Cirryslydakotas "Can I even call this a build?" Thread - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 19 Old 01-04-2016, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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1999 WJ 
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Towson
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Cirryslydakotas "Can I even call this a build?" Thread

Ok, its freezing cold outside so I can't work on either the Jeep or my car and my wife has been nagging me to start a build thread instead of answering questions whenever someone notices I've done something special so lets start from the beginning way, way back in 2009.

Oh about me, I'm a full time engine mechanic for Caterpillar. I happen to work at a full scale re-manufacturing center with a machine shop, weld shop, engine shop, transmission shop, and a radiator shop. Its come in handy.

That year was the year I traded my 1995 Chrysler Cirrus after I got tired of throwing money at it (to be fair it was well over 200k and on its original A604/41TE transmission which is almost unheard of) and my sweet black on black 1998 Dodge Dakota for a 2007 Mustang GT with just 13,000 miles on it. I figured our snows didn't get that bad here anymore and I could ride out winter and find a YJ or TJ like I've always wanted as a beater to fix up in my spare time. Well 3 days after buying the car (December 3rd) we got 6 inches of fresh powder and the Mustang was AWFUL. Two months later and we would end up with 5' of snow in 3 days. I had to take an entire week off of work because I simply couldn't get to my car and even if I did I couldn't go anywhere. That's when I seriously started searching for a beater 4wd vehicle. Fast forward to the summer and I'm finding it increasingly hard to find something in my budget. I'm not a picky guy so my list was as follows:

- Readily available parts support both aftermarket and dealer.
- Be stupid easy to fix with basic tools during times of travel.
- Move itself under its own power.
- Be less than $3500
- Must be able to tow at least the weight of another car (compact)
- V8 preferred but going for ease of parts availability I included the 4.0. The Magnum 5.2/5.9 were preferred and I didn't want the 4.7 due to iron block aluminum heads.

That automatically knocked out the YJ/TJ/and almost all WJ's so I looked into the midsize category which included:

- Jeep Cherokee
- Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ
- Ford Explorer 2nd gen
- Nissan Xterra

Didn't want another Ford, Didn't really want the Nissan, and all the XJ's I found were rotted out messes. So I looked at ZJ's and one after another had blown up 44/46RE transmissions or other issues I didn't feel like dealing with. During this time I kept coming across this 1999 WJ Laredo that was advertised at $2,000 but I really wanted a magnum V8 but after 3 months later I had no luck. Again the 99 kept popping up and one day the price dropped to $1800. Well its not to far from here so ill go take a look to see why a 11 year old GC was still sitting all that time and no one snatched it up. In the photos it didn't look so bad so I figured why not?


Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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post #2 of 19 Old 01-04-2016, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Towson
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You want how much for this?

When I arrived at the park and ride I wasn't sure what to expect. I mean a GC of course but it had been sitting for 3 months on craigslist so something had to be wrong with it.

Boy was that an understatement.

Sitting on a dash was a sun bleached for sale sign that read $2,200 OBO with the mileage listed at 228,000 miles, one flat tire on each axle with the others not too far behind, and the strong odor of gas from around the back. Inside the interior it was trashed and filthy, the drivers seat badly broken with the rear seat flipped up keeping it somewhat straight, holes ripped in the headliner covered with duct tape, and dog hair EVERYWHERE. Alright, lets get under it and see whats going on. The front axle was COVERED in what appeared to be gear oil and a massive buildup of dirt, it has a Dana turdy-five that was leaking from a pinion seal and from would I could see of the engine and transmission was gunk and dirt built up all over it. Lucky the uni-body was pretty clean and rust free so that was a major plus. Also had the factory towing package on it with a factory hitch and the mechanical clutch fan. Checking the axles I found 3.73 printed on the front diff cover so that meant I had hit the jackpot. I dialed the number off the sign and talked to the owner and set up a day to come back and look it over with him there.

A few days later I arrive to find owner going over the Jeep with it idling since it hadn't run in some time. Turns out it had been sitting for 6 months and every single person that looked at it ran off when they saw the mileage. He was close to junking it if he couldn't find a buyer which was music to my ears. I got the low down on what was wrong with it (Bad grinding in the front with the ABS light on, check engine light on, flat tires, leaking front diff, siezed mechanical fan clutch, and a ruptured fuel tank seal), and I pointed out some more things wrong with it and offered him $1600 cash on the spot which he gladly accepted. I never even test drove it, it ran, and looked like a piece of crap. But it screamed take me home, so I did! This is where I would learn how tolerant my girlfriend and one day to be wife would be with bringing home something like this. She thought I was out of my mind and I had just blown a ton of money on some piece of crap. But I knew better...

Heres the earliest photos I have of it.
Attached Thumbnails
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Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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post #3 of 19 Old 01-04-2016, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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Join Date: Jun 2011
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So what did I end up with for $1600?

1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee

228,000 miles with all original:

- 4.0 MPFI I-6
- 42RE 4 speed ATM
- 242J Full time capable TC
- Dana 30 Front 3.73
- Dana 35 Rear 3.73

The good:

- It ran under its own power.
- Hey a tape deck!
- 4 nearly new Michelin 245/70/16 LTX4 tires with a vintage 1998 rotted Goodyear spare.

The bad:

- All shocks were either leaking or rotted out.
- Front diff was leaking gear oil badly.
- Two bad front wheel bearings.
- Badly broken drivers seat.
- Leaking tank seal.
- Clutch fan was seized.
- Parking brake didn't work.
- Headlights were badly hazed.
- Over half the dash lights were out.
- Interior door panels were falling out. Drivers side elbow rest was duct taped and jagged cutting my elbow many times.
- Center console lid was broke.
- Laredo trim cladding was badly discolored.
- All 4 timberlines were trashed with peeling clear coat.
- Broken header panel.
Attached Thumbnails
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Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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post #4 of 19 Old 01-04-2016, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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Anyone familiar with MD state inspection knows that they're extremely anal so I went over the check list and fixed what I thought would fail me. Failed the first time for my alignment being out and a day later I had plates on it. By then it was late fall so I figured an excursion to the only legal off road area in the state was in store. Sadly that was the last season it was to be open.
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DSC01952.jpg  

Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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post #5 of 19 Old 01-04-2016, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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I really wanted fog lights so a trip to the junk yard yielded me a front bumper with lights, a multi-function stalk, light sensor, and relay. Improved it looks just in time for the first snow. My birthday yielded my new front chrome tow hooks from my lovely girlfriend and I picked up a junk yard 300M EVIC, auto dimming mirror, and rear power outlet since my Jeep didn't come with one nor the wiring for any of these.
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_0207.jpg   IMG_0218.jpg   20150220_005210.jpg   20140107_133231.jpg  

Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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post #6 of 19 Old 01-04-2016, 07:43 PM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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Location: Towson
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Springtime I installed a BDS 2" lift from Fat Bobs Garage with 3/4" spacers, home made extended rear sway bar links for the rear. Also found overland rock rails for cheap and installed those at the same time. I also decided I wanted functioning A/C so you know how that went.
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Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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post #7 of 19 Old 01-05-2016, 09:51 AM
thecause17
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Looks like you brought it back from the brink.

'04 Columbia 4.7HO - 3" IRO/OME, Bilstein, KOR, Zone, Superchips, Gibson, 255/70 Grabbers on Gray JK wheels
"Build" Thread
'97 ZJ 4.0 SOLD, '04 WJ SE 4.0 TOTALED, '03 KJ SOLD, '07 WK Hemi QD SOLD
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post #8 of 19 Old 01-05-2016, 01:15 PM
99WJ539918
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How did you wire the rear 12V cargo plug? Was there wiring for the dimmable rear view mirror?
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post #9 of 19 Old 01-06-2016, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecause17 View Post
Looks like you brought it back from the brink.
Honestly even I thought it was a lost cause at first but it kept asking me to take it home. It was in rougher shape than the ZJ's I was looking at but in the end it's been the best vehicle I've ever owned.
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Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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post #10 of 19 Old 01-06-2016, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 99WJ539918 View Post
How did you wire the rear 12V cargo plug? Was there wiring for the dimmable rear view mirror?
So this WJ is an oddball. It is as base model as you could get in 99. I had no options not even an EVIC which is unheard of around here. The wiring for the cargo plug was ran up to the 12V power outlet just like it was shown in the wiring diagrams. The auto dimming mirror also had no wiring since it never came with an EVIC so I built a harness and using a KJ liberty guide to adding a EVIC tapped into the wiring I needed down by the OBD port.

Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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post #11 of 19 Old 01-06-2016, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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2011's Christmas brought new 245/75/16 Kumho RL78 Roan Venture tires mounted on 16" JK wrangler take of wheels that I had acquired over the summer sor the low, low prive of $55. No thats not a typo, all 5 wheels for 55 bucks and they were brand new with the factory blue markings still on them. My lovely then girlfriend bought me new headlights as well as my old ones were absolute crap. It really helped dress the front back up. Sometime around this time I also cleaned the grille and gave it a brushed metal look. Spring time cleaning and general freshening up included dealing with the faded cladding, window tint on the front windows, and painting the roof rails sunlight silver metallic just like the freedom package ones. That's when I decided to build the Grand Cherokee that Jeep should have built from the factory in 99. From here on out everything done to my Jeep would be something that would or should have came from the factory using parts from 1999-2004.
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Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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post #12 of 19 Old 01-06-2016, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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Summer 2012 I decided to ask my then girlfriend to marry me so in order to pay for a ring and a wedding coming the following year I sold my prized 2007 Mustang GT and decided to run the Jeep full time which I knew would have its issues but I figured it would last until Fall when I would pick up a more sensible car (It should be noted I made it known to my then fiancee that there was a chance a piston skirt could break off, a head could crack, or a snap ring from the 42re overdrive unit could throw a wrench in my plans.).
Two weeks after selling my 38,000 mile car my 4.0's Number 5 piston skirt decided it wanted a divorce from its piston. Luckly I had just made it to work and after determining there was a collapsed lifter or a piston skirt missing I moved it to the back of my company lot and got a ride home from my wife that evening. The following Monday I came in on my day off and pulled the oil pan finding what I feared, a piston skirt laying in the bottom. After a lengthy discussion about not junking the Jeep with my wife I had to come up with a cheap way to fix it without digging into the wedding budget. No problem, I work at a machine shop! But what am I going to do for transportation? Im not going to rent anything for a month while im doing this, so back home to make a parts list from Rockauto and decide what I can do with a modest budget without pulling the block. I also went car shopping because im crazy,
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IMAG0115.jpg  

Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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post #13 of 19 Old 01-06-2016, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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Return on the 4.0 and Cirruslydakota goes FWD hot hatch.

I, like most other car guys like fast cars. I've had various V8 powered vehicles in my driving career but this time I figured I should get something more mature, that gets better mileage, and unlike my Mustang was more muted instead of screaming RACE ME with super loud Borla mufflers. So what do I get?

A 2008 Mazdaspeed3.

This car ends up being faster than my GT in both a straight line and especially the corners. Has a 161 MPH top speed, seats 4, and gets 33 mpg if you stay out of the boost, dipping heavily into the boost nets single digit fuel economy all on premium! Downside? Its FWD but the torque steer makes you laugh like a lunatic as it steers you right into the nearest ditch. Seriously, this car will literally try to kill you with any full throttle application below 3rd gear.

Anyway, more Jeep story! Because I'm cheap, winter is coming, and I don't feel like pulling the engine I decide to in frame my 4.0! As mentioned before I work at a reman facility, which means a cylinder head shop, hot tank facility, engine machine shop, you name it. I gut the 4.0 down to just the cam and crank and inspect the main bearings for wear which surprisingly none was found (remember this as I screw up with this not finding out till 2 years later). Cam doesn't look completely worn out so lets just throw some new lifters in! Inspection of the pistons uncovers that cylinders 1, 2, and 5, all have stress cracks around the oil holes and spreading down the skirts. Piston 6 had full cracks running down its skirts from the oil holes. So, as a known problem I contact sealed power's engineering department where I am assured they have solved this issue and send me info about their upgraded pistons. Great! Lets order a set and see just how good they are!
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IMAG0304.jpg   IMAG0305.jpg   IMAG0306.jpg  
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Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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post #14 of 19 Old 01-07-2016, 12:51 PM
lincolnshibuya
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Location: Kansas City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirruslydakota View Post
I really wanted fog lights so a trip to the junk yard yielded me a front bumper with lights, a multi-function stalk, light sensor, and relay. Improved it looks just in time for the first snow. My birthday yielded my new front chrome tow hooks from my lovely girlfriend and I picked up a junk yard 300M EVIC, auto dimming mirror, and rear power outlet since my Jeep didn't come with one nor the wiring for any of these.
looks like the 300M EVIC is better looking since the 3 homelink buttons lights up. I noticed that the one I pulled from 99 JGC limited has braille dots on them (doesn't light up) and when it's dark in the morning I have to feel which button to close the garage.

btw, how did you fish the auto head lamp sensor pigtail from the dash? I took the cowl today and I can't see any sticking out.

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post #15 of 19 Old 01-07-2016, 06:18 PM Thread Starter
Cirruslydakota
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Towson
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If you remove the instrument cluster you should find the pigtail taped up behind it, at least if I remember that correctly. I remember it being around there somewhere.

You are correct about the evic. The original one I bought had the 3 Braille buttons but no tpms. I actually gave my old one to billzcat since he wanted to eliminate his evic with tpms. I like the 300m one as it lights up like you noticed.

Bear - 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Apollo - 2008 Mazdaspeed3
Vivienne - 2015 Chrysler 200S
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