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Answers to All Your Jeep Questions

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on October 10, 2017
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Is My Jeep Rare?

I am in need of help. I have tried to find all the info I can, but have hit a roadblock and thought, I have a Jeep—go around it. Which brings me to you guys, the Jeep gods. I have an ’83 CJ-5 Renegade. It is all original from wheels to top, tub, fenders, hood, frame, and engine. It even has the factory stickers on it. It was a barn find. I simply thought it was a cool, cheap Jeep, but as I started looking into it, the Jeep appears to be a rare find. It is a complete, unmolested, original Jeep. It still has the original push-button AMC radio. Here is the kicker: It has a straight-six with a four-speed transmission. After a little work, it runs very well. The four-wheel drive works and everything. I was told by Chrysler that total production in 1983 was 3,065 units of which 302 were Renegade models. Is this Jeep really rare, or do I just not know of more still alive? And if it is rare, what might it be worth?

Len Morreale‎
Via facebook.com/jpmag

Die-hard Jeep enthusiasts have been dreaming of digging up unbelievable Jeep deals and stumbling on rare valuable models for decades. Welcome to the party! Unfortunately, most rare Jeeps are only rare, and not necessarily valuable. Of all the CJ models, the CJ-5 is probably the least collectable, although the different special trim packages that were available make them more collectable. CJ-5 values can range from a few hundred dollars for a rusty basket case parts Jeep to more than $25,000 for a fully restored to better-than-new condition CJ-5. What your Jeep is worth will depend entirely on finding the right buyer. Of course, a wealthy collector looking for the exact year and model Jeep you have will likely pay any amount to have it. However, there are very few wealthy Jeep collectors looking to spend exorbitant amounts of money on something they really don’t need. Keep in mind that a full restoration of your Jeep could cost much more than you could even sell it for. A collector-quality paint job alone could set you back a paycheck. Also, a botched home-restoration will typically decrease the value of an unmolested, rare barn-find Jeep in original condition. If you plan to sell it to a true collector, don’t mess with it.

Ultimately, any Jeep, rare or not, is really only worth what the market will bear, regardless of if there is only one or 300,000 of them. If you still believe you have a true Jeep treasure that is worth much more than you paid for it, you can reach out to one of the many Jeep restoration companies to see if there is any interest. Companies such as Collins Bros. Jeep (collinsbrosjeep.com) specialize in the restoration, modification, and sales of all Jeep models, including the collectibles.

Practical Jeep Swap

Thanks for your work on the Your Jeep column. I bought one of the early ’07 JK Unlimited four-door Jeeps. I have enjoyed building it up to suit my use, mostly in central and southern Baja, Mexico. It has 135,000 miles on it now and does not burn oil at all, but I know the clock is ticking. When the time comes, my choices are to buy new again, rebuild, or repower. I like the thought of a 350 V-8. I also like what I have in suspension mods, wheels, tires, winch, and so on, so selling my Jeep is not all that appealing. I'd like to do what is practical. What is your advice?

Bob Rief
Cardiff, CA

Modified Jeeps are usually not associated with logical or practical thought. Jeep-based decisions are often made on a want basis. Now, what would be practical is to compression-test the engine and do a leakdown test to check for cylinder wear. You can purchase an inexpensive compression test kit from Harbor Freight (harborfreight.com). There are several different engine compression tests you can perform with this tool. If you find that there is a difference in pressure of more than 10 percent per cylinder, it may be time for a teardown or replacement. However, since your engine is not burning oil, I suspect it’s not overly worn. It could go for another 100,000 miles with no issues. As you can imagine, swapping out a perfectly good engine is not at all practical.

Something to keep in mind is that engine swaps are not affordable. Installing a GM 350 V-8 in your Jeep will require a new transmission, transfer case adapter, larger radiator, new exhaust, different motor mounts welded or bolted to the frame, new driveshafts, and so on. The engine itself can sometimes be one of the least expensive parts of the conversion. Complete turnkey Jeep JK Wrangler engine swaps can cost as much as $30,000 or more, depending on the power output desired.

Since you are based in California, you will also have to appease the California smog laws. The engine you install will have to be from the same year or newer vehicle and retain all of the OE smog equipment. That means you can’t swap in an older GM 350 V-8 into your Jeep and expect it to remain street legal.

If you’re just looking for a bit more oomph, I would recommend stepping into a ’12-’17 Wrangler with the 3.6L Pentastar V-6. It makes about 85 hp more than the 3.8L V-6 found in ’07-’11 Wrangler models. Bolting on new suspension, tires, wheels, and other accessories on a newer Jeep will likely be far more cost-effective and less troublesome than repowering your Jeep with a swapped-in non-stock engine.

Which Way Winch

I have a question, or four actually. Almost all off-road vehicles, like my Jeep Wrangler, have winches only in the front. Why is that? When I got bogged down in a swamp, the last thing I have needed was to winch myself deeper into it in order to try to get out. Since most of us get into trouble by going forward into difficult situations, wouldn’t it make sense to undo the trouble by winching backward out of the difficult situations?

Shouldn’t a rear winch be the primary winch, and a front winch be secondary? Or, shouldn’t it always be switchable/swappable, so that it could be easily be positioned front or rear, as needed?

Bernie Kressner
Appleton, WI

The best winch location on your Jeep depends on several factors, including the terrain you frequent most and driving style. In most cases, a winch is used to pull a Jeep forward through a short rough section or a few yards of deep mud so that a trail can be completed without turning around. In cases where long stretches of deep mud, snow drifts, and unseen washouts are involved, yes, a rear-mounted winch makes more sense than a front-mounted winch. However, most of us travel with a buddy, and that buddy who is likely following you should have a front-mounted winch on his Jeep, which can be used to extricate your stuck Jeep.

If you regularly go wheeling alone and there is a possibility you could encounter a scenario where a rear winch is needed, then by all means install one. Companies such as Olympic 4x4 Products (olympic4x4products.com) offer rear bumpers with built-in winch mounts. The Olympic 4x4 rear bumper is designed to house a low-profile winch. The factory exhaust will need to be modified to fit the rear-facing winch.

If you want a moveable winch, you can make use of a Warn (warn.com) Multi-Mount winch system. It requires that you install a 2-inch receiver hitch at both the front and back of your Jeep. Warn, as well as many other companies, offers front and rear receiver hitches and aftermarket bumpers with built-in receiver hitches. Your winch is then mounted to the removable Multi-Mount cradle that can be installed on one end or the other of your Jeep. Heavy cable wiring and plugs are routed from the battery to the front and rear to power the winch. Before going this route, there are several significant downfalls of the Multi-Mount winch system to consider. It decreases the approach and departure angles of your Jeep (depending on which end it’s mounted on at the time). The Multi-Mount cradle and winch are heavy and not easy for a single person to carry or manipulate into the receiver hitch. The Multi-Mount system is somewhat noisy when stored in the hitch and dangerous if stored inside the Jeep without proper tie downs. A 100-pound winch and cradle could very easily become a hazardous projectile should even a minor rollover occur.

Weight Penalty

I've been reading Jp from the other side of the Atlantic for some years. I appreciate all the useful information and interesting articles, although I think you should spread your horizon a bit and look outside of the U.S. every once in a while. Some of you would be surprised at how much off-road innovation there is on this side of the pond.

Anyway, I always end up wondering what the penalty is in terms of the weight of a specific upgrade. Let's use the G2 Core 44 installation (“Bent Rubicon D44 Solution,” Oct. ’17) as an example. I think it would be quite interesting to know how much weight over stock the G2 axle assembly adds to the Jeep. It's one more factor to consider when deciding between reinforcing the stock axle versus buying a full replacement. The same goes for upgrades like bumpers, tire carriers, and so on.

Apart of the obvious fact that a light vehicle will perform better, this information might be especially useful to your European (and maybe other) readers where vehicle weights are strictly monitored by authorities.

Nico Garcia Vogel
Spain

We have long been proponents of keeping a Jeep lightweight. The advantages of doing so are tremendous. A lighter Jeep will respond more quickly to throttle input, stop faster, climb better, and is less likely to become hopelessly stuck in deep snow, sand, or mud. Handling both on- and off-road is usually also improved. There are many products specifically designed to maintain light weight, such as aluminum bumpers, skidplates, and body armor. Other areas, such as the axles, are a bit more complicated, especially on JK Wranglers with 35-inch tires or bigger. The factory Wrangler axle assemblies are at about their maximum operational limit with 35-inch tires. Stepping up to 37-inch tires will quickly degrade the stock axle assemblies when used off-road regularly.

In our case, our Rubicon front axle was already bent. No amount of gusseting and reinforcement were going to straighten it. Also, straightening and then reinforcing a bent assembly puts a lot of stress on the entire housing, which can lead to cracks and oil leaks. Gusseting a good, straight housing will generally only improve stock housing strength by about 30 percent. The larger diameter axle tubes, beefier center section, and heavy-duty end forgings found in some aftermarket JK Wrangler front axle assemblies will offer more than double the bend-resistant strength over the stock axle housing. The reinforcement and replacement modifications really are not all that comparable. Also, in many cases the cost of properly installing all of the available gussets is near the same as simply replacing the stock housing with something stronger. It would be hard to justify doing this with only a marginal gain in strength. The weight penalty of the aftermarket axle assembly would likely never be noticed by most Jeep enthusiasts.

Injecting XJ

I wish to hear your opinion on my ’00 XJ. It has headers, a K&N intake system, an oil cooler for the engine, and an add-on cooler for the automatic transmission. I would like to install 23-pound injectors. Will they cause problems for the motor under normal conditions? I’m looking for more power, but most of all I want to keep my Jeep running reliably.

José Miguel Aguilar Brenes
Via email

On a relatively stock engine such as yours, you really won’t see a significant improvement in power with the addition of larger fuel injectors. The larger injectors are generally reserved for big power upgrades like a supercharger or turbo. The factory OBDII ECU will revert back to pre-mapped fuel tables, so even if you bump up your injector size to 21-, 23-, or 24-lb/hr units, the computer will simply fire the injector for a shorter burst. It ends up delivering the same amount of fuel that your stock 19-lb/hr injector would. However, instead of (or in addition to) an injector upgrade, you could try installing a Leigh Performance Machine (strokedjeep.com) MAP sensor adjuster. This will trick the ECU into thinking the engine is under more load than it really is and will give correspondingly more fuel. Hesco (hesco.us) is a good source for adjustable fuel-pressure regulators and larger injectors, as well as other 4.0L fueling components.

Spicer 18 Stuffing

I'm trying to run a GM TH350 three-speed automatic transmission and a Spicer 18 transfer case. The front driveshaft clearance sucks. Is it possible to trim enough from the transmission and pan to keep the 1310 yoke? For some reason I was thinking the front output on the Dana 20 doesn't stick out as far. If so, is that a possibility to get a little more room? I have an Advanced Adapters adapter kit. I’m using Wagoneer front and rear Dana 44 axles. It looks like there is enough angle to the side on the front driveshaft to clear everything else.

@randlehandle
Via Instagram @cappaworks

The Spicer 18 is an extremely durable and compact transfer case capable of handling much more power and torque than it was ever designed for. Its small size is also its downfall. The front output can be a tight fit on many of the transmissions used behind swapped-in V-8 and V-6 engines. This includes the GM TH350, TH400, SM420 and others. Proper fitment with a 1310 front yoke will depend on the adapter you have, engine placement, front axle, and front axle location. In some cases you can swap to a less beefy early 1310 front yoke and/or clearance the transmission and yoke slightly with a grinder. Unfortunately, the Advance Adapters (advanceadapters.com) adaptor for this application generally requires the use of a much smaller yoke, which is available in a kit (Advance Adapters part number 716009).

Novak Conversions (novak-adapt.com) has a Spicer 18 to TH350 adapter that will allow for a traditional 1310 front driveshaft yoke. This adapter is about 2 inches longer than the Advance Adapters part, so if rear driveshaft length is already at a premium, you may have to go with the smaller front yoke.

You cannot use the Dana 20 front output on the front of a Spicer 18. Even though the bolt pattern is the same it still won’t work. Part of the shifting mechanism is housed on the front output of the 18, so the front outputs are very different and not interchangeable. You might be able to fit a complete Dana 20 transfer case a little better than the 18, that is if you don't need the offset rear output of the Spicer 18.

Grounded CJ Wiring

My ’76 CJ-7 money pit is having some bad electrical issues. What are the typical grounds to check?

@_rarainc
Via Instagram @cappaworks

With more than 40 years of aging and who knows how many wiring additions and modifications (both good and bad) made by previous owners, it’s not unusual for an older Jeep like your CJ to have wiring issues. If your Jeep still has the original wiring harness, your problem could be more than bad grounds. A rotted wiring harness may be beyond repair. Fortunately, companies such as Painless Performance (painlessperformance.com) offer complete bumper-to-bumper harnesses specifically designed for the CJ-7 as well as harnesses for other Jeep models.

If you are confident that the problem is related to bad grounds, start at the battery. Check the terminal for corrosion and tightness. Corrosion or a loose terminal here will wreak all kinds of wiring havoc throughout the Jeep. Make sure there is a chassis and a body ground and that they have clean solid connections. If they look questionable, remove the grounds and clean the connecting points. Replace any overly corroded or damaged ground straps.

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