Just got home from a 16-day vacation in my 1994 Jeep YJ. Left Dallas/Fort Worth area on September 15 and just got home. Drove 5044 miles and used 241 gallons of gas. When you figure it out, it is 20.9 mpg!!! I kept track of my mileage during the trip and was almost shocked at each fill-up at the performance my 4-cylinder engine gave. Depending on how I drove, each tank ranged from 18.9 to 23.2 mpg.
I weighed the jeep fully loaded minus two hefty adult males (me and my brother). The jeep weighed 3650 pounds. I figure my brother and I added another 500 pounds, so this little 4-banger was hauling a big chunk of weight over those hills.
Some of the places I drove included:
- Chain of Craters Back Country Byway (Cibola County Road 42) near Grants, NM
- US 180 / 191 from Springerville to Clifton, AZ through the Apache- Sitgreaves National Forest
- The Apache Trail (AZ Highway 88) from Apache Junction to Lake Roosevelt
- BIA Route 7 from Fort Defiance through Canyon De Chelly National Monument
- Million Dollar Highway (US-550) from Durango through Ouray, CO
- Monument Valley / Valley of the Gods
- Phantom Canyon near Victor, CO
And numerous other back roads and trails. I pretty much drove 50 mph or less on paved roads except the short times I was on interstate highways. On the back roads / trails, I ran about 10-15 mph on average. I regret that I pissed off a lot of folks who were in a hurry to get somewhere, but I pulled over to let them pass when I could. Being heavily loaded, the Jeep bogged down on hills requiring 3rd gear at times to make it up.
Around Day 7, I noticed I occasionally had to force the shifter into first or second gear. It seemed to work ok for 3rd, 4th and 5th. It would grind but go into reverse. So I figured the clutch must need adjusting. Finally, while driving through Monument Valley, things started getting more serious. If I left the jeep out of gear when I shut it off or stopped at a traffic light / stop sign, it was impossible to get it into 1st. Ultimately, I put it into 3rd, revved it up and eased off to get it moving, then was able to force it into first. So I made a conscious effort to put it in first before I stopped.
That night, being somewhat illiterate when it comes to matters associated with the transmission, I decided to seek professional help. I figured I was in Moab, so there had to be someone around who could handle this. I had restless night thinking about some of the stories I have heard about people waiting for several days to get their jeep repaired or stories of price gouging. I expected this might be the end of the trip, so was running scenarios about renting a truck / trailer to haul the jeep home to Texas.
I did a lot of research that night trying to figure out where I might go to get it looked at. I checked Better Business Bureau and AAA recommendations. I ultimately chose to go with Arches Repair Center (I promise I am not affiliated with them – just a very pleased customer). They gave me a reasonable estimate to diagnose the problem which ultimately turned out to be a problem with the Master and Slave cylinders for the clutch. I had already checked for estimated parts / labor costs online for this. Their price was actually a little less than I was expecting to pay. Their hourly labor rate was less than what I have been paying in the DFW area.
So I showed up at their shop right when they opened. Nothing like being first in line. They looked at it and said it was going to take a couple hours and asked if we wanted someone to take us to a local diner (Moab Diner) where we could drink coffee, get a bite to eat while we passed our time. After a while, they called us and told us the jeep was ready.
Afterwards, the clutch / transmission worked like a champ. Still had the hill climbing problem, but that was probably because of the excessive weight… just because it says Jeep on the side doesn’t mean infinite power.
So, some of my lessons learned included:
1. Be careful not to overload the jeep!
2. A heavily-loaded, well-tuned jeep 4-cylinder engine can give pretty good mileage if you drive slow and easy
3. If you need repairs in Moab, check out Arches Repair Center.
4. If you need good coffee / breakfast in Moab, check out Moab Diner.