters, belts, tie-rod ends and more, but as we’ve aged we’ve noticed that we know more about what we want for our Jeep than the person behind the counter. They may be an expert on selling chrome fuzzy dice to the Honda tuner, but we know Jeeps and off-road. Enter RockAuto. RockAuto is the online equivalent of your local parts store. The company’s website features an easy to use drop down menu and once narrowed down to what part you want you’ll be greeted with a variety of parts from different manufacturers. Photos of the part are supplied as well as price info, availability, and application. In short, with RockAuto, you become the parts counter guy you can most rely on, and with a huge inventory and fast shipping, you’ll get the part you want for your Jeep without leaving the house or dealing with the guy at the parts store.
Info: RockAuto, rockauto.com
My Jeep Is CustomThe old adage of “built, not bought” is one that is important to more than one Jeep owner, and we can relate. The modular nature of Jeeps and how they can be built is one of the aspects that attracts the standout individualist owner to the vehicle brand. One way that many have made their Jeeps stand out and better reflect their individuality is with modifications to the suspension. Many a Jeep has been modified with an off-the-shelf suspension kit that lifts the vehicle to change the look and allow the use of a larger tire. Some Jeep owners need more individuality in their suspension systems and when custom suspension is the only way to go RuffStuff Specialties is the place to get pre-fabbed parts for that custom springover or link suspension. With parts that range from simple fabrication tabs, steering kits, link suspension kits, and all the way to full deuce-and-a-half axle swap kits, RuffStuff has you covered. The company also offers fabricated differential covers and more. If your Jeep needs custom parts, look no farther than RuffStuff.
Info: RuffStuff Specialties, 916/600-1945, ruffstuffspecialties.com
Lift That JeepThere are few things sadder than a stock Jeep on puny little stock-sized tires without a suspension lift. Sure, these Jeeps are probably still loved but clearly not as truly as they should be. All Jeeps need love, and it’s time to stop rampant Jeep suspension neglect. All right, enough silliness, but honestly, maybe one of the best ways to improve the look and off-road performance of any Jeep is with a suspension lift and larger tires. The stance gives the Jeep a more aggressive look, and the tires let everyone know that this Jeep gets used in the dirt (and not just at the mall). Skyjacker Suspensions is a company and a name that you should recognize because it has been building Jeep suspension parts for years and years (Skyjacker was the source for this writer’s very first Jeep suspension lift kit way back when). With a huge number of applications (like 200-300 lift kits and accessories for Jeep) ranging from those early CJ-5s on up to fullsize Jeeps (FSJs), CJs, XJs, YJs, ZJs, TJs, WJs, and JKs, if your Jeep needs some suspension love you can count on Skyjacker. We have, and we will continue to use, Skyjacker parts under our Jeeps.
Info: Skyjacker Suspensions, 318/388-0816, skyjacker.com
Aftermarket Parts, Racing FastWhen working on a Jeep project and realizing that we needed a part yesterday, our go-to for blazing fast shipping and an amazing website-based parts search engine is, without a doubt, Summit Racing. Many people think Summit Racing is all about pretty cars that can go fast, but the company also carries a wide variety of 4x4 parts for every Jeep or jeep built between 1941 and 2016. We’ve had orders arrive at our house from Summit the next day when ordered early enough, and while we are close to one of Summit’s warehouses, it’s still two states away. We don’t know how Summit does it, but the company keeps what we need in stock and gets it to us fast. We like it. Also, most orders more than $100 get free shipping, so it’s fast and it’s free. Can’t beat that.
Info: Summit Racing, 800/230-3030, summitracing.com
Shafted For LifeSome staff members at Four Wheeler are dyed-in-the-wool when it comes to certain brands. One such brand is Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts. These driveshafts are as good, if not better than, any other ’shaft out there. This is not fluff. This is not advertisement. This is based on real-world experience and years of abusive off-road testing. Add in the professionalism and product knowledge exhibited by Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts’ employees and you have a product and a company we will stay with for life. From high-quality, custom-built driveshafts to factory replacement driveline parts and custom off-road parts built for the off-roader (like slip-yoke eliminator kits for a variety of Jeep T-cases), you just can’t miss with a ’shaft or other parts from Tom Wood’s. The company’s website also offers a wealth of knowledge on all things driveshaft related and these guys ship fast.
Info: Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts, 877/4x-shaft, customdriveshafts.com
Possibly the Last ResortThe fact of the matter is you usually need a winch when times are at their worst. We choose to rely on tried and true winch products because we want to be sure that, when everything else is not going as planned, our winch will work and do what we need it to. Trust us when we say that we have been left out in the middle of nowhere when a winch was the last resort. Enter Warn, a company with a history tied to Jeeps and off-roading that sells a quality winch that anyone can count on to do its job when all is sideways. With products ranging from period-correct winches like the M8000 and iconic Warn 8274 (perfect for that restored early Jeep) on up to the most-advanced Zeon Platinum winches (perfect for your JK or JL), Warn has you covered. Did we mention that Warn also makes some of the best locking hubs on the planet? That makes two distinct Warn products we know we can rely on when the rocks get big and the mud gets deep regardless of what model Jeep we are driving.
Info: Warn Industries, 800/543-9276, warn.com
Saved By Floor Mats?High-quality floor mats are simply a must when it comes to saving the interior of any Jeep that gets used away from pavement. If you use your Jeep to get away from the asphalt and concrete of society you’re going to track sand, mud, slush, and dirt back to your Jeep at the end of the day—or the end of the trail. A good set of floor mats, like those from WeatherTech, can save your Jeep’s carpet under feet and in the cargo area. They can also be used in a pinch to save your day when you are stuck in sand or mud. Use one mat to spread the load under the Jeep’s jack to lift the tires out of the mud or sand. Then put your floor mats under the tires, lower the Jeep and hope you’ve got enough flotation and traction to get you unstuck. Most floor mats would come apart, but WeatherTech FloorLiners are built tough. Don’t forget to pick them up once back on solid ground—chances are you can wash them off and stick them back in your Jeep.
Info: WeatherTech, 800/441-6287, weathertech.com