Archive for the ‘jeep’ Category

So, for the first time ever, our 4×4 club had to cancel all possible runs due to smoke from wildfires.

We’ve had to cancel a run because of a wildfire before. But *all* possible runs in the Sierra Nevada because every single Jeep trail within easy driving distance is socked in by smoke or is actively burning? Nope.

No global warming my ass.

– Badtux the Coughing Penguin

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Touching base with civilization

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).

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I got two sets of gear in. First of all, a Kenwood multimedia head to take the place of the OEM AM-FM radio in my Jeep. I wanted something that I could connect to with Bluetooth and that could drive a backup camera in back and a parking camera up front, both of which are useful for purposes of Jeeping. Combined with the iDataLink Maestro CAN bus module it can also view tire pressures (thanks to the sensors in the tires), engine codes, and so forth, as well as be controlled by the steering wheel controls. The Maestro also controls the stock amplifier and the stock satellite radio, which means the woofer in the back will continue working as well as the satellite radio. The net effect is going to be a drastic reduction in wires on my dashboard as well as an improvement in my user experience since right now I have a kludge to do the hands-free phone thing with the OEM radio.

So what I’ll spend tonight doing is soldering a bunch of wires together between the Maestro’s harness (which plugs into the OEM harness on one side and comes out to the Kenwood on the other) and the Kenwood harness. Left front + to left front +. Left front – to left front -. And so on and so forth. No big deal, just lots of fiddly stripping, twisting, soldering, and heat shrinking. Then this weekend I get to drill holes in my front and rear bumpers to mount the cameras and run their wires to the new multimedia head, and I get to install the head itself (the easy part, since I can literally unplug the old radio and plug its wires into the new harness and I’m done).

The thing on the left, by contrast, is a bit lower-tech. It’s a Hi-Lift jack mount for my Teraflex spare tire carrier, so I can carry my Hi-Lift on the back of my Jeep rather than inside the Jeep. I’ve put the back seat back into the Jeep now that it’s my only form of transportation again, so there really isn’t room for the Hi-Lift inside the Jeep anymore. Next week I also have a jerry can holder coming that fits onto the back of my Jeep to move the gasoline supply out there too.

The end result is going to be a more comfortable Jeep with fewer headaches and more room inside. Next up, some new tires…. that’ll make it more civilized indeed.

Oh yeah, I understand that Triumph of the Will… err… Trump of the Will… had a speech last night. I didn’t watch it. Some things just aren’t worth the trouble to watch.

– Badtux the Busy Penguin

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Die, dye, die

In which I rant about coolant dyes and vendor stupidity.

Over at Moto-Tux, because it’s detailed to a point that’s going to bore anybody who’s not a car guy completely to death.

Yeah, I spent most of today working on my Jeep. I put the big tars back on (I’d put the little tires on it to get it aligned), took the little tars to storage and got the back seat and back package shelf from storage, took out all the stuff that stretched from rollbar to rollbar in the back, and removed the brackets for the big package shelf. I also put in an order for some parts to replace things that are stripped or missing or otherwise non-functional, as well as a new Hi-Lift jack mount. All that stuff ought to arrive at the end of next week, depending on how long it takes the vendor to ship.


And I have a new car stereo on the way, a 2-DIN unit that has some cool diagnostics stuff built in too for things like seeing trouble codes and such and with an adaptor that’ll also make the built-in satellite radio and steering wheel controls work right. No navigation though, Garmin wants to add $350 to the cost of any display unit to add navigation, and my phone works better for navigation anyhow. So, anyhow, now that the Whale is sold, I have $600/month extra to play with… that’s my one splurge that I’m doing with it. Having Bluetooth native to the stereo rather than the current kludges I use to connect my phone to the bare-bones stock radio for hands-free use is going to make a lot of things work a *lot* better.

– Badtux the Jeeping Penguin

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I really can’t justify having two cars, especially given that we have actual mass transit here in the Bay Area. I’ve decided to sell the Great White Whale, Moby Van, the 2014 Chrysler Town & Country. The reality is that the number of times I’ve actually needed the capabilities of Moby Van in the past year is twice. And one of those will never happen again, and the other of those would be well taken care of by renting a U-Haul trailer for $20.

Of course, if I were sensible, I’d be selling the Green MoneyPit (the 2011 Jeep Wrangler) rather than Moby Van. Moby Van is the most practical vehicle I’ve ever owned. It’ll go from hauling seven people to the taqueria to hauling six sheets of plywood home with just a flip of the back rows of seats to tuck them into their under-floor compartments. But: The MoneyPit is fun. Moby Van isn’t. At least, not in the same way as the MoneyPit.

So anyhow, that’s what I’ve been doing the majority of this past week — getting Moby Van ready for sale by detailing its interior (the exterior will get detailed this weekend), and getting the MoneyPit ready for daily driver duty by cleaning it out and getting some new wheels to replace my banged up old wheels so I can put some tires on it for commuting that are more street-oriented than the big expensive offroad knobbies that I run when I’m heading into the national forests for offroading. For example, I took the MoneyPit to get its alignment checked, and they adjusted the toe so it would quit scrubbing the outside corners of my front tires, important if I’m buying new tires that I don’t want chewed up.

Meanwhile the world keeps moving around, the politicians (especially Donald Trump) keep saying stupid things, and in general nothing that I feel like talking about is happening. So I’ll talk about the MoneyPit and Moby Van instead. Next up — a sample Craigslist ad, once I get it in shape where I can list it…

– Badtux the too-many-cars Penguin

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So, here’s what I’ve been up to this weekend:


Yeah, been swapping out shocks on my 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. This is after I put the front driver’s side on. The OEM shock is the red one, the new shocks are the silver Foxes.

Unfortunately the new shocks are 1.5″ longer than the OEM shocks, which gives me some choices:

  1. I can leave the 2″ shock mount extenders on. But that gives me the equivalent of 3.5″ of lift worth of droop, and my front drive shaft hits the exhaust crossover pipe.
  2. I can remove the 2″ shock mount extenders. But that gives me 1/2″ less droop.

I chose option two because dealing with the crossover pipe issue is non-trivial with 3.5″ of droop over stock. It means that I need a new driveshaft *and* a new crossover pipe, one that has a cutout of sorts to allow more droop. Not going there right now.

For the record, here is what it looks like at full droop *with* the shock mount extenders. Without them there’s about 1/2″ between the driveshaft slip joint’s accordion cover and the exhaust pipe:


So the other issue was that the front passenger side upper shock mount bolt was completely, utterly obscured by the battery tray. I mean, it was impossible to get to it. Really, Jeep? Why do you do this to me?! Luckily it’s not that hard to remove enough stuff to prop up the battery tray. To whit:

  1. Remove the top part of the airbox via unclamping it from the intake air tube and removing the charcoal canister hose.
  2. Remove the air filter (duh)
  3. Remove the bottom half of the airbox by yanking hard to pop it out of the three rubber grommets that hold it to the battery tray.
  4. You will then see two of the bolts needed to unbolt the airbox from the body. Unfortunately one is obscured by the transmission fluid reservoir feed line. So unbolt the transmission fluid reservoir and push it aside.
  5. Remove the negative clamp from the battery negative post and and push it aside, remove the positive clamp from the battery positive post and push it aside, unbolt the battery with a long extension and 10mm socket (the clamp is between the battery and the body).
  6. Remove the battery.

At this point you can see all of the 10mm bolts that hold the battery box on. There is not one underneath the TIPM (the fuse box) so don’t worry about that. Just remove all the 10mm bolts or nuts. Then wiggle the battery box forward a little and prop it up at the front a couple of inches with wooden wedges or door stops or something like that.

At that point you end up with something that looks like this:


As you can see, you can now reach the top bolt.

The Fox shocks use a 1/4″ allen wrench on the top to keep the body from turning as you turn the bolt that holds the body to the top shock mount. Needless to say there isn’t enough room for an allen wrench up there. Instead I cut off a nub of a 1/4″ allen wrench and used a 1/4″ wrench to hold the body steady while I used a 3/4″ open end wrench on the bolt. It was painfully slow, but (shrug) it works.

Put it all together in reverse order :). Not shown: Taking the wheel well liners off / putting them on. Because they’re ugly semi-home-made things that I don’t like showing off, LOL.

So next I need to put on the rear shocks. That’s a lot easier because all their mounts are out in the open. I just ran out of daylight today and didn’t feel like extending my wrenching into the night…

– Badtux the Wrenching Penguin

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Well f**k me

Well. I crawled under my Jeep to see if the dealership had managed to fix the transmission fluid leak. Yep, it’s fixed. And while I was staring at that piece of transmission cooling line and admiring the way they’d re-bent it to fit into a sturdier fitting, a drop of water hit me in the face.


In a desert.

Where it hasn’t rained in, like, over a month.

I looked up and it had dripped off the top corner of the oil pan where it hits the engine block. But it was def water, not oil. I scooted further under the Jeep, and yeah, there was a clear path of water going up the engine block. I followed the path and… ut-oh. Here’s the lower hose to the radiator. But no, it’s not coming from that. It’s coming from further up, from the thing that’s right above it.

Which is the water pump.

SIGH. And yeah, my coolant level was down, I topped up the reservoir to the “Cold Fill” line with 50% Mercedes coolant, 50% distilled water. This being one of the Jeeps that got designed during the Mercedes years and requires the Mercedes coolant, which is damn hard to come by but luckily my previous Jeep also used it so I had some in the garage.

So I guess next thing that has to happen is that I get a new water pump, the usual issue is that the shaft seal is gone because the shaft has worn out the bushing. According to Alldata it’s not repairable. They’re supposed to last longer than 45,000 miles though! Not that I expect this to sway Chisler Corporation regarding replacing the damned thing, the warranty was 3 year/36,000 miles. SIGH. Ah well, it’s only money, I guess…

– Badtux the Watery Penguin

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