Jeep Trail Rated Badge

Have you ever wondered what the Trail Rated badge on the side of your Jeep means?

That’s a great video from Jeep. But, what does it really mean? Because, not all Jeeps wear the badge. I noticed this while shopping for my Jeep, and quickly realized it’s just marketing. Granted, it’s a great idea that helps draw attention to the vehicle’s inherit capabilities. But, in the end, there’s no additional equipment or capabilities. There is a line item on the invoice for it, though.


Drake Locking Hood Hold Downs

Hood bounce. If you own a Jeep Wrangler you know exactly what those two words mean. There’s nothing quite as concerning as seeing the hood bounce against safety latch. The problem, while more scary than it is dangerous, is due to the flimsy hood latches used by Jeep. The lightweight rubber that’s intended to hold the hood down simply can’t stand up to the force of headwinds at highway speeds.

It’s a bit shocking that Jeep has left the latches unchanged. Jeep forums are crowded with discussions, and there are plenty of aftermarket options available to make it go away. It seems with that much conversation, Jeep would be motivated to do something about it.

It took only a few trips on the freeway for me to start searching the web for a solution to this problem. I found several options, some incredibly creative ones, but none of them had the Jeep look I wanted–something tough, mechanical looking and, oh yeah, secure. Then I stumbled on the Drake Locking Hood Hold Downs. Locking? That’s a bonus and something I didn’t even think about before then. I read a few reviews and quickly decided these were the solution to my problem. They are a bit pricey compared to other options on the market, but rest assured, it’s money well spent!

Drake Locking LatchesI knew the moment I opened the package that I made the right choice. The Drake hold downs are very well build and are constructed with quality materials. The instructions were a little short on detail, but considering the simplicity of the install, I don’t know that more words or pictures would improve them.

The package included two latch assemblies, 4 barrel keys (awesome!), necessary bolts, and installation instructions. The rubber tabs from the OEM latches are required to complete the install. Don’t miss that step!

The install took less than an hour. The most difficult task was removing the lower bolt on the OEM latch. The instructions said to reach in with a wrench and take it off. I took that route and cursed over and over again. It’s a tight fit. Add in a wrench and it’s almost an impossible fit. I realized when I started installing the new latches that things would be much easier with the grill removed. I snapped that off and “AAHHHH!” I had plenty of room. I finished up, stepped back and smiled. THESE THINGS LOOK AWESOME! A few adjustments were required on both sides to get things just right. But, once they were adjusted, the hood was sitting very securely against the body. All bouncing gone! And, the engine bay is locked, too.

Bottom line: if you hate watching your hood bounce or are concerned about strangers rooting around under your hood, you will love these! In fact, Jeep should consider offering these as a factory option. They’re that good.