My Very first off road trip I had little street tires, no armor, no recovery gear, and most importantly no knowledge of any of the mechanics that make a Jeep off-road-worthy. In the last 2 years I’ve learned more about automobiles than I did in the previous 30, and been putting it to good use. I also like sharing what I learned, and where I learned it from.
On that first trip I kept hearing the term “Disconnect” and finally asked someone what that meant. My first Jeep mechanics lesson was about the sway bar, how it stops body roll on the road which keep you stable at higher speeds, and how disconnecting it allows the axle to flex more and pivot independently of the body. Genius, unless you don’t have a 18MM deep well, and a Torx T-55 socket.
So that wheeling trip I spent connected, but I rushed out for the tools and next time I was ready. It only took me about 30 min in the hot Texas morning sun, laying on dirty ground, with rocks, and 3 bloody knuckles to break loose the bolts that had been holding that sway par in place since 2002. Then some zip ties to the front bumper to hold up the links and I was good. So much nicer a ride off road, not as much flying left to right over obstacles, great improvement.
When we got done the bolts proved more annoying to replace, taking about 45 min, a tree branch, several rocks, my tire jack and help from a girl. And by then it was almost 100 degrees in the steaming hot Texas afternoon sun. What a Pain. There has to be an easier way. According to the Jeep outfitters, sure there is – $150 replacement links. WOW! that’s a lot for 2 10″ bars that I’d be using half a dozen times a year.
So, I did what any good nerd would do – started searching the internet. I found a great tutorial to replace the bolts with $15 in hardware from your local Tractor supply store — Thanks 4×4 Explorer. I ran to the TSC literally a mile from the house got the parts and set to changing them out, you an also get them on Amazon. The Pin is a 1/8″ x 2″ Amazon has 10-packs for a couple bucks. For the washers I tried them on the bolt in the store to make sure they fit.
• 2 – 2-1/2″x7/16″ Clevis Pins (I bought 4 just in case)
• 2 – Cotter Pin (ditto – get extras)
• 4 – 7/16″ Grade 5 or better washers
I also got half a dozen 3/8 washers for spacers to make sure holes lines up
Here is how I attached them – Put in a secondary cotter pin for a failsafe
What prompted this write-up was last time I was wheeling – I pulled them out and wanted to be able to show that they really work. After over a year here is what they look like – a little worn, and the regular washers really took a beating. I def. recommend the Grade 5 washers, I’ll be picking them up soon. And I am going to go ahead and get some new hitch pins too, they are getting bent. The big washers were the ones that were on there already with the factory hardware. Could not find any fender washers that fit on the bolts. You can also see the regular bendable-type pin in here, I keep a dozen of those in a pill bottle along with some misc screws and things in the Jeep toolbox.
Here is a pic of the link zip tied up to the bumper. And proof that my girlfriend isn’t imaginary.
I still might get me some for the JKS – TJ disconnects, if $150 ever falls into my lap, or if I lift the jeep anymore, 3+ inches needs longer links anyway. For now, these are just fine.