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John Stewart

"Check Engine" Light

In general, all vehicles equipped with on-board diagnostic systems (OBD-II is the current standard) will store error codes that can be read using a portable code reader.  A "Check Engine" light comes on to indicate that the engine management computer has detected a problem related to emissions or engine operation.  It is your notice that something needs to be fixed in order to comply with federal emissions requirements or to keep your engine running.

Many of the trouble codes relate to engine or emission sensor inputs that have failed or are out of tolerance.  The sensors control the "engine management computer" and keep the engine running at optimum efficiency.  Failed or out of tolerance sensors mean your engine is not operating at optimum efficiency.

While it is easier to read the fault codes with a code reader/scanner, most vehicle provide an option to display the codes. 

To view the codes, start with the engine turned off.  Turn the ignition key to the "ON" (not "IGNITION/START") position, then turn it off for about a second.  Turn it on for a second, then turn it off for a second. The third time you turn it on, you should see a set of trouble codes flashing on the odometer display.  (NOTE: this process works with most newer Jeep vehicles.  It may or may not work with other models.)

Once the error codes are recorded, interpretation will indicate the likely source of the fault. Fixing the problem can be simple do-it-yourself (replace the gas cap) or more complex requiring the services of an auto repair shop.

Search the 4x4Wire.com archives for more information about check engine light posts about your 4x4 vehicle model.

For a comprehensive listing of ODB-II error codes for all manufactures vehicles, check these websites:

http://www.obd-codes.com/
http://www.engine-light-help.com/

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John Stewart

I’ll take metal....

Crushed Gas Can

Four wheeling involves a vehicle with capabilities enhanced by modifications to suit the owners preference.  One of the more popular modifications involves an external tire mounting rack that includes holders for extra gas or water.

There have been many changes to the standard GI style containers over the years in the name of safety and pollution control.  While metal is still primary, plastic is growing in popularity.  Personally, I’ll take metal.  

As evident by the picture at right, metal has a certain durability.  The pictured gas can is full and was mounted on external on a Garvin Industries Wilderness series rack.  The metal material survived the weight of a jeep while the holder was bent beyond recognition.

Granted, this is (or was) a new gas can and the seams remained intact.  It is debatable whether an old metal can would have stayed intact.  I am convinced that a plastic gas container would have ruptured spraying gas in a large area creating a potentially dangerous situation.

I’m convinced, I’ll take metal.
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Adam Fertig

Auto Glym Car Care Products

Auto Glym High Definition Wax Kit

Auto Glym is a British company that is very popular in the UK, and only available to professional detailers in the UK.  Starting in 2010, they offered their products to the US and to the general public.  The HD wax kit can be found in select Wal-Mart stores for around $35.

I began with the Auto Glym High Definition wax kit.  It includes a can of paste wax, 2 sponge applicators, and a terry cloth.

First step is to wash and dry the car by hand.  Once dry, and in a cool location out of the sun, instructions say to pre-moisten the applicator with water, and add a small amount of wax to the sponge.  Next step is to lightly apply the wax to the vehicle, working in circular patterns.  Once applied, let the wax dry for about 30 minutes, and then buff off the wax using the supplied terry cloth.  It went on and buffed off very easy, with very little elbow grease.

Results were pretty impressive.  All of the swirl marks and haze were gone! And I now have a very deep shine.  The only thing it did not do was remove some scuff marks where my power antenna broke and scuffed up the paint, but I was not expecting it to fix that.

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John Stewart

A Crescent Wrench and a Creeper: Tips for Maintenance of an Off Road Rig

When it comes to 4x4’s, (Jeeps, trucks, toys, buggies, etc.), it’s as simple as a crescent wrench and a creeper. It may sound a bit simplistic, but it’s about getting under the rig and touching and checking for lose, broken, about to break or leaking stuff! Find it before it’s a problem. For side by sides, ATV’s, snowmobiles, etc., it’s more about the touching and looking, but the idea is the same.

Use a simple large Crescent wrench to check all important nuts. If they appear to be loose, use the Crescent or get out the right tool; but get it tight! If something is supposed to be torqued to specs, use a torque wrench and do it right. The handle of the Crescent can be used to pry and nudge things like long arm connections and Heim/flex joints. If you have unusual movement, figure out why and fix it.

For smaller “toys” that you can’t get under, something as simple as cleaning and touching the parts and connections can help you find lose or worn parts. Be sure to look for welds about to give up the ghost also. I like to clean my toys to the point of ensuring I touch about everything important, or at least give it a good eye‐balling.

An online parts seller friend of mine, Mike Monahan, known as Parts Mike (http://www.partsmike.com) says that in his experience it is steering components that fail the most often on 4x4’s. “Stock steering linkage and parts are not engineered to withstand the stress of bigger build ups and tires,” says Parts Mike, “and the best solution is to buy the right stuff and improve what the factory gave you.”

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John Stewart

Do It Yourself U-joint Replacement

Painless Axle Shaft U-Joint Changing

Changing front axle shaft U-joints, what could be simpler? If you are asking that question you have obviously never dealt with severely rusted joints from an older street driven Jeep that's never been in 4wd and has an open knuckle front end. Many a Jeeper has discovered that newly acquired Jeep that has 'never been off-road' equals rusted front axle shaft U-joints that are thoroughly seized into the shafts as well.

The question of the easiest way to change those U-joints at home is a common one for the new owner of a vintage CJ5 or CJ7, so I'll give my explanation of the best way that I've see that doesn't involve expensive tools. I saw this done by Ken Niles of Ken's 4x4 and tried it myself after seeing how easy it was. I've tried a variety of other methods in the past including the 'hammer and sockets' method and using a 20-ton press, but over the last two years I'm convinced that the method I'm about to describe is the best for a home shop.

Read more of Do It Yourself U-joint Replacement on 4x4Wire Archives.

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