CentreSteer #86 – He’s In His Sky Creeper

Sponsor: Commonwealth Classics

The eighty-Sixth episode

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Guest: Greg & Eric, Northern California Land Rover Club, Rovicon, Rovicon Instagram

Episode 439 – What Makes a Jeep a Jeep?

This Week In Jeep: 

Jeep Dealer Helps Out The Community

It’s no question that this covid thing has created quite a turmoil in many communities. But at the same time, these same communities are coming together to help those who are having a harder time through this than others. So when I see a business in the Jeep world stepping up to do the right thing and help out those struggling in these uncertain times, I like to take a moment and give them some credit. This week, my hat goes off to the Bakersfield Chrysler Jeep Fiat dealership, who teamed up with a local nonprofit Cityserve, who together are running a massive food drive that is forecasted to help literally thousands of people. CityServe is a collaborative network of churches & community leaders connected to overcome poverty in their communities.  Together with the Bakersfield Jeep dealership, they are running a “Drive-Up Food Drive” which will take place at the Jeep Dealership in the Bakersfield Automall starting tomorrow. They are asking for dry, non-perishable foods such as rice, beans, canned and boxed foods. Monetary donations will also be accepted to purchase additional food. All of the collected food items will then be distributed to CityServe-resourced churches, also known as PODs (points of distribution), who hand out needed groceries to the most vulnerable families in their neighborhoods. With so many families being hit so hard by this crisis, it’s awesome to see something like a Jeep dealership stepping up to help those who need it most. If you want to get involved with this food drive or make a donation to help them out, we’ll have the link in the show notes for this episode. https:/cityservesocal.com/bakersfield/

Jeep Group Hosts Flag Run For Memorial Day

Members of 570 Jeeps met up Sunday morning in Dickson City PA to honor the sacrifice of the brave men and women who served in the armed forces. The Off-roading and Jeep  enthusiasts wanted to observe Memorial Day with a flag run. They decided to put on the event because some groups haven’t been able to replace flags on the graves of fallen veterans because of COVID-19 restrictions. So these jeep lovers made sure Old Glory was on full display for everyone to see. “We’re doing it especially this year because with COVID-19 there’s no parades, there’s really no way to honor the veterans this year. So we’re trying to do whatever we can to show support for them,” said Ricky Cottell, 570 Jeep’s treasurer. The ride went all throughout Lackawanna and Wayne Counties. From the responses on social media, I’d say it was well received.  If you’d like to reach out to 570 Jeeps to say thanks or to show your own support, we’ll have a link to their facebook group in the show notes for this episode.  https://www.facebook.com/pg/570Jeeps/events/

Listener Comments:

I’m going to break from our regular show flow to share this posting From Everett M. ; “So is it me or are you guys anti-Renegade? The comments you made regarding the Renegade and Jeepster names are unappreciated. I get the feeling you are the type people I was warned about; if it isn’t a Wrangler, it’s not a Jeep. Unsubscribing.”

Everett I can only speak for myself when I say, yes I am anti-Renegade at least the NEW Renegade.  The NEW Renegade is based on the Fiat 500, frankly I’d be surprised if there is one Jeep part in it.  Bottom line, it’s not for me.  I want an off road rig with plenty of aftermarket support and something I can keep for years.  Please don’t confuse my dislike of the New Renegade as a dislike for anyone that owns one.  My hope is that New Renegade owners haven’t been misled into thinking they have something like a WWII Jeep, CJ, Wrangler, or even the old 1984 to 2001 Cherokees.

Jeep Life:

Jeep Life Code

You don’t know what you don’t know. When I first bought my Jeep I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t know there was this whole Jeep Code you signed on for when you became a Jeep owner and entered into this Jeep community. I slowly learned the code from other Jeepers. So what’s this code. Well for one there is the Jeep Wave. that’s pretty much a standard and most Jeepers know this. However, I am finding out here in Colorado not so much. At least in the Valley where I am staying. When you become a Jeeper you enter into a special family. A family with a unique passion for all things Jeep this passion bonds us.  Along with that, comes responsibility. We look out for each other. Another one of those codes is to help a fellow stranded Jeeper. I was told if you see a Jeep stopped on the side of the road you should stop to make sure they are okay. And you never leave a Jeep behind on the trails.  You stop even if you are not mechanically inclined. It’s just the Jeep thing to do. I know we had this discussion before on the Jeep Talk Show and of course you need to keep your safety in mind. So I wanted to share some disappointments from this past weekend and a lesson I learned. So  this past weekend we went camping and wheeling in Western Colorado in a National forest as well as a Canyon. It was absolutely amazing. Sleeping under the stars away from any sign of civilization and with just some coyotes howling to the moon was so cool. We spent 3 days wheeling around the mountain forest and through the canyon up and down switchbacks. It was a totally new experience for me. I was the passenger for the most part. Yep I left my Jeep at home. It was a weekend for me to step back in time. We wheeled our 1969 CJ5 we call bumblebee. It’s yellow and black. We were on that mountain with no doors, no top and with the windshield down. It was an experience so cool I can’t wait to do it again. These mountain roads are meant for leisurely strolls. Now we were in a National Forest and as you know there are speed guidelines I’m going to side track here for a moment as this just angers me and I feel Jeepers are getting a bad wrap for these aggressive side by side folks. We were winding around up and down the mountain through a canyon. You couldn’t see what was coming around the corner. Which means slow caution needs to be taken. As we were coming around the corners I saw evidence of the trail being widen. This was pointed out to me while I was in Moab too. It’s when the off road vehicles are speeding around the corners too fast. Or the vehicle wants to take the easy way around an obstacle so new tracks are being made. Note: these obstacles on this trails were nothing a stock Jeep couldn’t crawl over. Josh’s Honda could probably made it. So as we were coming around a corner ON THE SIDE OF A Mountain a side by side came speeding around. He slowed down… barely to pass us. As he passed us the driver saluted us with his beer. Then as we started to get back on the trail another one came speeding up. He came next to us and we yelled for him to slow down. He just looked at us and floored it. I was so angry. Drinking beer, speeding around dangerous mountain turns all while your kids are in the side by side with you. Not a good example. Later we found out there were several complaints made to the forestry department and they were out looking for these folks. Sadly these side by side folks haven’t been taught the true etiquette of the trails and are giving the rest of us a bad name. Okay so back to my story. It was a great weekend and I wish we could have stayed forever but it was time to head home. We loaded the CJ on the trailer and headed back on the highway. On our ride home we came across a stranded vehicle. We always stop even if it’s not a Jeep. It happened to be a Grand Cherokee pulling a camper. They were overheating due to a mechanic not replacing the radiator hose properly. There was no way the Jeep could have made it to the next town. So as good Jeepers, we unloaded the CJ from the Trailer. Loaded the Grand Cherokee on the trailer. Another passerby in a pick up hooked up the couples camper. And all of us headed to the nearest town. Forgeting we had used most of the gas in the CJ before we got to town the CJ ran out of gas. I volunteered to stay with the Jeep. Neil dropped off the couples Jeep and rushed back to get me. Now here comes the Jeep Code. Not one Jeeper stopped to check on me. 3 JKU’s heavily modified one even had the red rotopax on the back of his Jeep  and 2 lifted XJ’s. I was a little disappointed to say the least. A Ford pick up stopped and a state patrol stopped. Now I will say this,  my hood wasn’t up and I wasn’t waving anyone down. So there is that. Plus like I said at the beginning You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. So I have to remind myself not to get annoyed when I don’t get a Jeep wave or if another Jeeper doesn’t stop to help me. They might just not know. So it’s my job to educate and spread the word about the Jeep Code. As for those wreckless side-by-side folks. Now I know it’s not all, but in my opinion they should be banned from those trails as they have way too much speed and horsepower. Again my opinion. So the next time someone doesn’t wave or stop for you just remember “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Let’s spread the word. And Just so I can know what I know. What are some other Jeep Codes that you find Jeepers don’t know?

Tech Talk With Jeep Talk: 

Keeping a 4.0L Inline-Six Alive!

I just love getting a chance to answer listener questions on the air, and this week we’ve got one about my favorite Jeep engine of all time, the 4.0L Inline Six. On this episode we get to an email written to the show from listener Greg, who says: “My wife and I bought a 2000 XJ about three years ago for our then 16 year old son. We needed an extra vehicle and something safe for him to drive his three siblings to and from school in. That’s when a good friend of mine suggested a 97-01 Cherokee.  I found one for $2,900 and immediately got hooked with bringing the old Jeep back to life. I taught myself to turn wrenches and have learned most of my skills by watching YouTube.  It was not long after I found your show on the web and started listening. I’m currently on episode 194 and you guys were talking about replacing oil seals and o-rings when Josh mentioned that he was approaching 250k miles. That got me thinking… because I’m confident the previous owner(s) most likely have done ZERO maintenance to the old girl which is rapidly approaching 250k miles.  I was wondering what type of engine maintenance I should be doing to ensure the life of it will last me another 250k? So perhaps a few tips in an email or maybe something for an upcoming episode would be great. Thanks for a great show – Greg”

Hi Greg, Thanks for writing in. I know Tony got back to you right away with some tips, but I thought your question would be a good one to cover on the show. The reason why is that between 1971 and 2006, there were literally millions and millions of these engines made for many of Jeeps most popular platforms including the YJ and TJ Wranglers, as well as the venerable XJ Cherokees to name but a few. Those 4.0L Inline Six’s were engineered to last forever. But if you’re knocking on the door of a quarter million miles, then a rebuild is something I would start planning for. My best advice in this realm to be honest, is to just start socking away some cash. Because in the end,  it’s really just a matter of having the parts and the time to make it happen. Otherwise, it’s not as bad as a lot of people make it out to be. A Chilton or Haynes manual will be handy, but I wouldn’t do something like that without a factory service manual. These are the manuals the dealers would be using to do the rebuild, so it’s an invaluable reference that’s worth paying for if you plan on rebuilding an engine yourself.  I’d also start looking around for a reputable machine shop who does good work with Jeep heads…. just in case. That being said, there ARE a ton of inexpensive things that you and your son can do together to ensure that the Jeep is going to last for many more years, and putting off a full rebuild for as long as you can. And here is where I would start….doing a compression check on an old or unfamiliar motor will tell you A LOT about what’s going on inside the engine, and how much life it may have left. You can rent the kits to do this from parts stores, or buy one from Harbor Freight or Amazon, Etc. But I would definitely start there before doing much else. If the Jeep has good compression then it likely has a good bottom end with lots of life left. If one or more cylinders have low compression, then there is going to need to be a rebuild happening soon if that motor is to last much longer. The inline six is a very resilient motor unto itself. Even so, some of its components (and of course the head) do not seem to last as long as the bottom end usually does. With this XJ being a 2000, it is likely going to have the 0331 casting head, which means there is a known weak point between the #3 and #4 cylinders. If the Jeep ever has been or ever were to over heat, then this is the point at which the head will fail. This can be as simple as a warping that occurs and it blows the (head) gasket. Or it can be as severe as a full on crack in the casting. Which means you will be looking at a possible magnaflux repair, or most likely, a full replacement. Which to be honest, isn’t a bad thing, just a little more expensive – just shop around. Ultimately, if I were to boil it all down to just two things that are the most important for keeping a 4.0L alive, it would be this. Keeping that engine cool and keeping it’s oil pressure up, are going to be the two essentials to making it last. Keeping the engine fed with oil is as easy as making sure that there are no leaks (and that you stay on top of regular changes.) 

The most typical seals to leak on the 4.0L are: The Valve Cover Gasket – This  entails removing the valve cover and replacing the gasket. Other components have to be removed in order to make this happen of course, but it’s as simple as unscrewing this, un-mounting that, and moving stuff out of the way. The Rear Main Seal (RMS) – fixing this involves removing the oil pan and pressing out the old seal and pushing in a new one. As with most Jeep repairs, this is a gross oversimplification. But there are some trusted and very well produced write-ups online that point out some good tips and tricks to make this easier than it may seem. (and trust me, it’s not very hard, just time consuming, and very messy.) This also means you will be replacing the Oil Pan Gasket, which is another one prone to leaking, which means you may also want to consider replacing the oil pump, since it will be right there. Typically one may consider removing the fan assembly and fan shroud, and then swapping out the water pump and doing a new timing chain. The reason why is that the very bottom of the timing chain cover is sealed by the oil pan gasket, and this is one of those famous “while you’re in there” moments just like with the oil pump. It also is a good excuse at this point to clean the engine. Because if you’ve made it this far, then you’ll have things pretty well stripped down and it will be easy to do, ya know… while you’re in there. If you do the test, and your Jeep has good compression, then you’ll want to do as much external rebuilding as you can. Something like a timing chain job on a motor with good compression is almost like a 100k mile guarantee. And trust me, you’ll wish you had that piece of mind if that were the one thing to go when you were all done. Oil Filter Adapter O-Rings are one of those common leaks but everyone hopes it doesn’t happen to them. This one is a little more entailed, but only in the sense you may need to make yourself a tool using a torx bit and a wrench to get the job done. There are a ton of great write ups and videos online on how to both make the tool and do the repair. Once the oil situation is taken care of, consider swapping out the power steering fluid, again there are some great videos and write ups on how this is best done and it’s just one more thing that will help the components on that 4.0L last longer. The water pump and thermostat should be inspected and swapped out if they show signs of leaking. Same goes for hoses, belts, the radiator, etc. Basically if that cooling system isn’t 100% then fix it. ASAP. No leaks, No rust, No issues. No exceptions. That about wraps it up for the motor, but there are other considerations which should not be ignored when dealing with a high mileage Jeep motor. Next week we’ll wrap up our two part series in keeping a 4.0L going long.

Newbie Nuggets:

Fun trail blazing and I learned something new I love when we blaze a new trail or find some hidden gem in our beautiful mountains. And I love when you get an opportunity to learn something new along the way and that nothing ever goes according to plan.  We decided to do an easy run on Memorial Day on 1N38 off Hwy 38 in the mountains and had another jeep join us. My dad came up and we had a good friend with us as well. This trail climbs up to around 8500 feet and is called Heart Bar Peak. It’s a trail you drive in and out the same way. It does get pretty steep up towards the top which qualifies it as a black diamond, but as we were climbing up the trail, it dawned on me that this trail was pretty simple and we were going to arrive around 10:30 and that was too early for lunch. So we ventured off this trail onto another one just up the road to 2N93. 2N93 is a fire road that travels up and over Sugarloaf Mountain which is one of the higher peaks that rims Big Bear Valley. A few miles in on this trail, it was close to lunchtime so we found a great turn-out where we could sit and enjoy lunch. It was a rare location that offered views of all three of the Southern California mountain peaks. The closest mountain we could see was Mt. San Gorgonio at an elevation of 11,503. In the distance we could see Mt. San Jacinto at 10,833 and Mt. San Antonio, also known as Mt. Baldy at 10,069 along with 360 degree views of the valleys and mountains around us. It was truly awesome. After lunch, we continued up and over Sugarloaf Mountain and down into Big Bear Valley. I have to tell you the views overlooking all of Big Bear and the lake are worth the trip! Being up high in elevation like that and being able to see the whole Big Bear area is breathtaking. Simply Priceless!  We continued to the end of 2N93 which ends down in town and Bill says, “You know, it’s still early, why don’t we go do Gold Mountain? After checking with Mike Zen (our other jeeper) he said he had been on Gold Mountain a few times and he was up for the challenge. So, I said why not?  Gold Mountain is a forest road, 3N69 for those of you keeping track, and is one the trails listed in the Jeep Badge of Honor trails. I know Tammy has done it and so has Tony. Josh you need to find some time and come down to So. Cal.  so we can get you out on these black diamonds trails. Gold Mountain is a rocky and rutted trail with some sharp turns with two major obstacles/waterfalls. Once through these two obstacles we had the opportunity to go through an area called “The Rock Garden.” This is an area the size of two football fields on the side of the mountain. No plants, just rocks, loose rocks.  They vary in size from watermelon to 3 foot. They are on top of one another and there is no dirt to hold them in place, just rocks on rocks. So, as a result they make an eerie sound as you drive over them as they shift on one another. Check out the Facebook post where I shared a video with sound and you’ll see what I’m talking about. After the Rock Garden comes a steep hill climb with a few sharp hairpin turns. Some of the turns are nothing but boulders. Sooooo… Bill decides to take the more challenging line and gets himself turtled. This was a good turtle too. For those not familiar, imagine a turtle that is stuck up on a rock and none of his feet can touch the ground. Well, all four tires are now spinning in the air – nothing is touching the ground. He couldn’t go forward or backwards. Goes to show you that even a very experienced driver can get themselves stuck now and again. Well this is where I learned something new. We determined that we only needed to move the jeep back a couple inches and decided to use a tow strap and have Mike tug him backwards off the rock. Mike says, “I have a Speed Strap, let’s use that.” Bill and I looked at each other – What’s a speed strap? Well this is one of the coolest straps I’ve seen. It’s essentially a strap with several loops sewn at each end to create a system where you weave the end of the strap in and out back through itself. As you pull with it, it tightens on itself to create this awesome strength. Sort of like Chinese finger cuffs. I would not have believed it would work had I not seen it myself. I’m used to a shackle or soft shackle but this didn’t use any. You feed the end through a D-Ring or some attachment point on your Jeep and simply weave the ends back through itself to get the length you need and then you tug. All our straps are 10’, 20’ or 30’  lengths that we can fold, double or triple to shorten them but the Speed Strap is infinitely more adjustable.  This comes in handy when you are on a hill or in a canyon and you don’t have room to move around. I’m sure we will be adding it to our jeep soon.  https://speedstrap.com/ Once we got Bill off his rock(er), we proceeded farther down the trial when Mike got stuck. His rear Diff was stuck on a rock and he had peeled his stock diff cover back while sliding forward on the rock. Not any big deal, because it didn’t seem to be leaking gear fluid, but we did pull him off that rock and finished the trail. Bill suggested Mike follow us back to the house so he could check the cover and turns out it was ok. However, Bill did pound it back in place with a large mallet. It never leaked, but we’re pretty sure Mike’s next upgrade will be a couple Poison Spider “Hard” diff covers. Uh Huh… Well, as luck would have it, after Bill was finished working on Mike’s Jeep, Mike tried to start his Jeep so he could air up his tires, AND…, nothing. His starter was spinning but not turning the engine over. Fortunately it happened right there in our driveway – not on the trail. Bill tried tapping on it a few times to get it to engage with no luck. So he pulled it out to see if he could repair it on the bench. No luck, it was shot, broken in several pieces. So, since this was a holiday and no parts stores were open, and Mike lives off the hill about two hours away we offered to let Mike stay the night so he could pick up a new starter next day. It’s what you do for friends and fellow jeepers – we don’t leave anyone stranded.  Next morning they were off to the auto parts store, came back with a new starter in hand and an hour later Mike was on his way. We had such a great time jeeping and it was a good reminder for all of us to always go out with someone else. You just never know what may happen. Had Mike’s starter gone out on the trail and he was alone, it would have been a long walk to get some help.  It’s also a gentle reminder that as individuals we always need to help each other whenever possible. You never know who you are hanging with or wheeling with that may have skills or knowledge you may need from time to time. Josh, Tammy & Tony, have you been on a run where things didn’t go as planned?  Speedstrap – For Jeeps, you need a 2” strap.  https://speedstrap.com/product/2-inch-big-daddy-20000-lbs-weavable-recovery-strap/

Must Have Stuff

I call this the “Don’t be THAT GUY” kit…

We’ve all been there. Sitting on the trail, engine off, maybe idling to keep the heat, ac or radio going, just waiting for your turn to try something 8 times before pulling cable. Ok, maybe that’s just me. But if you’ve spent any time on the trail, then you undoubtedly know about “that guy.” There’s one in every group, and in almost every situation, but the one I’m referring to is the Jeeper who you can hear from the other side of the park because his d-rings are banging against his bumper like door knockers on crack. The clanging can be heard for miles, and every bump, rock, root and dip in the trail has his bumper ringing out like big ben. Look recovery points are critical when offroading, and nothing compliments the look of a bumper like a pair of beefy 3/4″ shackles hanging off the face. Shackle, D-Ring, Clevis, that metal loop thingy, whatever you want to call them, they’re an almost essential part of any recovery kit, and now you can find them on the outside face of nearly any aftermarket Jeep bumper. And it’s for good reason, these things are a proven design that’s been around for a LONG time. The first patent for a D-ring Clevis was issued on Jan 11th 1887 to it’s inventor Frank S. Dimon. And Iin the last 133 years, the design hasn’t really changed all that much either. The one flaw in the design however is how 100 years in the future these things would become so damn annoying. So in my attempts to prevent you from becoming “That Guy” (or Gal)  …who’s clanging bumper is so damn loud that you can’t even hear yourself fart, I present to you D-ring Isolators. These things are made by a dozen different companies, and have been around for many years now. But… There are only a few who offer everything you need to quiet down a Jeepers favorite recovery accessory. Usually made from a polyurethane, or plastic of some kind, they clip onto the lower loop part of the clevis, and prevent that metal to metal contact of the d-ring to the bumper and turn that loud clang into a soft thud. Now the reason why I’m highlighting the kit from Rhino USA is two fold.  First, they’re made in the USA by a father/son team in California.  And second, is that this is a complete kit. Reducing the noise is one aspect, but preventing the d-ring from swinging freely to begin with is the second half of this winning combo. Not only do you get the lower ring guard that is essential for knocking down that clang. But you also get washers for the sides, tightening up the grip the shackle has on the bumper, and limiting how feely it moves. This will in no way get in the way when it’s time for a recovery, and will still allow the full motion of the d-ring, but limit it from freely travelling through the swing. The best part? They come in multiple colors, and are less than 12 bucks. Yea, that’s right, for less than $30 you can outfit the front AND rear bumpers of your Jeep. RHINO USA D-Ring Isolator Kit (2PK) $10.97 https://www.rhinousainc.com/collections/recovery-gear/products/d-ring-isolators

Camp Fireside Chat:

Wendy, Tammy, Josh, Tony, Chris, Greg, Travis, and jared all discuss around the came fire and shared their thoughts on…

What do you think about Jeep’s other models.  Renegade Compass Liberty, etc…


Links Mentioned in This Episode: 



Ep 126: Only One U-Turn

Presented by Nexen Tire and Icon Vehicle Dynamics: This week we recap out trip across the Mojave Trail. Only one u-turn and nobody died. We consider that a successful outing. We talk about who went, what we did, what we will change for next year, and how Cody needs to streamline his camping game.

Episode 157 – Automotive Performance Group

Episode 157 of The 4×4 Podcast is brought to you by Artemis Overland Hardware.  Artemis Overland Hardware is a family business with a huge selection of overland equipment in stock for online orders or you can visit the showroom located in Springfield, Missouri.  Either way, Artemis Overland Hardware will get you equipped and ready for … Continue reading »