Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Steer Smarts The Griffin

Steer Smarts Asks me to Review their New Product

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 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 

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

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 

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  

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. 

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 - FREAKING AMAZING!

I woke up Saturday morning full of excitement and nervousness. I was excited to finally ride the trails in my new Rubicon. After about 5 months of experiencing my Jeep Wrangler Unlimited - Sahara on the trails, I couldn't wait to see what the Rubicon could do. I was ready to see for myself what all this Rubicon hype was. I wasn't sure I would be able to tell a difference with the 4 to 1 transfer case or even the 4.10 gears and 2 Dana 44's. But, I knew there would be a difference when I pushed that magic disco button and disconnected my sway bar. 

There was another reason for all my excitement.  I was bringing my oldest son with me.  As children get older they tend to drift away from their parents. As a mom of a boy it's even more prevalent. I was looking forward to some mother son bonding time.

I pulled into the Rausch Creek Off Road Park and began to search out the group I was meeting.  My nervousness began to grow. This would be my first trail ride with the Blue Mountain Jeep Alliance. I meet a couple of their members at the Women's Wheeling Day, but this would be a whole different group of people. I'm not even sure what I was worried about -- These are Jeep people. Of course they would welcome me into their group with open arms. They were all so friendly and helpful. And of course welcomed me into their group with open arms. 

So it was time to get ready for the trails! Yikes!!! And time to see if I set those tire deflators properly. I twisted all four onto my tires and waited.  Once the hissing stopped I pulled them off and checked the PSI. Wow! I did it. They were all at about 15.

JT Brooks Tire Deflators Pro $99.95 

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.

Next came my favorite part -- Dropping her into 4 wheel low -- then time to push that magic disco button.  Ever since I drove a Rubicon at the Nemacolin Resort Jeep Driving Acadamy I had been itching to have my own. Now it's my turn to experience the joy. I pushed the button and watched the sway bar display light turn solid! 

Wait... It's still not time to hit the trails yet.  The group was going to give a quick little lesson on recovery. I thought, this is good. I need to know this stuff.  But guess what? All my great Jeep friends I've meet online -- they have taught me so well, I pretty much knew everything that was discussed. It made me feel pretty confidant. Not a newbie anymore. Ohhh kay well -- a Rubi Newbie out on the trails. 

So here we go.  Time to test her out and see what she can do  -- These pictures are from my Rubicon's dash -- and go check out my video on You Tube to hear the great sounds and see all the great sites.  

WOW! I was truly amazed at the performance of the Rubicon out on the trails compared to the Sahara.  I don't have the words to really explain it in technical terms.  In my mommy terms it was so smooth and powerful.  It was amazing the gripping power I felt behind the wheel. And the ease at which she rolled over the rocky terrain.

Now, don't get me wrong -- The Sahara is just as capable of rolling across those same trails.  It just seemed to me the Rubicon did it with more ease. Like if you had a stick of hard butter -- The Rubicon is like a hot knife smoothly, and with ease, slicing through that stick of butter. The Sahara is like a cold knife, and can still slice through the butter, but just not with as much ease. 

Also the creaky noises my Sahara made --- Well... the Rubicon didn't make those noises. Again -- the Sahara is more than capable, but just seems to need to use a little more effort to make it through some of the obstacles. 

Was it just the sway bars being disconnected?  Maybe -  I could have saved some money and just put some manual disconnects on the Sahara -- I guess.  But, I want to say it was more than that. Unless you've driven both on the trails, I don't know how else to explain it... Except it was freaking AMAZING! Maybe one of my technical Jeep friends can explain it better. But to me I could feel it -- smoother, more power, more grip.
It was an absolutely amazing day! I drove my New Rubicon over some rocks, through some muddy puddles and up and down trails in the Appalachian Mountains.  I met a group of great Jeep people with the Blue Mountain Jeep Alliance and and shared a yummy turkey dinner lunch. I'm thankful for being able to be a part of this group of great Jeepers. 

But 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!

                -- Simple Living! -- Enjoying Life! -The Jeep Momma Way --

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Jeep Adventure

 Women's Wheeling Day at Rausch Creek Off Road Park

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.

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

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

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 Trails: Green vs. Blue

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

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

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 adequately 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-roading excursions, 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

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

Barricade Off-Road Sliders  👉Buy Here

Barricade Trail Force HD Front Bumper 👉 Buy Here 

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.

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

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Step 3 

Now it was time to install the 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.

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. 

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!

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

Step 5

Lining up the bolts. 

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.

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. 

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.

Another new lesson working on my Jeep. 

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

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. 

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