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Unread 03-10-2014, 09:32 PM   #1
Range07
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'03 WJ Laredo - Onyx Green Pearl? Absolutely

New (to me) car, so I decided to drop my first post in a build thread of sorts... not going to four-wheel this in the traditional since, so probably won't lift it (at least not yet), but there are a few things that do need to be addressed, maybe I can get some input from others.

Quick backstory on me and Jeep. Had a 97 Laredo (ZJ), drove it from 57k to 197k over 9 years, but I let it get away from me in condition. Typical mid twenty year old behavior, didnt keep up with oil changes, tire rotation, which snowballed to not fixing leaks, changing plugs or flushing fluids... I was a bad Jeep owner. So I let it go a couple of years ago, and always wished I had just maintained the darn thing, because it served some real purpose for me, and was a lot of fun to have around.

Im a stormchaser, and the ZJ was perfect at it. So Ive been looking for a few months to find a replacement, after deciding it was necessary when a kid hits me and totals my daily driver at the time (a volvo). The hunt went from a casual browsing, to "ok, time to find a Jeep" and sure enough, in a sea of torn up interiors and 180k+ mileage WJs mostly in white or silver (at least my area lol) one pops up that is perfect for me.

2003 Onyx Green Pearlcoat Laredo, 126k miles, near mint interior, everything works, no sunroof leak, fog lights. Under the hood, its rocking the 4.0L Inline six (no hate here, my ZJ was the same engine, and I actually prefer it ), NV 242 Selec-Trac (again, another winner in my opinion, this was actually a STRONG preference of mine). Transmission shifts smooth (for the 4-speed ZJ/WJ tranny lol).

There are a few areas of concern though.... nothing that kept me from buying it obviously, but still. First, rear differentials are bad. Im going to have a rebuild on it this week, was quoted 900 in a worst case scenario where they have to replace the whole pinion ring and all the associated gearing. Seemed reasonable enough, and the shop has an outstanding reputation with Jeeps.

Second, the tires. It has BRAND NEW Cooper Discoverer H/Ts on it, but theyre LT225/75/16. Yeah, thats a 10-ply, E-rated skinny tire... ugly and a PITA to ride around on. And theyre almost brand new, disgusting. Should never have been sold to the previous owner. Oh well... Im getting a new set of Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo 2's for 697.98 out the door in P245/70/16, an inch wider to boot. I shopped around, and had to pull the "Ive been a customer here for 10 years" card to get that price, but I definitely found the best deal in my area on them.

Third, EVAP system leak. I see a few of the vacuum hoses on the underside that look a little worn out, and I have a tapping from the rear driver wheel well when I idle (think this is the charcoal canister), and maybe need to replace the purge solenoid... Throing P0442 and P0455 engine codes, so I think checking those areas and addressing them as needed should clear it up.

I have the week off, and a rental car for 6 more days (just had the accident, remember ), so here is the agenda to get this new Jeep ready to rock. Its going to be a daily driver, but will be seated in the heart of Tornado Alley, and will be seeing a LOT of thunderstorm activity this spring and summer I hope So it needs to handle extremely well in rain (thus the tires), and also this is a reason against much of a lift. Ive never been in a situation that the ZJ couldnt get through stock (and it saw a LOT of nasty situations, snow, ice, mountains, tornadoes, floods, everything), so I think this one should have similar potential.

-----

1. Rear differential rebuild. Told they can do it in 8 hours or so, parts are in stock. 1 day, maybe overnight.

2. Tires. Not an absolute necessity, but the tires on it now are NOT spec... theyre 10-ply for one, and the build sheet on my VIN shows the optional tire size of 245/70/16 as stock instead of the skinnies. Spare is 245, so Im going to go back to that.

3. Get rid of the CEL. Should be an easy fix, I see bad lines, and might just do the purge solenoid while Im at it, its in stock at my local auto zone.

4. Clean up the lighting situation. Headlights probably getting replaced with Limiteds from eagle eyes, and I need to clean the fog lights up. Might insert cheap 9005 bulbs in the fogs, see how much brighter that is.

5. Front windows need to be tinted to match the rest of the car. 20% tint is what Im told, so this is happening.

6. Body has a few chips in the paint that Im going to touch up. Onyx Green Pearl is a get online only apparently, unless I want it mixed for me.

7. Wheels. I like the silverblade #1 styling, but HATE the sparkly silver color... there's nothing else that color on the Jeep, and it reminds me of a Dodge Caravan. Im going to be sanding them down by hand, and painting them. Probably a dark gray / graphite / gunmetal color. Open to suggestions here.... also on brake calipers .. paint or leave alone?? Front grill? I like the chrome grill (Im proud of the Laredo, prefer it to Limited actually... Overland / Orvis was another story).

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Unread 03-11-2014, 06:05 PM   #2
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Knocked a few things off the list today.... new headlight assemblies, adjusted them to where I like them. Thinking about upgrading the stock high/low beams to Silverstars, and putting the stock 9005 high beams in the fog lights. Not yet sure.

Got front windows tinted. Looks great, near perfect match... but my dumb arse accidentally rolled the driver window down a couple of inches. May have to have that window re-done, but Ill let it dry fully before I get upset about that.

Also climbed under the car, found a couple of the rubber vacuum lines that were severely split where they connect to the metal piping. Unfortunately, theyre the lines that run behind the gas tank, so I wont be doing a full replace at this time. I just cut the damaged ends off and re-inserted them. CEL is still on, but the purge solenoid was visibly dirty, and one of the lines coming out of it was poorly connected. I reconnected, but Ill replace the solenoid in a day or two, hopefully get rid of the CEL. I need to check and see if either of the codes may have cleared, but the overall result is not a satisfying one

Not a bad day, but I need to pick up the pace. The Jeep is going to the shop tomorrow for the rear differential rebuild.
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Unread 03-12-2014, 01:08 AM   #3
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I kind of like the paint the OP used in this thread; http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f197/...77/index3.html
You might try that for your wheels. I don't know if calipers need painted. They often stand out a bit too much like 'bling' when people do that. It's up to you. I'd say red if you're going to do it, but the green of the Jeep might make it look a bit like a Christmas Jeep. lol
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Unread 03-12-2014, 10:53 PM   #4
Range07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowLeopard View Post
I kind of like the paint the OP used in this thread; http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f197/...77/index3.html
You might try that for your wheels. I don't know if calipers need painted. They often stand out a bit too much like 'bling' when people do that. It's up to you. I'd say red if you're going to do it, but the green of the Jeep might make it look a bit like a Christmas Jeep. lol
I read through that... Im jealous, the 5.9 is a sweet ride.

Did get some wheel paint today, decided to sand down the spare wheel (steel, not matching rim) and see what the paint is going to look like. Trying both a clearcoat and matte finish (half wheel each) to see which I like better, or if neither work.

-------------

Otherwise, had a very busy Jeep related day. Took it in to the 4WD shop, should have the rear end rebuilt and back to me some time tomorrow afternoon I hope.

Got the wheel paint, and two primers. Both "professional" quality, from an auto paint wholesale supply. Self etching and standard to throw on top of it.

Also while at the paint supply, had them mix up a pint of Onyx Green Pearlcoat for me, ~30 bucks. Turns out, the touch-up pens in this color are kinda hard to come by, and its probably cheaper and easier to just have the pint made and store what I dont use for another time. Will be attemting my first go at quality touch-up work this weekend.

To go with that, I grabbed some cleaning supplies. Namely, a rubbing compound (to blend the areas I touch up), a polishing agent to go over the whole thing after the spot-rub, and then some sealant / wax to go on top and make it stay nice, so I dont have to touch it up every couple of weeks. Hopefully.

I also picked up the purge solenoid / valve thing today, will throw that in when I get the Jeep back, see if that clears my CEL. If not, I may replace the charcoal canister, or I may just try to find a way to cheaply due a smoke test.

Still need to look into fog light improvement, maybe upgrade headlight bulbs, and Im starting to think about touching up the chrome on the front grill and Jeep badges.... might make the 4x4 and Grand Cherokee badges the same chrome while Im at it (they dont appear to be the same on mine, anyone know whats up with that? Mine just that faded perhaps?)
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Unread 03-15-2014, 05:27 AM   #5
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Awesome! Don't see very many of the Green Pearl WJ's like mine!
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Unread 03-27-2014, 09:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nUcKiNfUtZ View Post
Awesome! Don't see very many of the Green Pearl WJ's like mine!
I know, I dont see many of them either... its a shame too, because its an awesome color, guess that makes us lucky
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Unread 03-27-2014, 10:06 PM   #7
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Ive been busy lately, havent had as much "Jeep time" as I had hoped, but I was able to get some things done none the less.

- Got it back from the drivetrain folks, who did a MARVELOUS job on the rear end. New pinion ring and bearings, new axle seals, and no drivetrain noise at all at any speed. Cant be more pleased.

- I went and bought a set of Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo 2s, which are incredible so far. Great traction / stability (had them in heavy rain and high wind, gravel road, dry road), and no road noise up to ~80mph, so perfect for me. Theyre the 245/70R16 size, and they look a heck of a lot better too. Asked the tire shop to put the weights on the inside of the rim when they balance the tires, and they obliged. There's a lot more damage to the rims than I expected unfortunately, the tire weights were hiding a fair amount of corrosion...

- Replaced front brakes and rotors. Went with Duralast C-max Gold Ceramics, only a couple of hundred miles on them so far but seems like they were a good choice. The front brakes were in need of repair, because I had a frozen caliper pin locking the front passenger interior pad into the rotor, and had started to go metal on metal. Everything is working great now though, Ill probably do the rear this fall (theyre still about 50 percent or so, you can still see a little of the bevel on the pads).

- Put the purge solenoid in, but that still has not eliminated by CEL. Have not checked codes again to see if one of the two has cleared, kinda not sure what my next course of action will be yet. There is a light tapping on the rear driver side where I believe the charcoal canister is located, but Im not sure if its worth it to chase down?

- Bought a set of four SilverStar headlights, two 9006XS (low) and two 9005XS (high). First go round with the SS, and Im very impressed. A lot more light output, and now maximizes the reflection of the headlight assembly... not a bad setup. I also took the old 9005XS bulbs (only 60w, standard performance) and maneuvered them into the fog light assemblies, boosting theyre output substantially, and theyre pretty effective in fog being the "standard" 2700k color temp. With all 6 running, thats a whopping 360w of two different color temperatures ... it lights it up for sure.

- Tracked down some Excalibur lug nuts for a dollar each at a local tire shop (not where I got my tires lol). I wanted to get rid of the crappy 2-piece capped lugs that are stock and are the only available option from local parts stores, but didnt want to pay for McGards if I didnt have to. My old ZJ ended up getting some rusted posts that broke off, because the caps didnt seal the water out and / or were missing. The excaliburs may not be as durable as mcgards (time will tell), but at a buck each, theyre a solid one-piece lug thats worth a shot.

- Started painting the wheels, going with SE primer, then 1k high build light gray primer, then duplicolor graphite wheel paint, topped by duplicolor clear gloss wheel paint. Ill post up a series of pics when Im done. Looks like Im able to repair most of the corrosion / damage with some sanding by hand and paint, but again, time will tell. Finishing the second wheel tonight. Havent decided what Im going to do with the center caps yet though, theyre unpainted as of yet.

I think thats it for now, but there's still some things on my to-do list, and a few more considerations.

- finish painting wheels
- touch up body paint where needed, fixing a few minor rust spots as well (just deep scratches)
- Rubbing compound where needed, then polish the whole vehicle. The paint is beautiful, but is a swirl monster. Going to fix this, then put a healthy coat of sealant and wax on, to prevent this from reoccurring.
- as I approach the 130k miles mark, Im wanting to do a few fluid changes / flushes. Oil is going to 10W-30 Rotella, but I may do one oil change with Quaker State Defy 10W-30 first, to break it in, since I dont know whats in it now. Any thoughts here? Beyond that, the rear differential fluid is good to go, so Im going to drain and refill the front diff and the transfer case, and probably the transmission. Coolant looks great, brake fluid and power steering are about 60% capacity, so ill probably top them off at this point as well. Will add LubeGard to the transmission fluid, too. None of the belts are showing significant cracks or stress, so Im going to hold off on that.

Things Im considering still....

- Front grill and badges on the car, they have some wear, but I cant seem to find a good chrome paint. If anyone knows of a cheap option here, Im interested. This may also coordinate with the center caps on the wheels, part of the reason Im holding off on them.
- Exhaust. Im thinking about going up to a 2.5" high flow cat, and new system behind that. Havent sold myself on it yet though, so if anyone has .02 worth on this topic Im all ears.

Thats all I can think of for now, still a LOT going on though. Im having a lot of fun with it so far, it feels like such a grand evolution of my ZJ, no pun intended. Doing my best to get it in top shape, and look as stellar as possible. The plan is to actually hold onto it this time
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Unread 03-27-2014, 10:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Range07 View Post
I know, I dont see many of them either... its a shame too, because its an awesome color, guess that makes us lucky
Yes it does!
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Unread 04-27-2014, 12:16 AM   #9
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Its been a month lol, Ive not been keeping up... Had a jackpot of a score today though, so I figure I need to document where Im at.

Not a whole lot has been accomplished since the last update, but some...

- Changed oil. No idea what was in there, or when it was changed, but after about 2k miles since I purchased it, I did a swap... was way overdue. There was a tick resonating through the camshaft position sensor, and when I drained the oil it wasnt a surprise; it came out pitch black and way past its prime. I put in 6qts of Quaker State Defy 10w30 synthetic blend with a purolator filter, and its been great. No more ticking at all, just a healthy sounding engine. I wanted to go to rotella t5, but I may stick with the Defy a bit and see how it fairs, as they are the two with the highest amounts of zddp if Im not mistaken.

- Finished painting wheels. They turned out pretty nice, although there are a few mistakes that I can spot, but are hard to find if youre not looking for them. Id rate my work a 7/10 on them But, there's more on this in a minute

- Started the paint work on the body. I took the dealer badging off (I paid cash, I dont owe them anything lmao), sanded the rust spots (3) clean by hand with 180gr sandpaper followed by 400gr sandpaper, then started using the touchup paint anywhere that wasnt green. I got carried away BUT, the color is a really good match (had a pint mixed at an auto paint wholesaler, just used a very small brush). So, as the paint is curing, I am able to go around and wet-sand with 2000gr sandpaper until it is level with the surrounding paint, then use the rubbing compound and polish to remove these micro scratches, leaving a pretty nice touchup job. 8/10 here, and still improving.

- Did the key dance, and only have one CEL code remaining... P0455. All fuel lines are good (havent checked connections behind gas tank however), but there is a tapping from the fuel filler tube / charcoal canister area of the rear driver side, hard to tell which, probably the charcoal canister. I think my gas cap is original so Im replacing it either way, but the charcoal canister will be next on the list.

That about has it caught up, but then there was the score today. Ive been watching craigslistings for jeep parts, as there are still a few things Id like to track down, and found a guy parting out an 01 WJ this morning with nearly everything on my list

- Factory towing receiver with all wiring and bolts : $50
- 1 x Silverblade1 : $50
- Auto-dimming Rearview mirror : Priceless

So yeah, I was able to get the factory hitch receiver, a fifth silverblade for a matching spare / 5-tire rotation, AND the auto-dimming mirror for 100 bucks. Receiver is a little dirty, has a touch of light rust in a couple spots, but is structurally sound, and will soon be cleaned up, painted, and installed. Wheel is in great condition, and will be right behind the receiver.

The mirror is already up lol. My old ZJ had every laredo option except sunroof, tow package, and heated seats, so I really got used to the mirror. Now, my WJ has every laredo option except the 10-disc changer.... including the tow (already had tow prep package, so only lacked the receiver), sunroof, and heated seats lol.

pics :

1- worst body damage spot
2 - bad spot looking clean. I thought I had pics after I painted it, but Ill have to take some
3- finished wheel. Bad shot, but gives you an idea
4- todays pickups

------------------

Decided on a Kolak exhaust system as the next upgrade, and considering going to upcountry suspension, not sold yet (but Im sure i will be lol).

Before that though, Im installing a bug deflector on the hood, and probably some side window vent visors. Anyone have a flavor of choice and care to chime in? Im looking at a full wrap on the hood (like AVS BugflectorII, but I like things without logos), and some in-channel visors, but open to suggestion
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Unread 04-27-2014, 02:00 AM   #10
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You're a real go-getter with your Jeep. Before you know it, she'll look like new. Are you going to put some clear coat over the areas you touched up, or will you need to? We need before and after pics, that's what we need.
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Unread 04-28-2014, 07:28 PM   #11
Range07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowLeopard View Post
You're a real go-getter with your Jeep. Before you know it, she'll look like new. Are you going to put some clear coat over the areas you touched up, or will you need to? We need before and after pics, that's what we need.
Thanks, I appreciate it

Nah, no clearcoat. The paint I had mixed is single-stage, so I could coat it if I wanted to, but its not required.
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Unread 04-28-2014, 07:46 PM   #12
Range07
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SO, I would never have thought about upgrading to the mirror had it not been for JeepsOLot's build thread (very awesome conversion build, by the way). I missed the mirror from day one, just never would have thought to swap it. I went to his thread to thank him, and immediately saw another feature I was missing and hadnt thought about (there arent many left lol)... cross-rails for the side roof rails. I dont see many WJs with them, but my ZJ had them... figured they were just phased down. I know overlands / freedoms had them, etc... turns out they phased them out in 01.

The donor Jeep I had picked the parts from the day before was an 01 Limited... so I texted the guy. Yep, cross rails are still there, mine if I want them. 10 bucks later, theyre looking great on my jeep

Got out today and wired the mirror. I had literally just removed the prismatic mirror and hung this one up the other day, didnt have much time. Really not hard. I removed the drivers side sunvisor completely, the front screw that holds the EVIC in place, and the clip at the end of both sunvisors. If the option wasnt installed previously, the wire plug for the mirror is sitting on a clip on the side of the EVIC module, thats why I took the whole drivers side apart, to have room to move in there. Just go slow so you dont damage your headliner... took maybe 20 minutes of my afternoon. Time well spent.

I decided to take some shots all around now, just to catch up to speed. I hope you all will excuse the dust ... Its a high pollen spring here in oklahoma, and Ive got all the wax comletely stripped from the jeep right now, as Im still in the middle of my paint touch up spots. I have to wash it every couple of days just to keep it in this shape

pic 1 - side shot
pic 2 - other side
pic 3 - front
pic 4 - now complete with oem adjustable crossing roof rails
pic 5 - this was the worst rust spot, now with paint. There are a couple spots where the primer still shows, but its still a VAST improvement over what it was.
pic 6 - under the hood
pic 7 - again
pic 8 - power to the mirrors
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Unread 07-16-2014, 09:08 PM   #13
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It is time for an update.

First, Id like to thank fellow JF member Whitson for the hookup on some items from a WJ he was parting out, I was able to score a lot of things I was after at a very reasonable price.... Entire driver seat base (frame and rails, pad, etc), drivers door inner seal, center console housing, EVAP system parts (complete bracket from behind driver wheel well), the bezel for the rear bumper to install the OEM hitch, a couple of screws I was missing around the way, front grill assembly and the stock Laredo headlights in black (because in oklahoma, there are a lot of deer, and these things would automatically be damaged should an unfortunate incident occur), and the A/C control module for a manual system (which I have, but my knobs were a bit funky to move). Im sure Im forgetting something, but you get the idea... I had a lot of fun grabbing things. That WJ had only 55k miles and had been sitting for a long time, so these parts are still in great condition.

Oh yeah, and I now have two (2) rubber bumpstops for my gas door. There are two slots for bumpers, but every WJ Ive seen only has the lower one... probably a cost cutting measure. Anyhow, I took his lower and jammed it into my upper slot, and now have a silent door that cannot make metal-on-metal contact

--------------

This update is mostly concerning work on the interior that I did to update it, make it a bit fresher, and actually replace some parts that were bothering me.

First, my drivers seat was sitting awkwardly from the day I bought it, which is why I wanted the seat base. It was leaning towards the center and to the back, which had caused the seatbelt clip to push into the center console, punching a hole in the side of it (also before purchase, was one of my largest complaints with the interior). Once I had the seat base out, I was able to diagnose the issue... it had been completely busted at least at 6 points, and was at some point welded back together (very poorly). I was amazed, had only expected the common popped spot welds... I was wrong. Required a complete swap of the entire assembly almost.

I also tackled the door seal, since this is a straight forward and easy to fix problem, I was able to let the adhesive dry while I worked on everything else.

Got my old center console out, and while his was the same color, it was a bit more faded and had a few stains. A quick run to the auto paint wholesaler yielded me an exact "L5 medium taupe / chrysler" interior paint from Classic Color, so this would turn out wonderfully.

At this point, I noticed the ORC module that has been recalled was staring me in the face, so I called around, and found a local dealership who HAD THE PARTS IN and could get me in the next morning to have the service performed, so I didnt have to worry about the techs messing up the work I was about to do

I took my A/C control module out, put his in, but it was just as bad, and with more burnt out lights . So, I decided it was time to take one apart, and find out what the issue was. Well, as it turns out, the knob that controls the vent selections is the one hooked to the vacuum lines, and has 3 springs that support a copper plate, and then a fourth spring on the outside that supports a small bearing to contact the vacuum tube housing. I was missing an interior spring, and he was missing the bearing, so I went ahead and tore his module down for educational purposes, and re-built mine with his parts. More hassle than its worth....

two side notes on the A/C module. First, if you remove yours, KEEP PRESSURE APPLIED TO THE BACK OF THE RIGHT HAND KNOB. Tape it off, whatever you have to do, because these springs WILL fall out. Second, dont remove the lights unless you have to. They are PC74 bulbs, which is attached to a plastic twist in base that has two contacts on the inside lip... over time these contacts fuse to the board. Premature removal will likely shear the contacts, making the bulb useless. I had two bulbs that needed to be replaced on my module, and was only able to salvage one bulb that would still work from his, so had to buy a 10-pack, but at least theyre cheap.

Anyhow, I reassembled the seat using his frame and my seat-cover and pad, but its still not perfect. The base is level, but my seat back still has a light twist to it, so Im not done with this entirely, but the improvement is noticeable and quite a bit more comfortable on my back, and the seatbelt no longer is pushed into the console.

I also had to tear down the console a bit, as his backseat cupholders were frozen (left in the open position for years), and this assembly is also a bit of a chore, but nothing major. My lid was in better shape too, so its really a true blend of pieces.

Got it all back together, and the interior looks BRAND NEW. Im not sure if I have a shot of it all put back together, but Ill be sure to get one tomorrow.

And now for picture evidence of the rest of it....

Pic 1 - Where the seatbelt pushed into the console. This hole was more than annoying.
Pic 2 - Notice the ripped out door seal on the right side, lot of air noise here
Pic 3 - New center console prepped for paint
Pic 4 - one of the saddest seat repairs in the history of jeeps. This is just one spot, but obviously its not fixed to spec
Pic 5 - Inside of a manual A/C module. Not necessary or recommend
Pic 6 - taken from back seat, interior stripped down
Pic 7 - New ORC module installed

Ill get a finished picture tomorrow, I guess I dont have any ...

---------

Still on the docket, install the OEM hitch (which is painted and ready to go), and switch out the entire EVAP system bracket w/ charcoal canister in an attempt to rid myself of the p0455 code. Plan to do these both at the same time, since it just makes more sense that way.

All in all, Im very pleased. The inside looks a LOT better than you would expect for an 11yr old vehicle, and thats how I like it.

Also, the Classic Color paint is awesome. I touched up my leather seats, covered stains on the carpet, and painted the interior trim pieces I removed as well as the console. Really good stuff, and you cant tell its just not incredibly clean original parts.
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Unread 07-18-2014, 01:26 AM   #14
Range07
Registered User
2003 WJ 
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Posts: 181
Not as clean on the inside, because Ive been riding around in it and such, but here are the pics of the interior all put back together with the new door seal as well, and like I said, I think it looks a whole lot better now. Theres not much irking me anymore, that hole in the console + wind noise from the door was more terrible than I thought. Glad Im not turning a blind eye any longer

Pic 1 - No more hole!!
Pic 2 - Front of console, blending in beautifully
Pic 3 - Door seal lined up and snug
Pic 4 and 5 - I just like these shots, no justification needed
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