First off, I'm a huge automotive nut. I've daily driven a bolt-on Buick Regal GS (mid to low 13's) for four years now and have loved every minute of it. I decided last year with the winter being so rough and I was still in college that I needed something more capable for our property in northern Michigan and for winters since I drive close to 400 miles a week all over the state in all conditions.
I'm the type of nut that can never leave anything stock whether it be a car, computer, camera, phone, bicycle, or anything else. I'm also all about functional, tasteful, reliable modding, and true to the mindset of "built not bought". I do as much of my own work as I can with the help of many friends from my multi-faceted hobby list.
For me I needed a capable, trail-ready, and reliable 4x4. I'm a huge outdoorsman and require a vehicle that I can put a dog in the back end, eventually a baby seat in the back, tow our 26' boat, and have room to fit a deer in the back when I get one. I didn't want to struggle with finding room for guns or camping gear in the back of a Wrangler.
I also wanted something that is professional looking as I am an Engineer and may visit important customers from time to time and don't want to show up in some monstrosity.
I began to research, and Jeep was my goto brand. I first investigated and planned a decent build for a WJ, however, when I started test driving them I was disappointed with the ride quality and many of the stupid little bugs they have. I then broadened my horizons and my budget and started looking higher at the WK.
As we all know the WK has very little aftermarket support. I decided to bite the bullet and started test driving them and fell in love. I decided that if I was going to build something that I was going to do it right. None of this spacer budget boost nonsense and no cutting corners for quality.
After three hard months of searching I found a black 2006 Limited with 63k for $16500. After some *****ing and moaning at the dealership I got them down to $15800.
When I made the purchase I had already set goals for the build. I wanted the ability to run 32" tires with no problems, and like I said do it without any spacer lift nonsense. The first mod came only one short week later. Ordered an Addco rear swaybar with greasable bushings from Kolak, thanks Nick!
While the tails were being tinted I also received my Sanguaro front shackles and my Smittybuilt receiver shackle mount. I installed the shackles in the driveway to the body shop with the help of the shop owner. This revealed that the Carfax was in fact not clean. The front bumper is a replacement and was painted with the grille installed! WTF! Not is it a replacement but it too was broken and is bondo'd. How depressing! This install was quite easy and I strongly recommend these to other owners. Thanks Sanguaro!
I knew what I had to do to get my 32" tires under the WK, so another week later I ordered 1.5" Spidertrax wheel spacers from Kolak, again thanks Nick!
I could not stand the idea of having the stock radio antenna out on the trail with limbs knocking it all over the place and it getting all bent up. I stopped in at the local Advance Auto Parts and snagged a $7 shorty antenna and slapped her on. I use satellite radio all the time anyway.
Not too long after I saw a post on this forum by Carlos (AcidCold) that he wanted to trade out his Addco front swaybar for a stock bar, so I took the bait and drove to Chicago one afternoon knowing that I had to be at work at 4:30AM the next morning and had 45 minutes from home to get there and Chicago is 2 hours from home. Needless to say that I was tired at work. Good deal nonetheless, thanks Carlos!
Like I said I drive a lot in the winter and outdoors a lot where my boots and shoes will get salty and muddy. I ordered a set of Cabela's WeatherTech floor mats. Very worth the money!
I always think vehicles look better with tinted tails, however from past experiences I have learned not to cheap out on this mod. I preach as much as I can to people about this, please tint your tails the right way. I enlisted my fiancée's neighbor who owns a body shop. I paid him $100 to prep the tails with adhesion promoter and spray them with a mixture of automotive black and clear-coat. They turned out amazing.
After a couple months of stalling, I finally completed payments to Kolak for my OME lift. During my time saving Nick had been acquiring parts so the arrival time of my lift was shortest when I had fully paid him off. It took about 6 days for all the boxes to arrive after payment. Thanks once again Nick!
I finally got to install the lift last week. Let me tell you, after having done much work on cars this was my first time working on an SUV or truck and by far the most challenging task yet.
We had air tools, an electric impact, and an amazing tool chest to our disposal. The first night it took us 6 hours to do one corner of the Jeep. This was mainly because we attacked it blind, started off too fast, and were not thinking... may have been the beer too though... oh and maybe the fireworks... Anyway! The second night it only took us 4 hours to complete the remaining three corners...
A few helpful tips...
1. Use PB Blaster. We did from the get go.
2. Air tools or an electric impact are a must.
3. Take your time removing bolts and remember where you put the nuts, we could have saved a few hours if we hadn't misplaced nuts.
4. A BFH is a must have tool.
5. Just go rent good spring compressors and ditch the harbor freight $10 specials, we could have saved a good two hours here.
6. We required two jack stands and two jacks in our methods... I'd recommend the same to others.
7. The most important tip of all is to just stay calm and take your time because your experience will be much more appreciated in the end if you can.
8. Test driving your newly lifted WK through the ditch out front is a must when completed!
Next, I plan on purchasing a set of 265/70/17 Hankook Dynapro RF10's on the stock five spoke wheels. I plan on driving this a lot during the winter and don't plan on going balls to the wall at the offroad park, so MT's just don't make sense for my purpose.
In the future I'm planning on 4x front and belly skids, Superchips, some brand of intake, rock lights, 120v onboard outlets, 4300k HID fogs, 50% tint on the front windows, and more! Stay tuned!
My apologies if some of the modding is out of order.
Due to the limited number of pictures allotted per post... More pictures here!