No More Unsightly Wires

If you’re like me, you probably have several items in your vehicle that needs to be kept charged with various USB cords. In my case it’s two GoPro cameras, my phone, and a scanner. All of which need a power cord and of course and outlet. Most newer vehicles have at least a couple USB ports and a 12v adapter somewhere on the main dash. But there’s never enough so now you need a splitter of some sort and before you know it, you have a mess of wires sticking out of your dashboard running all over the place. Not only are they unsightly, but they can also get tangled up on your turn signals, shifter, etc and they tend to block the your view of the dash cluster and various controls, like audio and climate.

I’ve been known to tuck wires along the edges of the windshield, or edge of some trim before but this time I would need to put in a lot more effort.

Thanks to the YouTube University, I was able to find the videos needed to how to remove various panels, controls, and touch screen so that I could run all my wires behind them. Now because my vehicle has spare powered wires hidden under the dash, I was able to do more than just hide some wires. I was able to eliminate them entirely from the main dash. So even though I had a few devices to power, none of the ports on the dash would be used.

After ordering a power hub from Amazon, which had three 12v ports and four USB ports, I also needed a 12v adapter (acquired from my local auto parts store) that I would wire directly into those spare wires hidden under the dash. Fortunately I had the needed tools and skill to do the soldering myself as well as the tools I would need to remove the touch screen and other panels.

Once everything was done I had a lot more power outlets (both 12v and USB) and it doesn’t look like I’m using any at all. The wires also come out from behind the dash very close to where they are needed and are barely noticeable. Actually, you don’t notice them at all unless you are looking for them. The only sacrifice, other than the time to do the job, was losing about 20% of my glove box to the power hub.

All in all, it was time well spent.

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Getting Our Feet Wet | Off-Roading the New Jeep Wrangler JLUR

It’s been a month since I got my new used Jeep 4dr Wrangler Rubicon (JLUR) and it was time to get dirty. Now since all the public trails are closed for the season, there was only one obvious (and legal) place to go…the Minden Offroad Park (formally known as Ray’s Place) located in Minden, Ontario. It’s a 2.5hr drive from Toronto where I live but I make the trip regularly in the winter time when working as a Winter Driving Instructor with the Car Control School.

This trip was going to be very different though. Our first time taking the new Jeep (new to me anyway) off-roading. It was also to be my first time actually off-roading myself as a driver. I’ve been a passenger before while off-roading but this time would be my first time behind the wheel making all the decisions.

Now one of the biggest rules when going off-roading is never go alone. That doesn’t include your passengers though. They mean go with another vehicle. That way if you get stuck, the other vehicle can pull you free. Or if you suffer a serious mechanical failure, or a medical problem or injury, someone can get you out. With that in mind, I made arrangements to meet up with a few others inside the park. They had arrived the night before and planned on staying until Sunday. When we arrived on Saturday morning, they were still sound asleep. So I decided to carry on without them. I knew they would be around eventually if I needed help. So essentially…we went alone but we knew we had back-up.

The website for the park clearly states that there are NO “beginner” trails. So if you don’t have experience and skill…you shouldn’t be there. So not having any actual experience…well…I’m pretty skilled behind the wheel of any vehicle and I’ve been able to make them do things that they aren’t designed for, so I was leaning heavily on that to get through the day. Turns out I had plenty of skill and although my Jeep is stock (no modifications yet), it was at least capable enough for what I was demanding of it. I had plenty of recovery gear if I got stuck. But without a winch, I would need someone else to pull me off, or out of, whatever obstacle that got me stuck.

I certainly was challenged but we prevailed. Although I did get high-centred on a boulder for a bit, I was able to free myself thanks to a good amount of determination (stubbornness). Over rocks and boulders we climbed, through the trees, and crashing though thick ice that covered some deep puddles, we slowly traversed the trails though the park, making sure to avoid the trails that were rated for greater difficulty. I knew full well that the more difficult trails couldn’t be done with a stock Jeep and with the tires that I was equipped with; they are proper offroad tires but they are skinny and not suited for serious rock crawling or deep mud. For trail riding though, they are great. I’d like the wider tires that the Jeep was originally sold with back in 2019 but for now I had to make due with the ones I had. It’s just one of those “know your limits and the limits of your equipment” kinda thing and although I pushed the limits, I didn’t exceed them. Well…not by much anyway.

Once all was said and done, my partner and I had a great day on the trails as we popped our Off-Roading Cherry’s. Fortunately there is a coin wash nearby so I could power spray all the mud, snow, and ice off and it allowed me to see if there was anymore obvious damage other than front license plate and cover.

Oh…I didn’t mention that? Yeah….while crashing through some thick ice of one of the deeper puddles, the waterline was up over the bumper and I mangled the front plate and custom plate cover. Yeah yeah…I know…I should have removed it first. I just forgot. Oh well…lesson learned.

But hey…I didn’t break anything important and we had a great day. I wouldn’t expect you all to understand though because, well…It’s a Jeep Thing.

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Storm Troopers Cruisers – Getting Nurses and Doctors to Work in Foul Weather

The Storm Trooper Cruisers…

I am proud to announce that I have started a program in Southern Ontario to help get Nurses and Doctors to their hospitals when bad winter storms roll in. Our medical system is stretched to the breaking point already due to so many staff shortages and whenever there is a major snow storm, hospitals see a huge increase in absentees.

The Storm Trooper Cruisers initiative has the singular goal of getting nurses and doctors into work so that they can do what they do best…save lives.

The program is made up of volunteers of 4×4 owners & enthusiasts who donate their time, fuel, expertise, and equipment, to drive essential workers to work. They can get picked up from home and dropped of on the steps of their respective hospitals at no cost. We just can’t promise to get you there on time.

I was inspired by a similar program in Moncton, New Brunswick and from that the Ontario Storm Trooper Cruisers was formed.

If you have a suitable 4×4 and would like to join the team, contact me. If you’re a medical professional in need of a ride to work when the weather turns foul, email me and I’ll try and arrange a ride for you. Also, let your hospital administration know that this service is available in Southern Ontario. If they ever need to activate their Emergency Operations Centre, they can reach out to arrange rides for their staff.


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Another Dream Come True

It’s been about 30yrs since I developed a desire for a Jeep Wrangler. Thirty years of watching them drive by, watching them evolve, adding extra doors and features, and I hoped that one day I would have one. Finally…after 30yrs longing…there is a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with my name on the ownership. It’s a used one (a 2019) but it’s in great condition and whenever I drive it, I find that I have a huge shit-eating grin on my face.

My partner…whenever she sees me behind the wheel…smiles, laughs, and pats my shoulder because she sees that this vehicle really does have my name on it. Not just on paper.

I have yet to name it…that’s something that needs to just come to you naturally for some reason or another. This is true for any vehicle. You can’t just pick a random name. There has to be an earned ‘reason’ or ‘occurrence’ when naming a vehicle and sometimes it takes months for that to happen.

Until then, I look forward to a winter of snow and ice, and my first road trip in my new, well….new to me, Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Time to get dirty.

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Goodyear Assurance ComfortDrive Touring Tires Outperform Expectations

For my epic road trip and Expedition around Canada, I chose the 18″ Assurance ComfortDrive tires from Goodyear. As an Instructor with the ILR Car Control School, we have a special relationship with Goodyear because we truly believe in their products (and they believe in us). So when my van Moose needed some new shoes before going on a massive road trip around the country, over two months, I chose to go with the Assurance ComfortDrive tires on some snazzy looking 18″ wheels. Okay yes…they are rather large for my van, too large in fact (it originally takes a 16″ tire), but they do look really nice and the wheels I mounted them on provided a lot of airflow around the brakes, which is always a good thing.

Now according to Goodyear, the Assurance ComfortDrive is an All-Season tire, but in practice it’s a touring tire best suited for mild to warm temperatures, and it should be limited to hard surfaces. Simply put…they are designed for paved roads. Period. I wouldn’t recommend them in the winter. I’ve used these same tires before on another vehicle and in icy, snowy conditions, they don’t perform very well, so you’re better off getting a proper winter tire when the winter season comes.

My road trip started off in Toronto, went to Vancouver and Victoria on the Pacific coast, then up the Dempster Highway to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean, and then traversed the Prairies again back to Ontario. Nearly 18,000km in just under two months and my tires were exposed to a wide range of temperatures from 6 Celsius to +30 Celsius (42F to +86F), and all types of weather and road conditions.

They also suffered the grueling Dempster Highway in the Arctic Circle, which is an 880km (550 mile) road of hellish abuse and not for the faint of heart. This road no longer needs a 4×4 but I would still recommend it. Remember that every mountain needs to be climbed twice…to the top and back down again. With that in mind, I drove the Dempster twice and thanks to some miserable weather, it was a totally different level of hell on the way back. You can read all about the Dempster Highway here.

The main tire killers on the Dempster are wheel crushing potholes and the sharp tire shredding shale that makes up much of the surface. It is said that it’s mandatory to carry a spare tire because the odds of getting a flat are nearly 100% and I did see a couple of people suffer from blowouts The service centre at Eagle Plains is usually swamped with tire repairs. Although a flat tire is NOT an experience that I had on the Dempster, or anywhere else for that matter, while on this epic road trip.

As an 18″ tire, there isn’t much of a sidewall to absorb heavy shocks, but the construction of the Goodyear Assurance ComfortDrive allowed it to soak up even the most jarring potholes as well as the wash-board dirt roads that were so violent they could shake loose the fillings in your teeth. I hit some pot holes so hard that I truly felt the need to apologize out loud to my van.

Goodyear Assurance ComfortDrive delivers even on surfaces that it wasn’t designed for.

These tires also performed extremely well on wet roads and although you can feel the puddles under you, they do well at evacuating water so they can better maintain traction with the road. They even did very well on loose gravel, but they did however struggle with thick, wet mud, and on slick dirt/muddy roads. Well of course…they were not designed for that. Still though…they delivered, and even though I was at times probably driving too fast for the conditions, they complimented my skill set to kept me from flying off the road and landing deep in the Tundra.

I can’t praise them enough actually. Over the entire trip they performed extremely well and even survived the abusive conditions of the Dempster for which they were NOT designed for.

So if you’re wondering if this is a good reliable tire…yes…absolutely. They have truly impressed me on this mega road trip and I would highly recommend them for most driving conditions. Okay…don’t take them offroading, and it would be best to stay out of slippery mud.

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