Episode 453 – Expensive Jeeps and Emotional Stories

This episode brought to you in part by, ExtremeTerrain!  ExtremeTerrain has released a new video aimed at helping Jeep Wrangler owners choose the best soft top just in time for their summer adventures. The video is an upgrade to XT’s comprehensive Jeep tops tech guide covering everything needed to help customers shop, swap, maintain and winterize their top with confidence. https://www.extremeterrain.com/wrangler-jeep-soft-tops.html

This Week In Jeep:

That Is Going To Be One Spendy Jeep!

Seeing a Jeep in the lineup surpass $60k isn’t as shocking as it once was. With the debut of the top of the line Gladiator trims, you can easily spend $60k on a Jeep nowadays. But what if that was the starting point, and it just went up from there? That’s exactly the price structure for the upcoming Grand Wagoneer. We’ve been talking about Jeeps return to the full size market ever since the rumors dropped a couple years back. Well as the months go by, we get more and more leaked information. More and more concept pictures come out and even a few stories that actually have some merit… like this one about price. Features, specs, and all the numbers behind this vehicle (other than price) have all been kept secret and played very close to the vest by Jeep and its parent company FCA. So what this will actually look like, or what features it will have are all still very much unknown. What we DO know is that The Grand Wagoneer, when released, will have trim levels that top the $100,000 mark – likely making it the brand’s highest priced vehicle ever released as it attempts to compete against the Cadillac, Land Rover, Range Rover and others. According to Christian Meunier, global president of Jeep; The return of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer is the return of a premium American icon. Wagoneer will expand to become a portfolio of vehicles that will redefine American premium while delivering a very unique customer experience. For those born after 1985, The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer names were previously used by Jeep for large SUVs from 1963 until 1991. The company had promised to resurrect the Wagoneer name for nearly a decade as a way to better compete in the highly profitable large SUV segment. But between economic recessions, and massive hikes in gas prices, the plans got put on the back burner, and instead we got the compass and patriot, and now the renegade. Thankfully, the new line of large SUVs will be offered in two lengths and compete in both the mainstream and luxury SUV markets. It’s a similar strategy to how General Motors, the current and soon to be overthrown industry leader in large SUVs, sells its vehicles across the Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac brands. The only other Jeep to top $100,000 is the current Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, a low volume, high-performance version of the SUV with Fiat Chrysler’s 700 plus horsepower Hellcat V8 engine. It’s unclear whether the Grand Wagoneer will have similar power or if it will be a separate model…  or if it will be a high-end version of the Wagoneer, or if it will be offered with bullet proof glass and eye tracking heads up displays… Actually I bet there is more that we don’t know at this point that what we DO know. I for one am guessing that the Grand Wagoneer will be a premium version of the Wagoneer, just as GM’s Denali trim is for its GMC brand. But… Time will tell.

Jeep to build solar charging stations on trails for the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid.

Jim Morrison, head of Jeep in North America, dropped a bombshell of news in an interview Thursday. I’m still not sure if this is fake news, because literally everyone is reporting on it right now. But, to coincide with the launch of the plug-in hybrid Wrangler 4xe, Jeep will allegedly install solar charging stations on select trails in California and Utah. Morrison has allegedly confirmed that Electric Jeep owners will be able to charge up at Rubicon Springs, the halfway point of the 22-mile Rubicon Trail, as well as on select trails in Moab, Utah.  Of course, with 25 miles of electric range, the Wrangler 4xe shouldn’t need a charge while on the Rubicon, and some people are guessing that with  all the braking one has to do while offroad, that this will keep the regenerative power going strong. In fact, FCA is now making claims that the Jeep 4xe completed the Rubicon in all-electric mode with no problems. But it’s always good to wheel with as much fuel — or electrons — as possible, since you never know what will happen.  ISN’T THAT RIGHT BILL?!?  Drivers will be able to fully charge the Wrangler 4xe in about 2 hours, and most chargers will be placed in camping or lunch spots where folks will likely want to spend a lot of time. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe boasts 375 horsepower and a whopping 470 pound-feet of torque. In the aptly named Rubicon trim, the 4xe is 744 pounds heavier than a standard gas-powered Wrangler, but it should still outperform its conventional counterpart with all that instant electric torque. For those who are interested in the first generation Electric Jeep…. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe will go on sale later this year.

Jeep Life: 

Lessons Learned on the Rubicon Trail

Hey Tony, Josh and Wendy. Tony Thanks for the reminder that it was show day. I guess when you don’t have a regular job and you live in a camper it seems like every day is the weekend and I lose track of my days. My apologies for last week. Travis must think I’m losing my mind. He commented asking if I was going to join zoom and I said I will be there tomorrow. That’s when it hit me last week it was Thursday not Wednesday. I also wanted to give you an update on my Jeep. Finally replaced that torn boot on my Yeti steering system. I called steer smarts and they sent on right out. Remember when we interviewed Black Magic Brakes and he sent us some brakes. Well it was finally time for me to replace my front brakes and I was able to put them on my Jeep. I will keep you posted on how they do. And I am running new shocks  Rough Country 2.0. I am thinking after 80K miles it might be time to get new shocks. Okay back to the Jeep Life and my series on Lesson’s Learned on the Rubicon Trail. Lesson #4 and note these aren’t in any particular order. On Episode 450 I shared how important it is to be prepared mentally and with your supplies. This time we are talking about making sure your Jeep is Trail Ready. This not only means the mechanical part of your Jeep but the items to keep your Jeep moving forward on the trail. We were using metal gas cans we got from a friend. We assumed they were good to go. Unfortunately they weren’t and were full of debris which clogged up our whole fuel system which was the big contributing factor to having to leave the CJ5. Making sure all your equipment and Jeep is trail ready is so important especially on a trail like the Rubicon. This is a 22 mile long trail and there is no easy quick “get off the trail” point. Once you go in thru the trail head you either go the full 22 miles or turn around and go out the in. Performing Pre-Trip maintenance on your Jeep and equipment is vital. Even those little things like checking your tool bag to make sure all your tools are still there, your gas cans & water jugs for leaks and to make sure they are free of debris. Check your winch, you may even want to pull the line and re-spool, double check all your recovery gear, pull it all out and inspect it. Check your engine and transmission fluid, your brakes and fluids,radiator coolant, secure your battery, check your belts and hoses for cracks and leaks, your power steering system If you even have power steering, your tires. Check for loose nuts and bolts your lug nuts I notice one of mine was loose. Grease all your fitting and check those seat belts. Double check you have all your items needed to keep your Jeep moving forward like extra parts, ratchet straps or bailing wire, extra bolts and spare parts even the leak kit Josh mentioned on Episode 4__  You would be surprised what you may need on this trail. Now if you have something on your Jeep that is leaking fix it or leave it at home. One item that is a must on the Rubicon Trail is a spill kit. While we were on the trail near Little Sluice we ran across a Friends of the Rubicon representative. Super nice guy. He gave us a spill kit for our Jeeps. They actually provide them at the Loon Lake Kiosk. If you experience a leak on the Rubicon trail, actually any trail. There are 4 steps to remember 1. Control the leak. 2.Contain what has spilled using an  absorbent spill pad. Which the Rubicon spill kit has or you can buy them online. Just google Absorbent spill pad. 3. Make sure you carry out those Absorbents in a plastic Ziploc bag or trash bag. If the spill soaks into the soil take that out too. 4. Treat the spill area with Bio-Response which is included in the Rubicon Spill kit or you can search on google for a bio detergent. Call in if you have used a detergent for clean up so we can share with others. I am told kitty litter works too. There are hazardous material storage sheds located at the Loon Lake Kiosk, Wentworth Springs Campground and the trail head in Tacoma. Just remember to Tread lightly, what you bring in you must bring back out. Next week I will share Rubicon Guidelines which for the most part are common sense but unfortunately not all off roaders have this.

Tech Talk With Jeep Talk:

Throw Those Plans Out The Window!

…And learn to expect the unexpected. A famous Prussian field marshal whose name Tony would spend a week trying to pronounce, is famous for a few reasons, one of which is this quote: “No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.” …and the same can be said for working on Jeeps. Although our Jeeps are far from being anyone’s enemy, save for when you drop a socket in the frame rail or you rip your knuckle wide open trying to get a bolt loose. But aside from those curse filled moments when you’d almost rather push the damn thing off a cliff, a lot of us enjoy working on Jeeps. But after decades of working on vehicles, and over 15 years of building and working on Jeeps alone, I’ve learned a very important lesson. When it comes to working on a Jeep, the first last and only thing you should EVER plan for,  ….is for something to go wrong. Jeep has been around for over 75 years, and there are a TON of Jeepers whose trail rig or even daily driver may be in excess of 20 years old. And when it comes to working on an older rig, well, it’s always a good idea to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Trying it the other way around is just going to land you in trouble, trust me, I know. So when I hear stories of someone wanting to tackle an engine rebuild or an entire lift kit install in a weekend, I almost have to laugh. Sure it can probably be done in a day… with the right tools, right environment, and probably an extra hand or two, and given that absolutely nothing goes sideways. But when something doesn’t line up, or a bolt breaks, or a nut gets rounded off, then suddenly you are faced with a lot more work than what you were expecting or had “planned for.” So here is where the advice comes in. Anytime you are planning on doing anything to your Jeep, be sure to give yourself double the amount of time. At the very least. For instance, if you know you can do something in a day, plan for two. Obviously there isn’t much that can go wrong when doing something as simple as rotating tires, doing an oil change or replacing a serpentine belt. I mean i suppose you can drop the Jeep off the jack, let a tire roll down the neighborhood and into that busy intersection, or you forget how that belt you literally JUST took off was routed… but that’s sort of pushing things a bit too far, I mean what are you… a distant relative of Disney’s Goofy? But it’s the little routine maintenance things like that, which give us a false sense of security.  “Oh well the last three times I did something to my jeep it went so smoothly, what could possibly go wrong with me installing this adjustable track bar?” …famous last words.  All the sudden you find a crack in the mount, or missing hardware in the new kit, or maybe you got the wrong part, and now you have to wait for the right one to get shipped. Anything can happen, so don’t count on things working out as if you live in a perfect world. We don’t, and Murphy’s Law can smack you upside the head at any time. This advice doesn’t apply as much to those of us whose Jeeps aren’t our daily drivers. Obviously we have the luxury of letting the Jeep be down for days, weeks, or even months or more, as we aren’t under the gun to get things done in order to drive into work the next day. That being said, if you planned on doing something to the “weekend warrior” one day and playing the next, your plans may be ruined by a single broken bolt. From rust issues, to missing parts. From broken fasteners to poorly detailed instructions. From a lack of the right tools to having to work on gravel in the rain… Anything can suddenly get in your way and ruin your plans. So the next time you are about to plan to work on your Jeep, think about everything that CAN go wrong, what tools, parts, or supplies would you need at that point? Do you have the means to drill a bolt out, or cut a new flat spot on a rounded nut? Maybe you don’t have a tap and die set to fix the threads on that fastener you just stripped out and it’s 9:30 on a Sunday night…. How far will you have to go to get the things you need, how much will it cost, and will that fit in your budget? Are you even prepared to deal with these sorts of issues if they come up to begin with? If not, it may be a project, modification or repair that will have to wait until you are in a better position to deal with the inevitable Jeep gremlins. Look, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do whatever it is you were planning on doing to your Jeep or that every time you turn a wrench on it something is going to break. What I AM saying is to make sure you plan for every possible contingency. That way if something DOES happen, it’s better to be prepared for it, then to not be, and end up sitting there wishing you had more time off, more money, and that you had listened to your best pal Josh.

Must Have Stuff: 


They call them trunk savers, tree straps, or even tree savers. Whatever YOU call them, you should have at least one. A critical tool for self recovery, or recovery of any vehicle for that matter is a stable and secure anchor point. Usually that large tree adjacent to where you are stuck makes the perfect point if there isn’t another vehicle with recovery points nearby. Tree savers are designed to do just that. They save the tree from getting cut as your winch line tightens and takes the load of the vehicle.  These straps also save your winch line from getting buried in fresh green wood or getting covered in sap. Tree straps also give you a much stronger, secure point to mount a snatch block to, or even just to winch from, rather than wrapping the winch line around the tree and hooking it to itself. First off, this should never be done for many reasons, not the least of which is safety. Second, a tree saver can be used for other things too. These things typically are rated at a much higher load than tow straps, and make for good winch line extenders, or even as a winch line dampener or pull strap for a quick tug off a rock. Tree savers are generally short and wide. Typically ranging in the 3 or 4 inches wide and 8 to 10 feet long.  I’d warn against getting the tree straps that are 20 or 30 feet in length, that is unless all you ever wheel in, is the national redwood forest where the diameter of these trees can be in excess of 10 feet. Although tree straps can range from as little as 15 dollars, they can also be in excess of 100 bucks, so it’s going to come down to reliability and reviews. I’m not usually going to recommend the cheapest of anything, and I’m not a fan of finding the most expensive option out there either. I’ve had pretty good luck going with the middle of the road so long as I do my homework and pay attention to the reviews.  So the tree strap I will recommend has had over 650 reviews on Amazon alone.  ALL of which were 5 stars. The Gear America, Heavy Duty Tree Strap is 3 inches wide and 8 feet long. Constructed using military grade webbing, this is able to withstand extreme loads in excess of 35K lbs, and resist the worst weather including freezing temperatures and blistering sun without sacrificing any performance. The high visibility design allows the strap to be seen well, even in low light conditions. And at a price point of around $30, with free returns and a lifetime no questions asked guarantee, I’d say this tree saver from Gear America is a safe bet. https://www.gearamerica.com/products/gearamerica-heavy-duty-tree-saver-winch-strap-3-x-8-30-000-lbs-rated-capacity

Links Mentioned in this Episode: 

4×4 Radio Network http://4x4radionetwork.com/
Tru Patriot https://trupatriot.com/
Jeep 4-1-1 https://www.youtube.com/user/backcountrydriver
Extreme Terrain https://www.extremeterrain.com/wrangler-jeep-soft-tops.html


Ep 140: Ted Wentz from Quadratec

Ted Wentz from @quadratec joins us to talk about the history of the company, his favorite vehicles, and what he's looking forward to doing when the world gets back to normal. Then, we take questions from the live chat and as you can imagine, it goes off the rails quickly.

CentreSteer #89 – Final Alloy+Grit

Sponsor: Commonwealth Classics

The Eighty-Ninth episode

Buy me a TeaBuy me a Tea

Guest: Bryan Joslin, editor, former Alloy+Grit

Vintage Euro podcast

Guest: David Short, Oxford In America