Are Jeeps Actually Reliable?

So you are interested in buying a Jeep. Maybe you’ve never owned one and don’t know if a Jeep will be reliable enough for you? Well, the Jeep brand has changed a lot over the years, and are now owned by FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles).

But, are they still reliable as the old Jeeps?

Older Jeep Reliability

When I say “older” jeeps I’m talking late 80s and 90s. I could dive into the reliability of Jeeps made before the 80s, but it’ll take up to much time. Plus, you should be mechanically inclined if you buy an old Jeep.

What’s the most likely thing to break in any given automobile? An engine component of course and I don’t mean engine internals, but everything that makes the engine run the way it does; (vacuum lines, O2 sensors, MAP/MAF sensors, etc.).

Renix 4.0L

Jeep’s in the 80s came with either a 2.5L 4-cylinder or a 4.0L renix inline-6. The Renix 4.0L was a little iffy with its reliability. The main problem comes from the wiring harness and sensors. The Renix is pretty hard to diagnose but is easy to repair if you know what the actual problem is. However, it was very reliable mechanically, but the poor electrical system ultimately held it back.

High Output 4.0L

What awesome engine did Jeep make it the 90s? The 4.0L H.O.! The updated version of the AMC 4.0L ditched the Renix components in favor of new components. This new rendition of the 4.0L was known as the High Output. The High Output had a much tidier wiring harness and was much easier to diagnose than the previous Renix 4.0L. The AMC 4.0L was one of four engines that continued to be produced after Chrysler purchased AMC in 1987.

The Jeep 4.0L H.O. has been praised by countless automotive journalists for its insane reliability. It could have a rod knock and still get you all the way home. It could be running 90* under the proper operating temperature, with vacuum leaks, a bad fuel injector, and still get you home (ask me how I know).

Seriously, Jeeps equipped with the 4.0L H.O. will do 300,000 miles easy. My last one was at 215k miles, and I took it wheeling nearly every weekend, and it kept chugging along just fine!

My Personal Jeep’s Reliability

Like I mentioned above, I take my current Jeep wheeling all the time, as well as drive it every single day. It has only left me stranded once, and that was from me going to hard off-road. There have been times where I needed to drive it upwards of 200 miles in one day and it was perfectly up to the task. Pretty good for a vehicle that only cost $1,000.

I have owned a total of 13 vehicles, which includes a few motorcycles. Out of those 13 vehicles, most of them broke something major. Ninja 250 engine exploded, SC400 engine exploded, Suburban transmission exploded, Land Rover engine exploded, you get my point. Why am I telling you this?

Because the two Jeeps I’ve ever owned are the only vehicles that have lasted over a year without exploding. My first vehicle was a 93 Cherokee, and my last vehicle was a 92 Cherokee. Literally, everything else I ever owned had some sort of detrimental issue that forced me to get rid of it. Of course, my current vehicle is super reliable, but that’s because it has 25k miles and a warranty.

My $1,000 Jeeps seemed to take literally everything I could throw at them. From daily driving to road trips, to light prerunning, to trail riding. The current owner of my last Jeep takes it out wheeling almost every weekend and it’s been super reliable for him too.

Newer Jeep Reliability

This is where the whole conversation takes a massive turn. Jeeps of today are built much differently than Jeeps of the past. All models except the Wrangler have gone to fully independent suspension. What does that have to do with anything? Well IFS is arguably weaker, especially when you’re out on some rough trails. This leaves IFS Jeeps more vulnerable to breaking, and therefore being less reliable. However, with modern IFS systems, this is hardly the case anymore.

The 3.6L and 3.8L Pentastar engine are good little engines. But, from the information I’ve gathered on Forums, the 3.6L is leaps and bounds better in both reliability and performance. Also in my experience as a lube technician, I have found that the 3.6L Pentastar engine is pretty darn reliable. That engine comes in a massive variety of automobiles and they almost always seem to be running in tip-top shape regardless of mileage. The 3.8L Jeeps, on the other hand, aren’t always running tip-top.

But, not all modern Jeeps are reliable. The current Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are the least reliable vehicles in Jeep’s entire history. Seriously, poke around on any Cherokee/Grand Cherokee forum and you’ll find thousands of threads regarding issues with those SUVs. Many shops won’t even work on them anymore because they’re so riddled with insane issues.

JD Power Associates

The 2013 Wrangler has an overall dependability rating of 2/5, whilst the 2013 Grand Cherokee has a dependability rating of 3/5. So, while the reliability of the Grand Cherokee is actually average. Which is really interesting considering customers are reporting horrid reliability with the Grand Cherokee.

The Wrangler is slightly below average, but is it as bad as something like a Land Rover? Well yes actually, it is nearly as unreliable as a Land Rover according to J.D. Power’s dependability study. Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and Chrysler are all in the top 10 least reliable vehicles in the US.

Honestly when I saw that 2/5 rating for the Wrangler I was fairly surprised. I have never heard anything bad about them personally. Maybe JK Wrangler owners won’t admit they bought an unreliable $40k Jeep? Maybe I don’t have enough friends with newer Jeeps? After all, most of my friends drive XJ Cherokees.

Reliability rating source: USNEWS

So Are They Reliable?

As you might have figured out by now, the answer yes and no. Older Jeeps are incredibly reliable vehicles. But, it’s nearly impossible for Jeep to match the reliability of the 4.0L. It’s literally based off of a tractor motor, and its designed to run forever in any conditions.

The newer Jeeps, on the other hand, aren’t so reliable. Strangely enough, you’ll never hear a Jeep owner complaining about the reliability. Alteast I’ve never met a Jeep owner in person who openly complained about its reliability. But, Jeep forums are full of people dealing with poor reliability.

Are Jeeps Reliable?

According to this chart, the Jeep brand on average is 1 problem less per 100 cars than Land Rover. That’s surprisingly bad. Time will tell whether or not Fiat will increase or decrease the brand’s reliability. But, I feel pretty confident when I say that Fiat won’t screw up the Jeep brand.

So, if you were looking to buy a brand new Jeep, don’t. As a Jeep enthusiast and owner, it pains me to say this, but don’t buy a new Jeep unless you are willing to deal with the unreliability.

Are Range Rover and Land Rover Actually Reliable?

So, you’re thinking about purchasing a Range Rover or Land Rover. Maybe you just want to know if they are reliable but wouldn’t actually own one. Either way, you’ve probably heard tons of horror stories about their reliability. Are they actually as unreliable as people claim? What if people actually took care of them? What about the older Land Rovers, you know, the safari type ones? Well, first let’s look at Range Rovers and Land Rovers of old.

The “Older” Models

Ah, the golden ages of off-roading. Back when Range Rovers and Land Rovers built their vehicles like absolute tanks, as were most off-road vehicles. Land Rover based the Defender on the original “Series” Land Rover. They built the Defender for off-road exploration and utility usage. Wanted to go to the middle of the desert and camp-out? The Defender was always up to the task. But, was it reliable? Well, if it breaks down when you’re out on a crazy excursion you’d be screwed. For this reason, Land Rover built the defender to withstand the harshest of conditions, and maintain its reliability for the long term. So yes, it was fairly reliable. Was it a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla it terms of long-term reliability? No, but neither was its main competitor the Jeep. However, it’s other competitor the Toyota Land Cruiser is arguably the most reliable of them all.

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RELATED: Jeep vs Land Rover: Which One is Better?

Fast forwards in time and Land Rover is producing the Discovery I. You can literally watch any safari type of movie ever, and you’ll probably see either a Defender or a Discovery I somewhere in the film. Much like the Defender, Land Rover built the Discovery I around the off-road lifestyle. It was tough, it was spacious, and it could go nearly anywhere. But, was it reliable? Just like Defender, it was pretty reliable, especially the diesel models. This is also around the time that Land Rover really start to shift their focus on creating luxurious vehicles.

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Fast forwards even more and you have the Discovery II and the Range Rover P38. Just like the vehicles before them, Land Rover built them for rough off-roading and utilitarian usage. But, Land Rover realized its customer base was looking for more than just an off-road vehicle. They wanted something more. They wanted better on-road handling and more luxury features. Land Rover started to implement features such as air suspension and active anti-roll bars. While these features made for excellent road manners, they can cause major issues later down the road.

Our Personal Experiences

Well, both myself, and Kristoffer Smith write for this website. We have both have owned a Discovery II at some point in our lives. So, how was our experience in regards to our personal Land Rovers?

Bryce’s Land Rover: Well, let me start this off by saying my 1999 Discovery II cost me $1,500 and hadn’t moved in over 3 years. The fellow who owned it before me took the fan off of it and put it on his other Land Rover because it broke on his other one. He never replaced the fan he took off, and let this Land Rover sit for years.

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I purchased it, drove it around for a while until I realized it was eating coolant. I assumed it was head gaskets, so we rebuilt the entire top end of the engine. It seemed fine until a month later it was out of coolant again. Come to find out, the engine had a slipped cylinder sleeve and basically needed a new block. A slipped sleeve can happen if the engine overheats badly. I decided doing a block swap was to much work, and sold it a few weeks later to a Land Rover enthusiast for $2,200.

RELATED: Land Rover vs Range Rover: What’s the Difference?

So my personal Land Rover wasn’t very reliable, but that was because the previous owner had let it overheat pretty badly.

Kristoffer’s Land Rover: My 2000 Land Rover Discovery II has had more issues that I can count. It has minor leaks on everything, the window gear will eventually break on most of the windows including the sunroof, and there are factory flaws in many of the electrical systems.

While I could go on for days about how broken this truck gets every year; at the same time, I have always trusted that it will pull through on an adventure. The solidly built ladder frame and beefy front and rear axles make this truck a tank at heart. I have taken my Discovery through the desert, across frozen forests, and up the summits of dormant volcanos. It did off of this while being my daily driver to work and back every day for the last 5 years.

When you treat these vehicles right, they will be good to you for many years to come. My Land Rover has just under 200k miles now and is in the process of getting some well-deserved upgrades to the suspension after the many years of abuse.

What About The New Models?

The Discovery II and the Range Rover P38 were the pivotal points for Land Rover’s mission. They still had off-roading in mind when designing them, but definitely focused more than ever on how they performed on the street. After all, most Range Rover and Land Rover owners will never actually take them off-road. So it would make sense to make sure the vehicles that they are building perform well on the street because that’s where the vehicle will be for most of its life. The P38 is nearly as off-road ready as the Discovery II, but it featured more luxury features. Basically, Land Rover designed the P38 Range Rover for street use.

RELATED: 8 Reasons to Buy a Discovery II Today

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Essentially, Land Rover designed every Range Rover after the P38 focused more and more on road manners. Can you off-road a newer Land Rover or Range Rover? Of course, but they don’t do as well as they used to. Big rims, super low profile tires, independent suspension, heavy curb weight, terrible approach and departure angles, these are all things that make newer Land Rover and Range Rover bad off-road.

LR5

What does its off-road ability have to with its reliability? Well, if you know anything about off road racing, then you’d know that the vehicles are built extremely tough. When you are off-roading, the vehicle can go under some major stress. If it’s not prepared to be driven through super rough terrain, in remote locations, then it will end up breaking really easily. When you are in the middle of the 110* desert, 50+ miles away from civilization, the last thing you want is your vehicle to break. Basically, off-road ready vehicles will be more tank-like than standard road-ready vehicles.

So Are They Reliable?

So are they actually reliable vehicles? Well, yes and no. The older ones are much more reliable than the newer ones, but that is true with nearly all automotive brands. The older Land Rovers were known for their off-road ability and could be seen in nearly any Safari movie or video. So, what happened that made them less reliable? Well, a change of course in the Land Rover company.

LR7

RELATED: Is The Discovery II The Last Real Land Rover?

After the P38 Range Rover, they focused less on making their vehicles bomb proof off-road and more on making it comfortable on the road. How do you make something more comfortable on the road? Electronic gadgets and gizmos to make it smoother, quieter, and more convenient. All of these things add up to the vehicle essentially being less tank-like, and less reliable.

Something I hate to bring up, but the British have been known to make fairly unreliable vehicles. (Lotus, Jaguar, McLaren, ETC.). Maybe it’s just a British thing, but the new Land Rovers and Range Rovers are not reliable at all.

Is There Real Proof?

Well, I wouldn’t just tell you that the new Range Rovers and Land Rovers are unreliable without backing it up. From 2007 to 2016 the Range Rover’s best score from JD Power Associates regarding reliability was a 3/5, or 6/10. Out of those 9 years of ratings, 8 of them were 2.5/5 or less than that. So basically for 8 out of the last 9 years, it has scored below average in terms of reliability.

JeepReliable2

Further investigation will show that the Land Rover brand has around 179 problems per 100 vehicles. The only companies worse than that are Dodge and Mini. Funny enough its off-road competitor Jeep is basically just as bad at 178 problems per 100 vehicles.

Are They Worth It?

Whether or not they are worth it is a very difficult question to answer. This is because everybody views the Land Rover brand differently. Some people look at them as a “status” symbol and will pay whatever the cost is to look rich, even if they can barely afford it, some people actually have money and just want a really nice vehicle regardless of cost, and some people are just loyal to the Land Rover brand, and always will be.

LR1

In my opinion, the older Land Rovers are absolutely worth it. They are nicer than most modern cars, but are still solid-axle and can take a beating off-road. I loved my Discovery II before the engine exploded, it was hands down the nicest vehicle I’ve ever owned.

Newer Land Rover and Range Rovers aren’t worth it. You might get a ton of cool luxury features, but those features aren’t worth the cost of maintenance and repairs of a newer Land Rover.

As you might have figured out with our personal experiences, previous owners are very important when purchasing a Land Rover or Range Rover. Make sure you buy from someone with service records and a meticulous attitude towards their Land Rover. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a horribly unreliable Land Rover and think that they are all that way. When in fact, they can be reliable.

Why Land Rover Doesn’t Care

In 2014 a customer satisfaction study was done by the folks over at J.D. Power. What they found is rather amusing, but somewhat alarming. They found that all luxury brands had an excellent customer service experience. Those types of dealers will exceed your expectations and make sure you’re always happy. All luxury brands scored a way higher customer satisfaction rating than standard automotive brands, expect for Land Rover.

Land Rover was dead last in the luxury brand study and was actually so bad that it’s comparable to Chevrolet. That’s right, you go in to buy a $130k Range Rover, and you’ll get the same treatment as some guy buying a $15k Chevy Spark. So, not only are modern Land Rovers incredibly unreliable, Land Rover doesn’t even offer good customer service to make up for it. Somehow people are still buying their cars.

Dana 30 vs Dana 44: Whats The Difference?

So, you’ve just purchased your first JK Wrangler. You’ve done some digging around on the internet and realized that you probably should have bought a Rubicon. But you didn’t, so now you want to know the difference between the Dana 30, and the Dana 44. Why? So you can make an educated decision about upgrading to a stronger axle.

The base model and the Rubicon rear axle are both Dana 44s. But, the front axle is where everything changes. The Rubicon gets a Dana 44 in the front, whilst lower model Jeeps don’t. The Dana 30 is what lower models receive.

So, lets dive in and compare Dana 30 vs Dana 44.

Dana 30 vs Dana 44: Axle Housing

The axle housing is what holds everything together. The strength of the housing is important if you plan on bombing around through the desert. Where I live (Phoenix, Arizona), there is a lot less rock crawling and more of going fast through the desert. But, if you plan on just rock crawling, then the strength of the housing isn’t super important.

The axle housing of the JK Dana 30, and Dana 44 are actually 100% the same. So, if you plan on going fast through the desert you might want to think about going to Dana 60s or putting a big truss on your 30/44. This is part of the reason JK Dana 44s aren’t considered “true 44s”.

Dana 30 vs Dana 44

Either way, both the JK Dana 30 and the Dana 44 both have weak “Cs”. What do I mean by this? The C is where the ball joints are and the knuckle bolts to. That C has a tendency to bend, which requires a new axle housing to fix. The common cure for this is to gusset the C if you plan on running tires larger than 37″. To my knowledge tires under 37″ won’t cause the C to bend.

Dana 30 vs Dana 44: Center Section

When I refer to the center section, I am referring to all the gearing as well as the center section housing. The center section housing is what holds your differential, so the housing material doesn’t actually have to be super strong unless you have a bunch of horsepower.

The gears in the center section on the Dana 30 and the Dana 44 are different. The Dana 30 ring gear diameter is 7 1/8″ and comes with a 3.21 gear ratio unless your JK is equipped with the tow package. The Dana 30 doesn’t come with any kind of factory LSD or locking differential.

The ring gear diameter in the Dana 44 is 8 1/2″, and comes standard with a 4.10 gear ratio, and an electronically actuated locker. To accommodate the larger ring gear the Dana 44 has a large center section housing, but this doesn’t really make any difference in housing strength.

30vs443

Now, why would you want a larger diameter ring gear? Well, essentially it helps to distribute the load and is less likely to explode into a million pieces under stress. The 4.10 gear ratio of the Dana 44 helps when crawling, but also allows for larger tires before you experience a large amount of engine power loss. Last but not least, the factory locker in the Dana 44 is awesome, because lockers are just awesome to have.

Dana 30 vs Dana 44: Axle Shafts

The axles shafts are typically the weakest link on any given axle. They’re the weakest for a reason. If you’re out of the trail it’s easier to swap an axle shaft than it is to swap a differential. Trust me, I’ve been there and done that. I’ve seen differentials explode on the trail, then drove all the way back home, picked up my spare front axle, drove all the way back out to the desert, and helped my buddies do a front axle swap in the middle of nowhere just so we could continue to off-road.

dana 30 vs dana 44

The Dana 30 comes with 27 spline axle shafts, and the Dana 44 comes with 30 spline axle shafts. The Dana 44s 30 spline axle shafts are obviously much beefier than the Dana 30s 27 spline axle shafts. However, they both have fairly weak “ears” and small u-joints.

30vs442

Since the center section of the Dana 44 is beefed up, Jeep went ahead and beefed up the axle shafts. They’re still one of the weak points, but like I mentioned before, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Both the Dana 30 axle shafts and Dana 44 axle shafts are dwarfed by Dana 60 axle shafts. If you plan on running giant tires or high horsepower then you’ll absolutely need a Dana 60.

Dana 30 vs Dana 44: The Little Stuff

So we’ve covered the housing strength, center section strength, center section features, and axle shaft strength. But what about all the other miscellaneous stuff? Well, they’re basically all the same.

The Dana 30 and the Dana 44 have the same brakes, hubs, ball joints, Cs, knuckles, and steering. So other than the beefier center section, and the beefier axle shafts, these two are completely identical otherwise. The biggest reason to get a Rubicon with 44s front and rear is for the beefier axle shafts and the electronic lockers.

Summary

So, if you are debating on whether you should buy a Rubicon, it comes down to personal preference. I wouldn’t spend the extra money on a Rubicon. Use the money you save buying a lower model Jeep on aftermarket axles.

The only difference between the JK Dana 30 and Dana 44 is ring gear size, electronic locker, and bigger shafts. You’re better off just starting with an aftermarket Dana 44 that is a “true 44”. With the cost difference of a base Wrangler and a Rubicon, you could get aftermarket Dana 60 axles with lockers.

Land Rover vs Range Rover: What’s The Difference?

In case you’ve lived under a rock for the past 30 years, Land Rover has taken over the luxury SUV market. Once a super rugged off-roading machine has now turned into a super luxury SUV with a 4×4 badge and fancy traction control systems. Many people wonder what the difference between Land Rover and Range Rover. They look similar, have similar names, both cost a ton, both are from Britain, so what’s the difference?

To save you time I will just give you the short answer: Range Rover is just a model in the Land Rover brand. People often refer to Range Rover as a brand, because saying “Land Rover Range Rover Evoque” sounds kind of stupid. Land Rover and Range Rover have never been, and likely never will be separate companies

Land Rover History

The Land Rover brand all starts with the Series 1. Well, actually it starts before that with the company “Rover”. Rover was a small company that produced mid and high-end vehicles. Because they were a small company their revenue was fairly limited. Rover designed the Land Rover to generate them some short-term revenue while they continued to produce high-end automobiles.

The Land Rover model ended up being so popular that they kept it around. The original Series Land Rover was the first model they produced then came the Defender, Discovery, Freelander, Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, and Range Rover Evoque. Good thing too, because it reshaped the entire Rover brand.

RELATED: Land Rover vs Jeep: Which One is Actually Better Off-Road?

LandVsRange1

Land Rover designed the Series 1 for agricultural use and they built it to survive rough usage. To be quite honest the Series 1 is rather ugly, but every brand starts somewhere. Plus, the Series 1 is a pure function over form type of vehicle. Who cares if it’s ugly, it just needs to get the job done when others can’t. Later down the line, Land Rover released the Defender which had lots of design cues taken from the Series 1.

Land Rover has since grown a huge amount and is now a dominating brand in the luxury SUV market. A huge helping factor in growing the brand was the Camel Trophy event. This took a bunch of Discovery I models and put them through absolute hell. This proved to the world that no one built a more rugged SUV than Land Rover.

You can find more Land Rover information on Wikipedia

The “Range Rover” Model

Land Rover had worked on creating a larger, city-friendly SUV since they released the Series 1. Like I mentioned above, Land Rover designed the Series 1 for agricultural use. This didn’t suit everybody so it made sense to make a more city-oriented model. Land Rover launched the Range Rover model in 1970 and it was an instant success. It was a success due to its extreme ruggedness, and it’s city friendliness.

RELATED: Are Modern Range Rovers Actually Reliable?

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A trend had emerged in the 1960s. The trend of leisure SUVs, and how the American market absolutely loved them. This is one of the few reasons why the Range Rover model was a nearly instant success. Today in 2016 the original Range Rover is not only rare but also quickly becoming a collector’s item.

The Turning Point

At what point did the Land Rover brand shift its focus from off-road ruggedness to luxuriousness? Arguably the turning point was the Land Rover Discovery II. It had all the heavy-duty components of a Land Rover, but with a huge amount of luxury features.

The Discovery II was the first SUV ever to have air suspension of any kind. It also featured optional hydraulically assisted sway bars for better on-road performance. Combined with a heavy-duty ladder frame, heavy-duty axles and a super luxurious interior the Discovery II was the perfect balance between ruggedness and luxuriousness.

Land Rovers before the Discovery II looked tough and rugged, Land Rovers after it look like they’re for soccer moms. The P38 Range Rover was also a major turning point for the Range Rover model. After Range Rover after the P38 was less rugged looking, and arguably less capable.

You can read more about how the Discovery II changed the Land Rover brand in our Discovery II article.

Target Demographic

Back when Land Rover released the original Range Rover model, they were  an off-road brand. They were one of the few competitors to the Jeep brand which was wildly popular in the US. Land Rover wanted to increase diversity in their customer base, so they made the Range Rover model a luxury SUV. It still had Land Rover’s off-road prowess, but with more luxury features. The increased amount of luxury features made it much more friendly for the average consumer. This combination was an instant success.

RELATED: 8 Reasons to Buy a Land Rover Discovery II

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To this day the Range Rover’s target demographic is definitely the wealthy, even more than any other Land Rover model. Both normal Land Rover and Range Rover models target demographics are wealthy customers, but the Range Rover is almost like the prestige model. Only the really wealthy buy a Range Rover.

What Is The Difference?

So here’s the bottom line. The Land Rover brand is an off-road oriented luxury brand. The Range Rover model is the most luxurious model of the entire Land Rover brand. Land Rover once produced super off-road capable SUVs, but now they focus mostly on making their vehicles as luxurious as possible.

Tacoma vs Tundra: Which is Better for Your Needs?

Assuming you don’t live under a rock, then you would’ve noticed that there is a massive selection of pickup trucks in America. Most small pickups (Ranger, Tacoma, Colorado, etc.) have gone from being really small to practically being full sized pickup trucks.

Maybe you’re in the market for a new truck, and really like Toyota’s trucks. Toyota makes some really nice trucks, the Tacoma and the Tundra are amongst the best pickups in the US. But which one is better for your needs? Before we begin to compare Tacoma vs Tundra, lets quickly cover each truck individually.

Tacoma

The Tacoma has been around for a pretty long time. Technically its only been around since 1995, before that it was just called a Toyota Pick-Up. Over the years the Tacoma has evolved from a really small light duty pickup truck, to a medium duty, medium sized pickup. As with every thing else in America, its gotten significantly larger over time.

TacomaVsTundra1

RELATED: Jeep vs Toyota: Which One is Actually Better?

The most drastic change came in 2005, when Toyota launched the 2nd generation Tacoma. The 2nd gen was significantly larger than the out-going model, but it was an pretty instant success. It seems like anywhere I go, a 4-door Tacoma will be near by, and many shops have them as their shop trucks.

The Tacoma really made its mark on the light duty and medium duty pickup truck market. It really created its own new little market. Chevy has actually taken notice of this and since launched the new Canyon, which is a direct competitor to the Tacoma.

Additional Tacoma info on Wikipedia

Tundra

To my knowledge the Toyota Tundra was the replacement for the Toyota T100, which at the time was Toyota’s full-size pick up. The T100 was smaller than all of its competitors, and wasn’t that large of a success. Tell me, how many T100’s have you seen in the past month? I can tell you right now that I’ve only seen a handful of them thus far this year. Which is exactly why Toyota launched the Tundra.

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RELATED: Toyota Tacoma vs 4Runner: Which One is Best For You?

Want to know why its actually called the Tundra? When Toyota launched their new pickup truck it was initially known as the T150. It was supposed to be a slightly beefed up version of the T100. But, automotive journalists complained that it was to similar to the name of Ford’s truck, the F150. Following a lawsuit from Ford, Toyota decided to rename the truck to the Tundra.

Today in 2016, the Tundra is one of America’s most popular full sized pickup trucks. Which is surprising considering how competitive the full sized pick up truck market it. Ford and Chevrolet basically dominate it, but somehow Toyota how found a way to survive that market.

Additional Tundra info on Wikipedia

Tacoma vs Tundra: Drive Train

Drive train is one of the more important factors when comes to pick up trucks. Its part of what determines how well they can tow, how much they can tow, and how much pay load they can carry. If the engine doesn’t make a lot of horsepower or torque, than it can only lug around so much extra weight before it becomes extremely slow. Same goes with the transmission, if its not built for heavy pay loads, than it will likely have cooling problems if you put to much stress on it.

RELATED: Toyota 2UZ-FE: Everything You Need to Know

In both generations of the Toyota Tundra, both a V6 and a V8 were available. Luckily most of them came with a V8, which means towing around heavy things is a breeze. Most Tundra’s equipped with the V6 are going to be base model work trucks, that aren’t going to do a lot of heavy work. Both the V6 and the V8 had an option for a factory super charger, which jumps horsepower and torque up a massive amount.

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Both generations of the Toyota Tacoma came with either an inline-4, or a V6. The older models typically have an inline-4, where as most newer models are equipped with the V6. Why is this? Since the Tacoma grew in size, it become more usable for heavy work, which requires a larger, and and more powerful engine. The V6 upped the tow rating to 6,500 lbs, which is the weight of a one-ton pickup truck. So, most modern Tacoma’s ended up with the V6.

RELATED: Will Toyota Kill the Ford Raptor?

Bottom line is this. Most modern Tacoma’s have a V6, and most modern Tundra’s have a V8. Obviously the V6 is less powerful than the V8, but its much more fuel efficient than the V8. So, if you do a lot of commuting, the Tacoma might be the better option for you.

Tacoma vs Tundra: Cost

Over the last year of writing articles like this one, I can tell you that prices vary a huge amount. Location, condition, milage, seller motivation, luck, and good bargaining skills will make the prices you find vary from the prices I find. Thats just how this works. Why am I bringing this up? Because when I quote numbers for both the Tacoma, and the Tundra, I want you to know that you may find way different numbers. So, before you pick one based off of price, hop on Craigslist and see what local prices are for you.

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RELATED: Jeep vs Land Rover: Which One is Actually Better?

Prices for brand new Tacoma’s and brand new Tundra’s are somewhat consistent, so lets look at those. The 2016 Tacoma starts at $23,660 whereas the 2016 Tundra starts at $29,140. Understand that both of these trucks can pretty easily get into the $40k range with just some options added on. But, those numbers show you that the Tacoma is about $5,500 cheaper than the Tundra for a base model. Thats a pretty significant difference.

Tacoma vs Tundra: Interior

Oddly enough, it seems as though pickup’s interiors are overlooked when comparing trucks. This seems a little odd to me, as you will spend over 99% of your time with the truck in there. The new generation Tacoma got a massive upgrade in the interior department, so how does it stack up to the Tundra?

2016 Tundra Interior

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As you might expect, the Tundra’s interior is much larger. The seats are spaced farther apart, and they have a ton of leg room. This is because the Tundra is rather obviously really large in size. The large interior size definitely helps the Tundra feel much more luxurious than it really is.

2016 Tacoma Interior

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The Tacoma’s interior is significantly smaller than the Tundra’s interior, however it’s just as nice. Although space may limited, the 2016 Tacoma received a massive update compared to Tacomas of old. Before the update the interior was a little bland and cheap feeling. The interior update has made the Tacoma feel thousands of dollars more expensive on the inside.

Tacoma vs Tundra: What They’re Best For

Ask yourself, what do you need out of a pick up truck? Do you do a lot of manual labor and need to carry tools or equipment around? Do you tow a lot? Do you take dirt bikes or ATV’s out to the desert? More than likely, you don’t actually need a pickup truck at all, but this is America and even 90 year old ladies drive pickups. But, if you  do any of the things i’ve listed than you probably need a pick up.

When it comes to towing, how much are you towing? If you’re towing less than 4,000 lbs you can get away with just a Tacoma. But, if you’re ever towing 4,000 lbs or more you’ll want a Tundra. Why? The Tundra has a much larger, much more powerful V8 engine, and a weighs more. The Tundra is also designed with more towing in mind, and as such tows heaver loads much easier than the Tacoma.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Toyota’s 1UZ-FE V8

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If you’re into off-roading or taking your dirt bikes/ATV’s out to the desert, than you’ll probably want a Tacoma. Tacoma’s are much smaller and can get farther into a trail before it becomes to difficult for the vehicle. Also, the Tacoma is much more fuel efficient, meaning more fuel for your dirt bikes!

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Lastly, if you don’t actually need a pick up, and just want to commute with one, get a Tacoma. They’re much more fuel efficient and you really don’t need a full-size pick up truck to commute to work every single day.

Which Suits You Best?

Like I mentioned before, chances are that you don’t even need a pick up truck. But, if you do, than Toyota’s may be perfect for you. If you do a lot of commuting and little towing, get a Tacoma. If you do more towing and heavy hauling of any kind kind a Tundra.

The Story of my 1999 Land Rover Discovery II

I have now written about my first vehicle, my second vehicle, so now it’s time to write about my seventh vehicle. Some of the other ones were boring vehicles so i’d rather not bore you with them. Anyways, here’s the story of my 1999 Land Rover Discovery II.
Please excuse any poor quality photos, at the time my iPhone 4 had a very scratched photo lens.

Backstory

After I sold my 1986 Suburban I was vehicle-less. My good friend had a Land Rover Discovery II for a very long time, and suggested that should be my next vehicle. I have always preferred American vehicles so I had no intention of getting a Land Rover. Later he sent me a craigslist link to a dirt cheap Land Rover Discovery II.

Our Land Rovers together. Mine is on the left.

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My friend’s Land Rover has been through hell and back. It has been on trails all over Arizona, and been driven very hard off-road. If his Land Rover was still holding together, I figured that the one on Craigslist probably would too.

Going to Buy the Land Rover

The ad was pretty straight forwards, and made clear that the vehicle had been sitting for a while. The next day my friend and I hopped in his Land Rover to go look at what could potential become my Land Rover.

The Land Rover was covered in dust and spider webs, had a dead battery, a flat tire, and looked rough. But, the interior was in nearly perfect condition, and once we threw a different battery in it ran great. The owner needed to find the title and get it notarized so we went down to Burger King for lunch.

At the owners house. Mine is the one in back.

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About an hour later we returned to the owners house and handed him $1,700 cash, and called a tow truck. The tires were in very bad condition from sitting for so long, so I wanted to get it towed (It was all highway driving on the way back).

When it Ran Good

After washing off years of dust and grim, we found a really nice looking Land Rover underneath. It ran pretty good, and drove pretty good. After a few minor repairs I drove it all of the place for about a month. It was so amazing to drive. It rode super smooth, handled great, and it was super quite. It was hands down the nicest vehicle I had ever owned by a long shot.

After being cleaned

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Unfortunately, all good stories come to an end. I was supposed to go to a wedding, and I decided to get some fast food before I left to go to the wedding. While I was sitting in the drive-thru I saw the temperature gauge rise higher than it was supposed to at idle. I immediately shut the engine off knowing that something was wrong.

After painting wheels & side steps

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After eating my food in the parking lot I investigated under the hood and found that there was no coolant in the system. This seemed odd since it had never leaked coolant, so I assumed that the head gaskets may have gone bad. I limped it home and parked it.

Near Engine Failure

Before the issue of disappearing coolant I encountered an entirely different issue that nearly killed the engine. I was driving when all of the sudden the engine started making a lot more noise than normal. I knew it was from low oil pressure and stopped for oil immediately. After putting a quart or two in, it was still making lots of noise.

I didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, so I was forced to limp it to my buddies house with nearly no oil pressure. By the time I made it to his house it sounded like a diesel truck. We dropped the oil pan to find that there was a few inches of nearly solid sludge in the pan. The thick sludge had pretty much blocked the small mesh screen on the oil pickup tube.

RELATED: 8 Reasons Why the Discovery II is so Awesome

After hours of oil pan and pickup tube cleaning we reassembled everything and the engine ran perfectly fine. I was very lucky that there was no permanent engine damage at all. I changed the oil a couple hundred miles later and found no metal shavings. Talk about good luck!

Engine Failure

After it was parked for about a week I decided to disassemble the engine. We got the engine torn down completely, and didn’t really find any sign of a bad head gasket. It sat for a month or two taken apart due to lack of funds. After what seemed like forever, I bought a top end rebuild kit and got the heads machined.

Being disassembled

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We reassembled the engine, and it fired right up. It seemed to run great, so I went back to driving it regularly. Eventually though, it tried to overheat. Once again there was a lack of coolant in the system. Just like before it wasn’t leaking, so where the heck was it going?

After reassembly

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After some research I came to the conclusion that the engine essentially was unrepairable. The cylinder sleeve was more than likely slipped. This required replacing the engine block, which I was not game to do. If I cared about that vehicle more then I would’ve found a used engine and thrown it in there. Since it was broken almost the entire time I owned it, it never grew on me and I really didn’t feel like doing an engine swap on it.

Sold

It sat for a little bit longer after I realized the engine was terminally damaged. Eventually, I put it up on Craigslist and a few people looked at it. However, the people that looked at it didn’t seem like they would know how to repair it if they bought it. Eventually somebody drove a couple hours to see it.

RELATED: Jeep vs Land Rover: Which One is Actually Better?

The person who came to see it was an avid Land Rover enthusiast and understood everything I told him. He understood the issues and was up to the challenge of repairing it. So, I sold it to him for around $2,000 (I can’t remember the exact number).

Picking The Perfect Bug Out Vehicle

Disaster has come, an apocalyptic tragedy has struck the world, what are you going to do? Where are you going to go? How are you going to get there? This is where the “bug-out vehicle” comes in. A bug-out vehicle, is a vehicle designed to get you to a safe location, or to keep you mobile indefinitely.

The most commonly used scenarios are a “zombie” apocalypse, civil war, economic collapse, and general civil unrest. 

What are the necessary items to have in/on your bug out vehicle?

  • CB Radio – When all forms of mass communication fail (cell phone, internet, etc.), you may need to be able to contact other survivors. CB Radios offer a way to keep in contact with others, when all other communications fail.
    We’ve covered CB radio information in our CB radio install guide
  • Tools – What good is a bug out vehicle if it breaks down? You need to have plenty of tools on board your vehicle as well as a repair manual if you’re not mechanically inclined.
  • Gear – This goes hand-in-hand with having tools, you need to have gear such as: tent, clothing, compass, flash light, portable stove, binoculars, first aid kit, etc.
  • Weapons – Hopefully you’ll never have to need weapons in an apocalyptic scenario, but when resources become scarce, other survivors may use weapons against you, if you want to survive than you need to have weapons to protect yourself.
  • 4×4 – You never know when you’ll get into a sticky situation, having 4×4 can be the difference between life or death in a zombie apocalypse.
  • Food – You might be on the road much longer than expected, remember to keep a good amount of dry food stocked in your bug out vehicle

As you might be able to tell from this list, cargo space is going to be incredibly important. You basically need to be able to live out of your vehicle for an extended period of time, without dying. Now that we know the bare necessities of a bug out vehicle, lets look at a few different vehicles.

Honda Civic

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Chances are that you or somebody you know has a Civic, or a 4-door sedan like a Civic. They have decent cargo storage capabilities, and they are decently fast. But they lack 4WD, which may be absolutely necessary in a disaster situation.

Pros:

  • Very reliable
  • Great gas mileage
  • Decent room for people
  • Decently fast

Cons:

  • Not 4×4
  • Little space for gear and supplies
  • Not heavy duty

Jeep Wrangler

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The most known 4×4 in the world, it’ll take you nearly anywhere you need to go. It’s very reliable, and has somewhat decent gas mileage (15-20 mpg). But it doesn’t have much cargo storage and very little room for more than 2 people.

Pros:

  • Great 4×4, it’ll take you far away from civilization if need be.
  • Reliable, the Jeep 4.0L is a bullet proof engine.
  • Decent gas mileage, when fuel is scarce this is extremely important.

Cons:

  • Very little space for gear, weapons, tools, and other survivors.
  • Removable top makes it more susceptible to attacks from others.
  • Not heavy duty

Chevy Suburban

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The Suburban can be found nearly anywhere in suburban areas of any city (I wonder why its named the Suburban). It has a massive amount of storage capabilities, and a massive amount of room for other people. Its very heavy duty and strong. But its fairly slow, and sucks up fuel quickly.

Pros:

  • Decent 4×4 ability
  • Reliable (especially the older ones)
  • Great space for gear.
  • Massive space for people
  • All steel body, very good protection
  • Heavy duty

Cons:

  • Really slow and hard to maneuver
  • Awful fuel economy

Chevy Pick-Up Truck

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If you live in America you can find a pickup basically anywhere. Has massive amount of cargo space in the bed, but it’s outside of the cab in the open. It lacks space for other people, and is bad on fuel economy.

Pros:

  • Decent 4×4
  • Massive space for gear
  • All steel body
  • Heavy Duty
  • Reliable

Cons:

  • Little room for people
  • Slow and hard to maneuver
  • Awful fuel economy

Jeep XJ Cherokee

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Last but not least, our favorite 4×4. XJ Cherokee has room for 4 people and plenty of gear. Its not very heavy duty, and doesn’t get the best fuel mileage (mine gets around 15 mpg). Overall its very well rounded at doing nearly anything you need it to.

Pros:

  • Great 4×4
  • Decent space for gear
  • Decent space for people
  • Extremely reliable

Cons:

  • Unibody construction, not heavy duty
  • Bad fuel economy

M35A2

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You’re probably not going to find one of these laying around in the city somewhere. Basically the only way you could use one of these in a disaster situation is if you already owned it. The M35A2 is going to get pretty abysmal fuel economy, but you can basically drive through whatever you want.

Pros:

  • Great 6×6
  • Massive space for people
  • Massive space for gear
  • Extremely heavy duty
  • Very reliable

Cons:

  • Extremely slow
  • Horrible fuel economy
  • Mentally hard (cabin noise)

Summary

We’ve given you a list of typical vehicles that could be used to make a bug out vehicle. But any vehicle can be a bug out vehicle, we just recommend that you could with something heavy-duty and 4×4, which will allow you to combat ANY task at hand. The key things to look for are:

  • Interior space for gear
  • Interior space for people
  • Reliability
  • Toughness
  • Gas mileage
  • Offroad ability

Our choice would be the Chevy Suburban, simply because of its space for gear and people, 4×4, and heavy duty. If the disaster situation requires good fuel economy, than something like a Honda Civic would be our choice. If the disaster isn’t super fuel constricting, than the Chevy Suburban is the perfect bug out vehicle for almost anyone.

6.6 Duramax: Everything You Need to Know

GM has been putting diesels in their heavy duty trucks since 1982. Granted diesels back then kind of sucked, but none the less they have been doing it for quite some time. In 2001 they introduced their all new 6.6 Duramax, which was built with the help of Isuzu. Since then they have continued to modify the 6.6 Duramax to suit the current needs. Before I tell you everything you need to know about the 6.6 D-Max, let’s take a look at the 6.2 Detroit Diesel.

6.2 Diesel

What’s really interesting is how many people absolutely love the 6.2 Detroit engine. I mean, it only makes 160 horsepower, and 285 lb-ft of torque. It’s literally no better than a gasoline engine in terms of horsepower and torque. Luckily GM knew this and marketed it as fuel efficient alternative to their gasoline engines.

RELATED: 4BT Cummins: Everything You Want to Know

The 6.2 Detroit was used in the AM General HMMWV (Humvee), as well as the CUCV vehicles. I have a slight feeling that its military history is part of the reason so many people are fond of the 6.2 Detroit. AM General liked the 6.2 Detroit so much that they now run the modern turbocharged 6.5L.

6.6 Duramax: Engine Basics

The 6.6 Duramax engine has been around since 2001. Although it has gone under drastic changes, the architect has remained mostly unchanged. Every year emissions get stricter and it has forced GM to make major changed to the 6.6 Duramax over the years. Let’s take a look at the D-Max over the years:

6.6 Duramax: LB7

The LB7 introduced in 2001 and continued until mid-2004. The LB7 featured a 32-valve design with high-pressure common-rail direct injection. Unfortunately the LB7 is somewhat remembered by its fuel injector failures and overheating. GM now warranties these issues but it will always stick with the LB7 name.

Horsepower: 300 hp @ 3,100 RPM
Torque: 520 lb-ft @ 1,800 RPM

6.6 Duramax: LLY

The LLY debuted in 2004, and was produced until the end of 2005. It featured many of the same components as the LB7, but with some improvements. The valve covers were modified to allow easier and cheaper repair to the fuel injectors. Unfortunately the LLY featured a few new emissions components which diesel lovers seem to hate.

Horsepower: 310 hp @ 3,000 RPM
Torque: 520 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM

6.6 Duramax: LBZ

Interestingly enough, in 2006 the LLY and LBZ are identical other than the tune. It was slightly detuned, and made less power than it was really supposed to. That changed in mid-2005 when the tune was updated and it made more horsepower than it had before.

Horsepower: 310 hp @ 3,000 RPM
Torque: 605 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM

6.6 Duramax: LMM

In 2007 GM introduced a new body style for their pickup truck. With it they brought forth the LMM engine. The LMM is similar to the LBZ engine, but with more advanced emissions controls. The LMM featured a few upgrades with ultimately boosted power to 660 lb-ft of torque.

Horsepower: 365 hp @ 3,200 RPM
Torque: 660 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM

6.6 Duramax: LML

The LML is a further improvement upon the LMM. Most of the changes are to the emissions system, however there are a few mechanical changes. Unfortunately the LML does not allow you to easily plug a tuner in and crank the power up like you can with the LMM.

Horsepower: 397 hp @ 3,000 RPM
Torque: 765 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM

 

6.6 Duramax: Performance Specs

We’ve pretty much listed off all the performance specs for all 6.6 Duramax engines up to this point. To recap: The LB7 engine had 300 horsepower and an impressive 520 lb-ft of torque by the end of its production life. The current LML engine has an insane 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of torque. The LML is likely nearing the end of its production life, what will the next Duramax hold?

6.6 Duramax: Tuning Potential

This is pretty much the only part that really matters to anyone. Diesels are known for being able to crank out insane power numbers. The 6BT Cummins for example can crank out well over 1,200 lb-ft of torque on stock internals. But, can the 6.6 Duramax hold its own in the diesel world?

RELATED: 6BT Cummins: Everything You Need to Know

From what I can gather from diesel forums, the factory 6.6 Duramax internals can hold up to about 550rwhp, or 1000 lb-ft of torque at the tire. Thats plenty enough for basically anything you want to do. Interestingly enough the transmission will only hold to about 400rwhp.

Common Mods

I suppose it’s no use to tell you that the 6.6 Duramax can handle 1000 lb-ft of torque, and then not tell you how to get there. From everything I’ve read on forums, the single best modification is EFI live. The EFI live system allows you to crank the power of your Duramax way up without having to do any real modifications. Things like exhaust and intake are also very common mods.

Reliability Mods

Diesels are known for being able to chug along for millions of miles. However, with the new emissions systems on modern diesels the longevity of the engine has decreased. The 6.6 Duramax has a few emissions systems that almost everybody ends up deleting:

  1. Diesel Particulate Filter – Also known as DPF, is basically like an extreme catalytic converter. You can thank the kids “rolling coal” for making this become a federally mandated emissions item. However, many people delete it because it is known for essentially destroying your engine prematurely
  2. EGR – This is typically deleted for a few reasons. It’s just another system that can fail. Deleting it makes under the hood look better. If you turn the fuel up, the black soot won’t re-enter your intake system. There are no real performance gains to be had from it, however if you want over 500 horsepower it’ll be a big gain in turbo response and reliability.

Summary

Over the last 15 years the 6.6 Duramax has gone through quite a bit of changes. It makes way more power than it used to, but it also has more complex emissions systems. They are all very good engines that will last you 300k miles easily. Let me know what you think of the 6.6 Duramax in the comments below!

Vortec 8100: Everything You Want to Know

Old truck guys are very familiar with the good ole Chevy big block. The Chevy C20 my father owns has a 454ci big block, and man can that thing pull. If towing is your main concern, then a diesel is probably your best option. But, what if you want a gas truck? That’s where the Vortec 8100 comes in.

Vortec 8100: Engine Basics

The Vortec 8100 is rather obviously an 8.1L V8. It was designed as a diesel alternative in the GM pickup truck line-up. The Vortec 8100 borrowed much of its design from the 454ci big block we all know and love. The main difference between the 8100 and big blocks of old is the increased stroke. This is what increased the displacement to an impressive 8.1 liters.

You might be wondering, why isn’t this massive engine used in a performance application? The Chevy LS is super popular so why isn’t this engine? Well, there are quite a few things holding the Vortec 8100 back from ever becoming popular:

  1. Iron block and heads, total engine weight is over 750 lbs.
  2. Older big block parts don’t fit on the Vortec 8100.
  3. Chevy LS parts don’t fit on the Vortec 8100.
  4. Limited production makes them harder to find than an LS.

Vortec 8100: Applications

Like I mentioned above, the Vortec 8100 was used in GM pickup trucks as a diesel alternative. But, it was also used in a few other applications:

  • Chevy Silverado/Sierra 2500HD & 3500HD
  • Chevy Suburban/Yukon XL 2500
  • Chevy Express 2500 & 3500
  • Chevy Avalanche 2500
  • Chevy Kodiak
  • Workhorse Class A motorhomes
  • T-98 Kombat armored vehicles
  • Malibu Boats
  • MasterCraft Boats

As you can see, the Vortec 8100 was used in a host of different vehicles. Chevrolet offered it in all of their heavy duty applications. The coolest application would have to be the T-98 Kombat armored vehicle.

RELATED: 4BT Cummins: Everything you Need to Know

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Vortec 8100: Performance Data

This part gets a little interesting. If the Vortec 8100 is supposed to be an alternative to the Duramax engine, then it must create lots of torque. Torque at low RPM is one of the single most important factors of a heavy duty engine. So, how does the Vortec 8100 do? For this we’ll look at the performance data for the GM truck applications.

Vortec 8100:
330 horsepower @ 4,200 RPM
450 lb-ft @ 3,200 RPM

LB7 Duramax:
300 horsepower @ 3,100 RPM
520 lb-ft @ 1,800 RPM

I know what you might be thinking. “Why does an 8.1L only make 330 horsepower?” If this was a performance application that would be abysmal, however this is a heavy duty application. It makes an impressive 450 lb-ft way down low in the RPM range. Other versions of the Vortec 8100 make as much as 550 horsepower and 690 lb-ft.

Vortec 8100: Tuning Potential

The Vortec 8100 isn’t super impressive in stock trim, but it’s designed for heavy duty work. Like I said earlier, standard big block parts won’t fit on the Vortec 8100, so the performance parts available for it are close to none. However, this is one company who offers some very interesting Vortec 8100 parts.

Raylar Engineering is pretty much the only company interested in the Vortec 8100. They have developed multiple stroker kits to take it from 496ci to 511ci or all the way to 540ci. They also offer everything from camshafts to blowers. Their stage 3 package 540ci engine will make an insane 685 horsepower and 680 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately the stock Vortec internals are fairly weak so any heavy modifications will require a forged bottom end.

RELATED: 6BT Cummins: Everything you Need to Know

So, Raylar Engineering makes a bunch of really cool parts to wake your Vortec 8100 up, but is it worth it? If you’re just towing their towing camshaft and the 511 stroker kit will be a killer combo for you. If you want to go fast their bigger camshaft and 540 stroker will make big power for you.

Summary

So, the Vortec is an excellent heavy duty engine. It nearly matches its diesel brother in torque and beats it in horsepower. But, due to its heavy weight it is rarely swapped into hot rods. It is slowly becoming more popular thanks to companies like Raylar Engineering who can turn it into an absolute monster. Let me know what you think of the Vortec 8100 in the comments below!

The Story of my 1993 Jeep Cherokee XJ

After writing automotive content for the last 2 years, people have begun to comment asking if I could share some of my personal stories with them. I have briefly mentioned a few of the vehicles i’ve owned in a few of the articles on this site. For this article i’m going to start at the beginning, my very first vehicle.

The Backstory

When I was 17 I really wanted a Honda. It seemed so interesting to me that   those little 4-bangers could keep up with V8 cars so easily, at least on the internet. One day my good friend traded his old 1970 something Camaro for an XJ Cherokee with 4″ lift and 33″ tires. I took a ride in his Jeep, and immediately liked it.

About a month later somebody else I knew also got an XJ Cherokee, and I began to feel left out. So, started my craigslist search for my own XJ Cherokee. I only had $1,900 saved up from working at my local ice cream shop, but I was determined to get my own XJ Cherokee. Below is a picture from the craigslist ad of the 1993 Jeep Cherokee I found.

Craigslist Ad picture 

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Going to Purchase the Jeep

I gave the owner a call, and said I would like to come buy it that weekend. The Jeep was located in Prescott, Arizona. Prescott is about 100 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona where I reside. So, that weekend we piled into my friend’s Land Rover Discovery II and drove up to Prescott.

I test drove the Jeep and it felt pretty good to me, but I really didn’t know much of anything technical about cars at the time. The previous owner was selling it because it didn’t tow his boat very well and he wanted a truck. Luckily that was actually the truth and the Jeep drove all the way back home perfectly fine. We even stopped and did a little bit of off-roading on the way back home.

The first day back home with my new Jeep!

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The Road Trips

This little Jeep Cherokee with 225k miles was so reliable, that we ended up taking it on multiple road trips. Both of which were in northern Arizona. One of the road trips the Jeep overheated while climbing a very long hill. Other than that, the road trips went flawlessly.

One of the trips was to Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is known for its world famous red rocks and beautiful scenery. It’s also an excellent location for off-roading. We ended up doing the “broken arrow” trail which was rated 3/5 difficulty, and a stock XJ Cherokee is supposed to only do 1/5 difficulty trails. My little Jeep Cherokee went through every single part of that trail, including the famous “devil’s staircase”.

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Modifications

No Jeep is complete without any mods! The Jeep came with a Flowmasters 40 series on it when I bought it, so the exhaust already sounded awesome. The very first mods I did were two 12″ subwoofers, and I can’t remember what size what amplifier. Then came the suspension lift.

I was on a pretty tight budget, so I ended up piecing together a 3″ lift for it. The front springs came from my brother in law, who had a 3″ lift on his XJ Cherokee many years prior to me owning mine. The front shocks were for a 4.5″ lift and came out of the junkyard. Rear springs were a 3″ add-a-leaf, with the cheapest 3″ lift shocks I could find on the internet.

The last modification was a train horn system from Horn Blasters. It was a couple hundred dollars, but it was insanely loud and awesome. I had it wired to an on-off switch because I was to lazy to properly wire it to the actually horn button.

3″ lift installed plus mud

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My Stupid Mistake

Like every other car person in the world, I deeply regret getting rid of my XJ Cherokee. I got rid of it because I took a ride in a Fox Body Mustang, and fell in love with the insane power it had. A few days later I traded my Cherokee for a 1991 Mustang with a built 5.0L.

Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments below!