Changing Engine Oil
While you might be surprised to see a task as basic as an oil change included in this list, you’d be equally (if not more) surprised to learn just how inattentive people are to this vital task and its importance. So, for the benefit of the uninformed, your Jeep’s engine (as with any) consists of a large number of moving metal components, working in unison or sequence. As with any metal machinery, these components require lubrication in order to minimize friction, control running temperature, and combat contaminants.
Engine oil provides that necessary lubrication, keeping the pistons and crankshaft moving smoothly without causing wear or overheating. However, engine oil does not last forever and must be changed regularly. As oil undergoes heat cycles, warming up and cooling down along with the engine, it begins to lose its protective properties as the additives separate and the base oil itself breaks down. The oil filter that captures dirt and metal particles will also become clogged over time, and if you wait too long, the filter itself may start to deteriorate. This is why it is vitally important to follow your factory oil change schedule.
That said, every vehicle has different mileage and duration requirements for oil changes. It’s important to understand your vehicle’s needs (which can be found in the owner’s manual if you’re unsure). Recent Jeep models will include an oil life computer that calculates your exact remaining oil life based on your driving style and engine condition. When an oil change is needed, an alert will appear in your instrument cluster. However, you should never go more than 10,000 miles or one year without changing your oil. It’s important to reiterate a very important rule of Jeep ownership which will apply to all elements of care and maintenance: the harder you drive it, the more diligent you’ll need to be.
Coolant Maintenance (Flush / Change)
Keeping your engine coolant fresh and topped off is critical. Why? Because overheating can destroy any engine, causing engine heads to warp, head gaskets to blow, and hoses to burst. Fortunately, checking coolant levels is easy - simply look under the hood and find the coolant reservoir. If the coolant level is between the MIN and MAX lines, then you are good to go. If it has fallen below the MIN line, you can simply add more coolant once the engine has cooled off (opening the coolant reservoir on a hot engine is extremely dangerous). If you find that your car is losing coolant and needs to be topped off regularly, it may indicate a leak has developed in the cooling system and could be a sign of impending larger issues.
In older cars, a coolant flush is also a necessary form of maintenance. While modern engine coolant can last tens of thousands of miles, the antifreeze mixed into the coolant will slowly turn acidic and begin to eat away at your engine, water pump, radiator, and hoses from the inside. Not getting a scheduled coolant flush can result in hundreds of dollars of avoidable repairs. In recent Jeep models, you can expect the factory engine coolant to last for 100,000 miles or ten years. After the coolant has been replaced for the first time, you should change it every 50,000 miles or five years as it is no longer a sealed system. Of course, the exact schedule should be determined by consulting your owner’s manual.
Transmission & Transfer Case Fluid
Although less demanding (in terms of frequency) than engine oil, transmission fluids must be changed regularly, whether you drive a manual or automatic transmission. If you drive a manual Jeep Wrangler and often engage in serious off-roading or heavy towing, you should change your transmission fluid as often as every 30,000 miles or three years. However, an automatic transmission model that only sees light road use can last well over 100,000 miles on the factory transmission fluid. As always, check your owner’s manual or consult with our technicians to determine how often you should change the transmission fluid on your Jeep.
It’s also important to understand the unique demands of servicing each kind of transmission. While a basic transmission fluid change isn’t that difficult, a proper flush of the system requires experience and the right tools to perform properly. In addition, use of the type of fluid specified by the automaker can be crucial to the longevity of the transmission. This is where a trusted partner like The Faricy Boys can prove most valuable. Our specialty is ensuring that you get all the enjoyment out of your Jeep ownership without any of the hassle.
Another area of service which requires equal discretion is that of the transfer case. A recent Jeep Wrangler that sees heavy towing is recommended to have its transfer case fluid changed every 60,000 miles or six years, but as always, the exact schedule will depend on your vehicle and driving style. As with the transmission, there is a wide array of fluids available - not just in terms of brand, but in terms of viscosity and overall suitability. There are also differences in terms of older transfer cases, compared to their updated counterparts. This is where knowledge and experience can be helpful.
Differential & Axle Fluid
Off-roaders know better than most the strain that they place upon their Jeep’s axles. As such it’s crucial that they remain properly lubricated, and that the proper fluids are used based on the individual requirement of the model, year (and taking into consideration any aftermarket modifications made). Paying close attention to the life of your front and rear axle fluid is particularly critical if you have a Jeep equipped with anti-spin or locking differentials. The more complex gearing in these axles needs to be properly cared for to keep your Jeep running smoothly on the trail. With heavy off-road use, the front and rear axle fluid on a recent model year Wrangler should be changed as often as every 40,000 miles or four years.
Another maintenance task that becomes emphasized when the vehicle is used for off-roading pertains to the wide range of filters found in your Jeep. From fuel to air to cabin, filters play a crucial role in preventing contaminants from damaging your vehicle, reducing its efficiency or making the cabin experience less safe and/or enjoyable. And while the air filter can be easily accessed and replaced, even by the most inexperienced of owners, others might prove more challenging. Either way, it’s imperative that none go ignored, or forgotten.
Your engine air filter is by far the most critical filter to regularly check and replace. If this filter becomes clogged, it will restrict the airflow going into your engine, reducing power and performance. While the standard engine air filter replacement interval is around three years or 30,000 miles, off-roading in dusty conditions can clog an air filter in a fraction of that time. Cabin air filters are a less critical item as they simply act to keep the air inside the cabin fresh - but failing to replace them regularly can result in bad smells inside your vehicle.
Tire Rotation & Balancing
Arguably the most important distinction between traditional vehicles and upsized ones (especially ones used for off-roading) comes in the importance of tire maintenance. Tire grab is crucial, and the expectation of heavy-wear on a four-wheel drive vehicle emphasizes the need for even wear. And remember: if you carry a full-size spare, be sure to integrate that tire into the rotation cycle! Many people started to drive vehicles at a time where tires were rotated every other oil change. With longer oil change intervals, and larger tires, rotate them every 6,000 miles. Failing to properly rotate tires will result in uneven wear, reducing tire life, and putting excessive stress on 4x4 drive trains.
Tire balancing is another vital element to keeping your Jeep driving smoothly. If a tire is out of balance, it will create harsh vibrations at higher speeds, resulting in an uncomfortable ride and pounding on your vehicle’s suspension. Properly balancing a tire requires advanced tools, so if you detect any vibrations starting around 60 mph, come visit us and get your tire balance checked out. A tire is balanced by attaching small weights to the wheel, and serious off-roading runs the risk of knocking these weights off, so off-roaders should always pay particularly close attention to tire balance.
Brake Pads and Rotors
Whether you’re a rock crawler or simply trying to keep your family safe, let us never underestimate the importance of brake maintenance. All modern Jeeps use four-wheel disc brakes, which provide reliable stopping power for tens of thousands of miles with minimal maintenance. However, they still need to be regularly checked and replaced when any noises or vibrations are detected.
The most common form of brake maintenance is replacing the pads. These line the insides of the brake calipers, gripping the brake rotors to bring the vehicle to a stop. The pads should be inspected annually, and replaced when the pad surface drops below ¼ inch in thickness. Most brakes include a safety feature that will cause them to begin making a loud screeching sound when the pad thickness becomes dangerously low. If you hear any metallic sounds when hitting the brakes, it is time to get them checked.
However, the pads are not the only brake maintenance item. The rotors themselves will also need to be replaced occasionally on higher-mileage vehicles. Sustained heavy braking will cause the rotors to heat up to extreme temperatures of over 400 degrees, and this can cause the iron rotors to begin to warp. A warped rotor is not immediately dangerous, but it is extremely noticeable from the vibrations you will feel when braking.
Suspension and Alignment
It is rare for suspension components to fail outright, as Jeeps are designed to withstand even the harshest terrains and driving conditions. However, the suspension on your vehicle should be inspected regularly to make sure it is performing properly and all the rubber parts are intact. The most important parts of the suspension to check are the shocks and struts, which often need to be replaced around 100,000 miles to ensure optimal performance. If your Jeep feel excessively bouncy when you drive over a bump, it is a sure sign that the shocks or struts need to be replaced.
You should also make sure to have the rubber CV boots on your axles inspected for cracks or tears every 10,000 miles. This is particularly important when off-roading, as debris and obstacles can damage the rubber. A torn CV boot will leak grease and allow dirt to get into the mechanical linkages. If not caught soon enough, the result of this cheap part being damaged can be an expensive repair, so be sure to check them regularly.
Finally, it is important to have your vehicle’s alignment checked regularly. Any harsh impacts to the wheels and suspension can knock your Jeep out of alignment, and it is better to catch this problem early than to wait until the effects of a misalignment become obvious. Wait too long, and a bad alignment can put excessive wear on your tires or compromise the handling of your vehicle, causing it to drift on the road. To check an alignment, our service team uses sophisticated equipment that can measure the alignment down to fractions of a degree. This allows us to perfectly restore your Jeep to factory specifications.