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Month: April 2016

Jeep Models on a Ram Chassis??

Jeep Models on a Ram Chassis??

There has been much speculation on what FCA will do with the Jeep truck and Wagoneer…Will they be on the new JL platform or use the Ram platform?

Well, I came across two Allpar articles today that pushes me to think they will be using the Ram chassis for at least one Jeep model. This makes me excited, and nervous, to see what they do! 😯

The first article discusses a plant swap for the Ram. They will be moving the Ram manufacturing out of the Warren Truck plant at the “Dodge City” complex to the Sterling Heights plant where the current Chrysler 200 is manufactured. The Warren Truck plant is earmarked for Rams and Jeeps per FCA.

The second article confirms there will be two “all new” Jeeps, a Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, around 2018 which coincides with the plant move in the first article. Some are imagining the Jeep Rescue concept below.

There’s no way to tell at the moment, so I guess we will have to wait…. 😉

What’s your opinion?


Plant swap enables new Jeeps, Rams

by David Zatz on 2016-04-27

Within the next couple of years, the Chrysler 200 will move out of Sterling Heights, there will be a mad rush to swap out machinery, and then the Ram will move in. Warren Truck, half of what remains of the mighty “Dodge City” complex, will sit empty.

… but not for long, according to FCA. The plant is earmarked for Rams and Jeeps. One can speculate endlessly about what this means. Is it to do be an overflow plant for Wranglers or Grand Cherokees? Will there be new Jeeps and Rams, such as a new Ramcharger (Suburban-like, truck-based SUV) and a parallel-engineered Jeep Wagoneer?

At the moment, there’s no way to tell. It’s possible that the company is branching out into Class 6-8 rigs, or cooking up a new international Ram pickup, between the light Fiat and the heavyRam 1500, based on the Mitsubishi L200. There is no way of knowing now — but it does seem that, based on the new Ram International setup and the stated use for Warren past 2018, FCA has big plans for the “old Chrysler” truck brand.


Correction: cars, Wagoneer, Alfa CUV

by David Zatz on 2016-04-27

Sergio Marchionne’s comments in yesterday’s discussion of FCA’s earnings verified some rumors and solidified some dates, according to Prabhjot.

First, Dodge’s rear wheel drive series will apparently be the “sole survivor” of FCA US’ own, non-outsourced midsize and compact passenger-car portfolio around calendar-year 2018. Other sedans will be outsourced. The 300 does not appear to be covered in this.

There will be two “all new” Jeeps, a Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, around calendar year 2018. This coincides with the move of Ram trucks from Warren to Sterling Heights, and is not likely to be coincidental, especially if the Grand Wagoneer will follow the old Jeep Rescue idea of making Ram-based Jeeps.

Finally, the Alfa Romeo crossover (Stelvio?) will start production at the end of 2016. Based on when the current Journey is slated to be dropped, Dodge’s own rear wheel drive crossover should appear in 2018. It’s possible that the JeepWagoneer will be based on the same FCA-developed core as the Alfa Romeo crossover.

FCA is still profitable in Brazil, and even if sales fall in the US, Jeeps made in the US have a large foreign demand that could pick up the slack. The company is looking at a sale or spinoff of the Magneti Marelli parts division (originally a separate company); it is increasing its profitability. A sale is unlikely in the short term
because the division’s technical capabilities are vital to current development.

POWER STOP Brakes JK/JKU Review and Testing

POWER STOP Brakes JK/JKU Review and Testing

If you have swapped in larger tires like so many of us have, you have likely noticed some performance changes in your Jeep. While you may have put your rig into trail beast mode, it has likely become a bit more sluggish when taking off and, even worse, stopping quickly can be downright dicey!

When we decided to run 37s on our 2013 JKUR, we knew there would be some other areas that would need upgrading to properly run them. Most know about the need for more appropriate gearing and many even know the steering system will need some love. But, an area all too often forgotten about is the brakes. Large tires are heavy and since that weight is pushed out farther from the rotation point, it impacts both acceleration and stopping drastically. This not only causes poor performance but also increased wear.

So, with just over 35k miles on our rig, the rear brakes were just about at the end of their life. Rather than just “pad slapping” it, we decided to look into better performing parts. Luckily, Jeeps are pretty well supported by a wide range of aftermarket manufacturers and brake parts are no different. We looked into several possible options. Some increased the rotor and/or caliper size, while others went at the materials and product design. Price ranges were as vast as the options, but we pretty quickly zeroed in on a kit offered by Power Stop Brakes. Power Stop tackles the rotor design and pad material as the main solution but they do offer calipers in some kits as well. The Power Stop Brakes kit was also one of the more cost effective solutions we found so it was worth a shot.

We purchased the Power Stop (K2798-36) Z36 Extreme Severe-Duty Truck & Tow Brake Kit (Front and Rear) from for $361.59. This kit includes all that you see below:

The kit arrived in two days and was well packaged.

We had originally planned to first do an installation write-up, but (refreshingly) Power Stop included such quality and detailed directions that we decided it really wasn’t necessary. Beyond the installation directions, there is a post install break-in process that they highly recommend following. To be honest, the process (included in the directions) is good no matter whose brakes you are installing.

We followed the directions and, before we knew it, the old parts were out and the new ones were in. One look at these factory components in comparison prompted high hopes. If nothing else, the new stoppers sure are pretty!

After following the break-in procedure, we opted to hold off on completing our testing until the following morning in an attempt to get a similar ambient outdoor temperature.

I’m not going to lie to you…things are about to get nerdy, so if you are already pushing your reading attention span, scroll on down to the video for the Cliff’s Notes version of our testing and results. 🙂

If you are still with me and as excited to look at the numbers and data as I was gathering it, let’s dive in!

As mentioned earlier, we did the installation and testing on our 2013 JKUR. Other than the fuel used on test passes, cool-down driving, and break-in, everything else was the same or as close to the same as possible. The Jeep has 37” Goodyear MTRs and was loaded as it would be for a trail day. If you are not sure what that means check out THIS POST. While we normally down shift the manual transmission when stopping, test passes were made in neutral so all the stopping was done by the brakes.

We made several passes at various speeds. I was the driver for the 50 to 0 tests where Mrs. SSS was the driver for the 40 to 0 and 60 to 0 tests. Since I was driving, we did not capture video of the 50 to 0 tests. We drove around the block (country, so 7.6 miles) to cool the brakes in between tests.

The stock brakes were tested at 52 degrees F, with a 9.2 MPH cross breeze, and 77% humidity.
40 to 0 = 76.25 feet
50 to 0 = 139.5 feet
60 to 0 = 167.5 feet

The Power Stop brakes were tested at 59 degrees F, with a 3.5 MPH cross breeze, and 58% humidity.
40 to 0 = 61.4 feet (19.5% Improvement)
50 to 0 = 111.5 feet (20% Improvement)
60 to 0 = 148.5 feet (11.6% Improvement)

To put this into perspective a bit, a stock JKU has a specified 60 to 0 stopping distance of 150 feet. So with 37 inch tires, armor, and a bunch of gear, we returned our Jeep to better than original stopping with nothing more than a rotor and pad change. This is pretty darn impressive and, in our opinion, money very well spent.

Knowing that the OEM stopping from 60 to 0 was ~150 feet, should put those concerned with the testing of worn brakes making this an invalid test at ease. Having said this, we never did test our Jeep as built with brand new stock rotors or pads, so there isn’t tested data (by us) to back this up. I will add, we buy parts just like everyone else. We are not sponsored or paid by ANYONE. Anything we have written is our true and unbiased opinion…. And having said that, we noticed a BIG improvement with this change.

For more information about Power Stop LLC and the products they offer visit their website at

Hopefully, you found this review useful. Happy Jeeping!

? What Jeep model do I have ?

? What Jeep model do I have ?

JK, XJ, WK…which one do I have??

I know Jeep model body codes can be confusing…I thought it was time to shed some light on this subject and share a list of models with their body codes. This is not an end all list due to variances in the older models, but it should provide enough info to help most.

2018 Wrangler (JL/JLU)
2007-2017 Wrangler (JK/JKU)
1997-2006 Wrangler (TJ/LJ)
1987-1996 Wrangler (YJ)
1945-86 Wrangler (CJ)

2014-Present Cherokee (KL)
1984-2001 Cherokee (XJ)

Grand Cherokee
2011-Present Grand Cherokee (WK2)
2005-2010 Grand Cherokee (WK)
1999-2004 Grand Cherokee (WJ)
1993-1998 Grand Cherokee (ZJ)

2008-2012 Liberty (KK)
2002-2007 Liberty (KJ)

Other Modern Models
2006-2010 Commander (XK)
2007-Present Compass and Patriot (MK)
2015-Present Renegade (BU)

Other Models
1948-1951 Jeepster (VJ)
1955-1982 Dispatcher (DJ)
1956-1965 Forward Control (FC)
1961-1975 Fleetvan (FJ)
1963-1991 Wagoneer (SJ)
1966-1971 Jeepster Commando (C101)
1972-1973 Commando (C104)
1986-1992 Comanche (MJ)

How to Install Wheel Adapters or Spacers

How to Install Wheel Adapters or Spacers

Do you want to have a wider stance without changing axles or wheels? Do you want to run JK rims on your KK? Or do you just need a bit more clearance? Adapters or spacers are a solution to these situations. They come in a wide range of widths but not all are available for all models. Various manufacturers offer these. They are usually sold in sets of 2 and listed by the vehicle’s lug pattern. Jeep has used varying lug patterns throughout the years on their models. (Click here for additional info regarding the lug pattern for your particular model.)

What is the actual difference between an adapter and a spacer?

  • An adapter changes your Jeep’s lug pattern to a different one…Switching a 5×4.5” to a 5x5”. Along with changing the bolt pattern, it alters the total backspacing, widening the stance.
  • A spacer changes the backspacing of your current rim/tire combo without changing the lug pattern…5x5” stays 5x5” while mounting wheels further out.

Not all spacers are the same though…There are some that are a plate that goes between the wheel and brake rotor. This type is unsafe since the spacer is not torqued to the hub by itself and can also crack/break allowing the wheel to move around on the lug studs. Some are washers placed on the lug studs causing a space between the wheel and brake rotor/drum. This type is unsafe as well since the space prevents the wheel from centering on the axle and allows the wheel to flex. Both of these types cause the wheel to be pushed out on the lug stud causing pressure on the outward half which can cause the wheel lug stud to fail. The only type we will install are torqued against the brake rotor with new lug studs for the wheels. When installed correctly and maintained properly, these are considered safe.

It is important to note some of the disadvantages of installing adapters/spacers…They do put additional stress on the ball joints and wheel bearings which causes premature wear of these items. However, installing larger tires, a lift, or driving off road also causes this. Your tires that were once hidden under your fenders will stick out now. This means you can have water and mud spray that will escape the fender and hit the side of the Jeep.

Tools Needed
Wheel Chock (2)
½” drive ratchet and/or breaker bar
½” drive socket for your lug nut size (many are 19mm)
½” drive Torque Wrench that does up to 120 ft-lb
Red Lock-tite (included with most spacers)
Needle nose pliers or Diagonal cutters
Dead blow hammer

Please be sure to park on level ground and practice safety guidelines for jacking up one wheel at a time.
So, let’s get started….

Chock the front and back of a wheel that is staying on the ground. Break the lug nuts loose on the wheel you are adding the adapter/spacer to. Place the jack under the axle and raise the wheel just off the ground. Remove the lug nuts and then the wheel to expose the brakes.

At the factory, they use retaining rings to keep the rotors on the axle while the vehicle travels throughout the assembly plant. You can use needle-nose and/or diagonal cutter pliers to remove these…There could be one or one on each lug stud.

If you haven’t already opened the box for your spacers, do so now to obtain the red thread locker tube. You’ll need to apply three or four drops on each lug stud.

Install the spacer and start each new nut by hand (it may be easier to use the socket). You’ll want to make sure the spacer is seated all the way against the rotor all the way around. If not, you will need to use a dead blow or mallet to knock it onto the hub.

Torque the spacer nuts in a criss-cross pattern to 80-90 ft-lb while double-checking the spacer is completely seated against the rotor. You may need a helper to hold the brake pedal down to keep the rotor from spinning.

Re-install the wheel using the original lug nuts. Remember to start each lug nut with your fingers or a socket. Use the ratchet and socket to tighten the lug nuts as much as you can.

Lower the wheel back to the ground and torque the lug nuts in a criss-cross pattern to 80-90 ft-lb.

Repeat these steps for each wheel.

Important Note: You will need to check/re-torque the adapters/spacers after 500 miles.

Thank you to the Sheridan Girls (our friend and neighbor) for allowing us to document the install of her 1.5” 5x5” Spidertrax adapters/spacers on her 2014 JKU.

Jeep Models by Lug Patterns

Jeep Models by Lug Patterns

When you are ordering rims or axles, it is important to know what lug pattern you have on your Jeep. Order them with the wrong pattern and you’ll have large paper weights. We’ve also had people ask us “Which lug pattern does my Jeep have?” So, I decided to make a list of Jeep models categorized by their lug pattern.

5 on 5” or 5x5”
2007-Present Wrangler (JK/JKU)
2006-Present Commander (XK)
2005-Present Grand Cherokee (WK)
1999-2004 Grand Cherokee (WJ)

5 on 4.5” or 5×4.5”
2002-07 Liberty (KJ)
2008-12 Liberty (KK)
1997-2006 Wrangler (TJ/LJ)
1993-1998 Grand Cherokee (ZJ)
1987-96 Wrangler (YJ)
1984-2001 Cherokee (XJ)

5 on 5.5” or 5×5.5”
1945-86 Wrangler (CJ)
1966-73 Commando (C101/C104)

steering “float” resolved

steering “float” resolved

Well, after two wheeling trips and over 7 hours of driving to/from them, I am happy to say our steering “float” issue is finally resolved.

Unfortunately, we have some new things to address (small) now. It seems the coating on our springs has finally worn off where they rub against our upper C-gusset on the front axle and we have a creak/squeak that needs some love. I also had to pull a tire on the trail to check something and four of the five lug nuts lost their covers. So I have some new ones on order. We were still rolling the stock lug nuts that we have been nursing for awhile so this was no real surprise.

Rausch Creek April 2nd, 2016 (Green Group) AKA “Rookie Run”

Rausch Creek April 2nd, 2016 (Green Group) AKA “Rookie Run”

Alana and I have always enjoyed meeting new people and Jeeping. Perhaps it is why we have so much fun organizing rookie runs. We still remember our first time out in our Jeep, the feelings and excitement that we felt when we first went off-camber or that first time we made it up an obstacle that seemed impossible. It is truly a blast to show “rookies” what they and their rig are capable of (especially when they are thinking “NO WAY”).

Sadly, Mrs. SSS was not able to join this year’s “Rookie Run” but Kegan (our 14y/o son) stepped up and did an amazing job navigating and taking these pictures while I was keeping my focus on the group and spotting.

The group was made of one SSS member (Sheridan Girls), and two couples that found us through a Wheel with us listing on the Rausch Creek site. Everyone was amazing and we had an awesome day. While this was intended to be a green trail run, it became clear to me after running trail 101 that everyone was capable of much more…. So, the remainder of the day was filled running blue trails and (I’m not sure they know) even a black line. Hopefully, the two couples we met will join the forum and become a member of “the family” so we can wheel together again.

So, with that all said…. here are some pictures!

We took a moment for some posers…. How about that stock flex?

Am I spotting or do I have jazz hands?

We made our way back up toward the comp course for lunch… and also to get some group photos. 😀

Pulled a little line to help out this nice looking Scrambler on trail 10-A. Then we played leap frog with this group for a bit…

Let’s be honest… you all have seen enough pictures of Dirty…. I thought I would have fun with this pic for something new.