What do you get when you combine a hot engine with water? The answer is steam. That steam raises the under hood temperatures of your rig and in the case of more modern engines can cause them to enter limp mode to cool off.
A few weekends ago, I spent the bulk of a Saturday cutting holes into my stock Rubicon’s hood. Why in the world would I do such a thing?! During several off road trips, especially those that included fairly deep water or mud obstacles, the nannies in my JK were cutting power due to all the steam build up in my engine compartment. Obviously, in wet highway conditions there is a good deal of air flow coming through the grill to sweep out all that steam. I needed an affordable way to lower the temperature and allow steam to escape my engine compartment.
HyLine Offroad was nice enough to provide a hood louver that I had been eyeing for quite a while. I knew I needed better ventilation in my engine compartment but I didn’t want to spend all that money on a heat reduction hood – which can reach around $1500 dollars by the time you finish it. Compared to the one panel louver that HyLine produces for $154.99, there was a great deal left over to invest in other areas.
So what’s special about HyLine?
I have installed other louvers on Jeeps before but HyLine’s stuck out for a few reasons.
Most significantly, my louver actually came with a steel laser cut template! I know the excitement might come off as a little weird but this made the install infinitely easier than those I have installed in the past. All the guess work was taken out of laying down a printed template that may be off due to printing anomalies, creases, or tearing. It was literally as easy as laying down the template, anchoring it with tape and the first to opposing corner bolt holes. It also means as we drilled and marked holes the template didn’t tear or stretch.
The directions were very well done and clear. As I just mentioned, the anchoring method is explained very well. The rest of the instructions are just as easy to follow and leave little to no questions. They make sure to include rust preventative spray, files, and sandpaper in their “tools needed” section which is helpful because those items can be easily overlooked. Once the template is anchored, as you follow each step, it really is as easy as just drilling out each hole through the template and tracing out the panels to cut.
There are three areas to cut out but the template makes that very easy too. For each corner of the sections to be removed, a one inch hole drill needs to be used and the template even has pilot holes for those too. Like I said earlier, their directions and template really take almost all possible guess work out of the installation.
Finally, a note about appearance and style. There are several louver options out there and it will end up being personal preference but I really appreciated the clean look that HyLine’s louver gave my jeep. There are no visible exterior bolt heads to distract you from the powder coated aluminum panel (they also give the option of bare metal in case you want to give it personal touches). To me this meant I had less fasteners to look at, less details to clean, and less rust to bust.
A couple helpful pointers:
Be careful when using the cutting wheel to cut out your ventilation panels. In fact, it may be worthwhile to trace out the panels to be cut out on your hood, then take a moment to figure out where your x-brace is running underneath. I would recommend adding some dotted lines to (on the section of sheet metal you will be removing) the template trace out so you know when to be very careful about the depth of your cutting wheel. There is only a very small gap between your x-brace and the top sheet metal of your hood (caused by an adhesive). Once your cuts are done, it is also a good idea to grab a screw driver that can help pry the cut out from the adhesive on the x-brace.
This last tid bit is still very experimental; you’ve been warned. On other panel hood louvers I noticed that during the winter the sheet metal under the louver can bow out causing a pretty significant gap between the hood sheet metal and the louver. This causes your windshield washer nozzles to drop just enough to where the spray gets blocked by the louver. Obviously, this can lead to hazardous driving conditions. During my install, I actually used a good deal of epoxy to glue several areas of the louver in place especially around the areas where my nozzles are at. So far it has done great on a few off road trips and this winter will be the true test.
What’s your take?
I appreciate traditional design features that Jeep has kept but, as I was installing the hood louver, I started thinking about how nice it would be if the panel also worked as a windshield bumper and windshield latch delete. Instead of reinstalling these hood features (let’s face it, they are pretty much just there for looks on a JK), I thought it would have been nice if the louver came with no cut outs for them so it could double as a delete kit. For those that still want those features on their hood, the template could simply include the areas to cut or two louvers could be offered. One with those items included and one that deletes them. At least then, there would be the option. Post your thoughts on our Facebook page 4WAAM or in the comments below.