Jeep Grand Cherokee 2014-16 (WK2) Off Road Solutions

bimaljose
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Have a WK2 or considering owning one of these stunning 4x4's but concerned about how far off the road you can go with it without damaging the car and draining your pocket with costly repairs? This thread is dedicated for you!

I love the WK2 for what it is and despite the advantages of the legendary Wranglers, I firmly believe with the right precautions we can go the distance, safely. In pursuit of honing the machine, first step was to identify it's weak points (strictly in off road terms). Jeep's design considerations for the WK2 is naturally inclined pro-road because most of its owners use their vehicles on road 90% of the time and also to distinguish n keep up the sale of Wranglers coming from the same stable. In real world terms although it is easy to make a purely road going car; it would be nearly impractical to build something that's purely off-road as we would not be able to make full use of it in our daily lives and the small market size will not make it feasible for the manufacturer. So let's forgive Jeep and concentrate on what can be done to make our WK2 truly capable of what it is supposed to do.

Common Challenges:
1. Lower front Bumpers resulting in reduced approach angle!
Jeep's solution: Prior to off-road driving, remove the front air dam to prevent damage. The front air dam is attached to the lower front fascia with seven quarter turn fasteners and can be removed by hand. The front license plate bracket must be removed first if equipped. Refer image '1 WK2 Front Air Dam removal'. Number 1 is the bumper and 2 is the air dam.
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2. When we follow the above solution, it exposes a whole lot of vulnerable parts like lower portion of radiator, windshield washer bottle, ACC Camera (if equipped) and air compressor (Quadra-Lift® adjustable air suspension vehicles) that can be easily damaged with the slightest hit!

Solutions: While the obvious solution is to replace factory bumper with a custom designed metal one by a recognized make that protects and covers everything in the front; it is expensive and not advisable for several reasons including safety, aesthetics and issues with vehicle passing & registration.

Other options: Jeep Grand Cherokee Front Skid Plate - Pre-runner style by Rocky Road Outfitters. Refer image '2. WK2-front-pre-runner style skidplate'.
Image

Installation of this kit requires removal of the front lower plastic fascia permanently and use of their front winch mount kit which puts the cost at nearly 500US$ without shipping and installation. As their website says, some will like its look and some may not like. Unfortunately this pre-runner skid plate lacks many necessary features like protection for the windshield washer bottle, air suspension controller, ACC Camera compatibility etc. This led my research on to other makes and some of them don't deserve mention due to their poor design or requirement to drill holes on vital parts for installation. Finally I came across a small but unique manufacturer in Australia that purely focuses on building elements for the WK2's that Jeep missed out in order to make them go where they belong. This much awaited Lower Front Guard is now in the UAE. Its is a MUST-HAVE protection for the Grand Cherokee if you plan to go off-road. In addition to complete protection; it allows you to put the air dam back on over the LFG, giving stock looks for your Grand Cherokee. See the product in action:
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3. OEM Plastic Belly Pan/Sump Protection plate in the front underside that is designed to break on first hit! Refer images to see what it is, how it will look once you hit the trail and what it protects:
ImageImage

Why does Jeep make such flimsy parts on this car? Well, while some might argue these are made so to make money on replacements; I guess it is part of the design consideration for on-road performance as plastic makes it lighter and it's design covering the whole underside portion without vents improves aerodynamics and helps reduce road noise. Well, it does not serve our purpose here.

Solution: WK2 Sump Protection Plates by Chief Products Australia.
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These come in Standard 3mm or Heavy Duty 5mm made from strong 350 Grade Steel and features a rolled front lip design that provides maximum protection while still allowing easy removal/attachment of the front air dam. It includes high tensile bolts, Nord-Lock washers and Chief Products innovative Bolt Head Protector washers. The 4 slots aid in cooling while also providing increased drainage for sand and mud from the top side of the plate. They are especially helpful when cleaning the underside of the vehicle after an off-road adventure. I have ordered 2 units; one for testing by Jeep Showroom and the other will be installed at Almost Garage next week. Will have first hand feedback once fitted.

Feedback on Chief Products WK2 Sump Protection Plate:

The plate arrived well packaged and complete with links to simple installation instructions and a shop rag! Installation at Almost Garage was smooth; removing OEM Plastic and fixing the 3mm black powder coated steel plate finished in under 20 minutes. With the vehicle lifted, it was easy to fix the plate without removing Air Dam and the back of the WK2 Sump Protection Plate bolted nicely on top of Mopar Front Skid Plate that was installed on first service. Below are the images of the product fitted on my vehicle and what impressed me is that these pictures were taken a few days after my desert adventure.
ImageImageImage

It just gives so much confidence to see that the plate not only did its job well but has maintained its aesthetics despite being thrashed in the sand and bush. This definitely is one 'must-have' armor for the WK2 as from experience; it certainly helped getting one step further into the outdoors with peace of mind in my 2014 Grand Cherokee..


More on essential Skid plates, Nudge Bars, Rock Rails and Lift Kits for the WK2 to follow..
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Green Giant
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Bimal, good article. I have a 2011 WK2 V8 Hemi and was the first Almoster to hit the dunes with it - it was closely inspected by Chief Marshall Caprihorse when I turned up for my CM drive in it; he pretty much told me it would break quickly and spectacularly! I survived the CM drive and did 2 further Newbie drives with it. It was after the third drive that I decided to retire her from Desert Driving, not because of lack of capability, but concern that the fragile underside and plethora of electronics and exposed parts (as you identify above) would soon break, spectacularly. I did develop an issue with sand filled drive shaft joints which sounded awful, as well as broken standard plastic sump protectors. I went out and bought the Green Giant soon after and have not looked back since. That said, my WK2 has just turned 3 and I fully intend to explore the aftermarket mods arena in a couple of years time, once out of warranty! I really like the look of the sump skid plate by Chief Products - are you aware that MOPAR do a 7 piece steel skid plate set which (I think) is a factory fit option in the US? I look forward to reading your next installment. :grin:
bimaljose
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Dear Jeremy,

Thank you for the feedback. As regards Mopar skid plates, even in the US I could only find 3 types for the standard WK2's and all of them are sold under Lifestyle & Off-Road Accessories category: 82211995 - Front Axle Slid Plate, 82211994AB Transfer Case Skid Plate (protects Transfer case and tubing bundle) and 82211999 Fuel Tank Skid Plate. Transfer Case and Fuel Tank Skid plates come in 2 plate kits. I got the first 2 installed at my 1,000km service.

I was lucky to receive the Chief Products Sump Plate on Thursday evening and have it fixed at Almost Garage in time for Friday's Club Member drive. I made a couple of small judgment errors in my WK2's 3rd outing in the sand (first official drive with the club) but thankfully came home in one piece. Thanks to the new Chief Sump Protection plate taking its position, the OEM plastic part is safe under my son's bed:) Despite experienced off-roaders telling me that skid plates are meant for the rock and not the sand (which is true to a great extend); I feel more confident to be equipped.

Thanks a lot for bringing up the issue of 'sand filled drive shaft joints' and I heard a similar remark from the Marshall on Friday referring as a common problem for vehicles without fixed axles. Will do my research on that and add to the thread on what can be done about it for the WK2. We are in it to make the GC perform the way it should and I would love to meet up with you to chat over a coffee anytime you please.

Cheers, Bimal 050-3849209















Andre
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Safety-Hammer;40560 wrote:Any ideas where to get a lift kit for WK2? cant find at arb
Import from US or Ausi. or check this one: http://www.quadratec.com/cart/cart.php? ... x=104&y=20

Or contact @bimaljose he might help you for the shipment.
bimaljose
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Hi Safety Hammer,

I can help you import the kit from AU or US based on your choice. You can either deal direct with the manufacturer and provide us the shipping weight n dimensions to get you a competitive freight cost or we can get you a total price for product and delivery. Global Sourcing and Logistics is the primary business of the company I work for and we have great shipping rates thanks to the volumes we ship by air globally for various embassies and governments. I've been getting many enquiries for WK2 lift kits in recent times and am in talks with industry specialists who can install the kits to provide a comprehensive solution.

We now carry amazing WK2 accessories made by Chief Products http://www.chiefproducts.com.au/collections/all in stock in Dubai. These can be installed at Almost Garage in less than 30 minutes.

Cheers,
Jose
larkin
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Hi Guys,


While this thread is dedicated to the WK2, I wanted to know if the same principle applies to the the old WJ ?


One of my friend has a 2002 4.7L V8 WJ and has been driving in the dunes occasionally. Recently after a trip when he got stuck on a slide slope near fossil rock, the next day while driving on the road he found his WJ was making a low sound ( like a motorbike ), he ignored it and then after few days the sound got louder. It was was coming from the rear, and it was like a roaring sound each time he pressed the accelerator.


So he took it to the garage and after 1 week of tests they found the issue was with his rear differential where some grinding occurred and now he has to shell out around 3500 to fix various things inside it, and he has to wait for another week to get this fixed as they told him it is a delicate job.


My Question is , would this kind of an issue occur because of a usual wear and tear of parts given the age of the WJ or is it attributed to desert driving or the way he drives in the desert ?


Just a note:- he has lifted his WJ by 1.5 inch ( oldmanemu and has also put spacers for his wheels and is having Yokohoma Geolander A/T Tires). He usually enjoys the power of his vehicle and mostly drifts downwards the slopes when he drives.
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caprihorse
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larkin;40916 wrote:Hi Guys,


While this thread is dedicated to the WK2, I wanted to know if the same principle applies to the the old WJ ?


One of my friend has a 2002 4.7L V8 WJ and has been driving in the dunes occasionally. Recently after a trip when he got stuck on a slide slope near fossil rock, the next day while driving on the road he found his WJ was making a low sound ( like a motorbike ), he ignored it and then after few days the sound got louder. It was was coming from the rear, and it was like a roaring sound each time he pressed the accelerator.


So he took it to the garage and after 1 week of tests they found the issue was with his rear differential where some grinding occurred and now he has to shell out around 3500 to fix various things inside it, and he has to wait for another week to get this fixed as they told him it is a delicate job.


My Question is , would this kind of an issue occur because of a usual wear and tear of parts given the age of the WJ or is it attributed to desert driving or the way he drives in the desert ?


Just a note:- he has lifted his WJ by 1.5 inch ( oldmanemu and has also put spacers for his wheels and is having Yokohoma Geolander A/T Tires). He usually enjoys the power of his vehicle and mostly drifts downwards the slopes when he drives.
Very funny, I would like to understand, how the sound of motorbike relates to any differential. I wouldn't believe this garage any single statement and go to another garage for the second opinion.
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