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Jeep JK Cargo Area Light

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Jeep JK Cargo Area LightJeep Wrangler JK unfortunately lacks proper lighting in the rear cargo area. Any Wrangler owner probably experienced a situation when they were loading or unloading their Jeep after dark and could not see anything in the cargo area behind the back seats.
The interior dome light in a Jeep Wrangler JK is very weak and does not provide sufficient light for the cargo area, especially in a 2 door JK. With the rear lift gate open for extended period of time, dome light turns off after maximum of 10 minutes, unless you set the interior lights to “always on” on the multi-function switch/lever by the steering wheel. This timer is logical for courtesy lights, however it is impractical for overlanding or camping, when you might need to open the back of the Jeep multiple times while the engine is off, and leave the liftgate open for more than few minutes.

You can replace the dome light bulbs with LED to improve visibility a little bit, however it does not completely solve the problem at the back of the Jeep. The cargo area is notoriously dark. There is a clear need for additional light source under the liftgate.

There are several products available on the market, which try to solve this problem. One of them is the iKonic Cargo Light, which replaces the stock wiper motor cover and comes ready to install. It operates on a 9V battery which needs to be replaced periodically.
Another popular product is the Brawlee Jeep Wrangler LED Rear Glass Lift Gate Dome Light Bar, which attaches to the inside of the liftgate and can be plugged in to the rear power outlet or hardwired to the dome light.
You can purchase one of these products and it will most likely work great for you, depending on your needs.
You could also simply get a wireless, battery operated puck LED light and attach it to the inside of your Jeep’s hardtop.

Being more of a DIY person, I wanted to create my own custom solution, which would seamlessly integrate with my Jeep and look like it was there all along.
Inspired by the available products, I decided to combine some of the features together and install my own version of the cargo area light. One that would be integrated into the wiper motor cover and hidden as much as possible, provide just the right amount of light for either the rear of the Jeep OR the interior of the cargo area, and be hardwired to the constant power from the Jeep’s battery, thru the rear power outlet wiring, allowing me to switch it on & off at any time while the Jeep is parked and the engine is off.

I enjoy car camping with my Jeep and while spending the night in less developed campgrounds, I use my tailgate fold-down table a lot.

This post will describe a step by step fabrication and installation of a Jeep Wrangler JK cargo area light, however some of the details might apply only to my Jeep’s model year and trim level. If you own a different model year JK, you are welcome to follow all or most of the steps described below, or adjust anything you find necessary. Use this post as an inspiration for your own cargo area light solution.

Disclaimer: Like I always mention I am not a professional mechanic, I just try to do as much work on my Jeep as possible. It helps me learn more about my vehicle and save some money that can be spent on parts and upgrades.
I take no responsibility for any injury or breakage which might occur if you decide to follow these steps. You have to decide if you’re comfortable working on your Jeep. If you’re not, please have a professional complete this project for you.
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June 4, 2019 |

Jeep JK Stainless Steel Extended Brake Lines

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Jeep JK Stainless Steel Extended Brake LinesThe most common situation when extended brake lines are necessary is when you install a lift on your Jeep. The distance between the frame/body of the Jeep and axles increases after a suspension lift, therefore longer brake lines are required during articulation. You might also want to replace your stock rubber brake lines with stainless steel braided brake lines when you realize that the stock lines are deteriorating due to weather conditions (very high temperatures in the summer or lots of salt on the road due to ice and snow in the winter) and when you begin noticing a much softer, spongy brake pedal feel. That feeling is most likely due to moisture getting into the brake lines, which leads to reduced boiling point of the fluid and forming of air bubbles, as well as corrosion of the metal components of the system and consequently contamination of the fluid.
Any time you open up the brake system, like when you replace the flexible brake lines, you must perform a proper bleeding procedure. When bleeding the brakes you will need to add more fluid to your master cylinder. I would suggest that while you’re at it, you might as well flush the entire braking system and replace all the brake fluid with fresh one. It is actually recommended that modern vehicles have their brake fluid replaced once every 2 years.
This is due to the fact that most cars today use DOT brake fluid, and the characteristics of that fluid.
DOT brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it attracts moisture. Over time brake fluid will accumulate a certain amount of moisture; a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 20 percent of the cars they tested had brake fluid with 5-percent moisture content. A 3-percent moisture content in DOT 3 brake fluid reduces the boiling point of the fluid by more than 100 degrees.
When moisture in the brake fluid boils because of the tremendous amount of heat generated by the brakes, you can actually lose the ability to stop. In addition to that, the moisture can cause corrosion of the wheel cylinders or brake calipers and eventually cause a leak.
The other thing to watch out for is dirty fluid. Brake fluid can get very dirty if left unchanged year after year. I have seen some master cylinders that look as if they were filled with mud.
With newer model vehicles like the Jeep JK, most common issues stem from the levels of dissolved copper and depleted additive package in modern brake fluids. When the additive package of brake fluid is depleted, one of the negative results may be internal brake system component corrosion and sludge build up.

In this write-up I will be describing the procedure of replacing all four flex brake lines as well as flushing the entire brake system and bleeding the brakes. With brand new, extended stainless steel flex lines and fresh brake fluid flowing thru the entire brake system, as well as replaced brake pads and new, larger brake rotors (see my post), my Jeep’s brakes are going to work as new again. I am performing a complete brake system overhaul in preparation for a suspension lift, to make sure I can confidently drive my lifted Jeep on a daily basis, as well as enjoy wheeling it over some fun obstacles.

Disclaimer: Like I always mention I am not a professional mechanic, I just try to do as much work on my Jeep as possible. It helps me learn more about my vehicle and save some money that can be spent on parts and upgrades.
I take no responsibility for any injury or breakage which might occur if you decide to follow these steps. You have to decide if you’re comfortable working on your Jeep. If you’re not, please have a professional complete this project for you.
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February 24, 2019 |

Jeep JK Big Rotor Kit by Teraflex

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Jeep JK Big Rotor Kit by TeraflexWhen it comes to Jeep upgrades, brakes are often very low on the list of priorities. After upgrading wheels and installing larger 35″ tires, your stock brakes will have a very difficult time stopping your vehicle, both on the road and especially while negotiating thru an obstacle while offroading. When you increase the size and weight of your tires, you should really think about upgrading your brakes as well. It will improve your confidence while driving and just might help you avoid a collision or an accident. New, upgraded brakes are not cheap, however knowing that your braking power has been increased and stopping distance has been reduced is definitely worth the investment.
There are few options when it comes to aftermarket brake kits, which include new rotors, anchor brackets, calipers and brake pads. Most popular options are Teraflex brake kits, Crown Automotive brake kits, Power Stop brake kits and Dynatrac brake kits. You can find kits with rotors and brackets only or kits with rotors, brackets and calipers included. New brake pads sometimes are included with the kit, or you can purchase your favorite brand of brake pads separately. When it comes to rotors, you can find kits with standard vented rotors, slotted rotors, or drilled and slotted rotors. Your decision comes down to preference, your driving conditions and of course your budget.
After a lot of internet browsing and research, I decided to go with Teraflex Performance Big Rotor Kit for both front and rear wheels. I selected standard vented rotors (I believe smooth rotor surface is the best option for a combination of daily driving and weekend offroading, conventional rotors provide highest mass which improves cooling, and with no slots I don’t have to worry about mud collecting there and damaging brake pads prematurely), with included larger anchor brackets which allow for use of the stock calipers and brake pads. After reading reviews on the Teraflex Big Brake Kit, I decided that I don’t want to switch to a two piston caliper and affect the brake pedal feel, as well as possibly having to replace master cylinder.

The TeraFlex JK/JKU Front Performance Big Rotor Kit includes larger 13.3″ (338mm) rotors for improved stopping performance – stock is 11.9″ (302mm), and larger brake caliper relocating anchor brackets. It retains factory brake calipers & brake pads. Rear Performance Big Rotor Kit includes larger 13.5″ (343mm) machined rotors and larger brake caliper relocating anchor brackets, also retaining factory brake calipers & pads.
When installing the Big Rotor Kit there is no need to disconnect the calipers from brake lines therefore you don’t have to bleed the brakes if you don’t want to.

The way this kit works is pretty clever. Moving the location of the caliper outward just a bit accommodates the larger diameter rotor which allows for more efficient heat dissipation and better mechanical advantage in stopping. The increased clamping distance from the rotor center results in greater braking leverage to allow stopping distance to be decreased. It is however worth noting that neither the caliper clamping force nor the pad-to-rotor contact area are increased (as they are with the complete Big Brake Kit).

One thing to remember is that this Jeep JK Big Rotor Kit by Teraflex requires a minimum of 17” diameter wheels.

Disclaimer: Like I always mention I am not a professional mechanic, I just try to do as much work on my Jeep as possible. It helps me learn more about my vehicle and save some money that can be spent on parts and upgrades.
I take no responsibility for any injury or breakage which might occur if you decide to follow these steps. You have to decide if you’re comfortable working on your Jeep. If you’re not, please have a professional complete this project for you.
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February 7, 2019 |

Jeep JK Hidden Garage Door Remote

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Jeep JK hidden garage door remoteOne of the greatest benefits of owning a Jeep is the possibility to drive topless and doorless. Removing the top and doors does however leave the interior of your Jeep exposed and unprotected. One of the items that could be stolen from your vehicle is your garage door remote. Most people have it attached to their sun visor, which makes it very visible to a passer by. This post describes the steps to hide your garage door remote inside one of the plastic panels of your Jeep and use a small, discrete push button switch to activate it.

There are several different options when it comes to your Jeep JK hidden garage door remote. Popular, and free, option is to simply hide the garage door remote inside the sport bar padding above the driver door. You can also hide it behind the panel below the steering wheel or behind the dashboard just below your air control panel. You just need to find a place that will allow you to keep the remote secured and drill a small hole to mount the push button switch.
I selected the A-pillar top panel to mount my switch just to the left of the sun visor where I instinctively expect it to be. But if you prefer to place it in a more secret location, you have many options when you own a Jeep.
There’s only few parts and tools needed for this project. You need to pick up a momentary on/off button switch and about 12 inches of 18 GA wire. Some of the tools might be in your tool box already.
Your remote might be different shape of course if your garage door opener is a different brand.

Disclaimer: Like I always mention I am not a professional mechanic, I just try to do as much work on my Jeep as possible. It helps me learn more about my vehicle and save some money that can be spent on parts and upgrades.
I take no responsibility for any injury or breakage which might occur if you decide to follow these steps. You have to decide if you’re comfortable working on your Jeep. If you’re not, please have a professional complete this project for you.
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December 28, 2018 |

Jeep JK Vacuum Pump Relocation

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Jeep JK Vacuum Pump RelocationAll 2012-2018 Jeep JK models have the vacuum pump installed in a bracket located on the inside of the driver side frame rail right behind the bumper.
The vacuum pump is there to give added power when braking under emergency situations. It’s part of the BAS/PBS (Brake Assist System/Panic Braking System) and is included in all of the Chrysler vehicles that have the 3.6L engine.
When you make a decision to upgrade the front bumper on your Jeep, you need to realize that the vacuum pump might need to be moved to a different location.
Relocation is only necessary for aftermarket bumpers with recessed winch plate located between frame rails. Relocation is not necessary for non-winch bumpers or top fairlead mount bumpers, where the winch sits on top of the bumper. For bumpers where the winch is mounted on winch plate installed between frame rails, vacuum pump bracket, which is welded to the frame rail, needs to be removed to allow the winch plate to fit.

The most popular option is to relocate the pump into the engine bay, near the Jeep’s computer. After relocating it into the engine compartment, do not be surprised that you’ll hear the vacuum pump run a couple of times after releasing the brake pedal during each cold start. It is rather loud and that is probably the reason behind it’s stock location, as far from the cabin as possible. Getting used to that noise is just a price you’ll have to pay for customizing your rig.

Jeep JK vacuum pump relocation is not a complicated and difficult task. The entire project should take about 2 hours (including grill and bumper removal and reassembly) and you only need few tools. If you prefer to watch a video, here’s one for the bracket kit I selected.

This step-by-step write-up is for a Metalcloak Vacuum Pump Relocation Kit. There are several other kits available out there (e.g. Teraflex Kit, Rock Hard 4×4 Kit, MBRP Kit, Rough Country Kit, Rock Slide Engineering Kit). Some brackets will be installed in the same location and some in other locations, therefore some of the steps described below might not apply to your situation.

Disclaimer: Like I always mention I am not a professional mechanic, I just try to do as much work on my Jeep as possible. It helps me learn more about my vehicle and save some money that can be spent on parts and upgrades.
I take no responsibility for any injury or breakage which might occur if you decide to follow these steps. You have to decide if you’re comfortable working on your Jeep. If you’re not, please have a professional complete this project for you.
IMPORTANT: Relocating the vacuum pump will most likely void your warranty on the pump.
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August 25, 2018 |

Jeep JK Security Tailgate Enclosure by Tuffy

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Jeep JK Security Tailgate Enclosure by TuffyOne of the best aspects of owning a Jeep is the ability to drive topless and doorless. The only downside of topless driving is the fact that anything stored in the “trunk” space behind the rear seat is visible and easily accessible. For the last few years, every time I would take the top down, while using my Jeep for daily driving, I would also remove my tool bag and recovery gear form my Jeep and leave it in the garage. I felt that it is not secure in my trunk and it’s way too valuable to risk having it stolen. I finally decided to look into securing the cargo area while driving topless. I did some research looking for a Jeep JK security tailgate enclosure and it seems like there’s two products available that provide exactly what I was looking for. One of them is the Tuffy Security Products Tailgate Security Enclosure and the other is the Bestop Instatrunk.

Both these tailgate security enclosures are simple but solid designs made out of 16-gauge steel, that create a lockable storage trunk completely protected on all sides. They work in conjunction with the lockable vehicle tailgate to secure the trunk area created. Both these enclosures maintain the use and function of the rear seat in 2-door models. The installation is quick and easy using standard hand tools in both 2 and 4 door Jeep models with an OEM hardtop or soft top. Both these products mount to the floor of the Jeep from the inside of the trunk. The enclosures work in vehicles equipped with or without the subwoofer.
 
There are several options of these enclosures, depending on the year and model of your Jeep:

– Tuffy 297-01 Tailgate Enclosure for 87′-95′ Jeep Wrangler YJ

– Tuffy 296-01 Tailgate Enclosure for 97′-06′ Jeep Wrangler TJ

– Tuffy 286-01 Tailgate Enclosure for 07′-10′ Jeep Wrangler JK 2 door

– Tuffy 310-01 Tailgate Enclosure for 07′-10′ Jeep Wrangler JK 4 door

– Tuffy 282-01 Tailgate Enclosure for 11′-17′ Jeep Wrangler JK 2 door

– Tuffy 299-01 Tailgate Enclosure for 11′-17′ Jeep Wrangler JK 4 door

– Bestop 42700-01 Instatrunk for 87′-95′ Jeep Wrangler YJ

– Bestop 42701-01 Instatrunk for 97′-06′ Jeep Wrangler TJ

– Bestop 42702-01 Instatrunk for 07′-10′ Jeep Wrangler JK 2 door or 4 door (without factory subwoofer)

– Bestop 42637-01 Instatrunk for 07′-10′ Jeep Wrangler JK 2 door or 4 door (with factory subwoofer)

– Bestop 42704-01 Instatrunk for 11′-17′ Jeep Wrangler JK 2 door or 4 door

 

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November 24, 2017 |

Jeep JK Front Track Bar Brace

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Synergy Manufacturing front track bar braceIn this post I will attempt to describe a step by step installation of a Synergy Manufacturing Jeep JK front track bar brace. This brace is designed to distribute the increased load the track bar frame side mount encounters on a lifted Jeep or a Jeep with larger size tires. The brace is laser cut and CNC bent from 3/16″ high strength steel. The added track bar bracket thickness prevents the track bar bolt from ovalizing out the stock mount holes, which can lead to vibrations and eventually cause the dreaded death wobble. There are multiple reasons causing the “wobble”, like worn ball joints, loose tie rod ends, worn u-joints, loose adjustment collars on tie rod, drag link or track bar, or worn track bar attachment points on either axle or frame side. Your track bar keeps the axle centered underneath the Jeep when turning and operates under tremendous forces, and the weak stock mounts on both the axle side and the frame side could potentially begin to fail. The holes in the mount might start to become more oval and cause a bit of a play, resulting in shimmies and wobbles. If you use your Jeep as intended and do wheel it, you might encounter a situation where your wheels are blocked by rocks while you try to turn, and your track bar pushes so hard on the mount that it finally brakes it off the frame. It is an extreme scenario, but I have seen it happen. This brace adds strength to the mount and eliminates this weak link in the system.
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July 23, 2017 |

Jeep JK tailgate MOLLE panel & fold-down table

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Jeep JK tailgate MOLLE panel & fold-down tableAny owner of a two-door Jeep Wrangler knows that storage inside of your vehicle is always at a premium (some of you JKU owners might feel the same). And if you’re anything like me and like to be prepared for unexpected situations, you carry a lot of gear in your jeep. Whenever you go wheeling and especially camping you add even more stuff and quickly run out of room inside your Jeep. You have to be pretty creative and use every available square inch of space.

Having a two-door JK myself I’m always looking for smart ways of storing my gear inside my Jeep, that would allow easy access and keep the items secure at the same time.
While surfing the web I came across a subject of MOLLE racks, and specifically tailgate racks. It is such an obvious, great spot for storing gear with incredibly easy access. MOLLE system provides great flexibility and there are so many options when it comes to pouches!
As it turns out there are several products that can be attached to the tailgate. It all depends on what your needs are, and of course what you’re willing to spend on the system.

You can obviously build a simple panel or rack yourself, and customize it the way you wish. I’m all about DIY projects, but after some calculations I decided that in this case I will save myself time and trouble and pick one of the available products out there.

 

So there’s few options (prices and availability might change):
Smittybilt G.E.A.R. Tailgate Cover. It’s manufactured out of 600 denier polyester, and requires drilling into your tailgate (around $60.00)

JK tailgate gear MOLLE panel available on Ebay. It’s made out of steel, you can customize the design, it requires drilling into your tailgate ($75.00).

Quadratec Tailgate Cargo Shelf. Made out of steel, requires no drilling (around $100.00).

JK tailgate (fold down) MOLLE panel from Ebay. Made out of steel, customizable design, it folds down to a table, requires drilling into your tailgate ($125.00).

Springtail Solutions JK Rear Door Folding Tray/MOLLE Panel. It’s made out of steel, folds down to a table, requires no drilling into your tailgate ($195.00).

Teraflex MP Tailgate Table. The MP table is constructed from lightweight aluminum with stainless steel hardware and is rated for 75 lbs. of evenly distributed load capacity. Requires drilling into your tailgate (around $200.00).

The MP Table (Multi-Purpose Table) from Vector Offroad. It’s manufactured from aerospace alloy aluminum, it folds down to a table, requires drilling into your tailgate (around $220.00).

 

After many hours of reading descriptions, reviews and looking at pictures I decided that I wanted four things out of my system:
#1 – MOLLE rack
#2 – solid steel construction
#3 – fold-down option that turns the panel into a table
#4 – no drilling into my tailgate
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August 17, 2015 |

Jeep Wrangler JK hood flutter fix

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jeep hood flutterIf you own a Wrangler JK you might have experienced something very unsettling while driving on a freeway. When you go over 60 MPH, you can’t help but notice the hood jumping up and down so violently you think at any minute its going to rip the latches off and come flying up at your windshield. Not everyone notices it and some people simply ignore it. I was ignoring it myself for over three years, even though it always seems to scare the crap out of me! I know that the chances that both latches fail and the secondary metal latch in the front fails also at the same time are slim, but it’s just a distraction that I don’t need while I’m driving my “brick on wheels”. It is funny though how my passengers react to it when I point it out to them…
Finally after three years of driving my jeep, the passenger that I’m in a relationship with, asked me to do something about it so I did.

The reason behind this flutter is the fact that the stock hood latches utilize a weak and stretch-prone rubber that allows the hood to lift and flutter at speed. The rubber is very soft! You can actually pull on your locked hood, grabbing it right under the latch and see it lift slightly. That is not a good sign!

 

 

The solution to this problem is to make sure your hood closes tighter and doesn’t lift when the gust of wind hits it.
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February 2, 2015 |
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