Jeep Garage  - Jeep Forum

Jeep Garage - Jeep Forum (
-   Grand Cherokee - WK2 - (
-   -   Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland (

Dunecrawler 12-05-2010 11:10 PM

Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland
Please excuse my English as it is not my first language.
I have a 2011 5.7 Overland with 20" wheels. This is an Export model, so there are some minor differences from what most of you are used to. They are however mostly cosmetic and does not make a real difference to off-roading in the sand.
To start with, both times I took it for some fun in the sand I left it in drive, tires at normal pressure (36psi) and left the front air dam on. Sand mode selected with ESC/ESP off, or partially off as the WK2 does not allow you to completely disable ESC.
We got stuck within the first 100m of getting to some soft loose sand. Before you all get worried, this was basically because I was a bit timid and was scared of cresting a dune without being able to see the drop on the other side. Needles to say it bottomed out and we were truly stuck. No amount of wiggling the steering or even low range made any difference whatsoever.
So the next step was to get out the trusty air jack. This was a waste of time as the 5.7 has dual exhausts and the airbag would not inflate. That left lots of digging after which we eventually got out. At this stage I think we damaged a steering rack boot that might have contributed to a complete power steering failure. More about this at a later stage.

For the next few hours we had little trouble and loads of fun! The Overland performs very well in the sand, but it is actually more difficult and takes more concentration to do it right compared to the previous model. As a comparison, I had a lifted 2006 5.7 Overland before with 265/65/17 tires that did extremely well in soft sand. Even before the old model was modified, I believe it was better, or at least easier, and also more fun in the sand than the new Grand Cherokee.

The main handicap in my opinion with the new Grand is that you can not fully disable ESC. I know the engineers and experts will argue that the car does everything for you and they tried to make it as fool proof as possible. However, with my old Overland I almost never got stuck. Purely for the fact that once you feel it starting to bog down, all you had to do is give it lots of power and it always got me out of trouble. With the new WK2 it does not quite work the same way.
Due largely to the ESC limiting engine power/RPM it becomes even more vital to keep the momentum going. This is all good and well, but the terrain does not always permit and therefore you drive the car a lot harder/faster than you had to with the previous model. It takes constant effort and concentration to stay on top of the sand surface at lower speeds.
If it sinks in at low speed you will get stuck! Please remember that I am talking about very soft deep sand. It is still very much a fun and pleasurable experience, but also very different from the older Jeep. If for example you had to stop in soft sand on any uphill incline, however slight, it is very difficult to get started again. Keep it going or stop on a slight down hill and you will be fine. This is now doubt partly due to the fact that you can only safely deflate the tires to about 20 psi due to the lower profile.

After our sand fun came to an end and we got back on the black stuff, I immediately noticed that the power steering was gone. We did not even notice this in the soft sand.
Anyway, long story short, the power steering fluid had all leaked out through a small hole in the dust cover boot. I donít think the tear in the boot was the cause, but merely coincidental. I believe the boot was torn by the shovel as we dug it out right at the start of the trip.
By the way, the "Service 4WD system" warning came on. I am not sure how or what it picked up, but the power steering was the only fault as far as I am aware.

We drove the jeep slowly back to the Service centre where they later replaced the complete steering rack at Dealer cost. No questions asked. The car had less than 250 miles on it at this stage. The dealer said that an oil seal had failed and the fluid leaked out the right side steering boot.

Anyway, I got the car back from the repair shop and had no further problems.
The only two points that I can really criticize on was the fact that you can not fully disable the ESC and that the system keeps dropping the car back to ORI even after I manually selected the highest ORII setting. This was due to too high speed, but it would be nice to override the automatic lowering.
I never needed to remove the front air dam as it had ample ground clearance and the soft sand was unlikely to damage the air dam.
Low range and Hill Decent were never used or tested.

For future trips I plan to test the following;
1. Deflate tires to about 20 psi even though it is not recommended and I was told by the experts that it makes very little difference with this new model in it off road ability.
2. Maybe remove the 3 fuses for ESC/ABS and see what difference it makes to the driveability. Fuses # J06, J07 and M37?
3. Limit the transmission to 1st or 2nd gear. I kept it in Drive for the duration of our trip as that was the most effective with my previous Jeep.

I hope this helps and that some of you might find my impressions useful.

Marlin 12-05-2010 11:21 PM

Re: Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland
Excellent writeup Willem, your english is superb mate! :)

It's a little frustrating that the sand abilities of the WK2 are lower than previous. I trust your judgement too as you have a lot of experience in the sand.

Although, I have a question, and an observation.
My 2006 EXPORT WK will NOT completely disable the stability control in High Range when pressing the button, unlike later model WK's where holding the button down completely disengagges it.
However, I found that when I select Low Range, the ESC is disabled completely, and gives me much more control over the vehicle.
In fact, selecting low range has become the norm for me as soon as I venture off the hard sand near the water edge.

I'm assuming the WK2 will also completely disable it in Low Range, please advise how you find it goes?
I have found the low range gearing not as limiting as one would think, enabling speeds to 80klm/h quite easily, and the in-gear acceleration is astounding! LOL

Mate, again, great post, and I'm giving you Plus Rep for it! :D

Dunecrawler 12-05-2010 11:26 PM

Re: Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland
Thanks Marlin, I was looking forward to your response.
Regarding the ESC. My old (also 2006), but US spec did disable completely when pressed for 5 seconds. I believe the new WK2 does NOT completely disable ESC when in Low Range, but I have yet to test it and will let you know.
I am a bit hesitant as I damaged my WK drivetrain before in Low Range going up a high dune. I over did it a little that time! :lol:

Marlin 12-05-2010 11:29 PM

Re: Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland
How did you damage it?
I've had mine to the rev limiter in top gear while in low range many times, and it does excellent donuts on hard sand in 3rd gear low range, 5000rpm :D

Dunecrawler 12-05-2010 11:33 PM

Re: Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland
I've done that many times also. great fun isn't it?
I was going up a very steep dune at about 40mph, revs not THAT high, but the sand was really grabbing the wheels and just too much torque. All sorts of things went pop. Eventually had to replace the transfer case.

Marlin 12-05-2010 11:36 PM

Re: Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland

That's BIG! lol

Dunecrawler 12-05-2010 11:37 PM

Re: Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland
1 Attachment(s)
By the way, here are some great sand pics from a local magazine (hope I don't get in too much trouble for copyright issues).
Bad quality though - just a scan

Marlin 12-05-2010 11:41 PM

Re: Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland
Good pics! :)

I often read of new model releases in the dunes like that and think it would be cool to head over there and go to one of those places where you rent a Cayenne for the day and flog it senseless through the dunes! :D

Dunecrawler 12-05-2010 11:48 PM

Re: Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland
1 Attachment(s)
You mean something like this?

Marlin 12-05-2010 11:55 PM

Re: Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland
Yep! I can do that too! lol :p

(although, I was towing out, in reverse, a guy in a Ford Territory that had NO idea and slammed his brakes as soon as I's snatched him from his original bog, in turn bogging me)

Dunecrawler 12-06-2010 12:26 AM

Re: Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland
Always fun!

jeep2011 12-06-2010 07:13 AM

Re: Sand Driving Impressions - 5.7 Overland
Dunecrawler do you have the skid plates on yours? That might have protected the steering boots.

Not really sure about airing down the tires not helping much. I have not driven a truck that it does help greatly to air down. I have taken mine on the beach and haven't been able to get it stuck. Then again we are not transversing dunes either.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:48 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2012 - JeepGarage.Org
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Owners Community