2012 Jeep Wrangler JK
2012 was a big year for the Jeep Wrangler, with the introduction of an all-new engine - a 3.6L Pentastar V6 with variable valve technology (VVT). The new powerplant is an all aluminum construction, producing 83 more horsepower and 23 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing 3.8L V6, bringing the total to 285 HP and 260 TQ. A new 5-speed automatic transmission is available, which offers tremendous off-road capability due to its low gearing. With the best performance of any factory Wrangler, here are a few ideas to get even more from a 2012 JK.
Selecting a Winch
Outfitting a 2012 JK Wrangler with a winch is a surefire way to increase it's off-road capability for both yourself and any buddies hitting the trail with you. When selecting a winch, there are a few variables to consider. First and foremost, heat is the number one killer when talking about winches. Higher quality winches will use a series wound motor, which offers better pulling power and duty-cycle over a permanent-magnet motor. Most Wrangler off-road winches use planetery gearsets, and the gearbox reduction number will determine just how much weight the winch will be able to pull. Winches with a higher reduction ratio will be able to pull more weight. Finally, there is horsepower rating. A higher rating translates to increased line speed under load, meaning the rate at which the winch can actually wind the line back in. Thereby, a high horsepower, low reduction winch will have increased weight ratings and more consistent line speed (line speed always reduces as the line is wound around the spool, as this changes the diameter of the spool).
Another simple modification that can greatly impact your 2012 JK Wrangler's driving ability is the type of tire, especially when wheeling off-road. Traction and durability are paramount in ensuring you don't get stuck on the trail. When it comes to tire selection for a Wrangler, size and tire type do matter. All-Terrain (AT) or Mud-terrain (MT) are the categories of choice when seeking a trail rated tire. All-terrain tires have a pronounced, aggressive tread pattern with large grooves inbetween to help clear out dirt and mud as the tire rotates, making them ideal for trails with packed dirt or sand. Multiple bias-plies and fairly stiff sidewalls make all-terrain tires very durable and resistant to puncture. Uniform tread pattern and presence of sipes make AT tires a superb blend of off-road grip and durability, highly suitable for both trail and road use. Of course, as compared to an all-season tire, road noise and tire wear will be more pronounced given their more aggressive tread pattern. Mud-terrain tires are for the hardcore wheelers that play a lot in mud or do a lot of rock crawling. These tires have absolutely massive tread knobs with super pronounced voids. The asymetrical pattern and deep channels inbetween cleats help these tires siphon mud and other debris right out and keep the vehicle from getting stuck. The distance between voids dictates how fast the tire needs to spin in order to clear out debris - the closer the voids between knobs, the faster the tire needs to spin in order to eject the mud. This can have a direct impact on controllability, as spinning the wheel at a high rate makes it more difficult to precisely maneuver the Jeep. On the other hand, closer spaced voids do help with road noise and tire longevity when driving on pavement. One other area to note with MT tires is the presence (or absence) of sipes. These are speciality grooves found in each tread knob, placed their to aid with on-road wet weather traction. Not all mud tires have sipes and this can affect their capability in the rain when driving on pavement. In terms of road noise, you can expect MT tires to be more noisy than all-terrain, however continuous advancements in their radial composition has developed them to be much quieter than traditionally thought.