Jeep

Up close: Daystar A-pillar switch panel

One of the frustrating questions I found difficult to answer in choosing an A-pillar switch panel was “Will it match my factory trim?”

Online answers varied, and no one posted a clear comparison photo.

Upon receiving the piece, I can say the pattern is a close, but not exact match. Jeep’s factory trim features a little randomized texture, presumably to hide scratches and wear. The color, however, is a perfect match. The Daystar panel has a softer, more rubbery feel than the OEM part, but one has to touch it to tell the difference.

Hopefully, this simple post will be useful to someone in the same boat I was in prior to purchasing it.

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Bringing it all together: Installing S-Tech’s four-switch accessory-control system

This upgrade has been a long time coming. While it poses yet another delay in my lift plans, I simply couldn’t stand seeing the rat’s nest — and potential fire risk — growing atop my battery.

I needed an affordable way to safely and attractively consolidate my accessory wiring. S-Tech’s four-switch power-control system fits the bill. Choosing the smaller four-switch unit over its six-switch cousin allows me to control cost for now and, when I’m ready to add more accessories, a second four-switch panel can take the load of the additional accessories.

I did face a roadblock in that this system is designed to mount at the windshield header, right where my Tuffy Overhead Console attaches. By moving S-Tech’s switches to a Daystar A-pillar panel, I was able to easily get around this problem at less than $25 of added cost.

Materials/tools needed:

  • S-Tech four-switch power distribution system
  • Daystar 07-10 Jeep JK A-Pillar Switch Pod
  • OTRATTW Carling Contura XIV rockers
  • Dremel with cut-off wheel
  • Bracket washers (not included with S-Tech kit)
  • Razor knife
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • 7/16″ socket and ratchet handle
  • 7/16″ open-ended wrench
  • 10 mm socket
  • 12 mm socket
  • Wiring crimper
  • Heat gun or lighter

S-Tech four-switch system specifications

  • Fuse/circuit-breaker rating: None included, 60-amp recommendedS-Tech 4-Switch
  • Relays: Four at 30 amps
  • Power connection: Ignition-switched or constant from battery
  • Mounting point: Windshield header
  • No. of switches: Four
  • Max. accessories: Four
  • Available gauges: No
  • Mobile app/Bluetooth: No
  • Main power line length: About six feet
  • Over-temp protection: Yes
  • Over-current protection: N/A
  • Low-voltage cutoff: N/A
  • Switch legends: Available
  • Illuminated switches: Yes (Green, blue, amber, red or combination)
  • Website: https://stechswitch.com/product/s-tech-4-switch-systems/

Step 1: Transfer switches and header wiring to A-pillar panel

The S-Tech header box is not compatible with my existing Tuffy overhead CB console. So, I’ll be removing the switches and transferring them to a Daystar A-Pillar switch pod.

To begin, depress the four butterfly locking tabs at the top of the Carling switches, allowing them to slide forward through the S-Tech header mount. As each switch is freed, remove the five wire connectors from the back of each switch. Once the switch is outside the mount, you can replace the wires to avoid incorrect placement later, if you wish.

Using a Dremel or other rotary tool and a small cutoff wheel, carefully remove each of the four scored sections in the Daystar panel. While it is best to cut small and slowly file open these holes for best fitment, I found my S-Tech switches required exactly the widest space afforded by Daystar’s factory scoring. Opening up the holes to that point all the way around provided just enough space for each switch to snugly lock into place. I oriented my switches so pushing the left side of the rocker activates each switches’ accessory. (This places the S-Tech switch No. 4 at the top of the panel. While irrelevant from a functionality standpoint, you’ll want to remember this when it’s time to connect your accessories.)

Step 2: Mount relay box to bracket, then to Jeep

As with any electrical modification, it is best to disconnect the battery before proceeding with installation. This can be accomplished with a 10 mm socket and ratchet handle.

Using the included hardware and a 7/16-inch socket and wrench, attach the bracket and red plastic spacer  panel to the relay box. (It’s well worth noting here that the bolt heads are very nearly the same size as the holes in the bracket. I’ll be adding a washer to my install as added insurance. You’d be wise to have a couple of washers handy when starting this installation.) Next, locate the two 10 mm bolts on the left side of the Jeep indicated in the S-Tech instructions. Loosen the rear-most bolt and remove the forward bolt, Slide the open end of the bracket under the loosened bolt and reinstall the forward bolt. Tighten both bolts.

Forward Ground PointLay out the wiring extending from the relay box in the general direction it will run — one long run to the battery and another toward the interior of the cab. Route the small, black wire under the hood trim panel toward the factory grounding point approximately six inches in front of the S-Tech relay box. Remove the grounding bolt with a 10 mm socket. Attach the grounding loop and reinstall the bolt.

Step 3: Route control wire & install switch pod

If you’ll be removing any existing wiring that runs through your Jeep’s firewall, now is a good time to remove it to make room for the S-Tech control wire. Route the control cable through the existing grommet and hole in the firewall. From there, run the cable through the left side of the dash. Remove the sun visor and the two plastic A-pillar panels to allow access.

Pod InstalledWhile users installing the S-Tech system as designed will also need to remove the right-side visor and corner trim panel to allow the central header trim to drop out for cutting, my interior disassembly is now complete. After washing the incredibly dusty interior trim pieces, I connected the S-Tech control wire to the A-pillar pod and replaced the factory lower trim with the new Daystar pod.

Reinstall factory trim pieces. (For brevity’s sake, I’ve not gone into detail on removing the factory trim in this post. If you need greater detail on this process, please see my earlier post here.)

Step 4: Connect S-Tech system to battery

Route the S-Tech main power wire across the back of the engine bay along the existing wiring loom and use the 10 mm socket to connect the main power wire to the positive terminal of the battery. The S-Tech harness includes a small red wire without termination that protrudes from the positive connection. To tie the system to accessory power, connect the included add-a-fuse wire to this smaller wire and route to fuse location M9 in the fuse box. (more on that later) To run the system as always-on, that is, constantly powered regardless of whether the Jeep is turned on, connect both red wires to the positive terminal of the battery. (NOTE: It is highly advisable to install a circuit breaker between the battery and the S-Tech system to prevent a potentially hazardous situation, should your system ever develop a short. While it hadn’t arrived in time for this write-up, I’ve since installed a 60-amp manually resetting circuit breaker between my battery and the S-Tech system.)

To install the add-a-fuse accessory connection, remove the cover to the fuse box. Insert the 15-amp add-a-fuse with the wire coming out toward the driver’s side. This is important: The power running through the fuses is directional. If the add-a-fuse is oriented the wrong way, power will still flow to the unit, but in an unfused state, offering no protection against overload. Route the wire out of the fuse box, and deeply notch the fuse box to avoid crimping the add-a-fuse wire. (Keep in mind, the fuse-box cover will push down deeply onto the edges of the box to create a water-tight seal. The notches must be deep enough to allow the wiring to pass through without getting pinched. After the wire is run, fill the notch with some silicone sealant as a water barrier.

Clean up the installation by Zip-Tying the S-Tech wiring harness to the Jeep factory harness along the back of the firewall.

Step 5: Connect accessories & test!

BoxWith the system installation complete, connect your accessories to the system one at a time. Test for functionality and proper switch-to-accessory placement before crimping and waterproofing the connections.

Be sure to replace the existing S-Tech fuses with the fuses that came with the accessories, or with an otherwise properly sized fuse to ensure proper system protection for both the Jeep and the installed electronic accessories. My system shipped with one 30-amp, one 20-amp and two 15-amp fuses. All were well above what I need for the accessories I currently run.

First impressions

There are many systems available from which to choose. S-Tech’s is simple and affordable. That makes it a winner in my book. I chose the green color option because it most closely matches the interior lighting of the JK and because it’s a color I can match in the display of my CB. In the daytime, the secondary ‘ready’ LEDs are almost a spot-on match for the speedometer green. The Daystar panel is a perfect color match and a very close pattern match for Smokey’s interior.

Total time to complete

About an hour if you’re not installing in 104-degree weather and don’t have existing wiring to remove. Given ambient weather conditions and the need to uninstall four accessories before rewiring them, installation took me about three to four hours of actual work time.

Total project cost

$177.76 S-Tech system: $135 (sale); Daystar A-Pillar Pod: $23.76 (sale) via Northridge, with free shipping; rocker covers: $19 from OTRATTW (overstock sale)

Thought I’d get out today and adjust my rattling tailgate before our upcoming trip to North Texas. Despite my best efforts, the infamous JK clunk continues.

I’m a little torn over Jeep’s Gladiator ad for tonight’s game. While the idea is cool, did Jeep have to destroy a classic to make this spot?

What are your thoughts?

Seizing opportunities

Painted fenders

I’ve been eyeing a set of Nemesis Crawler fenders as an alternative to lifting Smokey before I upgrade my tires early next year. That plan took a detour today, as I stumbled across someone local to me selling a set of Jk Sahara take-off fenders for a price that was too good to pass up.

I’d given up on the idea of finding factory painted fenders for a reasonable price, and I’m looking forward to weather warm enough to permit me to swap out my fenders. The Nemesis flares? Oh, I’m sure I’ll get to them eventually, but I can live with these a few years and focus on other areas of Smokey’s build-up.