Episode 404 – Wranglers Under Federal Investigation

Whether you are upgrading your Jeep’s suspension, swapping axles, changing trannies or modifying your transfer case, one component of your Jeep almost always demands attention—the driveshaft. It’s the critical link in your drive line, and a sensitive one at that. A little off here, a little off there, and if you’re not careful, you could find yourself in big trouble somewhere you can least afford it.  This is why you should put your trust in the biggest name in drive shafts, Tom Woods. Just go to 4XShaft.com find out more, that’s 4XShaft.com

This Week In Jeep:

More Spy Shots

Following in the spirit of last week’s news story of spy photos which opened our eyes to the possibility of an even more powerful Grand Cherokee Trackhawk… this week we have some new photos that have the rumor mills all-a-buzz. Autoblog has a pretty skilled crew of photographers at their disposal. And this week, they got numerous shots of a prototype Gladiator. Now last week, if you remember, the buzz was focused on a unique and never before seen hood design, which led us to believe there was something going on under the hood of that Grand Cherokee. THIS week, the spy photos of this Gladiator ALSO focus on the hood. This time however, Jeep has gone to great lengths to hide what’s going on. Allegedly, all week around the testing grounds, were seen camouflaged Gladiators doing test runs with the upcoming diesel option. No not Rambo type camo, but those big chunky and fluffy plastic comforter looking things that the drape all over areas of the vehicles they’re trying to keep away from spying eyes. And it is all around the hood and grille area that these Gladiators have all this camo. Maybe all that black plastic is trying to disguise something around the engine compartment, as well as what appears to be a new bulge in the hood. There’s no opening in that camo, though, so we’re probably not looking at a new Gladiator Shaker-Hood option with a functional ram air intake. (But wouldn’t that be something really cool!?) In any case, this has a LOT of people on the internet thinking that we may see a V8 Gladiator afterall, and the changes to the front clip needed to pass a V8 thru all the safety tests, might be the reason for all that camo. A V8 Gladiator would certainly answer the call for the masses who have been demanding more power from their Jeep truck. Towing, hauling, and overall awesomeness would all improve. FCA certainly has no shortage of V8 engine platforms available to it, and entrepreneurial spirits have never shied away from stuffing V8’s into their Wranglers, so it’s obviously possible. But as we’ve heard FCA’s CEO Mike Manely state too many times, it’s always been about safety standards, and a V8 in a Wrangler or Gladiator, doesn’t leave enough crumple zone for the vehicle to then pass the stringent crash tests needed for a vehicle to move into production. All this could be a moot point and just hopes and dreams taking the reins of the reports, and it’s just Jeep testing out some new hood designs and nothing more. Time will tell.

New Wranglers Under Federal Investigation

The 2018-19 Jeep Wrangler is the subject of a new investigation by the NHTSA. Agency documents detailed the new investigation after its Office of Defects Investigation received 608 various complaints from owners since the new models release. Combined with complaints received by Jeep’s parent automaker, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the document shows 3,566 owners filed complaints surrounding frame weld concerns that may also allegedly affect steering systems. Weld concerns include “excessive slag” (a coating over welds), “splash” (small pieces of materials literally splashed onto surrounding metal during welding), welds with holes in them and poor weld penetration. The scope of this investigation claims it’s possible these issues may compromise the structural integrity of the Wrangler. As it gathered information from FCA, NHTSA said, the automaker did not fully address if these kinds of problems may pose a structural risk to the Wrangler’s frame. The investigation will, therefore, seek to understand if quality discrepancies may  ((QUOTE)) “pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.” Jeep said in a statement this week that it’s providing thief full cooperation with the investigation. It is important to note at this point, that 2020 Jeep Wranglers are NOT part of this investigation. This issue under investigation is also not related to a prior recall Jeep carried out over a separate weld issue. That recall, launched in September 2018, addressed welding issues with the front-track bar. The component connects the front axle to the body and a poor weld could make the Wrangler a difficult thing to control when steering. Said recall only applied to a small portion of early-production Wranglers. During this recall, however, The NHTSA also asked for additional information to address complaints related to steering systems, “wobbling” and unexpected lockups. Combined with questions around how these complaints may affect structural integrity and complaint overlap, the feds want to learn if the alleged faulty frame welds affect steering abilities. Jeep has mentioned in recent press releases that it is working on a mechanical steering fix via an upgraded steering damper to address customer complaints over vibrations that often occur in cold weather. Again, this is unrelated to the prior recall. NHTSA’s document said it has not received any reports of crashes or injuries due to the alleged defects. The investigation also follows news that Jeep engineered a remedy for the well-known “death wobble” problem.

Wrangler Talk:

Back in My Jeep Wrangler

Pinion Seal, Bearing, Spacer, Bearing on the Differential side, actuator, Axle Drive shaft seal. They said the main issue was the pinion nut but they replaced everything under warranty. I asked to do a transfer case service because it’s about that time. They need to grind the bolts back into shape on the transfer case skid plate because they were chewed up. They also noticed my upper and lower ball joints were below recommended spec so we replaced them with synergy ball joints as well as welded on gussets. HOly Cow is doing that putting your life in your own hands if you immediately have to drive 65 on a busy interstate. It was the first time I prayed for rush hour traffic. Danny the tech told me when I left the steering was going to be tight and not pull back like it normally does. It will take 500 hundred miles to be back to normal. In the Synergy directions it says due to the nature of metal on metal ball joints, these ball joints will require a small break in period for the first 500 miles or so for the bearing surface to seat. The steering may feel sticky or lack self centering during this time. HOLY MOLY! I’m surprised I didn’t get pulled over for drunk driving.  Maggie May has had some issues as well. Wrong timing chain…metal in the engine. Replaced a new fuel pump. Now she’s down again.

Interview with:

Andy Lilienthal with Warn Industries

Andy Lilienthal started working at Warn Industries in 2006 and is the company’s Strategic Communications Manager. In his spare time he enjoys working on his 4x4s and even occasionally driving them.

Nicky G:

Learns to be more specific when asking for parts.

Jeep Momma’s Product Review

Route 66 Mods – Powder coated Fasteners
Dress Up your Jeep Kit (or your Ford, Honda, Or Chevy)
Stainless Steel Screws for your Door Hinges, Cowls, A Pillar.

Route 66 Mods is a small family owned and operated business based in Kingman, AZ. We take great pride in what we do. Being the best source for powder coated fasteners, we do what others have failed at. We have developed a process that makes powder coating fasteners work. A multi-step process that we developed over a course of years of trial and error has produced a product that is superior to all competitors products. Our coatings will hold up to all the rigors that a fastener receives, from tightening to daily service and all weather conditions.


Wheeling Where:

4Wheeling 4Help -(presents) JEEP Night!
Oct. 7th
Boardwalk Billy’s – Charlotte, North Carolina
More Info:
Our last event of 2019!!  Jeep Night 4Wheeling 4Help is a monthly event in Charlotte NC, March-October at Boardwalk Billy’s  Matthews. Held on the first Monday of each month So…. Monday October 7th is it for 2019 and we are giving back to Alyssa Magro of Wheelin with CF, who will have her third lung transplant the beginning of October. Alyssa, has had a life of black trails, but this amazing woman continues to triumph through all. Giving back and supporting everyone. Life and challenges have not slowed her down. With her family and the amazing Jeeping Community we support, pull out a tow strap and help!!  Attending this event is that. Giving back doing for others. If you play offroad, You’re invited!! Yes it’s JEEP Night, but if it’s 4wd we want to see you there(even Toyota’s). *you’re listening to the “JEEP Talk Show” so you’re in a Jeep, but is open to anyone!! Family and pet Friendly, Great Food, cold drinks(Tammy likes those)

Amazing Raffle Prizes, 10% food sales, and 100% of money raised goes to Alyssa 

Thanks to @Keffer JEEP and Joe Maus for all of his support, capital Jeep, Southernized Gear, Rhino Lights, Suparee, Tarheel 4wd, 4Wheel Parts, Stacked Offroad, Mictuning, Nilight, State Farm, Carolina Metal Masters, SpiderWebShade, Nashville’ Metal Art, AT&T, and Boardwalk Billy’s 


Tri-County 4 Wheelers Presents – MUD BOG!
October 13th
Lisbon, Ohio
More Info: https://tricounty4wheelers.com/calendar

Links Mentioned in Episode 404: 


Episode 403 – Is the Wrangler Finally Getting a Diesel?

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Whether you are upgrading your Jeep’s suspension, swapping axles, changing trannies or modifying your transfer case, one component of your Jeep almost always demands attention—the driveshaft. It’s the critical link in your drive line, and a sensitive one at that. A little off here, a little off there, and if you’re not careful, you could find yourself in big trouble somewhere you can least afford it.  This is why you should put your trust in the biggest name in drive shafts, Tom Woods. Just go to 4-X-Shaft.com find out more, that’s 4-X-Shaft.com

This Week In Jeep:

Jeep Is Going Diesel 

It is official. For the 2020 model year, the Jeep Wrangler WILL have a diesel option.  Before you do your happy dance however, there are some strings attached.  For starters, it will only be available on the four-door Wrangler models and only with an automatic transmission. Although this may or may not be a deal breaker for some, that’s not to say there won’t be some engine swaps happening in the very near future.  An interesting fact, the new 3 Liter V6 Wrangler motor and eight-speed transmission are the same ones found in the new 2020 RAM 1500 EcoDiesel. The RAM EcoDiesel trucks should hit dealer lots around the same time as the new EcoDiesel Wranglers, which multiple sources have confirmed will be “late this year.” While the Wrangler diesel will offer the same 260 horsepower as the RAM, it will provide far less torque. I know! I know! It’s not fair. If it’s the same engine and transmission, then why would it have less torque? Well, I don’t have those answers yet, but we’ll get to the bottom of it. But before you go storming off in a temper tantrum and end up kicking the dog again, the diminished torque isn’t all that bad. The RAM’s Ecodiesel power train provides 480 pound-feet, while the Wrangler diesel will get you 442 pound-feet. Something tells me, most of us won’t really miss those 38 foot pounds of torque. I mean we have nuts and bolts torqued tighter than that. Despite the loss, that torque will be great for hauling or towing heavy loads, and it will be super useful off road. As far as the horsepower goes, well, it’s not all bad there either. With a reported 260 ponies, which we believe is an underestimate, it falls inline with the 2L i4 and the 3.6L V6 which have 270, and 285 horsepower respectively. With such little separation in power from the three engine categories, I don’t see this being an issue especially when you take into consideration the impressive torque numbers. As far as the actual specs for towing, pricing, and fuel economy, Jeep still hasn’t announced these numbers for the Wrangler EcoDiesel.  But…we should know all of this soon, as it won’t be that long before these diesel Wranglers hit dealer lots. Oh, and don’t forget, Jeep has already promised that the Gladiator will have an Eco-Desiel option next year as well, so be on the lookout for those too.  Jeep is going diesel with the Wrangler and Gladiator, And the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk maybe getting even more horsepower.


Car and Driver this week dropped a bomb on the automotive world with their latest spy shots, and no, it’s not of the Grand Wagoneer. One of their spy photographers snagged a few photos of a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk (prototype) with a massively more aggressive hood scoop.  And I mean bulbusly, and hugely more aggressive. I don’t know about you, but that has me thinking even more power is in store. What else would you need the room for? From these photos at least, it seems that a more powerful version of this already wildly powerful SUV is in the works. The web is full of people clambering for guesses. Everything from a Trackhawk-2, to some guesses calling it the Trackhawk Redeye, meaning it would use the same 797-hp version of the supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V-8 that’s in the most powerful versions of the Challenger and Charger Hellcat models.  Compared with the Trackhawk’s current 707-hp version of this engine, this higher-output motor would add 90 horsepower and around another 50 or so lb-ft of torque to the already super-car-like numbers. This is of course all just conjecture. The hood scoop is the only obvious clue that this prototype is packing something other than a stock power plant, so I suppose this could just be experimentation in new body lines or trim packages. But… it’s also possible other improvements are going on that we CANT see.  Jeep may opt to beef up the suspension or brakes slightly to deal with the extra grunt, offering a whole new stance to the Grand Cherokee. And if it does indeed inherit the Redeye name, it’ll get different badging and such to differentiate it from the normal Trackhawk. And dont think that it’s going to be just a matter of choosing option A or option B… you’re going to pay for that power. I think it’s all too reasonable to expect a price bump over the current Trackhawk’s starting price of $88,395. Some are saying as much as a 10 grand bump, meaning the most powerful SUV could set you back almost 6 figures. It has also been speculated that this special model (dare i say special edition) will likely serve as a farewell to the current-generation Grand Cherokee, as the next-generation SUV is scheduled to arrive for the 2021 model year. So until then, we’re just going to have to keep our eyes and ears peeled for more about the upgraded Trackhawk sometime during the next few months.

Wrangler Talk:

Tammy’s Jeep Problems

Jeff from Adrenaline Off Road was helping check my Tom Woods Driveshaft and notice excessive play in my pinion flange. Took it to the dealer as I’m still under warranty. They are looking at my Jeep right now. They found the pinion nut was loose like it was hand tightened. They checked the dif fluid and it’s full and didn’t find any metal. They are going to go in and look at everything to make sure there are no issues with the pinion oI should know more tomorrow. While they have my Jeep they were looking it all over. They noticed the upper and lower ball joints were past the alloted specifications. I decided to upgrade with Synergy ball joints and gussets. Only $30 more. I am also getting the transfer case fluid changed. They said the bolts are smashed up. YIKES! They also notice the passenger upper control arm was loose. Hopefully I will get my Jeep back by Tuesday.

Rear Axle Pinion Nut

Interview with:

Casey – All J Big Bear Lake California

YJ builder for Don Alexander’s new book. Casey was born and raised in SO Cal and is a welder fabricator at All J products. All J specializes in jeep maintenance, repairs, and modifications. Currently Casey is working on a YJ that will be featured in a soon to be released book as well as featured at Nexen tires booths at offroad expo and sema.

Just the Tip:

Quick Tip – Distribution

With all the aftermarket electrical devices now available for older Jeeps like electric fans, EFI, electric fuel pumps and ignition systems, there is a need for multiple battery and switched power distribution points. Most of the aftermarket wiring companies sell fancy fuse blocks and distribution centers that make the engine bay of your old Jeep look like a JPL test lab. Distribution blocks have been around for decades, and plain and simply get the job done with no bells or whistles. Some manufacturers have taken these tried and true, proven pieces of underhood gadgetry and slapped a giant price tag on them. So when you need two or three points of distribution, and at $25 to $40 each for a logo and a name brand, it can get spendy quick. If you’ve listened to the show for any length of time, you know I’m all about the inexpensive. So if you take a walk through the junkyard you just might find these elegant little two-pin power blocks on any and all late ’80s and early ’90s S-10, S-15 Blazer and Jimmy trucks and SUVs. Pull a few of these off, clean them up and be sure to keep the hardware, and the metal blade that ties the two studs together. These things are easy to locate and you can get ’em for less than $1 apiece.

Power distribution for older Jeeps. 

Must Have Stuff for your Jeep:

Monkey Fingers Adjustable Bungee Cords 2PK -$19.99

Monkey Fingers bungee cords are fully adjustable so that you’ll never have to worry about having the wrong size bungee again. Made in California of marine-grade cord, Monkey Fingers come with a lifetime warranty. For use on your ATV, Jeep, truck, utility trailer and more, these bungees use no metal, which means no scratches, cuts or injured eyes.Monkey Fingers bungee cords adjust from 6 to 39 inches in length and stretch to a maximum of 60 inches. 

Monkey Fist Adjustable Bungee Cords

Nicky G:

osh Jinxes Nicky G with Electrical Gremlins – and butter. 

Wheeling Where

Windrock Park Fall Jam

October 17-19

Oliver Springs, Tennessee

More Info: https://windrockpark.com/

Guided Rides, Obstacle Course, Poker Run, Drag Races, Mud Bog, 

Huge raffle, grand prize:Yamaha Wolverine X2


Who/What: Badlands Off-Road Adventures – Death Valley Expedition

When: October 18

Where: Ridgecrest, California

More Info: This is a 4 day trip covering the north and west end of Death Valley, Saline Valley and Eureka Valley. https://www.4x4training.com/w/product-category/recreational-clinics/adventures-and-events/death-valley-expedition/

Links Mentioned in Episode 403: