A Salute to Some Jeep Owners & Jeep Clubs Who Helped Others Survive the Snow

Over the past month or so, Jeep owners and Jeep clubs across the United States have volunteered to help friends, neighbors, family members and even complete strangers survive the snow.

Jeepers have transported patients to and from hospitals, brought food and supplies to snow-bound senior citizens, helped get stranded cars out of snow banks and even winched themselves together to help pull large trucks off of icy roads and highways.

The following list of individual Jeep owners and Jeep clubs all helped their peers and communities during the harsh winter snows of January through March 2015. This is just a partial list culled from the news media:

  • Chisholm Trail Jeep Club
  • Misfit Jeepin
  • Knox Off Road Club
  • Ronnie Trujillo
  • Derek Smith
  • Derby City Jeep Club
  • Phil Giuliano
  • Shawn Tackett

Is your name missing from this list? Comment on this post or email your name (or your Jeep club’s name) to info@functionalutility.com, and we will add you to this list.

Thank you, Jeepers! You rock.

Are Jeep Aftermarket Parts Made in China Really Less Expensive For You?

You have probably noticed that some Functional Utility Inc. products are slightly higher priced than similar looking products offered by our competitors.

There’s actually a bunch of valid reasons for that.

Here’s a few pieces of background information to explain our pricing so you can understand where your money goes:

  1. If you only want to pay a rock bottom price for a Jeep aftermarket part, you will have to buy a POS—piece of steel—from China. But buyer beware—you will soon have a rust and corrosion problem, especially if you drive your Jeep on a coastline near salt water  or in the American or Canadian north, where winters and road salt are notoriously tough on vehicles. Manufacturers of parts made in China are notorious for using substandard steel as well as substandard hardware. Is it really cheaper to add a part onto an expensive Rubicon, just to have it start rusting immediately, or break when it’s needed most during off-road adventures?
  1. Functional Utility Inc. use sturdy, tough aircraft grade aluminum that is powder coated and intended to last indefinitely. This material costs more per pound than steel, will never rust, is lighter than steel and stands up to rough road (and off road) conditions better than substandard, thin gauge steel parts manufactured in China.
  1. FU installation hardware has a better than Grade 8 minimum tensile strength of 170,000 psi and is corrosion protected with a zinc basecoat plus an aluminum topcoat that can withstand 1000 hours of direct salt spray per ASTM B117. The lowest priced Jeep parts on the market today don’t provide you with protection and durability like that.
  1. We make our own stuff right here in the USA where people like to earn a living wage instead of pennies on the hour. And by “we,” we mean fewer than 10 people. We’re a small business, baby, and proud of it, too!

There’s a few more reasons behind our pricing, but who’s got time to read a long blog post these days?

We’ll keep this short and sweet, and tell you some more insider secrets about Functional Utility Inc. and how we do business next month.

Made in the USA Gear You Can Throw Into Your Jeep for 4th of July

webbed lawn chairs

webbed lawn chairs

So, are you heading to the beach, the local fireworks display or a backyard barbecue to celebrate the 4th of July?

Here are a few suggestions of Made in the USA products you can throw into your Jeep and take with you to celebrate Independence Day with classic American Style:

1. You’ll want some comfortable vintage aluminum webbed lawn chairs to sit on, just like you had when you were a kid, from Lawn Chair USA

2. Bring a portable, seasoned cast iron hibachi charcoal grill by Lodge for hot dogs and burgers anywhere, anytime

3. Snag a bunch of Made in the USA American flags and patriotic decorations from Flag Store USA

4. All the kids will want hula hoops with LED lights made by Canyon Hoops of Oregon

5. You’ll need some beach towels, so we have to recommend Big Ass Towels of Georgia

There you have it—a selection of Made in the USA gear for making your Fourth of July extra festive, American style. Happy Fourth of July and Happy Trails!

Differences between CREE, Epistar, Nichia, Ecosmart and Other LED Lights

With so many LED light brands on the market, how can you choose the right LEDs for your Jeep? Here are a few points to consider when purchasing Jeep LEDs.

CREE and Epistar are the most popular chips/drivers used in the automotive LED light bar industry, although there are actually more than a dozen different brands that are commercially available.

CREE, Inc. was established in 1987 and is based in the USA. They hold thousands of patents in more than twenty countries around the world and are universally accepted as the LED industry’s most prolific innovators.

CREE effectively created the high quality LED standards that all other LED manufactures strive to achieve. As a result, the price for light bars with CREE LEDs are higher than their industry counterparts.

CREE makes the best LEDs, but other manufacturers are in a close second place when it comes to LED quality. Epistar Inc. (a Taiwan based company) and Nichia Corp (a Japan based company) produce good quality LEDs as well.

It is important to note that CREE licenses the use of its patents to others, and all three of the leading LED companies manufacture most of their LEDs in China.

Here is how these different Jeep LED brands stack up in terms of life expectancy and durability:

CREE: 50,000 to 100,000 hour Life Expectancy – Highest Standards
Epistar:
50,000 to 75,000 hour Life Expectancy – High Standards
Nichia: 50,000 to 75,000 hour Life Expectancy – High Standards
Bridgelux: 30,000 to 40,000 hour Life Expectancy – Medium Standards
Edison: 30,000 to 40,000 hour Life Expectancy – Medium Standards
Ecosmart: 10,000 to 25,000 hour Life Expectancy – Low Standards
Generic: 250 to 5,000 hour Life Expectancy – Lowest Standards

Functional Utility Inc. is rolling out new LED light options in the months to come, so check out our offroad lighting page to review our current offerings.

How to tell if the LED lights you are about to buy for your Jeep are cheap or not.

Unsure whether the LED lights you are considering buying are tough enough to last for years, or just temporary craptech that will fall apart and leak in a few months?

An easy way to tell is to check for the presence of small screws around the lens on the bezel of each light, an indicator of a higher quality product.

The screws are easy to see in product photos, and if present, they prove the light is assembled using gaskets, making it watertight and serviceable over the long term.

In contrast, LED lights that don’t have hardware around the bezel are glued together, notorious for not being watertight, and, in our experience, usually suffer at least a partial failure within 6 months, making them a waste of money for the serious Jeeper.

Most Jeep Wrangler Light Brackets are Ugly. We Fixed That.

Jeep Wrangler Light Brackets Made in the USA by FunctionalUtility.com

Jeep Wrangler Light Brackets Made in the USA by FunctionalUtility.com

The average light mounting bracket is cheaply made from folded sheet metal, ugly, and prone to rust. Not cool. Not cool at all. Nobody wants rust all over their Jeep.

Functional Utility Inc. decided to remedy this problem by making (in the USA!) attractive, streamlined yet sturdy-as-all-get-out light brackets rendered in aircraft-grade aluminum that cannot rust.

Note the fact that our brackets are made out of one solid piece of aircraft grade aluminum, meaning no hideously welded seams or sharp edges like on other Jeep light brackets you might have come across.

Here’s a few other reasons why we are proud of these new CJ and Wrangler light brackets and think you will enjoy them, too:

a.) American made with a Lifetime Warranty

b.) Easy and fast to install using existing mounting points on your Jeep–no drilling necessary

c.) Neoprene backing to protect your paint in case you feel like taking the bracket off later on

d.) Corrosion resistant hardware

e.) No ugly nuts and bolts visible on the underside of the lights

For more information about the different LED light brackets we offer for different Jeep models, hop on over to our main website’s Offroad Lighting Kits and Light Brackets page.