Every Jeep owner who uses their vehicle as intended and goes wheeling, whether it’s simply trail running, overlanding or hardcore rock crawling, should consider having few spare bolts as part of their recovery kit. Your tool bag, recovery gear and spare parts could be the difference between getting stranded in the middle of nowhere, and returning home safely after having a great time on the trail.
Even if you personally don’t loose a bolt while offroading, somebody in your group or a stranger you meet, might at the most unexpected moment discover that one of their bolts or nuts is missing and it’s preventing them from continuing to drive.
You might be a DIY’er who likes to work on their Jeep and install some new upgrades yourself, but accidentally break or loose one of the bolts. You might be buying a used Jeep from somebody else and want to replace some parts and need new bolts while doing so.
That is why I believe that a few spare bolts should always be kept in your Jeep.
The Jeep community appears to be divided when it comes to the issue of using stock, grade 10.9 metric bolts versus replacing them with grade 8 bolts. Several bolt kits available from some vendors, promote them as an “upgrade” to factory bolts, claiming that the grade 8 bolts are stronger, they are the proper size, they’re shouldered, and will prevent issues like the dreaded “Jeep wobble”.
After researching the issue extensively for a long time, and experiencing the death wobble once myself, I am personally of the opinion that the factory bolts are the proper hardware for the Jeep. Even after installing a 3.5″ lift on my 2012 JK, I am still using the stock bolts. One thing that is crucial is making sure that all bolts are torqued to specification.
There is no need to spend money on new bolts. Those funds can be better spent on a different upgrade. If you really want to spend money on your Jeep, invest in a good torque wrench and use it as a part of regular maintenance.
My intention is not to claim that I am correct and the factory bolts are the only correct solution. If you are convinced that grade 8 hardware is something you need, you are free to purchase and install them.
Here are just a few arguments behind my decision to continue to use the stock bolts.
A 10.9 metric bolt is equivalent in strength to a grade 8 SAE bolt. They have approximately the same tensile strength.
The factory bolts are considered softer that the replacement bolts sold in the kits. A softer bolt isn’t always a bad thing. They will allow for some stretch. A hard bolt will not and is far more brittle and prone to breaking.
Replacing your stock hardware with different grade bolts means that factory torque specifications no longer apply and there are no official specs for the “upgraded” bolts used with your Jeep’s suspension and steering components.
These may in fact require a lot more torque to hold tension and not loosen. This could damage the crush sleeve, bushing, heim joint, or whatever else was not designed to be crushed as hard.
As for the argument against the factory fully threaded bolts, here is an opinion I read of an experienced jeeper: “When you look at the bushing of your track bar or control arms, the metal piece in the middle where your bolt will go through is called a ‘crush sleeve’. It’s designed to get pushed really hard from either end. The purpose of your bolts and nuts is to provide ‘compression’ and cause your mounts to act like a vice by clamping down really hard on the crush sleeve. The crush sleeves is not supposed to rotate at all when installed correctly but rather, the bonded rubber bushing will twist around it. Of course, if you have a polyurethane bushing, heim or other aftermarket joint, the bushing will rotate around the sleeve or misalignment spacers – again, there is no movement around the bolt and therefore, shouldered bolts are not necessary. This is the reason why bolts are rated for ‘torque’ and not ‘sheer’ – the value of compression strength is all that is necessary to hold things together.”
This post is a handy list of the most common stock Mopar bolts and nuts for both the Jeep Wrangler JK and the JL. I compiled this information based on my own research and purchases from a Chrysler dealership and online parts vendors.
January 10, 2021 | azoffroading.com
Disclosure: This list is not an official guide and should not be used as the ultimate and only source when purchasing bolts and nuts for your own Jeep. Based on your model year and trim, there might be discrepancies between what is listed below and what is installed on your Jeep Wrangler. Please consult at least one other source before making any purchases. I take no responsibility for any damage or injury related to any hardware you install on your vehicle.
Any Jeep Wrangler owner have experienced weird noises their vehicle makes occasionally. We all realize that Jeeps are not really known for comfort and refinement. They are made for offroading and that’s where they shine, however daily driving, although fun, might make you go insane if you listen to every little unexplained noise your Jeep makes. Some of those noises are due to Wrangler’s shape, resulting in terrible aerodynamics. If you take the top off and install it back without making sure all the seals are perfectly aligned, you will experience loud wind noise. If you upgrade your front bumper or the fenders, you’ll increase drag and the noise will become even louder. Larger, more aggressive tires can be very noisy on asphalt. During daily driving you will most likely hear some squeaking inside the cabin, from the doors or seats for example. There might sometimes be some whining sounds coming from behind the dashboard.
Many of us driving Jeep Wranglers learned to react to all these noises by saying “It’s a Jeep thing” and cranking up the music. As long as the Jeep still runs, it’s totally normal.
Any Jeep owner who installed upgrades to their vehicle, and wheels their rig once in a while, accepts the fact that sooner or later there will be some hard to identify noises or rattling coming from the Jeep’s undercarriage.
These noises could be occurring at different times. It could be while the Jeep is not moving and simply idling, while you go over speed bumps or potholes, or when you’re braking.
Determining the source of the noise depends on this timing.
We all tend to expect the worse, but sometimes quick inspection of the undercarriage will reveal the culprit.
I would suggest that if the noise occurs while braking, you should obviously check your braking system. Inspect all brake rotors, calipers, anchor brackets (check the anti rattle clips), brake pads and of course the bolts securing all those parts. Putting the Jeep on jack stands and taking the wheels off will make this process much easier.
If the noise occurs while going over “obstacles” in the road, than it will most likely point to an issue with suspension. I would definitely check all the bolts for your shocks, control arms, sway bar links, track bars and drag links. You can find suspension torque specs here.
Noise or rattling occurring during idling will most likely be caused by a loose part of the exhaust system. There are of course other possible causes, like loose bolts or nuts in your driveshaft (more likely however to make noise while your Jeep is moving), or motor mount or transmission mount rubber dampeners deteriorating, however the noise would most likely be accompanied by vibrations you could feel when sitting in the driver seat.
Provided there is no vibrations, I would always inspect the exhaust first.
This post is meant as a quick guide to inspecting your vehicle’s exhaust system in order to locate the source of a Jeep Wrangler JK undercarriage rattle. I put this post together after experiencing rattling coming from underneath my own Jeep. In my case the noise would only occur while idling, after a cold start and only after putting my Jeep in reverse. It drove me crazy for few days, but I was finally able to locate and fix the problem. For me it was a broken spot weld on the crossover pipe heat shield, as well as a rear clamp which appeared tight however it wasn’t and it allowed the exhaust pipe to vibrate.
When it comes to the exhaust system, the most common cause of a rattle is the heat shields becoming loose, due to rocks hitting them, weak welds or corrosion. Your driving style and your climate will have a big impact on the shape of your exhaust system.
Remember: Let the exhaust system cool down before touching anything.
You can perform the inspection without any tools, however a screwdriver, mallet or a hammer might be useful. You will need few wrenches or sockets and possibly a hose clamp or two, in order to fix the problem. If you determine that the bolts securing heat shield above your muffler are rusted and the shield is loose, you will need few large washers and small u-bolts.
November 17, 2019 | azoffroading.com
Changing the fluid in your Jeep JK front and rear differentials is an important part of routine maintenance. Fresh gear oil insures your differentials are well lubricated and function properly. And, unlike previous Jeep Wranglers, it is not necessary to remove the differential cover in order to do this. It is however recommended that you do so anyway from time to time (possibly every other fluid change) as it will give you a chance to inspect your gears and catch any damage or unusual wear.
Following “Schedule B” in the Jeep owner’s manual (heavy driving), you should change your differential fluids every 15,000 miles. However it is always a good idea to do this IF you’ve submerged your axles in deep water for prolonged periods of time. This post will provide instructions on how to perform a Jeep JK differential fluid change that applies to either Dana 30 or Dana 44 axles.
Front Dana 44 differential needs 2.7 pints (1.35 quarts) and the rear needs 4.75 pints (2.375 quarts). If you have factory covers, all you need to do is fill up your differentials until gear oil oozes out of the fill hole. If you have an after market differential cover that has a higher fill hole than factory, DO NOT be tempted to add any more gear oil than is needed. Doing so will result in a differential that is over-filled and will cause gear oil to get pumped out of the breather tube, creating a stinky mess. Gear oil level only needs to reach the bottom of your axle tubes.
NOTE: Rear differentials with Trac-Lok (limited slip clutch type differential, not used on the Rubicon), require the limited slip additive for the clutch plates. You can also use synthetic gear oil as it will have friction modifier in it.
Jeep JK Rubicon requires regular gear oil. The Rubicon uses Tru-Lok which is a mechanical lock to lock the left and right axles together. Tru-Lok does not have clutch plates, so an additive is not required. In the Rubicon with Tru-Lok differentials, when the rear differential is not locked, the vehicle uses the TCS (Traction Control System) to monitor the amount of wheel spin of each of the driven wheels. If wheel spin is detected, brake pressure is applied to the slipping wheel(s) to provide stability. This feature of the TCS system functions similar to a limited slip differential and controls the wheel spin across a driven axle. If one wheel on a driven axle is spinning faster than the other, the system will apply the brake of the spinning wheel. This will allow more engine torque to be applied to the wheel that is not spinning. This is how the Rubicon gets by without a limited slip rear differential.
As with any other fluids, refer to your Jeep owner’s manual for the recommended gear oil viscosity. I own a 2012 JK Rubicon, with both front and rear Dana 44 axles, and the recommended gear oil is 80W-90.
Differential Fluid Capacity:
April 14, 2019 | azoffroading.com
Jeep JK Rubicon front Dana 44 2.70 pints (1.35 quarts)
Jeep JK Rubicon rear Dana 44 4.75 pints (2.375 quarts)
Non Rubicon front differential 2.10 pints (1.05 quarts)
Non Rubicon rear differential 3.80 pints (1.90 quarts)
During routine maintenance and after doing any kind of modification to your steering, suspension, or drive train, all bolts and nuts should be checked to ensure that they have been tightened to specification.
A good example of when you should ensure that you have properly torqued your Jeep’s nuts and bolts to specification is after installing a lift kit. Another great example that is a bit more common would be your wheels.
When a lift kit is installed, many components may need to be replaced or temporarily removed, upon re-installation these parts must be properly torqued. With the vibrations and impacts that Jeep JK’s experience both on and off-road, improperly torqued bolts could easily be shaken loose and then run the risk of causing the component to fall off. A torque wrench is a precision tool that is used to apply the correct amount of torque to the nut or bolt that is being tightened. There are several types of torque wrenches including a beam type, click type, digital, and dial type.
In order to find the specifications for your Wrangler JK you can look either in the factory service manual for your Jeep or check this post.
Fitment includes: 2007-2018 JK
January 18, 2019 | azoffroading.com
A/C blend door actuator in your Jeep JK is a very important part of the heating and cooling system and is responsible for controlling the temperature of the air blowing thru the vents and into the cabin. To blow heat into the cabin, the blower motor sends air through the heater core and on through the dash vents. But when heat is not desired, the blend door actuator directs that airflow away from the heater core. Unfortunately blend door actuators can fail at some point and cause the inability to change the air temperature inside your Jeep. The reason I needed to replace the blend door actuator in my Jeep was due to the horrible and loud ticking/grinding noise that it was making every time I put the key in the ignition. I also noticed that the actuator resets itself and makes the same noise after about two minutes from turning off the engine. With the Jeep being topless and doorless, and me using public parking lots, I was afraid someone walking by would freak out and call the cops, thinking my Jeep was about to explode…
You might also experience this loud ticking noise when you open your door, turn on the ignition, or turn the temperature knob on the HVAC control panel. You might also simply not have any hot air coming to the cabin, which means that your blend door actuator is not working at all, and needs replacing.
Here are a couple of videos showcasing the noise being emitted by the broken blend door actuator: video 1 and video 2. I also used these videos in the process of creating this step-by-step write up. Thank you to the authors of the videos!
I could be wrong, but I believe there are actually three actuators installed in a Jeep Wrangler JK, each responsible for different function. There is the blend door actuator responsible for controlling the temperature, the directional actuator (probably not a correct technical name) responsible for directing the air to different vents, and the re-circulation door actuator which controls the air dam behind the glove box.
Each actuator is activated by a different knob or setting on the HVAC control panel.
If you run your Jeep for few minutes, take the glove box out, and turn off the engine, after about two minutes you can see and hear three small motors re-calibrating the three actuators, in sequence.
I do believe all three actuators are the same exact part even though they are mounted in different locations. Blend door actuator is located on the driver side below the steering column, directional actuator is located behind the glove box on the left side, and the re-circulation door actuator is located on the right side of the air dam, behind the right speaker.
This step-by-step write up describes replacement of the blend door actuator only, since that’s the one that failed in my case. As a reference I included a photo of the directional actuator in the last picture.
January 6, 2019 | azoffroading.com
I have a 2012 Jeep JK so if you own a different Model Year JK, some things might look different.
Replacing the blend door actuator itself is quite simple, however getting access to it is the time consuming part.
The whole process of a Jeep JK A/C blend door actuator replacement will most likely take you about 2-3 hours, depending on few factors, especially on how long it takes you to remove the floor air duct, blocking access to the actuator. That step might take you few minutes or an hour.
Changing the engine oil is a necessary part of routine Jeep maintenance and really, it’s something that anyone can do. In fact, thanks to the design of the 3.6L V6 Pentastar engine in a Wrangler JK, it’s something that’s easier to do than ever before.
The new Pentastar engine does not use a traditional can style oil filter, but rather uses a disposable filter media that is installed into the top of the engine. This makes changing your engine oil super easy and eliminates most of the mess.
This short write-up will explain in detail what is involved in the process of a Jeep JK 3.6L Pentastar engine oil change and just how little you will need to do. The entire project takes about 30 minutes. And after you’ve done this on your own, I can almost guarantee you’ll never take your Jeep back to your dealer or a shop to have it done for you again.
The mileage time frame for an oil change is not an exact science these days. While many still swear by the old 3,000 mile rule, today’s engines and oil blends do allow for a longer duration between changes. In fact, Jeep owner’s manual doesn’t really tell you exactly when to change oil, it just mentions that depending on operating conditions, the “change oil” message may appear as early as 3,500 miles since last reset. It does say however that you should never exceed 8,000 miles or six months between oil changes.
September 26, 2017 | azoffroading.com
It is my personal opinion that you should switch from conventional oil to synthetic oil as soon as you have a chance. There are many opinions on this topic, but I made a switch after first two oil changes, and ever since the third one started using synthetic oil only. Many cars however come with synthetic oil from factory so there is no need to wait to make a switch.
Ever since I started using synthetic oil I have been putting about 10,000 miles between oil changes and my Jeep runs great, even in the hot Arizona climate. My Jeep is a daily driver but it’s not a road trip vehicle so the oil changes happen once a year or so.
A multi-function switch, just as the name suggests, controls several different functions related to the lights of your Jeep. Using this one switch you turn on the headlights, fog lights, control turn signals, dashboard lights and dome lights. Unfortunately there might come a time when you notice that something about your lights doesn’t seem right. There could be a few different reasons for your lights or dash indicators to start acting strange. First thing you should always check is the light bulbs. Unless you have all LED lights, check your headlights and turn signals to make sure that all light bulbs work. You might have a fuse that is damaged and needs replacing. You can inspect the fuses an replace the damaged one.
The most common reason for your lights and turn signals not working properly is the multi-function switch failure. Over time some connections inside the switch might become loose and cause problems. You can inspect the switch lever and check whether it stays firmly in each position or if there is some play.
With loose connections, your dashboard lights, dome lights, fogs, or even headlights might randomly flicker or come on unexpectedly, which can be very dangerous. You might encounter problems with your turn signals as well.
The reason I decided to replace the multifunction switch on my Jeep, was due to the fact that my turn signals started acting strange. While turning right and activating the right turn signal by pulling the lever up, the left turn signal would come on first and flash once, and only after that the right turn signal would come on. It has been going on very randomly for the last couple of weeks and it started to drive me crazy, not to mention it was probably irritating other drivers behind me.
Another problem with the turn signal you might experience is that it doesn’t automatically shut off after you complete the turn. I have not personally have that problem, but I hear it is unfortunately a common issue.
Replacing a Jeep JK multi-function switch is a very easy and quick task. The procedure is the same for all 2007-2017 JK’s. The entire project should take about 30 minutes and you only need few tools. If you prefer to watch a video, here’s the best one I found on this subject.
September 18, 2017 | azoffroading.com
Many Jeep owners don’t even realize there is such thing as a cabin air filter in their vehicle. After all, when you drive topless and doorless, who needs a filter for the cabin. I count myself as one of those jeepers. The topic of cabin air filter did not even cross my mind for the first year of owning my Jeep. I only thought about it after one extremely dusty Jeep run. Some of you who have done the Backdoor to Crown King trail, Box Canyon in Florence or any trail in Arizona for that matter, might recall that before you get to the fun part of the trail you have to drive down a dirt road for a few miles. With several vehicles in your group that gets crazy dusty.
August 10, 2017 | azoffroading.com
After coming back from a run like that, I spent a couple of hours vacuuming and cleaning the interior of my Jeep and accidentally turned the air blower volume dial to maximum and the air direction dial to panel, meaning “in your face” position, without realizing it. After cleaning everything I proceeded to start the Jeep and drive away. It was at that exact moment that a huge cloud of dust came out of the vents full speed and covered both me and the entire interior of the Jeep. Two hours well spent! After catching a breath I thought to myself that there shouldn’t be that much dust in the air system. Isn’t there a filter that prevents it? I had to look up where the cabin air filter is located and after a little investigation I discovered that my Jeep did not come with the filters installed. I did some research online and it turns out it is very common to not have the cabin air filters installed from factory in brand new Jeep Wranglers. I guess you learn something every day.
Whether you’re installing a filter for the first time or replacing a dirty one, here’s a step by step instructions for Jeep JK cabin air filter replacement.
One of the most common upgrades a lot of jeep owners do is a set of new wheels and tires. Once you upgrade your wheels to ones with less backspacing, and you still install your spare tire on your factory tailgate carrier, you’ll notice that your factory rubber bump stops no longer touch your tire and therefore do not protect your tailgate from vibrations caused by the spare tire. This vibration can potentially lead to damage to your tailgate and the hinges.
The solution to this problem is to extend the spare tire bump stops to push against the tire and stop it from vibrating. You might only need an extra 1″ if you’re only getting new wheels and keeping stock tires. Once you upgrade your tires as well, switching to 35’s for example, and still using the factory spare tire mount on the tail gate, you might need to install a wheel spacer or relocation bracket on the carrier to fit the new wheel/tire and clearing the rear bumper. That means that now you might need at least a 2-3″ bump stop extension.
There are two ways you can go about extending your spare tire bump stops. You can purchase aftermarket ones or you can go the DIY way. You have a couple of options for aftermarket bump stops, the most popular are bump stops made by Daystar, and another option is a set by Energy Suspension. The only thing you need to remember is that the Energy Suspension bump stops are 4″ long and the Daystar ones are 4.5″ long.
Going the DIY direction gives you more flexibility in regards to length. I’ve spent way too much time researching this online and from what I can tell, depending on how much you need to extend the bump stops, you could:
1. install a 1-1/2 in. x 1-1/4 in. flexible PVC coupling over the factory bump stop
2. install a radiator hose over the stock bump stops and cut to length
3. insert a 1-1/4 in. garbage disposal air gap rubber hose, cut to length
4. install a hockey puck under you stock bump stop
August 6, 2017 | azoffroading.com
A lot of work you might want to do on your Jeep, SUV or truck can be done on the ground level and doesn’t require jacking up the vehicle.
If you’re rotating tires, you need to jack up the axles so the wheels/tires are off the ground.
When you’re working on suspension you need to jack up the frame so that the axles can be lowered.
Sometimes however you might need easier access to the under body with more room to maneuver. When you’re changing oil or working on exhaust or skid plates, you could use ramps to drive on top of, to get more room under your vehicle. Using ramps is easier and quicker that jacking up the entire vehicle and setting up four jack stands.
There are several options available if you decide to purchase car ramps, like the RhinoRamps, Scepter Ramp Set, Magnum Ramp System, Black Widow Service Ramps or a Nicky Nice Solid Steel Ramp Set.
Most of them are made out of plastic, some are steel. Weight limits vary and can be anywhere between 6,000-16,000 lbs. These numbers suggest that those ramps should be fine for Jeeps, trucks or SUV’s, but I have seen way too many photos of broken ramps that collapsed under vehicle weight to trust them myself. There is something about the hollow construction of these ramps that makes me uncomfortable. They seem to also slide when you start driving onto them. And there is the cost – they are not cheap, usually you would have to spend around $100-140 for a set of four. They are however light and easy to store.
After considering all the pros and cons, I decided that I would rather make my own ramps and make them out of material that will definitely support the weight of my vehicle – wood. I could custom build them to fit my tires and the height that I prefer. They are much heavier (about 33 lbs each) and larger than the plastic ramps, but they cost less money. You need to make sure you have a place to store them when they’re not being used.
Building your own set of DIY wooden car ramps is a very easy project. If you have all the materials and tools ready, it should take less than a couple hours to complete all four ramps.
July 20, 2017 | azoffroading.com
This post is my attempt to describe the process of replacing a thermostat housing on a 2012 Jeep JK with a 3.6L V6 Pentastar engine. The primary function of a thermostat is to maintain a minimum operating temperature in your car’s engine. When you start your engine cold, antifreeze / coolant mixture is kept within the engine by the thermostat. When the coolant temperature reaches the specified opening point of the thermostat, it opens. Coolant will then flow through the radiator to keep the engine at a temperature close to the rated temperature of the thermostat.
The reason I needed to replace my thermostat was because one morning while driving to work, the “check engine” light came on. When I got home I plugged in my Flashcalto read the code. It was a p0128 code (an indication of a faulty thermostat or ECT – engine coolant temp sensor). After talking to few people I decided that the first thing I’m going to replace is a thermostat and see if that fixes the problem. I got the new thermostat housing and a gallon of coolant at my local dealership ($34.00 and $24.00 respectively).
VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure you get the correct type of coolant for your Jeep if you’re going to be adding it to your system. Read this post before proceeding any further!
December 11, 2016 | azoffroading.com
Remember that if you drive a MY(model year) 2012 or older Jeep Wrangler you need a HOAT (Hybrid Organic Additive Technology) coolant, and if you drive a MY 2013 and newer Jeep Wrangler you need an OAT (Organic Additive Technology) coolant. These two types of coolants DO NOT MIX!
Offroad vehicle recovery is a very important and very broad topic, that every offroading junkie should be familiar with. Every responsible person should be prepared for situations when their offroading adventure is interrupted by a situation where recovery is necessary. The list of recovery gear is long and includes everything from a shovel to a winch. There are many opinions on what are best brands of recovery gear of course. People also have different opinions when it comes to best recovery techniques and minimum requirements for your recovery gear.
One thing is sure, high quality gear is going to be expensive. You have to remember that you’re going to be trusting your safety and sometimes your life to your gear, so do not try to buy and use equipment that is untested and cheap knockoff just to save money. Make smart decisions.
I’m not an expert in this topic and I’ll never claim to be one. I’m just learning by listening to others and slowly gaining more experience. The equipment I’m acquiring for myself might not be what you prefer. I’m only sharing what I believe will work for my vehicle and the type of offroading I do. I own a Jeep JK with some modifications, and wheel in Arizona, so it’s mostly desert. Terrain includes sand, mud and rocks.
I believe the first thing you need to consider when deciding on recovery gear is the type and weight of your vehicle. Your gear is going to differ depending on whether you drive an ATV, side-by-side, Jeep, or a large pickup truck. You have to know how heavy your rig is. Based on some research, I gathered that an average ATV weighs somewhere between 400-800 lbs. An average side-by-side weighs between 1,200-1,600 lbs. A Jeep JK 2DR comes in at about 4,500 lbs stock, but after few mods it’s closer to 5,000 lbs. Jeep JKU 4DR is closer to 5,700 lbs after few mods. An average pickup truck like a Dodge Ram 1500 or Ford F150 weighs somewhere around 5,200 lbs, but the 2500’s or 250’s can weigh more than 7,500 lbs. You have to build you recovery kit based on your needs. Always remember to buy gear with WLL (Working Load Limit) that meets or exceeds your vehicle’s weight!
Like I said, I drive a 2-door JK so my Jeep recovery gear is going to match that 5,000-lb weight (2.5 tons). Some of that gear will be identical no matter what vehicle you drive, but that’ll be just a few items.
November 27, 2016 | azoffroading.com