Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Steer Smarts The Griffin

Steer Smarts Asks me to Review their New Product

My photo on Steer Smarts website

The fall of 2014 I was approached by the folks at Powers & Sons, LLC now known as Steer Smarts. They wanted me, as a Jeep mom, to test out their new product the steering attenuator, now called The Griffin. 

They are a premier designer and provider of machined steering and suspension components, systems and assemblies. They manufacture steering components for Jeep Wranglers. 

The Steering Attenuator

The attenuator is constructed to reduce the harsh road feedback attributed to the stock JK steering system -- jittery steering wheel. It is a highly engineered direct swap-out for your drag link adjusting sleeve. It is intended to make the Jeep safer while improve your driving experience.

Picking a Candidate to do the Review

Jeff and myself

I debated on whether I would be a good candidate to review this product. My Jeep driving experience at the time was very little. I also didn't have the skills to install this product myself. I wanted to be able to give a fair and honest review of the product. I believe it's important when reviewing a product you have all the facts and a good background knowledge before stating your opinion. So I contacted a fellow Jeeper, Jeff, who I knew was fair and honest as well as had lots of driving experience in a Jeep. He was also very capable of making this install himself. 

Jeff initial response 

"Definitely notice less jerking when hitting pot holes so far. Steering seems a little tighter as well, less play in the wheel."

  • Pretty easy to install I'd give it a 2 wrench out of 5 difficulty level. 
  • Only took me about an hour to install. 
  • Very noticeable difference upon first ride on the road.
  • Less wheel jerk hitting bumps and a tighter overall feel in the steering. Making road driving more stable. 
  • Off-road isn't really noticeable as much except on fire roads & flatter trails . 
  • Overall I would give it a 4 out of 5, losing a point for a price point I think is a little high. Would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to smooth and stabilize their ride. 
  • Did another 120 miles today, almost all highway at 70 mph. Effortless steering and absolutely no lane pull from ruts or grooves. No jumping or jerking when changing lanes and bump feedback was totally minimized. Very happy.
  • I am in the middle of the first long road trip since putting this on. About 1700 miles of a plan 3000 mile trip. On the first day of the trip I drove for 17 hours. Pre attenuator after 10 hours I was beat. This really does reduce the stress of driving.

Jeep Momma's Turn

It wasn't until all the research and reading all the feedback on the Jeep forums, that I realized it wasn't just me. So, I reached out to the company, and told them I'm ready to try out your product. 

The Install 

The Steering Attenuator
Installing the Steering Attenuator

At the time I wasn't confident enough in my abilities and knowledge of the steering components. I reached out to Adam's Jeep of Maryland where I bought the Jeep to do the install. My Jeep was the first one they installed the attenuator on. 

 My Review

Myself driving Topless

The Baltimore Beltway

My First Griffin Video Review 👉 Watch Here

I remember the tense times driving on the interstate, I always had both hands on the steering wheel never sitting back to relax. I wondered if it was the fact I was getting older, and soon I would be the one those old drivers cruising 40 mph on the interstate because I was too nervous. 

When I got into my Jeep to head home after the install I turned the key, and put the Jeep into drive. Immediately I felt the steering wheel was different. It was like someone took a screwdriver to it, and tightened it up. I attributed it to wishful hoping for a change on my part. As I continued down the road I still could feel the slap of my tires on the road. I still bounced in my seat as my Jeep rumbled over the bumps and cracks on the highway. It was still the same great Jeep ride feeling the grooves and contours of the road. 

It wasn't until about half way back down the busy I-95 trek home did I realize I was cruising along at over 75 mph with one hand on the steering wheel. I was lost in my thoughts of what I needed to get done that day. I hadn't even once had to stretch my hands out because they had been in a white knuckle grip on my steering wheel. I was even able to change lanes, and pass the slower cars instead of being the slower one in the far right lane the whole trip.

I was so pleased with the steering attenuator now called the Griffin I knew when I got the Yeti Steering System I had to have the Griffin too. It's made a huge difference in my highway driving. I notice no difference on the trails which is a good thing. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How To Use the Jeep Rubicon Axle Lock Button

Open Differential vs. Locked Differential 

A Jeep climbing a hill

Driving with open differential your wheels rotate at different speeds depending on the situation you are in. When you engage your lockers - Locking Differential - your tires will rotate at the same speed. 

Use of Axle Locks 

You would want to "push" the axle lock button in situations where you will need more traction such as up a rock or steep incline, or on a muddy straight trail. 

How To Use the Rubicon's Axle Lock Button 👉 Watch Here

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jeep Wrangler Hill Descent Control

What is Hill Descent Control?

Wheeling at Rausch Creek

The Hill Descent Control system helps monitor throttle, speed, and braking while traveling down a steep hill. This is an acquired skill needed when you take your Jeep off-road. It takes time and practice to get it right. The Jeep Wranglers have a button you can push that will help you in situations where you don't feel comfortable with throttle and brake control. Not understanding the full potential of your Jeep and the proper use of the brakes and throttle could get you and your Jeep into a not-so-good situation.

First Time  

Kyle spotting me on the trail

What I remember the most was the amazing off-road proficiency of my Jeep. I never knew it had such capabilities. My instructor, Kyle, guided me through the trails. At one point I was on top of a steep, rocky hill ready to go down. He told me to push the button on my control panel - the Hill Descent Control button. A button I always wondered about -- thinking I would never use it. 

How to Use the Hill Decent Control Button 👉 Watch Here

Magic Button 

I pushed the button and started down the hill. He told me to take my foot off the brake. It was a hard concept to accept, but I had the utmost trust in him.  Once I reached the bottom of the hill, I was speechless and absolutely amazed at how my Jeep performed. To this day it still boggles my mind that the Jeep drove itself down that hill.

👇Watch  Hill Decent Control Engaged Video Examples 👇

Rausch Creek Driving 201 Instruction👉 Watch Here

Women's Wheelin' Day  👉 Watch Here

 Driving downhill without Engagement 👉 Watch Here

Monday, November 17, 2014

Off Road in My New Rubicon

First Time Wheeling on the Trails

On a Saturday morning, anticipation and nervousness filled me as I awoke. It was time to embark on a trail ride with my new Rubicon. Having spent the last five months exploring trails with my Jeep Wrangler Unlimited - Sahara, I eagerly anticipated the experience the Rubicon promised. I hadn't even made the first payment so my anxiety was high.

Sahara vs Rubicon 👉 Watch Here

My Jeep Rubicon and myself.

Exploring the Rubicon's Potential

Excitement surged through me as I looked forward to uncovering the Rubicon's capabilities firsthand. Equipped with a 4 to 1 transfer case, 4.10 gears, and 2 Dana 44's, I anticipated a notable difference, especially when activating the sway bar with the magic disco button.

Driving in my Jeep

A Special Journey with My Son

Adding to my excitement was the opportunity to share this adventure with my eldest son. As children grow, they often drift from their parents, making moments like these precious. I looked forward to bonding with him amidst the trails.

Jeepers waiting for the trail ride to start

First Jeep Club Ride

Arriving at the Rausch Creek Off Road Park, I sought out the group I was to meet, feeling a hint of nervousness. Although I had met some members at the Women's Wheeling Day, joining the Blue Mountain Jeep Alliance Jeep ride marked a new experience. However, my worries faded as I was welcomed warmly into the community of Jeep enthusiasts.

Preparing for the Trails

As I prepared for the trails, adjusting tire deflators and engaging 4-wheel low, excitement mounted. Despite my initial apprehensions, I found comfort in my familiarity with the Jeep community, both online and offline.

J.T. Brooks Tire Deflators Pro Review 👉 Read More

J.T. Brooks Tire Deflators on my tires

Unleashing the Rubicon

With the Rubicon geared up, it was time to put it to the test. As I maneuvered through rocky terrain and muddy puddles, the Rubicon's performance left me in awe. Its smooth handling and gripping power surpassed my expectations.

My dash lights

Rubicon vs. Sahara: A Comparison

Reflecting on the Rubicon's performance, I noted the stark contrast to my Sahara. While both capable, the Rubicon navigated obstacles with greater ease, lacking the creaky noises characteristic of the Sahara. I could feel that low gear ratio pulling the Jeep over the rocks with so much ease. 

Attempting to articulate the Rubicon's allure, I found myself at a loss for words. The experience was simply unparalleled, marked by smoother rides, enhanced power, and superior grip

A Day to Remember on the Trails with My Son 👉 Watch Here

Hood shot driving on the rocky trail

Hood shot of the water on the trail

Hood shot of the trail

A Day to Remember

The trail ride unfolded as a day of camaraderie, adventure, and gratitude. Amidst the Appalachian Mountains, I connected with fellow Jeepers, indulged in a delightful turkey dinner, and most importantly, shared precious moments with my son.

As the day drew to a close, I cherished the memories forged amidst the trails. With the Rubicon, I discovered not only a vehicle of unparalleled performance but also a gateway to unforgettable experiences and cherished bonds.


My Jeep on the trail

The best part -- Spending the day with my son bonding and sharing a great memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life!

         Jeep Momma is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn commissions by linking to and affiliated sites. When you click on and/or make a purchase through a link to an Amazon Affiliate link placed on this website, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Jeep Adventure

 Women's Wheeling Day at Rausch Creek Off Road Park

Jeep Momma Selfie

Saturday morning dawned, and with it, my anticipation for a day of adventure. Before the sun even graced the sky, I set out on my journey northward, bound for Rausch Creek Off Road Park. This haven of excitement and challenge awaited, promising joy to all who ventured its trails.

My Women's Wheeling Day Adventure 👉 Watch Here

Arrival and Anticipation

As I arrived for the 2nd annual Women's Wheeling Day, a mixture of emotions surged within me. It marked my fifth off-roading excursion but my inaugural solo journey without an instructor by my side. Checking in at the office, excitement, nervousness, and eagerness coursed through my veins.

Camaraderie and Acceptance

Ladies waiting for the trail ride to start

Eager to hit the trails once more, off-roading was becoming an addiction. Anxious to meet fellow Jeepers for the first time, I wondered if I would find acceptance within the Jeep Girl community. To my surprise, the women I met were all incredibly friendly, helpful, and encouraging. They made the day even more enjoyable, and I realized that my fears about being accepted were completely unfounded.

Airing Down Tires: A Simple Task

One of my concerns before the trip was airing down my tires. I had never done it before and was worried it would be difficult. However, it turned out to be one of the simplest tasks of the day. All I had to do was attach my tire deflators and remember to re-inflate my tires at the end of the trip.

Importance of Airing Down Tires

Airing down my tires

For those who are unfamiliar, airing down your tires is a crucial step in off-roading. Lowering the tire pressure increases the amount of wheel surface that touches the trails. It's a fundamental off-roading necessity, enhancing traction and facilitating smoother rides over rugged terrain.

Off-roading 101: Airing Down Tires 👉 Read More

Choosing the Right Trais: Green vs. Blue

My Jeep on the trails

At first, I debated going with the group heading out on the blue trails, which are more difficult than the green. However, after some advice from experienced drivers, I decided to stick with the green trails. This turned out to be a wise decision, as the green trails still offered plenty of challenges and excitement.

Rock Gardens Obstacles

Hood shot of the rocks

Right off the bat, we encountered two Rock Garden obstacles. M
y stock Jeep faced its trial by fire. Although these were quite intense, my stock Jeep and I managed to navigate them with ease. I even recorded and uploaded both Rock Garden obstacle videos to my YouTube channel, The Jeep Momma.

Reflections and Future Adventures

Women wheelers from Women's Wheeling Day 2014

Overall, the Women's Wheeling Day at Rausch Creek Off Road Park was a fantastic experience. I had the opportunity to meet and bond with a group of amazing women who shared my passion for off-roading. I can't wait for next year's event!

Future Plans: Sway Bar Disconnects and More

After my adventure, I realized that sway bar disconnects would be a useful addition to my Jeep. There were several moments on the trail where they would have come in handy. Looking back this was the start of the many modifications I began making with my Jeep. Eventually, I just upgraded to a Rubicon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Must Have Tools on the Trail

The Significance of Preparedness in Off-Roading 

Being prepared with essential tools and recovery gear is of paramount importance when embarking on off-road journeys. On my YouTube channel, I've shared informative videos, such as "Top 5 Tools Needed," "Top 5 Fluids Needed," and more, to help fellow off-road enthusiasts gear up for their adventures.

When planning for off-road adventures, it's crucial to consider the tools you routinely use for maintenance and repairs on your vehicle at home. These are the very tools that should find a place in your off-road toolkit.  I've had to replace my steering stabilizer multiple times, and this experience underscores the significance of always having this essential item in my tool bag

Broken Steering Stabilizer

The two tools needed to fix the bracket that attaches my steering stabilizer on my Jeep are an 18mm wrench and my rubber mallet. The 18mm wrench typically doesn't come in a set so you need to buy is separately

Tools in My Tool Bag

BFH - Hammer
Adjustable Wrench
Big Screwdriver or Pry Bar
Socket Set and Ratchet
Vice Grip Pliers
Screwdriver and Bits
Zip Ties
Duct Tape
Bottle Jack
Bungee Cords 

Must Have Tools 👉 Watch Here

"You may not have it all together, but together you will have it all."

It is good to be prepared but don’t get too crazy trying to pack everything into your Jeep. You may not use everything you bring and you may not have everything you need, but you may have things others need and vice versa. 

Every time you go out you will learn what works for you and your wheeling style. Just prepare the best you can and grow on that each time. At the end of this post is a list of items you may or may not want to add to your list of tools. 

ARB Tree Trunck Protector 

Warn Winch Gloves 

Gorilla Tape 

Tire Repair Kit 

Jumper Cables 

Folding Shovel 

Bungee Cords 

Jeep Momma is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn commissions by linking to and affiliated sites. When you click on and/or make a purchase through a link to an Amazon Affiliate link placed on this website, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Other Tools to Add to Your Tool Box

Socket Set - Standard & Metric with 3/8" & 1/2" drives - Deep & Standard Sockets 
Crescent, open-end combination box wrenches Standard & Metric
Allen Wrenches
Torx sockets (especially if you own a Jeep)
Standard & Phillips screwdrivers, large, medium, small
Pliers / Needle Nose (various sizes)
Needle Nose Pliers 
Large channel-lock Pliers
Pipe wrenches - having 2 medium of these can be useful for tie-rods 
Utility knife or razor blades
BIG pry bar
Snap ring pliers
Duct Tape
Bailing Wire
Wood Blocks - useful for jacking platforms, ramps, suspension supports
Rope Lengths
Super Glue
Ratchet Straps
Work / Leather Gloves

Spare Parts / Repair Items

Extra Fan / serpentine belts
Hoses, fuel line, coolant hoses
Spare Tire
Tire repair kits, plugs
Extra Lug nuts, tire star wrench or lug key with key socket
Cotter pins / keys - various sizes
Nuts & bolts assorted standard and metric sizes
RTV - form-a-gasket
Radiator stop leak - silver flakes in tube
Spare Hub (and hub fuses if applicable).
Spare Universal Joints (U-joints for drive shaft & axles)
Spare Drive Shaft (rear and front)
Extra spark plug wire (size of  longest wire)

Electronics Repair Kit

Volt ohms meter (multimeter)
Wire cutters / wire crips / wire strippers (multi-tool)
Spare fuses of all sizes and types used in your vehicle
Electrical tape
Spare wire - lengths of various gauges
Spare switches
Spare relay if you use relays
crip on ends (male and female, various gauges)
Small pocket sized needle point blow torch (handy for soldering wire)
Flux core solder for repairs
Wiring Diagram of your vehicle

Monday, September 22, 2014

Barricade Jeep Rock Sliders Install

A Must Modification for Off-Roaders

My new rock sliders

The folks at ExtremeTerrain  sent me a pair of rock sliders -- the Barricade Rock Sliders -- to review.

Jeep Momma holding her new rock sliders

Barricade Off-Road Sliders  👉Buy Here

Barricade Trail Force HD Front Bumper 👉 Buy Here 

Jeep Body Mount Bolt

Step 1 

First step was to remove the factory plastic steps. I broke out the tools I needed and sat down to work. I attached the ratchet to the bolt and began to pull... and pull... and pull... and pull... I even swore a bunch of times. I was bound and determined to do this whole change by myself. I was turning the ratchet the wrong way. I got confused laying "upside down" everything is backwards. I was doing lefty loosy righty tighty the wrong way.

Jeep Momma removing the body mount bolt

Once I had that squared away it was a quick and easy removal.

Jeep Momma removing her factory side steps

Step 2

The removal of the body mount bolts. I took the advice of many online Jeepers and sprayed the body mounts with WD 40.

Jeep Momma's dirty hands

I don't think this actually made a difference for my Jeep. It's pretty new and there wasn't really a whole lot of rust. Actually there wasn't any rust but a lot of dirt and mud. I think this was a trick by everyone. The WD 40 created a muddy greasy mess. Or maybe WD 40 isn't really to help loosen things up but to make things messy just so it looks like you were working hard.

Jeep Momma wrenching on her Jeep

The body mount bolts didn't need a whole lot of muscle, with just a little force and lots of grunting they came loose. However, they kept spinning and spinning and spinning. I couldn't figure out what in the world was going on. So again -- I headed back to my computer. I emailed a fellow Jeeper and texted another. After some good tips I went back out and tried again. 

Jeep body mount bolts

With the use of my ratchet and some channel locks -the first bolt popped out. Those body mount bolts are pretty persnickety. They need a firm but gentle pull and out they come.

Body mount bolts and tools

Step 3 

Now it was time to install the Rock Sliders. 

Jeep Momma installing her new rock sliders

I looked around the garage for something to hold up the heavy steel sliders while I attached them to the Jeep. At the time I didn't have jack stands. These would make for a great investment. 

Jack Stands 👉 Buy Here

It was quite hard since our garage is mostly made up of soccer balls and bikes. This is were the resourcefulness of a mom comes in handy.

Jeep Momma's new rock sliders

I grabbed the rolled up garden hose I bought a couple of weeks ago and an old paint bucket. I lined up the sliders to the body mounts on the Jeep and started the attachment process. 

Step 4

Before the attaching the body mount bolts and sliders to the Jeep the giant washers needed to be put in the sliders. 

Jeep Momma installing sliders

The body mount washers to drop into the round hole of the attachment point of the slider rail. UGH!! It was millimeters off.  It was suggested I use a hammer. BAM! BAM!

Jeep Momma tapping in the washers

It was more of a gentle tap and they were in. 

Close up of tapping in the washers

Step 5

Lining up the bolts. 

Jeep Momma wrenching

I was able to get the first bolt into place, and it started to tighten. Yeah Me!  It was working. Then came the next bolts.

Jeep Momma lining up the sliders

I slide my legs under the slider, and held it up with all my might and started turning the ratchet again. But then... the spinning and spinning and spinning started to happen again. Thank goodness the kids were still at school because you would have thought a pirate was working in our garage. 

Jeep Momma under her Jeep wrenching 

I double checked I had my rights and lefts correct, but it still was spinning and spinning. I headed into the house to get help . I was informed these kind of bolts in the body mount need weight pulling them down to be able to tighten.

Jeep Momma under her Jeep wrenching

Another new lesson working on my Jeep. 

Tightening up the bolts on the sliders

The rest was pretty simple -- a couple of turns of the ratchet and they were done.

Jeep Momma showing off her new sliders

Turns out this was probably the best modification I made to my Jeep. They have protected my Jeep many times as I slide up over and around rocks. 

Jeep Momma is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn commissions by linking to and affiliated sites. When you click on and/or make a purchase through a link to an Amazon Affiliate link placed on this website, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

 ExtremeTerrain provided the rock sliders for review. No additional compensation received.  All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Off-Road Adventures Increase My Self-Esteem

Jeep Life Adventures and Personal Growth

Rausch Creek Off-Road Adventure

Discovering the Joys of Jeeping

Off-roading in a Jeep is an exhilarating experience that never gets old. Each time I hit the trails, I'm amazed at the things I learn. The endless possibilities of off-roading experiences and Jeep modifications keep the adventure fresh and exciting.

Learning and Growing on the Trails

My Self-Esteem Grows with each Off-Road Adventure.

I'm not just learning about my Jeep's capabilities; I'm also learning about mechanical aspects like differentials, gears, tires, suspension, and coils. These lessons have sparked an interest in me that I never knew I had. The interactions with fellow Jeep enthusiasts make the learning process even more enjoyable.

In addition to the technical education, I'm also learning a lot about myself. I'm rediscovering my confidence and realizing that I have natural instincts when it comes to driving in challenging conditions.

Natural Instincts and Confidence

Confidence in the Snow! 

Growing up in the Midwest, I learned to drive in harsh winter conditions, navigating snow-packed roads and icy streets. I believe this experience has contributed to my ability to handle challenging driving situations, but I also think some of us are simply born with a natural instinct for driving in difficult conditions.

Snow Driving Tips 👉Read More

While some drivers never seem to master the art of driving in rain or snow, even after living in the north their whole lives, I've found that off-roading in my Jeep has helped me unlock my innate driving abilities and boosted my confidence in the process.

What is the Jeep Sway Bar Button

A Key Component in Off-Roading and Jeep Performance When it comes to off-roading, understanding your vehicle's components is crucial. On...