Wrangler Myths

Wrangler Myth Busters


There are many reasons to make modifications to your Wrangler – looks, off-road capabilities, resolving an issue and/or replacing broken or faulty parts. When making mods you’ll want to make sure you’re getting your information from a trusted source, as there is tons of mis-leading information out there. We took the time to debunk some of the most common Wrangler myths.

 Steering Stabilizers are a fix for death wobble

A common problem that often occurs after modifying your Jeep’s suspension is “Death Wobble”. Death wobble is the violent shaking of your steering that could contribute to a loss of control and a serious accident. Death wobble is often associated with either unbalanced wheels or loose/damaged steering components.

A steering stabilizer is often improperly used to absorb the vibrations of loose components. The steering stabilizer’s function is to absorb sudden impacts to the Jeep’s steering due to road conditions, not to absorb the vibrations and movement from unbalanced tires or loose components.

Tires and rims are never perfectly round; therefore weight balancing is needed to help counter the inconsistent weight load. A larger rim/ tire combination will exaggerate the problem, possibly causing death wobble. Often times a simple wheel balancing is enough to solve the issue. Sometimes you can do what is called “Match Mounting” where the high spot of the tire is matched with the low spot of the wheel, this is done through the use of a Road Force Tire balancing machine. A Road Force balancing machine simulates the loaded pressure on the tire with the use of a roller. This pressure will indicate the low/high spots of the wheel and provide a more accurate balancing as it takes into account the weight of the vehicle.

Steering components are sometimes the faulty source of the Death Wobble. A common problem point, both with stock and modified Jeeps, are the front Track Bar bolts. The upper frame side bolt is slightly undersized from the factory. Often through heavy use the pressure can wear away the mounting hole allowing the trackbar to move. This movement can solely cause Death wobble or cause the damage, wear or loosening of other steering/suspension components. Another common cause is the improper tightening of the bolts after modifying the Jeep’s suspension. After modifying the Jeep’s suspension, regardless if it’s just a spacer lift or a full suspension overhaul, once the components are installed you should loosen all the bolts for the Front & Rear track bars, and all control arms.  Lower the Jeep on its wheels so the full weight is on the ground. Shake the Jeep to allow all the components to properly settle and avoid any binding. Then properly tighten and torque each bolt to specification. The use of a white marker to indicated each bolt that has been tighten is a good way to keep track of your progress and allow you to quickly inspect the bolts to see if anything has loosened later on. It’s good practice to inspect your bolt’s torque after each oil change.

Lifting your Wrangler makes it ride and handle poorly

Jeep Wrangler In Snow

This is a common misconception due to the visual physics that a raised center of gravity will mean an unstable vehicle in turns. The reality is, if properly installed with good quality components, you can actually produce a more comfortable and better handling vehicle. Most high-end lifts come with either “Progressive” or “Dual-Coil” springs. These springs are meant to provide a variety of stiffness according to the speed and conditions that the Jeep is in. That means a softer ride during slow speeds on flat even terrain and a stiffer ride during faster speeds or while off-road. The addition of stiffer shocks will also help with the re-bound of the Jeep and help provide a more reliable overall feel while driving. Longer control arms and track bars will help aid in the proper centering of the Jeep’s axles and further help with the overall ride.

Jeeps with automatic transmission are worse off-road than manual transmission

This is a common misconception often associated to overall driving preference while on-road. The strain of the manual transmission’s clutch from constant engaging/disengaging will off-road, pays a heavy toll on the manual transmission, along with the driver’s knee. An automatic transmission allows the driver to slowly crawl through obstacles at a slower, steadier and more reliable pace with much less strain on the transmission or the driver’s knee.  The advantage of vehicle control while on-road in a manual transmission doesn’t translate as well when driving off-road. A manual transmission also requires a focused an experienced driver to avoid stalling and sudden jolts of the jeep, which could lead to critical damage from the terrain.

A snorkel can allow me to drive through a river as long as the water level doesn’t reach the snorkel

jeep-wrangler-survival-guide-2

The overwhelming confidence you get after installing a snorkel can lead you into very serious problems. From the factory, Jeeps are capable of traversing a good amount of water, typically up until half the height of the tires. The main reason is not due to the air-box but the breather tubes for the differentials and transmission. Extending and relocating these tubes alone will allow you to get through very deep water. Adding a snorkel will give you the confidence to get in a bit deep, but not much more before you start taking on significant water inside the jeep, either through the drain holes in the floor board or the doors. At mid-engine height, water level has the possibility of causing significant damage to the electronics. A bit more and you could cause damage to the belt tensioners and fan motors. By hood level, you could be facing significant more electrical damages to more serious components, causing your Wrangler to stall, at which point the lack of pressure out of the exhaust will allow it take in water, that could work itself back into the engine, making the snorkel useless.

I can place my bigger, heavier aftermarket wheel on my stock tire carrier

The stock tire carrier is rated for the load of a stock wheel dimension, nothing more. Placing a heavier/larger tire on the carrier will cause the spot welds on the tailgate itself to pop and the tire carrier itself to crack. Aftermarket reinforcement brackets help distribute the load but the stress placed on the carrier, especially in off-road use, can still lead to failure. A better option is to replace the carrier entirely with a completely reinforced heavier gauge alternative, similar to the factory style or a bumper integrated tire carrier. Replacing the “Bump Stop” with longer alternatives will help ensure that the tire doesn’t rattle and there is no additional stress when the tailgate is closed.

Let us know if we missed a top Wrangler Myth!

Written by Andrew

"You're telling me it's got four wheels, two seats and goes faster than the speed limit? Good, I'm driving."

6 comments

  1. When I purchased my 2013 Sport, I had the dealer install an AEV 2 1/2″ suspension lift. The lift is the best one I’ve ever had out of 4 different Jeeps. They also put an “adapter” on the spare tire carrier and I’ve always been worried about there being too much weight on the tailgate. Although I’ve logged over 8,000 miles, I’ve had no problems thus far with the tailgate. Since I’m not rich, I ordered a Body Armor rear bumper that I can add a tire carrier to an existing post on the bumper later, for another $400 or so. Since I really haven’t done any serious or rough off-roading with this Jeep, I believe that’s why I haven’t had any problems with the tailgate or spare tire carrier. But I hate the way the plastic OEM bumpers turn white from the road salt they put down here in Michigan so I am replacing the rear bumper as stated and the front stock bumper with a matching Body Armor front winch bumper. My Jeep is in the shop having this work done as I write this. I want to be able to go on some rougher trails with my Jeep and since I usually am alone, I’m going to add a winch to the front. I just wonder if anyone else has had any problems with the spare-tire carrier “adapter”. It really just looks like a back-space adapter that is used on mounted wheels to make larger tires fit without any rubbing.

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    1. DevilDog,
      Good choice on the AEV lift. I went with Teraflex but I’ve got friends who chose AEV and they are uniformly happy with their choice. As far as using a spare tire adapter versus using a purpose built tire carrier to carry a heavier spare tire I’d use caution with that approach. Here’s a link to a good video from Teraflex discussing heavy tires and carrier adapters: https://youtu.be/URgjx2FdfvM. Best of luck with the Jeep!.
      – CJ, USAF

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  2. Thanks for the share, C.J. I just had the Body Armor bumper (that will hold a tire carrier) installed, but out of curiosity, how much is that Terra Flex carrier?

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  3. Ok, have a jeep wrangler Sahara with lift and 35 inch tires. Have an intermittent stalling problem. Dealer has had it over 5 times won’t do it for them. They are now saying likely due to large wheels and tires. Comments??

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