I always find myself striving for more after viewing your thread here.
Well shoot dang. I'm trying to be a little inspiring, like "hey get out and do something with your Jeep" but now you're just making me blush.
I do consider myself lucky in a lot of ways, but I'll be honest, there have been hard times along the way. Not just Jeep times mind you. You just don't get to see them in my build thread!
I gave up my one outdoor activity (skiing) several years ago due to health issues. Which is how I got into Jeeping - "Hey I need a new outdoor hobby..." You just have to get out there and do it. I've introduced a few of my personal friends to 4x4s, but some of them are just massively overthinking things. Like their rig is never "ready" to wheel for some reason. Like geez, you bought a $30,000 Land Cruiser and $1500 in tires, can we go up a dirt road already?
I've told you before Mr. Leopard... Washington is a great place to live. People ***** about the rain, but my take is to just ignore it. We've got everything here... rainforests, oceans, islands, lakes, rivers, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, deserts, dairy farms, tulips, potatoes, apples, and most of it is within 2 hours of the major population centers.
Just read this thread start to finish, and I've got to say: what a great adventure! I remember you from BFc and just happened to find you were here all along. Looks like it's high time to get rid of my also horribly-expensive-to-maintain DD (it's taken too much of my time and $$ - you know exactly what I mean) and go down this road. I swear, your pictures made me realize all the extra time I'm missing making memories with my own family while dealing with downtime/maintenance instead.
Well the 540 was really nice car, don't get me wrong! I just didn't/don't have the finances to live the 540i lifestyle. I can't drop it off at the shop every 6 months and write them a $3000 check. Even with my own free labor, I was into that car for $3k in parts in less than 10 months, and it still needed more. Much more!... since the timing chain was developing the infernal cold-start rattle even with a new tensioner. Was it comfortable, fast, stylish, and fun? Oh yes. Now I get to have a different kind of fun in the Jeep!
I've had the WJ almost exactly 3 years now and it has been nearly flawless for reliability. The only no-start I've had the whole time was due to me not driving it for 3 weeks and winding up with a dead battery. Then the subsequent "battery drain" was probably just me not driving it long enough to build a good charge. I put a battery charger on it for a day and it's never been a problem again. So what happened with my spending after the 540 was gone was that I kept finding I had all this "extra money" that wasn't being spent on things like a $600 driveshaft or $500 for a valley pan gasket (and the 2 dozen other gaskets needed for the job).
In those 3 years I've had only one of the typical WJ issues - and it came with the Jeep when I bought it. That was the bad blend doors. Happens to all of them, 100% failure rate for WJs with the dual-zone climate control. The window regs, door locks, heated seats, etc are all A-OK, and if one fails, we're talking about a $60 part not a $500 part.
Ditching the e39 was a very good decision for me and I hope it will be for you as well. If you wind up looking at WJs, be sure to check out the buyer's guide I wrote (link is in my sig). And of course I'm here if you have any WJ questions (and I know more than a little about other SUVs as well). I would warn you away from Land Rovers if you are trying to avoid another money pit - as awesome as the Range Rover, Discovery, and Defenders are, none of them are considered "reliable" and all of them have very high cost of ownership. If you are looking for something bigger than a WJ, the 80- and 100- series Land Cruisers are great rigs although they too have very expensive parts - the difference is that they are dead-nuts reliable and the expense you will encounter is in mods not repairs. Another SUV worth considering is the 1st- gen Ford Expedition 5.4L. Much like the WJ, they are mostly relegated to soccer-mom duties but under the skin is a very durable 1/2 ton Ford truck chassis - good transmission, transfer case, axles. Just a frumpy body and plastic-y interior keep it from being awesome. Wranglers are cool but they cost twice-three times as much as a similar year/condition WJ, and that's with no LSDs and no v8 option.
Cracked exhaust manifold bolts. Had you for a minute there, eh?
Ordered all new fasteners for the job, down to the locknuts that were holding on the heat shields. Got everything from MoparOnlineParts.com, I've had good service and prices from them in the past. Shipped next-day, had it in a week and bob's your uncle. I picked up the parts to do the job on both sides of the vehicle but given my schedule right now, I only tackled the problem area. Having the new fasteners made the reassembly go very well. With fasteners and the revised exhaust gasket from Mopar, it costs only $37 per side.
I did the job today and it went really well. Easier than most exhaust manifold jobs I've done. It's nice that Chrysler engineers used bolts on the entire manifold flange so it can come in and out easily without having to slide over long studs (and run into the frame rail!). The back two bolts had snapped off so that cylinder was not sealing very well until it warmed up. That's a real pleasant sound. But here's the thing. Bolts don't break themselves. So I pulled the manifold and put a straight edge on it. Boom, we're warped. 0.020" off on cyl #5. Bear in mind I figured this out at 3:15 on a Sunday. A few phone calls and I found a machine shop open on Sunday at Carquest in Everett. I got there 4 minutes before they closed and they were still willing to deck the manifold. They only charged $28 and they waived the hazmat charge as well. I bought a few other things there that I didn't really need just as a "thank you" for taking care of me late on a Sunday afternoon with 0 notice. I'll definitely shop there again.
Manifold installed without a hitch, super easy. The manifold is slotted so the top rear and top front bolts act like a stud for the purpose of install. Took about 2 hours of labor plus 1.5 hours of driving + waiting for the dude to deck the manifold. Started up, no leak. Test drive, no leak. Also straightened out the steering wheel, it needed about 45° rotation on the drag link to get it perfect. Not much of an update, but it's nice when everything works out well.
What's new? Oh just moved to a new place that's a lot bigger for the family. Much further from work. I've already seen my (calculated) mileage improve from 11.3 to 15.7 and it will get better as I start driving less and less city miles and stop hauling stuff from the old place. Even towing the 6x12 U-haul, I got 11.6 mpg on the tank.
Since I'm parking outside, I pulled off the roof rack and the winch, no reason to keep those outside ready to steal. Also, having the rack off means better mileage, I should be able to get it back into the 17-18 range.
Another note, I finally hit 6,000 miles on Rotella T5 10W-30. Pulled a sample for Blackstone, we'll see how the 4.7HO liked it. I put Rotella T6 5W-40 in in its place. I probably won't go that long on the Rotella again, the 5W-40 is dramatically smoother, quieter, and more powerful. I have a feeling my 14 month/6,000 mile change interval was much too long and that my UOA is going to suck. But if I'm driving the long highway trips, those 6,000 miles will go much quicker and with a lot less wear than constant cold starts and stop/go. I had about the WORST duty cycle for an engine you can imagine - 3.5 mile commute. Now it's 31 miles each way, should be much easier on the motor.
I'm watching progress bars on my work PC, so time for some build thread rambling...
I think my (former) driving habits are most of my problem. It took 14 months to hit 6,000 miles. All that short trip, never-warming-up kind of driving is hell on oil and engine wear, it sees about 200 more start-up cycles than it should and wasn't getting hot enough to vaporize the water/acid built up in the crankcase. My new drive is a great, relaxing 31 miles each way with virtually no traffic and 45-55mph speed limits. Should be much easier on the oil.
PS - congrats on your new 330i, sir. I'm looking for a fun car to add to the fleet, I'd be lying if a 330i coupe wasn't on the list.
PPS - I just realized in the course of this build thread I've talked about buying a mega-ute, a truck, and now a project car. Decided a mega-ute and truck didn't serve my needs. I'm also toying with modding the VW Sportwagen TDI to make it more engaging - chip, sway bars, suspension, and tires might make that the fun car I am looking for. If one were to look at my past vehicle buying history, I used to buy/sell about 1 car a year - hence why I'm at 19 cars owned at age 32. I got out of that when I bought the WJ because I was throwing a lot of money away making cars nice for their next owner and selling them at a loss. But I do miss having a project to work on. Thankfully (or unfortunately) the WJ is great just how it is, I don't want to do anything else to it save some 31" tires when my 30s are worn out.
Winter is coming and I moved right into the foothills of the Cascades. The WJ is going to see some snow this year.
Another thought I had was an Audi 90 Quattro (I've owned 3 so far, a 10v sedan, 20v coupe, and 12v sedan) - picking up an 88-92 and doing the 2.2L 20v turbo swap - something I always wanted to do, and something that is 90% bolt in - need to fab a downpipe and half the charge piping. One advantage is that I know everything there is to know about the 90-series Audis, but then again I'm not learning anything new. That's good because I'm not making silly mistakes and/or wasting money. It's bad because there isn't a new challenge to overcome (although the turbo swap would be breaking new ground). There's also a hybrid engine build (no, not like Prius hybrid) I've always wanted to try that would give a low-compression 2.3L 20v set up for turbocharging with aggressive cams and about $1000 invested in the long block.
I'm interested as well to see how the oil analysis comes back. My 4.0 is probably hating me. All I do for the most part is do short trips back and forth to school probably 10 times a week at 4-5 miles one way.
I still would be interested in a car for a DD instead of an SUV.
Good to hear the manifold bolt wasn't too much of a hassle for you.
~ 04 WJ 4.0 | Selec-Trac 242 | MBP | OME HD 3" Lift | JKS TB | IRO Front LCA's and UCA's| Bilstein 5100's | Custom Front D.S. | Stillen Rotors/Metal Matrix Pads | Tow Package w/ 3.73's | Projectors w/ 55w HID H1 5000K Lows | Sylvania Ultra 9005 Fogs | Moog HD Steering | Kenwood eXcelon Radio | Memphis Speakers | Alpine Amps | Alpine Subs | Moog STB SS | Superchips Flashpaq | Auxiliary Transmission Cooler | Rock Lights | Light Bars ~
Well, I figured out what my fun car is going to be. The fun part about owning Vehicle Dynamics on Forza Motorsport is that I have a massive database of facts available at my disposal. It's going to take me about 6 months to save up the cash, but a Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth is going to be in my future.
Reviving your thread a bit. I recently stripped an '02 Overland of its good parts for use on my Laredo. The Overland had dropped its valve seats and trashed the motor. At least the gas tank skid, transfer case skid, rock rails, and axles get to live on in my Jeep.
When you painted your rails is this the stuff you used or did you use the "Bed Armor"
I guessing you used the truck bed coating. How is that holding up? My WJ is white so I'm debating whether I should paint the area below the doors as well.
I used the truck bed coating. Still holding up very well after 3 years. There are a few places it chipped off from rocks/road dirt but only on the plastic caps on the ends of the Overland rails. On the main body, it adheres as if it were metal itself. Even the color hasn't faded that much, they are still much darker than the factory Overland grey stuff which made the rails look more like side skirts.
Funny you should bump my thread today. I was just coming here to update it myself!
In the months since I last updated the thread I got moved into a mostly-rural area and am loving it. However I'm 30 miles from work and I've been driving my VW TDI daily and my wife has been hauling the kids around using the WJ. The old Overland is getting a little tired and has needed a couple repairs but nothing major and nothing too expensive. Especially considering I still haven't had a no-start or stranded condition!
My last UOA came back with 1% coolant in the oil and some abnormal bearing wear. Looks like a pinhole leak in a head gasket. I haven't converted the UOA report to .pdf yet, but it was not a good UOA. It also took me 15 months to get that 6000 miles in and it was all short trips, limited warm ups, etc. Pretty much the worst driving ever. So there's that.
I also had the heater core spring a pinhole leak about 2 weeks later. Over-pressurized cooling system? Probably. The heater core was only 2 years old! Given the combination of problems, my budget, and my schedule I decided to try out Blue Devil sealant products. A lot of those "stop leak" products are pretty janky but the BD came highly recommended by a lot of people I respect, even some professional techs. So I went through the process word for word, did a couple mega-flushes and filled with distilled water and Zerex G-05. Looks like the problem is solved, no more problems there at all. I need to get through another 2 oil changes before I can say for sure that HG issue is completely buttoned up.
And then yesterday, my wife said the Jeep was throwing a "Check Gages" light and the battery gauge was at 9. I had her unplug the winch (in case of a short or crummy solenoid) but that wasn't it. Surprise surprise, it was the alternator. It was also nice to have a good battery, she was able to drive quite a long distance with no charging on the Duralast Gold battery and it still had all the power it needed to start up the Jeep as if it never had a problem. Yanked the serpentine belt off... found it was totally worn out. It's only about 2 years old as well - but it's been off and on about a dozen times as well as soaked in oil, coolant, power steering fluid, plus it was a cheap-*** belt. I replaced it with a Gates and it immediately got a complete order of magnitude quieter. However, no improvement in charging. I thought belt might have been slipping since it has been extremely cold - the roads have been covered in de-icing agent and it just started racing. But no, no change. Ok, bad Alternator. Went to O'Reillys down the highway and they didn't have the Grand Cherokee alternator in-stock. Have no fear, they DID have the Durango 160-amp on the shelf and it was a perfect exact fit. Problem solved and got a little bit of an upgrade while I was at it.
Well, it never rains but it pours. 2 days after installing that brand new shiny alternator and serpentine belt the water pump took a total **** on me on the way home from work tonight. For some reason I was compelled to drive the Jeep today. I'm glad my wife and kids didn't have to deal with that situation doing their daily errands!
This is the first time the Jeep (or any Jeep since 2007) has ever "broken down" on me. Has me a little shaken!
My water pump has been weeping around the gasket surface (PO said he had just installed it prior to selling it to me, it looked new, thats all I can say about that.) so an cheap simple order to rock auto turned into:
Gates water pump
Fel pro timing cover gasket set (See where this is going?)
Water pump inlet tube (Mines really ratty)
Harmonic balancer (Just incase the seal has worn a grove into the surface)
Scheduled for thursday evening after work. The timing chain is something ive been neglecting considering when I had the pan down last year I measured nearly 3/4" deflection in the chain. Allowed is 1/2" hmm...
Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo - 250,000 Miles, BDS 2" lift, Overland rock rails, Dynomax cat back exhaust, 245/75/16 Kumho KL78's, Rebuilt 4.0 @ 244,000 miles.
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3 - Mazdaspeed CAI, Mazdaspeed CBE, Prosport boost gauge.
Velvet - 2005 Ford Focus ST - Wife's ride