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How to Add Style to Your Wrangler’s Engine Bay

Written By: Connor MC

Shop Wrangler Engine Dress Up Parts

Adding some shine to Wrangler's engine bay won't be the first upgrade you reach for, but if you have a style in mind for your rig, matching valve covers and reservoir caps can bring the whole package together.

Jeep Engine Dress Up >

Whether you're building a dedicated mud slinging Jeep or a show performer, each rig has their own personality and style. Unfortunately, popping the hood can take away from that persona if you're not prepared. That's where underhood dress up components come into play.

Hood Shocks

Adding gas powered shocks to the underhood of a Wrangler is a very subtle yet useful way to streamline the appearance of the engine bay in addition to facilitating engine access. Even the latest JL Wrangler is still using an old school prop rod. While surely sturdy, the prop rod can be cumbersome to handle at times and also impedes access to the front of the Jeep, if, for example, needing to work around the radiator. Replacing the factory prop rod with gas-charged struts making opening the hood a breeze – once unlatched, the struts do all the lifting and will keep the hood in its open position. Located at the rear on each side of the hood, gas strut kits do streamline the appearance of the engine bay and make working around the front end easier.

For those that need or want to lift the hood all the way back against the windshield, no problem. The present day gas shock hood kits are all quick connect designs, meaning you can easily disconnect each shock from its pivot socket by hand (no tools necessary) and lean the hood back. When installing them, the shocks should be installed such that the extension rod is always facing down (the larger shock body is attached to the hood) as this will keep the oil located on the seal and prevent it from drying out and leaking. 

Underhood Accessories

Another area to target for some extra underhood customization are the dipsticks and reservoir caps. Long a favorite customization item of muscle car and hot rod enthusiasts, the Jeep aftermarket has made available more attractive looking underhood components to help spruce up the engine bay. The transmission dipstick handle, oil dipstick handle, power steering cap, oil filler cap, master cylinder cover, washer fluid reservoir cap – all of these are some of the namesake pieces that can be swapped out for a more attractive (and sturdier) aftermarket aluminum version. Typically speaking, all of these components use one of two design philosophies: blacked out aluminum or brushed aluminum.

The blacked-out look is certainly extremely popular within the Jeep community as nearly every and any aftermarket improvement can be had in matte, gloss or powder-coated black. Keeping things toned down with a blacked-out stealth look definitely helps to up the aggressive and masculine characteristics of a Wrangler and does blend with the remaining OEM black plastic pieces. These pieces are CNC-machined for a precise fit (and no leaks) and use an anodized black finish to keep them looking sharp and sealed from corrosion. 

Brushed aluminum, on the other hand, will contrast the muted OEM colors found beneath the hood and inject some razzle-dazzle. On top of the dipsticks and caps, owners could also make use of stainless mesh braid on the factory coolant hoses to further liven up the underhood appearance. Like their black brethren, the brushed aluminum variety are also CNC-machined but are brushed in their natural finish to produce a smoothly etched appearance.

Thermal Acoustic Lining

Another item to consider in order to dress-up the engine bay of a Wrangler is a thermal acoustic lining. Using strong adhesive to stick to the underside of the hood, a thermal acoustic lining is designed to reduce noise and reflect heat. These linings are typically ½” to ¾” thick and are made from a marine-grade foam sandwiched between an adhesive backing and reflective layer. The outward reflective layer uses aluminum – sometimes interlaced with fiberglass for extra reinforcement – in order to provide thermal control (rated between 250-300 F depending on manufacturer and thickness of the lining) within the engine bay. The middle foam layer is primarily responsible for absorbing and deadening any sounds. The functional result is an interior that is better isolated from road, engine and chassis noises whilst the hood (and its paint) will remain cooler. Visibly speaking, the outer aluminum reflective layer is quite bright and certainly does add extra shine to the engine bay.

Valve Covers

Again taking a page from the muscle car world, Wrangler owns too can spruce up their rig with a new set of valve covers (or a cover, for those with inline engines). The older YJ and TJ Wranglers powered by the tried-and-true 4.0L inline-six are equipped with a metal valve cover from the factory. The design philosophy back in those days was certainly much different than from now and thus the valve cover is quite visible and not obstructed by an engine cover. Swapping the cover out with something other than black is an easy way to really add some appeal to the engine area. In fact, if you have the time and patience, you could easily repaint the cover yourself. 

Newer JK and JL Wranglers with the Pentastar V6 use plastic-molded valve covers that are mostly kept hidden from view via a top-mounted plastic engine cover. Changing out the muted black plastic covers will definitely change the atmosphere in the engine bay, and for full visual effect, leave the OEM engine cover removed. 

While on the topic of valve covers, another item to customize could be the vacuum and breather hoses that connect to the valve covers. Using a colored or braided stainless steel are two ways to add a unique touch down there as well.

One thing to note – whenever removing a valve cover it is always recommended to change the gasket as well. This will prevent annoying leaks on reinstallation, and, given the low price of a new gasket, is cheap insurance.

Fitment includes: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, JL, JK, TJ, YJ, Laredo, Sport, Islander, S, Sahara, Renegade, SE, X, Rubicon, Unlimited, Sport-S