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In the Michigan UP we decided to make the dirt road trip up to Crisp Point Lighthouse. If you haven’t done this it’s a long journey at over 20 miles of rough dirt that sometimes narrows down to a single lane. This lighthouse is located along the Lake Superior shoreline West of Whitefish point lighthouse. It’s beautiful but remote.


The dirt road was the problem. Not much traffic but those that do use it, drive at 30 to 40 miles an hour. Way too fast in my opinion for a road that has a considerable amount of wash boarding. I would slow down in these areas but still the Wrangler was shaking like it was going to come apart. Violent is not too strong a word. This made the drive a very long 20 miles, each direction.


The DW complained about the trip (it was her idea to go to Crisp Point) and wanted to know why a vehicle designed to go off road was having such a hard time off road. I know the others flying by us were tearing their suspensions apart on those rough sections yet they didn’t seem to care. I crawled at points to avoid the shudder, trying not to shake loose every bolt on the Jeep. This added to my wife's frustration.


I did talk to the guy in the gift shop about the road. He said that the only way he gets in and out of the area is to drive slowly. He claims it’s the people racing through that create the ripples in the road. I don’t know if that is correct or not.

My question. How do others handle such conditions?

By the way, I explained to my wife that off roading is mostly going very slowly over rough terrain the trick being the ability to go off road at all vs ordinary highway vehicles.
 

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Funny you should bring this up, I was following a buddy in his TJ this weekend on 14 miles of similar road, he was easily doing 35-40 and I was poking along between 15-20 in my 2016 JK, wife was wondering why he could go so fast and we weren't. I even dropped tire pressure to 29 to see if it helped, it didn't. I told my wife he probably was getting just as rough a ride, but he didn't care. His wife said it was a rough ride!
 

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Lower tire pressures will be a huge help. Some here will recommend a steering attenuator but I've seen many fail in a very short time period. Other than that...shocks.
 

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Slow down, the speeders are the ones ruining the road.


In the Michigan UP we decided to make the dirt road trip up to Crisp Point Lighthouse. If you haven’t done this it’s a long journey at over 20 miles of rough dirt that sometimes narrows down to a single lane. This lighthouse is located along the Lake Superior shoreline West of Whitefish point lighthouse. It’s beautiful but remote.


The dirt road was the problem. Not much traffic but those that do use it, drive at 30 to 40 miles an hour. Way too fast in my opinion for a road that has a considerable amount of wash boarding. I would slow down in these areas but still the Wrangler was shaking like it was going to come apart. Violent is not too strong a word. This made the drive a very long 20 miles, each direction.


The DW complained about the trip (it was her idea to go to Crisp Point) and wanted to know why a vehicle designed to go off road was having such a hard time off road. I know the others flying by us were tearing their suspensions apart on those rough sections yet they didn’t seem to care. I crawled at points to avoid the shudder, trying not to shake loose every bolt on the Jeep. This added to my wife's frustration.


I did talk to the guy in the gift shop about the road. He said that the only way he gets in and out of the area is to drive slowly. He claims it’s the people racing through that create the ripples in the road. I don’t know if that is correct or not.

My question. How do others handle such conditions?

By the way, I explained to my wife that off roading is mostly going very slowly over rough terrain the trick being the ability to go off road at all vs ordinary highway vehicles.
 

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The washboard is a result of improper maintenance of the road by the road grader operator. He is driving too fast when the road isn't wet enough to grade properly. The road should be done right after a good soaking rain and it would be fine.
 

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Out here in the western deserts, many of the roads are washboarded. Besides lowering the pressure in the tires, try speeding up to find the "sweet spot" where the tire is bouncing only on the tops of the ridges. In my experience, it's somewhere above 30 mph. The point is by traveling at just the right speed, the shocks and springs don't have time to push the tire down into the low spot of the washboard. You're still going to have a rough ride, but it won't be as bad and it won't take as long. Otherwise, you're looking at a 10-15 mph ride.
 

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Some of the N Georgia fire roads we like to explore have some washboard and the Wrangler is horrible on these sections. Feels like its going to fall apart or lose control and fly off the road. These are speeds well below 25 mph. We have a Subaru and sometimes take that on the same roads, and the washboards are absorbed easily by the suspension with no handling issues at all. We were thinking the same thing that the Jeep should not be bothered by this type of road, but maybe its the solid axle design?
 

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I find i have to run 15-20psi on washboard. Then i find the right speed to minimize the effect. 4hi all the time as these solid axles can easily skitter over them on corners, which i always slow down for especially on washboards. I had an IFS before and that took those washboards much better than my SFAs. With that said, i take 10yrs off my trucks age every trip to these washboard places. I had to retighten all sort of bolts from roof racks to shocks, control arms.

I also read somewhere that high tire pressures are one of the factors for washboards, presumably from the higher rate of bouncing over pebbles. Majority dont air down so perhaps there is truth to
that.

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I've always accelerated until I found a speed that was smoothest. Usually 40+. Slower is worse.

Mythbusters did an episode on this if I recall correctly.
 

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Slow down, the speeders are the ones ruining the road.
Nope, unless you you consider 5mph speeding. Studies have shown that on dirt and gravel roads that the only way to avoid washboarding is to drive slower than this.

Washboarding is a fact of life. For a good portion of my life I had a 20 mile compute on dirt roads and there is nothing you can do to get rid of them. Airing down will make the ride better but is not always practical where you have a combinations of road, pave and dirt.

To make the ride better put it in 4hi and speed up until to find the sweet spot. The reason for 4hi is enhanced control, you won't be sliding as much making the road worse. When you get it right you will have a fairly smooth ride.
 

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I second the 4Hi suggestion, it really helps my 2 door with the washboard.


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You're all right.
Slow down or speed up ---- we have a saying, "you have to go either 40 or 4 for washboard".
The washboard gets started by a harmonic and you either match the harmonic or fight it.
Air down a lot. Have really good shocks tuned perfectly to the weight of your Jeep.
Or go really slow.

 
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The DW complained about the trip (it was her idea to go to Crisp Point) and wanted to know why a vehicle designed to go off road was having such a hard time off road. I know the others flying by us were tearing their suspensions apart on those rough sections yet they didn’t seem to care. I crawled at points to avoid the shudder, trying not to shake loose every bolt on the Jeep. This added to my wife's frustration.

IMHO, your Wrangler is off-road capable. However, it seems that your DW is not.

I would suggest trading her in for a younger/newer model that can better handle life's bumps in the road. :D


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IMHO, your Wrangler is off-road capable. However, it seems that your DW is not.

I would suggest trading her in for a younger/newer model that can better handle life's bumps in the road. :D


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If you know the road you will be on will be only dirt/gravel airing down and taking it at 20 mph in 4 wheel drive is the way to go.

If you don't know where you are going the idea of airing down for what might be a short section then having to air back up for pavement and the ability to drive faster might make you want to remain with street pressure and just drive slower. Unless you're on a long straight section I wouldn't want to carry too much speed into corners or re-accelerate back out of corners to get back to that harmonic speed.
 
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