As mentioned before in this blog, one thing I'm still getting used to with the new Jeep is how little cargo space there is. We're going up to our cabin this coming weekend, and we're bringing two full-grown adults to accompany my wife and myself. Four people are a tight squeeze in the vehicle's cab, which means all of our combined gear, cooler, etc. that normally would live in the back seat area will have to ride in the truck's bed. Combined with highway, bumpy washboard dirt roads, and of course rock crawling... well, stuff can leave the bed on its own accord if not properly secured. To address this issue, I purchased a heavy-duty cargo net that I'll keep in the toolbox and use in instances like this upcoming weekend jaunt. The unit I purchased was a Mophorn 50"x66" heavy duty cargo net that came with four tied down straps and carabiners. It's probably too big for typical loads (e.g., coolers and such) but I erred on the side of too big, rather th
Showing posts from 2022
Last year, we installed rainwater collection gutters and tanks on the house. That was step one: capturing the water. But then the question arises of how to actually access and use the water. Some of our watering needs are downhill from the tanks, so gravity does the work. But other areas, like our front balcony, where my wife keeps a lot of plants, are a full 10ft higher than the water tank. There are a number of options available to us, including everything from just hauling the water via buckets, all the way up to sophisticated submersible electric pumps. In the end, we went old school, taking a cue from the type of hand pump we use at our cabin. This pump was purchased online by my wife. I then built the wooden stand and plumbed it into the tank. Works great. Next up will be a similar setup on the backyard water tank. Living in the desert (in the middle of a drought), you can never have too much water storage....
An indispensable recovery tool every serious offroad vehicle should carry is a good shovel. I've only had to use a shovel once in an emergency off-road situation--but it was truly needed that time. Unfortunately, the shovel I had at the time was a tiny "fold-up" camp model that I kept in my truck's tool box. It was way too small for the job at hand, taking close to 30 minutes to dig us out of a sandy rut that should have taken, at most, 5 minutes with a properly sized tool. So... for the Gladiator, I decided it was time to carry a bigger implement for the (hopefully rare) times when I will need it. I chose a modest 36-inch model that we already had sitting unused in a shed. The bad news is that because of the constraints of the tool box size on the Gladiator, I can't keep it locked up inside. Instead, I have to keep the shovel in the truck's bed. The solution I settled on is to use a "quick fist" rubber tool mount that is screwed directly into the si
Took the Gladiator off-road for the first time this fourth of July weekend. Specifically, we drove up to our family cabin, which requires some pretty serious 4x4 capability (and, if I do say so myself, some driver skill). The route includes everything from mountainous 2-lane blacktop, to 65mph posted highway driving, to long washboard dirt roads, to deep sandy sections and wash-running, to steep & technical rock crawling and narrow single-track roads. 4x4 high, low, locked... you name it, it requires it. Very diverse and challenging..... and the truck handled it all with aplomb. On this inaugural run (literally, my first time ever driving a Jeep off-road), the things that stood out to me include: Nimble . Compared to the old monstrous F250 Crew Cab, this Gladiator feels like a sports car. It's much narrower and easier to maneuver in the tighter sections of the trail. Downright fun to drive. Sway-bar Disconnect. Wow. The ride quality off-road once the sway-bar was disconnected
I need a means of airing-up and down when off-road, plus fixing flats, etc. I.e., I need an air compressor to carry with us in the truck at all times. So which one did I end up with? To answer that, we have to start with the requirements: Quality . Foremost, I wanted something high-quality that will last me my lifetime. Of course, price was a factor, but I’m also a big believer in the time-tested adage that when buying tools you can “cry once or multiple times”. Portability . I wanted something portable. I will primarily take my Gladiator off-road and on trips, but occasionally will take the wife’s Jeep (when it shows up). In other words, I don't currently need something permanently mounted under the hood of the truck; rather, I want something I can move from vehicle to vehicle as required. Capacity . I may end up running larger tires in the future, so wanted something that could grow with me as my tires changes. It’s overkill a bit, but I decided I wanted something capable of
I love my high-lift jack. But others do as well, and mounted in the bed of my truck makes an appealing target for thieves. Therefore, I need to lock it up. I looked into the locking knob/handles for the mounting system I purchased, but they're pretty pricey. I needed a cheaper solution, which led me to peruse all the chains and locks I've pack-ratted away in the garage for years. Long story short, here's what I ended up with. Is it ideal? No, not really. A determined thief could still cut the chain, bolt-cut the lock or hacksaw the tie-down loop in the bed. And I've now got a chain taking up some of the tie-down loop space. Oh, and the chain is going to rattle around in the bed as I drive down the road. But this solution is very inexpensive and should serve my needs.
I've owned a Hi-Lift jack for more than a decade. In all that time, I've only used it a couple of times--but it saved my bacon in each of those situations. Ergo, I insist on carrying this huge jack in my primary off-road vehicle at all times... ...ah, but the Gladiator is not a big vehicle, and my jack is the monster 48" X-Treme version. In the old F250, I easily stored this unit and all its ancillary gear in the toolbox that was mounted in the bed. But the (much) smaller Craftsman box I'm using on the Jeep is far too small to hold the jack. I've distributed the various ancillary jack support gear throughout the under-seat storage areas in the cab and in the toolbox, but the jack itself presented a problem because of its length and weight. This is not something you want to just have banging around in the backseat area of the truck. The solution I ended up with was an (expensive) set of mounting brackets I purchased via Amazon. Yes, I could have fabricated somethi
I spent a little time yesterday loading the truck with the various tools and recovery gear that I like to keep in the vehicle. Transitioning from the large F250 down to this mid-sized Gladiator has been a challenge, so the first thing I had to do was pare down my carry-list to the so-called MVP, or minimum viable payload. One of the big goals was to *not* adversely affect the ability to carry passengers in the rear seats. I.e., I want as much tucked away permanently as possible. I don't like carrying bins or tool boxes loose in the truck's cab. Anyway, here's a brief look at where I ended up. First up is the big Craftsman saddle toolbox (which, btw, already has a glitch with the driver's side lock that I have to fix. argh): A view into the toolbox from the passenger side. In the foreground on the right is my red tool bag with a set of standard hand tools, such as hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, etc. Below it (not visible) is a large SAE and metric socket set and wrenc
Well, the next two modifications are complete. The first of these was a spray-in bedliner. I originally wanted to order the truck with the factory bedliner applied, but the dealership told me it could add 1-2 months to the order time. Plus the cost of the factory liner was pretty pricey. Ergo, I ordered the truck without a bed liner and instead found a local company ("The Option") to perform an aftermarket installation. The liner is the brand name of "bullet liner." I'm really impressed with both the review of this liner and how well guys at The Option did installing. Very clean, professional job (the dirt footprints in the photos are mine): The second thing I did was install a tool box. I looked at a lot of options, including Decked (pricey and a bed killer), Diamondback (very pricier and not quite what I need), and various saddle boxes. On my previous trucks, I've always used a saddle box, so this is the route I went. The big problem, however, is the stu
Well, I've made the first of several planned modifications to the Gladiator. And it's a big one! Okay, maybe not big. But it does mark the first step in a journey to turn the Jeep into a vehicle that suits my needs and requirements. This first mod was the replacement of the factory OEM metallic radio antenna with a shorter, flexible rubber one. Specifically, I went with a 13-inch Rydonair Antenna that I purchased off Amazon. It has excellent reviews and is very similar to ones I've swapped out on previous vehicles I've owned. So why did I change this out? Experience has shown that the rigid steel antennas will break or bend when used off-road. When they catch on over-hanging branches, they'll snap. I've had this happen to me in the past, and on our standard route up to our cabin we encounter lots of trees that crowd the trail. So how was the installation? Answer: super easy. Honestly, the hardest part was removing the old steel antenna. I could loosen it easil
It took over three hours at the dealership to go through all the paperwork and do the inspections, but we eventually got to drive her home. So far, I really like how she drives and handles. Over the first 100 miles thus far, I'm averaging about 23mpg. Not bad for a non-broken-in diesel. We had one minor issue yesterday, however, during a 20 mile drive to the hardware store. The radio was working perfectly when suddenly it developed a ton of static on all the stations. Sirius, AM, and FM. The only one that didn't have this issue was the bluetooth connection to my phone (e.g., playing podcasts). Initially, I tried resetting fuses and tightening the antenna; all to no avail. Eventually, I discovered a thread on a Wrangler forum that suggested resetting the Uconnect system by simultaneously pressing and holding the tuning and volume buttons for 15 seconds. This worked and everything seems to A-OK now. Still, a little disconcerting... Anyway, overall I'm thrilled with the truc
Gotta be honest: I'm very excited about picking up the JTRD today. But to be even more honest: I'm a little nervous about issues and reliability of a brand new Mopar. I've owned all makes and models of cars and trucks before (including a couple of actual Fiats), but have never formally owned a Mopar/Fiat-Chrysler vehicle before. Why? Well, historically, they weren't known as the most reliable cars and trucks around. I believe that has mostly changed, but I worry there's lingering things wrong. So, what to do? I'll be discussion some reliability things in upcoming posts, but the most important immediate thing I have to do is pick up the pickup (ha, see what I did there?) and ensure it's in the best possible state from day 1 of ownership. So, first things first: how do I ensure the JTRD is in pristine condition when I drive her home? Answer: do a thorough checkout and inspection at the dealership today when before they hand her over. So how do I do that? A
The Gladiator is actually in town. The dealership called and said it was arriving via truck that day. They will then need a day or so to prep the truck, install tint, clean it up etc. Bottom line is I'm going to the dealership tomorrow (Saturday) at noon to take delivery. To say I'm excited is an understatement. I'm really, really looking forward to getting her home and starting the whole Jeep experience. Can. Not. Wait!
Being as I'm a car guy, and being as this is a Jeep, there's no doubt I'm going to make some modifications to the vehicle. I will hold off on many of these until I get some miles under her and see what I like and what I want to change, but there are a few changes on my list that will need to take place relatively quickly. One of the first will probably be larger diameter tires. As mentioned in previous posts, I intend to take the Gladiator off-road. Heck, it's one of the primary reasons we settled on Jeeps as our primary vehicles-- we need a reliable means of getting up to the family cabin on a regular basis. And as I also mentioned, the road to the cabin requires a very capable off-road vehicle, complete with high-ground clearance and excellent traction. Stock, the Rubicon Gladiator comes with 33-inch LT285/70R17C All-Terrain (AT) tires mounted on 17-inch x 7.5-inch Granite Crystal Aluminum (standard) wheels. These might be sufficient for getting to the cabin, but if
This is an interesting question. My previous truck (2017 Ford F250) had a 6.7-liter diesel that was an amazing engine. If it weren't for the overall size of the vehicle (plus the amazing trade-in value they offered us), I probably never would have sold that truck. It got decent mileage, pulled incredibly well, and had amazing torque. Great truck—but far too big. Fast-forward to the Gladiator. We had a choice of the 3.6-liter gas Pentastar of the 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoDiesel. The Pentastar is a very well-proven and reliable power-plant, having been around for many, many years and used by countless Jeep owners with excellent long-term results. In contrast, the Diesel is newer and, well, less-well-proven. Further, it's a more complex European-based engine, and has a very complicated and overly engineered exhaust and pollution control system. And, to add insult to injury, the price of diesel in recent months has skyrocketed. But we still went with the diesel engine. The rea
So why a Rubicon, and not one of the other trims? I need a Jeep primarily for its off-road capability. As mentioned before, my wife and I frequently travel to our remote family cabin, and getting there requires serious 4x4 capabilities (and driver skills, too, to be honest). Traveling to the cabin is not for the feint of heart. It's also not for a less-than-capable 4x4 vehicle. Because of a section of long, deep, sandy wash (arroyo, or dry river bed for those unfamiliar with the terminology), we've found we need relatively wide tires and a lockable rear differential. And for the final ~2 miles of single-track, rutted, steep, rocky sections of the road, we've frequently needed to lock both front and rear differentials. If I were going to build a hardcore rock crawler, I might have actually started with a lower trim model and then upgraded axles, tires, and wheels. But I don't need those things; I just need the basics of a stout axle (the Dana 44's are sufficient)
So, why do I need/want a Gladiator? Heck, why do I need a pickup? First, I'm a truck guy. Always have been. I've owned one truck or another pretty much my entire adult life. I do a lot of home DIY stuff, from building sheds & porches, to remodels, to, well, you name it. I've hauled all manner of stuff, plus I have a 14-foot single-axle trailer that I tow regularly. Second, we are one of those rare families that actually use four-wheel drive on their vehicles on a regular basis. We have a remote cabin that we visit regularly. To access the cabin requires serious 4x4 capabilities, as the miles-long "road" (if you can call it that) is combination of sandy wash, steep rutted single-track, and some honest-to-goodness rock-crawling in parts. Four wheel drive, high-ground clearance, and lockers literally are required to get to the cabin. I'm also a big fan of solid front axles, especially of the Dana variety. Again, the nature of just getting to our cabin puts a
This is my first blog post documenting the purchase, modifications, and use of a 2022 Jeep Gladiator with the Eco-Diesel and Rubicon package. We ordered this vehicle back in March 2022, and I've recently learned that it's (finally) on a train to Arizona, where my wife and I live. Hopefully, within two weeks or so, the vehicle will sit in our driveway. Note also that we actually ordered a second Jeep at the same time. The second vehicle is a 2022 Jeep 2-Door Wrangler Sport-S model that is primarily intended for my wife to drive. I'll be occasionally documenting the purchase, mods, and use of that Jeep in this blog as well. Unfortunately, at the time of this post, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automotive) haven't actually scheduled a build date for the Wrangler, so we might still be months away from receiving it. Regardless, I'm glad you found this blog. Hopefully, you'll get some use out of my ramblings and thoughts about the Gladiator (and Wrangler). We've never owned