Hi. I am a first time Jeep owner and auto novice. I’m mainly creating this “build” thread to keep track of what I’ve done to the Jeep and record what I’m learning about automotives and Jeeps in general. I’ll probably be posing questions here and there. Definitely will be pointing out my lessons learned!
The Jeep was purchased because I have always wanted one. I liked the classic CJ look, but wanted a few modern features (A/C). YJs were out due to the square headlights. The Jeep is basically a third vehicle for my wife and I. It will see mostly street use. I’ll put very little mileage on it. The truck I traded in for the Jeep only had about 12K miles in the last 3.5 years. I would like to do some off roading, but again, I am a novice with this stuff. My off roading will be typical Florida stuff; sand, mud, flat terrain.
My biggest goal with this Jeep is a modest lift and 33” tires. I’d like to do as much of the work as I can by myself. I’ll be buying or borrowing tools along the way. I understand the impact of lifts, bigger tires on a 2.5l engine and gearing. From what I understand, I’ll probably be ok, keeping it small and not doing any major wheeling. I’ll be open to additional upgrades as necessary though.
The purchase of this Jeep was a big lesson learned. Long story, short… I should have researched more (even though I spent a few weeks reading on the forums before the purchase), and haggled more on the price. I didn’t get completely raked over the coals, but I could have done better with price and feature selection. Anywho…
Here’s the general scoop on what I bought…
-2001 TJ SE.
-Aftermarket tube bumpers.
-Aftermarket tow hooks.
-Side step bars.
-Chrome grill cover.
-Brand new 31x10.5x15” Mastercraft Coursier LT (Original spare tire).
-15x8 Motorsport rims (chrome, UK model).
-Black extended fender flares.
-Black Besttop Soft Top (ReplaceATop?).
-Tail light guards.
-UK brand sound bar.
-Hurst brand shift T knob.
-All other options are stock….
At the stealership:
A few observations…
-The front bumper was crap. It was either broken and welded/repaired, or was never meant for the TJ and was welded to fit. It was held on by only four of the six bolts. Aftermarket tow hooks were in place. The bumper “felt” solid, but I didn’t trust it, and it was uuuugly.
-The driver’s side front speaker was not working.
-The flares, especially the flare extensions, were turning white.
-The exterior isn’t bad. There is some surface rust up underneath. There is some knicks and scratches in the paint.
-The soft top is in pretty good shape. All zippers run smoothly. No leaks. The tailgate/rear window seals look a bit worn. Might need to replace them in the future, but no leaking seen so far.
Tailgate/rear window issues:
-The interior was great. Carpet looked fine. Cloth seats look great. The tub looked fine under the carpet.
-No center console. No brackets or signs that the carpet had relief cuts for one.
-The inside panel of the driver's side door has a vertical crack coming down from the window.
-I have a small leak in the top of my windshield. It appears to drip a little down the inside of the windshield, and I believe it is running a little water to the sides and back behind the dash. Nothing major, but definitely will replace the seals on the windshield and see if I can get it stopped.
-Outside latch on driver's door is showing some of the worst rust on the vehicle. Works fine, but probably a future maintenance task.
First thing I did after getting it home was throw in some Walmart rubber floor mats. I planned to upgrade later to custom fitted mats. I also picked up a steering wheel cover. I’ve grown accustomed to them in my other vehicles.
I picked up a couple small metal carabiners for the front seat pulls. I may get some slightly larger polymer ones. I also picked up some magnetic LED flashlights from Home Depot that I stuck to the tub under the doors, beside the seats. Small magnets, but they are staying put under normal road driving.
I threw a booster seat in the back for my man cub.
I pulled the headlight bezels and painted them black (rattle can Krylon Fusion satin black).
Next I ordered a Kenwood HU and 5.25 speakers to replace the front pair. I picked up a pair of adapters off ebay for the speakers. Crutchfield was my source for the stereo parts and with the assistance of their guides and install kits, it went in without a hitch. I’ll be replacing the sound bar speakers as well. I am undecided on what size at this point. A few weeks after I installed the front speakers, I opened up the dash again to stuff in some polyfill in hopes of improving the sound quality. At that time, I noticed some surface rust already on the speaker adapters. I pulled them out and gave a quick sanding, then a couple coats of Krylon. Hopefully that will keep the rust at bay on the metal adapters. I sold the stock stereo and speakers on Craigslist. I also found the stock antenna to have a small bend in it. It was an eye sore for me, so I bought a cheap replacement antenna. It is the stubby flexible variety. It works just fine, but I’m not sure I like the looks of it. I may go back to a stiff, metal antenna in the future.
I bought a pair of Smittybuilt grab handles. I don’t remember the model, but it is the three strap variety. They work fine so far.
I bought some Velcro straps for the rear seat belts and rear frame portion of the soft top. With the doors, side and rear windows off (how I roll), those parts flapped in the window and about doubled the noise. The straps were a nice, cheap fix.
I removed the rear tire and tire carrier assembly. The rear tire was the stock size and did not match the 31s it now had. It looked goofy to me. Obviously, with no tire, the carrier assembly looked goofy empty, so off it went too. I sold all items on Craigslist. I won’t have a spare for a while, but it’s not getting driven much, and has new tires, so it should be ok.
Removed chrome grill cover. Sold it on CL.
Removed tube nerf bars. Sold them on CL. Broke one bolt. It’s still in there. It doesn’t appear that the holes are there for anything other than the nerf bars, so I have no immediate plans to pull the broken part out.
Removed and painted the sway bar cover, flares, and license plate mount. Broke one of the smaller bolts near the bottom of the front driver’s side flare. I dremeled out the nutsert and broken bolt. I’ll use a replacement bolt and nut on the reinstall. I also had two metal nutsert/rivet thingies that were spinning freely, and needed vise grips to get the screws out. I will be leaving off the flare extensions in preparation for adding rocker panels in their place.
I installed some hooks in the garage for the doors. I've got the painted flares sitting there for now.
Bought and installed a Daystar 1” body lift. This was interesting. It was definitely my first big automotive project. The instructions and my research said it would be a 2-3 hour install. It took me about three days total. Bare in mind, I was tinkering with a few things and doing it piece meal, but it still took a lot longer than 2-3 hours. Adjusting the radiator fan shroud was the hardest part. I’ll probably add a motor mount lift at a later date. I wish I had picked one up and did it all at once. I used PB Blaster on the bolts and all were removed without any fuss. I used the included hardware (Grade 5), but I plan to order Grade 8 bolts and replace them.
Radiator fan shroud holes:
I removed the sun visors and flipped the rearview mirror.
A friend gave me a pair of lights. I assume they are driving or long range lights. They were not marked, chrome, and needed rewiring. The plan was to rewire, spray paint them black and slap ‘em on the bumper. My first mistake was finding the prewired foglight connections, and then cutting off the connectors. My thoughts were since I didn’t have the connectors on the lights, I would just rewire and use some generic connectors. My other mistake was not checking the wattage on the lights. They worked, but were over powered. Something told me to check them, so I pulled them apart and found they had 100w bulbs. I picked up some 55w bulbs and put it all back together. Oh, one more thing. These are huge. Like 7 or 8”. Not sure I like the way they look that big. In retrospect, it would have been much easier to just get some 5” KC foglight replacements and call it good, but these were free and I just had to make ‘em work!
I bought a Trail Gear front bumper for the $80 clearance price. I like the bumper. I had to dremel one of the lower mounting brackets a fraction of an inch as it didn’t quite fit. I tried to sell the old bumper on CL, but no bites. Everyone else must have thought it was a piece of crap also. It was thrown out on the curb… Again, PB blaster on existing bumper bolts and they came out without issue. I installed the new bumper using new grade 8 bolts. Aftermarket tow hooks fit, but the openings of the hooks are blocked due to the vertical bars on the bumper. I’ll be getting D rings for the bumper in the future. A week after install, I found the factory included skid plate bolts are beginning to rust. Looks like I'll need to address that soon.
I mounted my handmedown aux lights to the new bumper.
I found a few things on Craigslist. Found a guy with a full set of Quadratec floor mats and a Daystar dash console for $50. I should be picking them up sometime this weekend.
…And that is where I’m up to today. I have a few other changes and mods to make. I’ll list them below. I figure that, due to finances, it will take a year or so to get it all done.
Future mods and additions:
-D Rings for front bumper.
-A to Z rockers (Wheel well to wheelwell).
-Swag Offroad drop down tailgate conversion.
-2” Suspension lift (OME or maybe BDS coils, shocks, and bumpstops).
-33x12.50 Tires (Undecided on make/model and muds vs. all terrains).
-Black rims (backspaced for the 33x12.50’s…Cragar Soft 8s?).
-Bushwacker Flat Fender Flares.
-Rear bumper (Swag Offroad?).
-Spare tire carrier (Or-Fab?).
-Blue LED upgrade for dash lighting.
-Upgrade stereo components (Sound bar replacement speakers, Amp and Sub?).
-Upgrade lighting (Hella lights, Savvy LED tail lamps).
-Trailer or Roof Rack (for camping supplies and/or canoe)?
While getting some of the pictures, I noticed water in the new driver's side floor mat. We had heavy rains the other night, so it appears that the leak from the windshield is definitely working its way over to the driver's side and ultimately, the floor board.
Here's the dried drip line on the inside of the windshield:
Here's the water in the floor mat (kinda hard to see):
It's not much water, but I still want to get that issue fixed.
Like a lot of things in life, the Jeep upgrades got put on the back burner. I recently started hitting the trails and hanging out with some fellow enthusiasts, so my attention is back on the Jeep.
Since my last update, I've done very little. I put on standard size flare extensions, added better carabiners to the front seat pulls, replaced speakers in the sound bar, removed the large, clunky aux lights, removed the carpet and roll bar pads, and drilled two 1/4" drain holes for the frame.
Currently, I'm working on an ammo can console. I'll be dropping the trans skid this week to check and treat for a possible rust issue. Also bought a Cobra 19 CB. I'll be ordering Raptor liner this week to do my tub. Pics to follow...
Haven't dropped the skid plate, but it looks like I definitely need to.
I have everything stripped from the tub except the driver's seat and belt. Sanding is going well. Had a problem with the rear seat bracket bolts freezing and breaking. Should have hit them with more PB.
Bought quick disconnects for the soft top. I will probably install them after the liner is sprayed in and I put the Jeep back together.
Still working on the ammo can console. Not real happy with my lock option, but it will work for now. The Safariland QLS holster adapter (quick release) went in perfectly. Very happy with it. Gonna try building a false bottom to go over the e brake.
Finally fnished prep for the Raptor liner. Driving it over to my friend's place in the morning to spray it in. Worst part had to be removing the thin tape from the entry guards. While I was in the floorboard, I pulled out the 4 metal drain plugs. That should help with hosing out the old girl. Also drilled holes for the ammo can console.
Picked up a small spotlight for the trail kit, some rattle cans for touching up the bumpers and various other exterior pieces, and bought grade 8 hex bolts to replace the torx bolts for the windshield. Hopefully will get some time this week to put it all together.
Front bumper, gas bezel, sway bar cover, side mirrors, and triangle window thingies all spiced up with Krylon Fusion and reinstalled. Also hit the frame with some spray can undercoating. Still need to do rear bumper, window surrounds, and refinish ammo can console project....
Also finally got stubborn torx bolt on the front of the windshield to break free. KC lights and windshield mounts should go right on now!
Lights are good to go. The custom switch looks great on the factory panel. CB and handset are mounted, as well as the Teraflex tail light mount. Unfortunately, every single thing I ordered on Amazon is being shipped separately. Still waiting on cable, antenna and mounting bolt.