Seems I’m going to have to cut my trip short a bit early because my Jeep is acting up. So now I’m in scenic Ridgecrest, California, at the luxurious Motel 6. Oh well, at least I get to sleep in an actual bed rather than on the ground like the past four nights.
So, something tweaked my steering while I was driving down Indian Ranch Road after leaving Ballarat. Which makes absolutely no sense, Indian Ranch Road is a frickin’ freeway for a dirt/gravel road, I mean, when we got to the end of Surprise Canyon Road there was a fricking *PRIUS* there for cryin’ out loud! So anyhow, the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) light came on because the steering wheel was turned but the wheels were all going straight, and that was the beginning of the issues. I tried pulling the codes, and saw a pending P304. Which, uhm, is infamous on Pentastars of my Jeep’s vintage — it means it has a bad driver’s side cylinder head and is in the process of burning the valve. Meanwhile, the steering is still tweaked but I reset the Electronic Stability Control to the “new normal” with the following procedure (which I did accidentally while pulling into my parking place which required a Z to get into it):
1. Start the engine.
2. Center the steering wheel.
3. Turn the steering wheel all the way to the left until the internal stop in the steering gear is met, then turn the wheel all the way to the right until the opposite internal stop in the steering gear is met.
4. Center the steering wheel.
5. Stop the engine.
So anyhow, all this means that my offroading trip is over. Tomorrow I chug into Panamint Springs Resort to have Thanksgiving dinner and meet friends, then I head home on Friday. I need to find out what got tweaked in my steering, and fix it. And I need to re-center my steering wheel, and recalibrate the steering position sensor again to the “right” center. And finally, I need to keep my Jeep around town until the pending P304 turns into an *actual* P304 and I can get that head replaced under warranty. (That specific head has a 10 year 150,000 mile warranty due to the fact that it’s a known manufacturer’s defect).