Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jeep Ski Area

Everyone knows that the most capable vehicle in the ski area parking lot is a Jeep Wrangler, so naturally lots of skiers' choose to own a Jeep.  Having a bit of fun with this association, Jeep has created a new print ad shown above that links skiing and Jeeping.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Gorilla Wheel Locks

Okay, I admit - it's hard to get excited about lug nuts.  But if you've never given yours a second thought, I'm here to suggest that maybe you ought to.

Besides a lift kit, what's the most expensive thing you put on your Jeep?  For most people, it's the wheels and tires!  They can easily cost well over $1,500, and if you're simply reusing the original lug nuts, those wheels and tires can be stolen in under 10 minutes.

Most wheel lock kits come with a single locking lug nut.  You can buy wheel lock lug nuts direct from Mopar, or the typical Jeep lug nut kit includes 4 wheel locks, one for each wheel.  These are easily defeated with a wheel lock removal tool, however, and don't include a lock for your spare wheel.

Gorilla Automotive makes a full wheel lock kit listed for Jeeps that includes locking lug nuts for all 5 lugs, but the problem is that it only includes 20 lug nuts; it leaves your spare tire as vulnerable to theft as ever.  The trick is to order a set for 6-lug wheels instead of for 5-lug wheels: this gives you 24 locking lug nuts so you have 3 left over for use on your spare wheel, with one extra for if you ever lose or strip the threads on one.  Single wheel lock lug nuts deter casual thieves, but a complete set of locking lug nuts installed on every single lug substantially increases the time and effort required to steal your wheels & tires, so only the most determined thief would even consider targeting your Jeep.

Gorilla Automotive part number 71684N pictured above is what I ordered, and I found yet again that Amazon.com had the best price.  It includes five 1/2-inch locking lug nuts for each wheel, plus three more for the spare tire, one extra lug nut, and the wheel lock key (special socket).  Not pictured (because I don't need anyone stealing my wheels & tires) is a sticker with the lock's part number so you can order a replacement if you ever lose the lock.  The sticker should be placed inside the glovebox or under the hood, and the wheel lock key should be kept with the Jeep at all times for when you need to install your spare tire.

The new lug nuts are the same "acorn" style as the originals, but they are slightly longer and stick out a tiny bit more than the originals.  The original Jeep lug nuts use a 19mm socket while the new wheel lock key is 13/16" or 21mm.  This means that your Jeep's tire iron will not fit your new wheel lock key.  You should already have a 13/16" or 21mm socket in your tool kit that you carry in your Jeep at all times (right???) but if you don't then it's a good idea to get a Gorilla Telescoping Lug Wrench Set that includes two sockets with all four of the popular lug nut sizes - you never know when you'll need to help a fellow 4wheeler on the trail or a damsel in distress on the side of the road, so having this powerful and compact lug wrench stored with your jack in the back of your Jeep is wise.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Product Review: Rugged Ridge XHD Hood Catches

Rugged Ridge's black aluminum XHD Hood Catches

There's no such thing as a perfect vehicle.  The Jeep Wrangler JK is about as close as you'll ever find, but even it has its shortcomings.  For instance, its suspension is too low.  It doesn't come from the factory with 35-inch-tall tires.  And its rubber hood catches allow the hood to flutter in a strong headwind.

Most serious Jeep owners install a suspension lift kit and bigger tires, but not enough of them upgrade their hood latches.  When new, the original rubber hood latches work fine, but as the rubber dries out and they lose their elasticity with age, they can allow hood flutter when traveling at a high rate of speed.  Even at normal highway speeds, a strong headwind or an oncoming truck can blast enough wind through the Jeep's radiator to pressurize the underhood engine compartment and force the hood to lift.

The original plastic and rubber hood catches

It may be disconcerting to watch the hood bounce up and down with every big gust of headwind, but the hood isn't going to fly open all of a sudden; not only would both rubber hood catches need to break, but the central metal hood latch would also have to fail.  But even so, I wanted to upgrade my Jeep's hood catches to solve this annoyance.

There are a few aftermarket upgrades available for the JK, TJ, and earlier Jeeps.  The most popular is the Daystar Hood Wranglers.  These are a pair of polyurethane replacement straps for the original rubber straps.  They don't stretch as much as the rubber ones do, and the polyurethane is reported to better withstand weather and ultraviolet breakdown over the years.  They're very easy to install and at only $25 a set, it would be silly to replace your worn out old rubber ones with a set of fresh rubber ones from your local Jeep dealership.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jeep Wrangler on Fifth Gear

Fifth Gear is a British motoring show along the lines of Top Gear.  It does not have the U.S. distribution that Top Gear does through BBC America, or its own American version corresponding with Top Gear America, but you can still access all the shows on Final Gear.

In the following segment, they compare a new Jeep Wrangler JK to the original Willys Jeep:

Jeep Wrangler on Top Gear Korea

Top Gear is an international phenomenon - a car show so good, it appeals even to non-car enthusiasts.  Most car guys are familiar with the original British Top Gear, Top Gear America, and Top Gear Australia due to the series' availability on Final Gear.  There isn't much of an audience in English-speaking countries for Top Gear Korea, but that doesn't mean their episodes aren't worth watching.

Behold Top Gear Korea's segment on the Jeep Wrangler JK:

While the host is obviously an inexperienced offroad driver, it's still an entertaining video with a Korean take on the successful British formula for automotive entertainment.

The Story of "Stomper" The Rescue Rubicon

A silver lining has emerged from the black cloud of the devastating tornado that destroyed Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013.  The story of Bryan Hutton and his 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon "Stomper" begins with them leaving their home on Ohio to visit family in Oklahoma.

They got caught in the tornado's path.  Their Jeep was locked in the garage while the family hid in their storm cellar.  Once they emerged after the tornado passed, they found nothing left of their neighborhood.  The Jeep was buried in what was left of the house.

Hutton started checking other homes for survivors and soon realized that the Jeep could be very useful in rescuing people from the rubble - if it could start up and drive.  He dug through the rubble and was able to get the driver’s door open just enough that he could reach in and push the clutch pedal in with his hand and then turn on the ignition.  The Rubicon fired right up.  He reached in and jerked the shifter into reverse.  The Rubi begin to dig and claw its way backwards out of the debris and out of the garage.  Once it cleared the debris he was able to get it stopped in the driveway.

He cleared the wood and other debris out of the Jeep and drove up and down the neighborhood on three flat tires, offering help in any way he could.  He used the Jeep's Warn VR8000 winch numerous times to uncover people trapped under debris.  He transported injured people to medical personnel.  He delivered food, water, clothing, and other supplies to people.

The hero Jeep, although a total loss as far as insurance is concerned, is not heading to the recyclers.  Inspired by Bryan's efforts and the never-say-die attitude of his Jeep, numerous Jeep aftermarket  companies are contributing to its rebuild, including ARB, Reid Racing, Warn, TeraFlex, Rock Krawler, MetalCloak, Rock-Slide Engineering, Rugged Ridge, DiabloSport, Asfir4x4, TrekArmor, GR8TOPS, Genesis Offroad, RCV Performance, Factor 55, TrailReady, Burnsville Offroad, Race Car Dynamics, and others.  The rebuild is being performed by Crocker Off Road Performance in Phoenix, AZ.

You can follow the story and connect with everyone involved on the Jeep's Facebook page.  Several news outlets are also covering this story, including Jalopnik, Truck Trend, Highline Autos, and C4x4 Magazine.

Here's a great video from RightThisMinute.

The 4x4 Podcast discussed the whole story of Stomper.

Stomper even inspired a Jeep commercial:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jeep Sets All-Time Sales Record in 2013

I've reported several times about how successful the sales of the world's most hardcore offroad automotive brand have been.  Jeep is reporting that they have yet again set an all-time sales record with their 2013 sales totals.  This actually marks two years in a row in which they have set an all-time record, as I reported last year about their phenomenal 2012 model-year sales.

Autoblog has all the brand numbers, but AutoGuide goes in depth with each Jeep model's individual sales, with Chrysler's own press release backing them up.  The Grand Cherokee again came out on top, but the Wrangler's sales of 210,715 handily surpassed its last year's record of 194,142 units.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Axial R/C Jeep Snow Plow

I've already blogged about the coolest toy ever created: the Axial Racing SCX10 Jeep Wrangler.  This radio-controlled Jeep has conquered back yards across the country and even completed the Rubicon Trail under its own power.  But now some creative minds have figured out how to make the normally backbreaking chore of shoveling snow off their walkways a much more rewarding and entertaining job by attaching a snow plow implement to the front of their R/C Jeeps:

*** UPDATE 1/8/2014 ***

Autoblog has also run a story on the Axial Jeep snow plow.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

President Reagan's Jeep CJ-6 and CJ-8 Scrambler

Real men drive Jeeps

President Ronald Reagan was many things: a lifeguard credited with saving 77 people, a sporting goods salesman, a college football player, a U.S. Cavalry officer, a Hollywood actor, a television spokesman, California's Governor from 1967-1975, and the 40th President of the United States of America from 1981-1989.  Most famous for his Presidency, his Libertarian views and economic policy helped pull us out of a depression and into a 25-year economic boom.  He drove liberals nuts, and to this day he's the kind of leader whom conservatives wish they could find again.  His steadfast leadership as President helped us win the Cold War and avert nuclear war.  Ronald Reagan was a man's man.

What sort of vehicle would such a man drive?  Not just one, but two Jeeps.

Reagan's 1962 Jeep CJ-6
Reagan's 1983 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler

Inside the Jeep Wrangler Assembly Plant

Jeep's Toledo South Assembly Plant is a busy place, cranking out Jeep Wrangler JKs as fast as possible.  So many, in fact, that they recently celebrated the One Millionth JK Wrangler.  This short video gives a look inside the modern Ohio assembly facility at the seamless blend of high-tech robotics and good old-fashioned American labor: