Time for a little fall maintenance

Time for a little fall maintenance

I’d been putting off some routine maintenance on the Wrangler for a few weeks now. I needed an oil change a new air filter and probably a tire rotation too for good measure, but I’d been putting it off.

I didn’t want to spend the money to take it to the dealer, and I didn’t want to spend the time to do it myself. Then last week I was forced to make time.

Last Wednesday, I discovered my left tie-rod end had blown up. Well, that might be a little dramatic. It hadn’t blown up so much as the grease boot that keeps the joint clean and lubricated had ruptured.

Grit filled grease and road debris filled the joint; not good. I could have replaced the worn boot and filled the tie-rod with fresh grease, but not knowing when it had ruptured, I played it safe and swapped the whole thing. I’d just have to take the front end apart to get to it after all.

This was my second time in just over a year replacing the same tie-rod. Last summer I ripped the boot on a rock somewhere in the Iron Range.

Last year I did a number on my steering components during a visit to the Iron Range off-road park in Gilbert, Minn.

I could have installed another cheap tie-rod from the auto-parts store, but instead, I decided to go with something with a better backing. For about $40 I picked up a Moog tie-rod end


At least this time I knew what I was doing, and I had some help.

Despite warning Niecie, that it might take me three hours to get the relatively simple job done, she agreed to help. Just hour, later we were packing up the tools.

Gone was the more annoying of my suspension clunks. Now I just need to get that bent lower-control-arm mount fixed, but that will have to wait.

Getting lubricated


Regular maintenance will keep your engine running healthy and happy. Don’t like oil changes? I recommend a DIY synthetic oil change.

Having stitched up the steering components yet again, we called it a day.

The next morning, I turned my attention to less glamorous tasks on my to-do list, namely the oil change I’d been putting off for the last 500-some miles and a fresh air filter.

I won’t go into every detail of the rather mundane task of changing my oil, but five and a half quarts of 5W-20 Pennzoil Platinum full-synthetic motor oil

and a fresh Mopar oil filter

later and the hard part was over.

Getting some fresh air

Next, I pulled out my year old air filter from the intake. After roughly 20,000 miles I’d expected it to be in worse shape, but apart from a thick coat of dust and a fair number of trapped leaves and bugs, it wasn’t too bad. With a good-enough shake, I could have probably eked out another 10,000 miles.

Instead, I dropped in my pricy new K&N air filter

. Big claims of added horsepower aside circled in my mind, as I closed up my air-box. but my reason for buying it had nothing to do with performance and everything to do with service life.

K&N filters are reusable. They can be washed and re-oiled over and over again. K&N claims that the filter only needs to be cleaned every 50,000 miles, but I think that’s pretty optimistic. Still, if this filter can last me another 60,000 miles, it’ll pay for itself.

K&N warning sticker

Unlike paper air filters, K&N’s oiled cotton air filters are reusable. Every 30,000-50,000 miles the filter just needs to be washed and reoiled.

As for those other claims of improved performance and fuel economy, I’ve yet to see any proof. Many in the automotive community say it’s snake oil, so, this could be the last K&N I buy.

After about a week, I’ve registered no more power in my butt-dyno, but I’ve experienced a modest increase in fuel economy. Over the last five days and 100 miles, (roughly 70 percent city and 30 percent highway driving) I’ve been averaging about 17.5 MPG. That’s a 1.5 MPG improvement over the old dirty filter.

Does this mean the K&N filter is worth it? Not really, all it tells me is either the old filter was particularly restrictive or dirtier than it looked.

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