Product review

Vexing vinyl 


I gave Smokey a much-needed bath late last week. During cleanup, I saw the extent to which my hood-side vinyl nameplate has deteriorated.

It’s a little frustrating, given that it’s less than four years old, and was purchased from what many consider to be the name in vinyl decals. And, about this being seven-year vinyl …

Plans for a replacement are in the works, but I must make time to touch up the graphic first.

Superwinch unveiled its new premium EXP winch models at SEMA last year, but in all honesty, I missed it. That’s a tragedy, too, because the interwebs are mum on much detail (including pricing, which I’m betting hasn’t been set, though I’d expect a Warn Zeon-level cost) about this cool new winch. Superwinch, though, recently shared a video by FourWheeler on their Facebook page highlighting its ground-breaking features. Check it out!

Product comparison: Jeep JK vented hoods

A decade into its product life cycle, there are near-limitless ways to customize a Jeep Wrangler JK. Among the most popular is the vented hood. This is more than an individual style statement; it helps keep temperatures down on the trail, when lower speeds negate some of the radiator’s cooling effects. Some owners, myself included, have opted to add louvered panels to their hoods. There are many companies producing those panels, and we’ll reserve consideration of them for a later post. There also are plenty of non-vented hoods on the market, but that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

Today, we’ll take in a healthy dose of the aftermarket hoods themselves. As popularized by American Expedition Vehicles’ benchmark design, these hoods add tons of style and much-needed functionality to the Jeep’s engine compartment. As with so many aftermarket automotive products, you generally get what you pay for, and a manufacturer’s reticence to disclose some information can hide a potential area for concern. Let the buyer (always) beware. Here’s a quick comparison of many available options. Click the manufacturer’s name to link to the company’s relevant product page.

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AEVAmerican Expedition Vehicles

MSRP: $875

Weight: 57 lbs. (shipping weight)

Material: 23-guage stamped steel

Finish: E-coated primer

No. of vents: 3

Vented location(s): Above engine-radiator gap, sides behind hood latches

Place of manufacture: USA

Worth noting: AEV’s design incorporates a built-in access point for the company’s snorkel, which means a no-drill installation of that product. Mesh vents come standard in a black powdercoated finish; silver versions are available. Produces similar hood for Moab-edition JKs; some suppliers also claim AEV produces Mopar’s 10th Anniversary-edition hoods under a subsidiary contract for Fiat Chrysler.

 

 

Carbon AEV CloneCarbon Creations DriTech Heat-Reduction hood

MSRP: $1,299

Weight: 25 lbs. (shipping weight)

Material: Carbon fiber

Finish: 2×2 twill weave CF

No. of vents: 3

Vented location(s): Above engine-radiator gap, sides behind hood latches

Place of manufacture: N/A

Worth noting: How do you out-bling an AEV hood? An AEV-lookalike hood in carbon fiber, that’s how.

 

Cliffride VentedCliffride Lucerne vented hood

MSRP: $999

Weight: 48 lbs.

Material: Fiberglass

Finish: Unpainted

No. of vents: 2

Vented location(s): Above engine-radiator gap

Place of manufacture: N/A (Company headquartered in California)

Worth noting: Also available without vents for $950 MSRP. Company has 20 years of manufacturing experience and boasts as its owner Tony Quezada, founder of Volant Cold-Air Intakes.

 

 

Extreme Dimensions AEV CopyDuraflex Heat-Reduction hood

MSRP: $449

Weight: 57 lbs. (shipping weight)

Material: Fiberglass-reinforced plastic

Finish: “Signature black”

No. of vents: 3

Vented location(s): Above engine-radiator gap, sides behind hood latches

Place of manufacture: USA

Worth noting: Your inexpensive copy of AEV’s hood is here. Company notes “hood pins are required.”

 

ED ABRDuraflex ABR hood

MSRP: $699

Weight: N/A

Material: Fiberglass-reinforced plastic

Finish: “Signature black”

No. of vents: 2

Vented location(s): Above main engine belt

Place of manufacture: N/A

Worth noting: See also, DV8 Jeep JK hood. (And, check out that off-center washer nozzle!) Company notes “hood pins are required.”

 

DV8 Off-RoadDV8 Jeep JK Hood

MSRP: $1,088.03

Weight: N/A

Material: Fiberglass

Finish: Unpainted

No. of vents: 2

Vented location(s): Above main engine belt

Place of manufacture: N/A

Worth noting: Fiberglass hood may require sanding and final finishing prior to paint application.

 

DV8 10ADV8 10th Anniversary Hood

MSRP: $560

Weight: 35 lbs.

Material: N/A

Finish: “Comes ready to paint”

No. of vents: 2

Vented location(s): Above engine-radiator gap

Place of manufacture: N/A

Worth noting: One of a number of manufacturers offering copies of Mopar’s popular 10th Anniversary Edition hoods.

 

DV8 HeatDV8 Off-Road Heat Hood

MSRP: $560

Weight: 60 lbs.

Material: “Made with metal”

Finish: “Comes as pictured”

No. of vents: 8

Vented location(s): In power dome above longitudinal engine axis, in front of windshield cowl

Place of manufacture: N/A

Worth noting: Currently shows “sold out” on website.

 

Mopar 10AMopar 10th Anniversary/Hard Rock Edition hood

MSRP: $873

Weight: 40 lbs.

Material: Stamped steel

Finish: Primer

No. of vents: 2

Vented location(s): Above engine-radiator gap

Place of manufacture: USA

Worth noting: After debuting on the 10th Anniversary-edition Rubicons, this hood has made its way to current Rubicon Hard Rock JKs. Only available with dual washer nozzle openings. Early JKs with a single nozzle, like Smokey, will require the AEV Dual Nozzle Kit or a similar home-brew approach.

 

RK Sport ExtractorRK Sport Extractor hood

MSRP: $799.64 to $1,995.95

Weight: N/A

Material: Fiberglass

Finish: Hand-finished grey gelcoat

No. of vents: 8

Vented location(s): Above engine

Place of manufacture: USA

Worth noting: Design focuses on hot-air egress, rather than introducing cooler air to the engine bay. Available in several configurations, including carbon fiber.

 

RK Sport Ram AirRK Sport Ram Air hood

MSRP: $762.25 to $1,895.95

Weight: N/A

Material: Fiberglass

Finish: Hand-finished grey gelcoat

No. of vents: 3

Vented location(s): Leading edge (ram intake forces air into engine bay above airbox area)

Place of manufacture: USA

Worth noting: Available in several configurations, including some with carbon-fiber blister.

 

 

Rugged RidgeRugged Ridge Performance Vented Hood

MSRP: $1,220.99

Weight: 75 lbs. (shipping weight)

Material: Stamped steel

Finish: Primer

No. of vents: 8

Vented location(s): Above engine-radiator gap, in front of cowls

Place of manufacture: Taiwan

Worth noting: Optional vent appearances available for hood-top square vents; 5-year limited warranty

 

Safaripal AggressiveSafaripal Aggressive hood

MSRP: $2,000 (“Save $1,000”)

Weight: N/A

Material: N/A

Finish: N/A

No. of vents: 7

Vented location(s): Engine-radiator gap, in front of windshield cowls

Drilling required: No

Place of manufacture: N/A

Worth noting: Dr. Frankenstein, your hood is ready. “Instruction (sic) not included, professional installation is highly recommended.”

 

Safaripal RevengeSafaripal Revenge

MSRP: $720 (“Save $260”)

Weight: N/A

Material: N/A

Finish: E-coated primer

No. of vents: 8

Vented location(s): In power dome above longitudinal engine axis, in front of windshield cowl

Drilling required: No

Place of manufacture: N/A

Worth noting: Safaripal’s hoods all claim you’re saving X amount, but compared to what? DV8’s comparable hood is $560. “Instruction (sic) not included, professional installation is highly recommended.”

 

Safaripal SRT-8Safaripal SRT8 Performance hood

MSRP: $650 (“Save $70”)

Weight: N/A

Material: Stamped steel

Finish: E-coated primer

No. of vents: 8

Vented location(s): Above engine-radiator gap, in front of cowls

Drilling required: No

Place of manufacture: N/A

Worth noting: What, you thought overseas brands only copied U.S. products? Company claims versions for single- and dual-washer nozzle JKs, but no selection opportunity is provided on website.

 

Smitty SRC StingraySmittybilt SRC Stingray vented hood

MSRP: $549.99

Weight: N/A

Material: 0.8 mm steel

Finish: 0.2 mm E-coat primer

No. of vents: 2

Vented location(s): Above engine-radiator gap

Drilling required: No

Place of manufacture: China

Worth noting: The latest 10A hood clone. Includes washer nozzles and under-hood foam insulation. (By the way, did you check out the URL?)

 

TOTLTOTL Innovations Heat-Expulsion hood

MSRP: $950, plus $180 shipping

Weight: 26 lbs.

Material: Fiberglass

Finish: N/A

No. of vents: 8

Vented location(s): In power dome above longitudinal engine axis, in front of windshield cowl

Drilling required: No

Place of manufacture: USA

Worth noting: By now, you’ve seen this design a few times in this list. As far as we can tell, though, this domestic company is the originator of the design. Compatible with Avenger supercharger units.

 

NOTE: STJ is not affiliated with, nor do we receive any compensation from any of these companies. Some of the options listed are lesser-known brands. Do your due diligence before shopping at any online retailer; this listing is not to be construed as an endorsement of any product or manufacturer listed above.

 

More JK Wrangler aftermarket products:

YouTube user TrailRecon has a great video comparing different methods of airing up your tires after a trail run. Check it out, and please share your thoughts below!

I’m currently using a Harbor Freight single portable compressor, but my plans include a dual-ARB compressor and air tank. That said, that CO2 tank sure looks impressive!

Sometimes, the best upgrades are the ones you don’t see

After replacing my factory rear brake pads and rotors in October, I finally got around to completing the set with Teraflexs  Front Performance Big Rotor kit. The big-rotor kit increases the diameter of the Jeep’s rotor to more than 13 inches, with increases the leverage used by the factory-sized pads to slow the vehicle. (NOTE: Due to the larger size of the rotor, you must be running 17-inch or larger wheels with this kit.) The rotors are available in a traditional smooth or slotted configuration. As with the rears, I again chose Hawk Performance LTS semi-metallic pads.

Materials/tools needed:

  • Teraflex Front Performance Big Rotor Kit  (Part No. 4303480)
  • Hawk Performance LTS (Part No. HB569Y.650)
  • Lug wrench
  • Lug nut adapter, if necessary
  • Vehicle jack
  • Jack stands (2)
  • Wheel chocks (3)
  • Caliper slide grease
  • Ratchet handle
  • Torque wrench
  • 1/2-inch socket
  • 15 mm end wrench (as you’ll see below, I required a 19/32″ end wrench)
  • 21 mm wrench or socket
  • Brake cleaner
  • Breaker bar (optional)
  • Shop towels (recommended)

 

Step 1: Remove caliper & bracket bolts

img_0230Remove the caliper slide bolts using the 1/2-inch  socket while holding a 15 mm on the slide-pin nut. Now, here is where I ran into my only real issue. My Craftsman 15 mm wrench did not fit the slide-pin nut, even though Jeep’s specs say it is a 15 mm. An old 19/32″ (15.08 mm, if you’re mathematically challenged) wrench worked just right! Remove the slide pins by pulling them straight back and set aside for reuse in the Teraflex brackets. Save the retaining clips for transfer to the Teraflex caliper bracket. Lift the caliper out of the way and discard the old brake pads. Suspend or support the caliper to avoid damaging the flexible brake lines. Next, use a 21 mm socket to loosen and remove the caliper bracket. Save all the hardware for reassembly.

Step 2: Remove & replace rotor

Pull the rotor away from the vehicle, and set aside. In my case, the generous ring of rust around the wheel hub kept the rotors from budging, and I had to, er, persuade them with a rubber mallet. Mount the new Teraflex rotor over the studs, rotating it (the rotor is drilled for both 5-on-5 and 5-on-5.5 bolt patterns) to determine the correct holes. Avoid touching the rotor’s flat surface to prevent transfer of grease from your hands to the rotor’s surface. Reinstall one of the lug nuts onto a lower stud to hold the rotor in an upright position to ease caliper re-installation.

 Step 3: Install pads, caliper bracket & slide pins

Step 4: Reinstall wheels & tires

With the new pads and rotors in place and properly torqued to spec, reinstall both wheels and tires, doing a final tighten to 105 to 110 lb.-ft. Turn the ignition to accessory, then gently pump the brakes several times to establish proper pressure.

Step 5: Break-in

After making sure I’d not transferred any grease to my rotors and cleaning up any excess grease I found, I followed Hawk Performance’s suggested break-in procedure for the new pads. It called for six to 10 stops from 30 to 35 mph at moderate pressure, followed by a few stops from 40 to 45 mph at moderate pressure.

That’s it, you’re done; now, go have some pizza and ice cream with your Jeeping friends!

bso-bubbas

First impressions

I wish now I’d done some 60-0 panic-braking tests before doing my rear rotors so I’d have some quantifiable data to share. Suffice it to say the difference having both front and rear rotors larger than stock is instantly noticeable! I didn’t lack confidence in my brake performance before, but the performance of my brakes now puts the stock system to absolute shame. I’d venture to say once you upgrade your rotors, you’ll be wondering why Jeeps don’t come this way from the factory. (Incidentally, I’m told European models do include larger-diameter rotors, though I’ve not researched this to confirm it.)

Total time to complete

About 2 hours, working very slowly. This is easily a 45-minute job with proper tools and in the right environment.

Total project cost

$359 ($282 rotor kit, $77 pads)