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McCloudsZJ 03-08-2012 04:11 PM

McCloud's WJ "Build" Thread
This is mostly for me to be able to keep a log of all of the little things I do to the Jeep. I like projects; most of the stuff I've done to the Jeep was just to see if I could, not because it needed to be done. It does go off road, but never anything more serious than some snow-covered fire roads.

4.7 Low Output, tan leather interior in immaculate condition. Purchased in May 2011, one PO, with 92,000 miles, brand new tires, shocks, spring isolators, brake rotors, pads, a bunch of other new stuff, and an MD inspection for $8500. Only major cosmetic flaw was foggy headlights.

-Cat back 3" Gibson offroad exhaust
-Jet Stage II Chip
-Magnaflow exhaust cutout installed before the catalytic converter

Interior Electronics
-Put a couple of switches in the dash where the cigarette lighter was
-Wired up an auxiliary 12V supply in the glove box
-Purchased and installed an Ultragauge 2 OBD II scanner
-Garmin GPS

Sound System
-Aftermarket head unit
-4 10" subwoofers tuned to mid-low range bass; run off of 1200W amp
-1 12" subwoofer in ported/padded box tuned for low range bass run off of 1000W amp
-2 6X9 speakers installed in front doors; bypassed dash tweeters

Exterior Lighting
-New headlights
-Installed factory fog lights from a junkyard WJ
-Tinted headlights, taillights, and foglights with VHT Nightshade
-Added auxiliary fog lights under bumper (relocated from behind grill after radiator melted wires)

-Plastidipped the rims
-Put a red stripe around the edge of the rims
-Painted the brake calipers red
-Plastidipped the badges
-Plastidipped the grill; painted the grill insert to match the body
-Repaired/repainted a dent in passenger side rear quarter panel after my roomate ran into me with his WK

-Replaced the radiator
-Replaced the battery
-Fried an ECM and had to get it reset to factory settings by a dealership


Dear Logan:

Thank you for contacting the Jeep Customer Assistance Center in regards
to your 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4X4 Sport Utility 4-Dr.

We are pleased to provide vehicle build information per your request.

According to our records, your vehicle was equipped from the factory
with the following:

*JL Leather Trimmed Bucket Seats
-T5 Sandstone
ADE Cold Weather Group
AFFP Luxury Group
APAS Monotone Paint
A82P 4.7L Eng (EVA)/5Spd A/T 5-45Rfe(DGQ)
BAZS 136 Amp Alternator
BC6S 625 Amp Maintenance Free Battery
BRYS Anti-Lock 4-Wheel Disc Brakes
CACS Low Back Bucket Seats
CBWS Highline Door Trim Panel
CFNS Rear 60/40 Folding Seat
CGUS Child Seat Anchor System-LATCH Ready
CG1S Next Gen Multistage Front Air Bags**
CKDS Floor Carpet
CKNS Cargo Compartment Carpet
CKTS Cargo Tie Down Loops
CLEP Front & Rear Floor Mats
CLHS Cargo Trim Panel w/Storage Net
CLPS Door Sill Scuff Pads
CSCP Cargo Compartment Cover
CSRS Passenger Assist Handles
CUDP Mini Overhead Console
CUFS Full Length Floor Console
DGES All 5-Speed Automatic Transmissions
DGQ 5-Spd Automatic 545RFE Transmission
DHAS Lock-Up Torque Converter
DHFP Quadra-Trac II On Demand 4WD System
DJJS Dana 30/186MM Front Axle
DMEP 3.73 Rear Axle Ratio
DRKP Dana 44/226MM Rear Axle
EVA 4.7L V8 MPI Engine
GBBS Tinted Windshield Glass
GCBS Front Door Tinted Glass
GEGS Deep Tint Sunscreen Glass
GEPS Flipper Liftgate Glass
GFAS Rear Window Defroster
GNAS Rear View Day/Night Mirror
GNCP Sun Visors w/Illum Vanity Mirrors
GTMP Power Heated Mirrors
GWA Power Sunroof
GXMP Remote Keyless Entry
GXXS Sentry Key Theft Deterrent System
HAAS Air Conditioning
HGAS Hood Insulation
HGDS Deluxe Insulation Group
I60S Route 60 - CSX, Westboro, MA
JAYS Instrument Cluster w/Tach
JCBS 120 MPH Primary Speedometer
JHAS Var Intermittent Windshield Wipers
JHBS Rear Window Wiper/Washer
JJBS Dual Note Electric Horns
JKAS Locking Glove Box
JKPS 12V Auxiliary Power Outlet
JKYS Power Accessory Delay
JPBS Power Locks
JPDS Power Windows, Driver One-Touch
JTGP Power 6-Way, Heated Seats
LACS Illuminated Entry
LAGS Warning Chime
LAZP Vehicle Information Center
LBBS Courtesy Lamps
LBCS Glove Box Lamp
LCES Rear Courtesy/Reading Lamps
LDBS Cargo Compartment Lamp
LETP Traveler/Mini Trip Computer
LMBS Halogen Headlamps
LMGP Automatic Headlamps
LSAP Security Alarm
MDAS Front License Plate Bracket
MFZS Bright Grille
MHAS Black Windshield Moldings
MVCS Jeep Badge
MWES Side Roof Rails
NAS 50 State Emissions
NBVP Low Emission Vehicle (LEV)
NFPS 20.5 Gallon Fuel Tank
NHMS Speed Control
NMHP Hydraulic Engine Cooling
PFF Light Pewter Metallic Clear Coat
QFFS Light Pewter Metallic Clear Coat
RAAC All Radio Equipped Vehicles
RBKS AM/FM Compact Disc Radio w/Chgr Ctrl
RCEP Infinity Speakers
RDDS Fixed Long Mast Antenna
RDZP Steering Wheel Mounted Audio Ctrls
SBAS Power Rack and Pinion Steering
SCLP Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel
SDAS Normal Duty Suspension
SUAS Tilt Steering Column
TBBS Full Size Spare Tire
TBLS Inside Mounted Spare Tire
TR7P P225/75R16 OWL All Season Tires
TZAP Goodyear Brand Tires
WDQP 16" Steel Spare Wheel
WDRS 16X7.0 Lux Alum Silver Wheels
WLYC All Steel Wheels
WLZC All Aluminum Wheels
XGDP Universal Garage Door Opener
XPFS Protective Coating and Remover
YAAS Build To U.S. Mkt. Specifications

Thanks again for your email.


How it sat when I purchased it (plus headlights the same day)

How it sits now

McCloudsZJ 03-08-2012 04:11 PM


My roomate has had a 1998 GC with the 5.9 for a couple years. It is a blast to drive. My other roomate has a 2005 WK with the V6. After driving both of those I knew I had to have a V8. The only question was, which one? The 5.9 is a blast to drive. However, 12 MPG and only premium fuel makes it a little less attractive. The 5.7 Hemi would have been terrific, but it was just too expensive. So it was down to the ZJ with a 318 or the WJ with the 4.7.

I had a Dodge ram with the 318 that I drove the hell out of and it just refused to die. I really liked that engine. The 4.7 had more oomph though, so I decided that's what I had to have.

The beast... It was $500 and I was a broke high school student. Note the awesome side pipes under the passenger door...

After getting tired of having the 5.9 blow my doors off every time we went out (and with a massive Thrush exhaust, it sounded cooler than mine did) I decided I wanted something more. I found a package on eBay that included a full cat-back exhaust and a K&N FIPK with a heat shield shipped to my door for less than $500.

I also picked up a QTP exhaust cutout to put north of the cats... Open headers at the flip of a switch

Don't look at the red wires running from the battery... I was just hooking them up when I took this picture. They've since been tucked away.

I also got a Jet Stage II chip off of eBay NIB for $100. I plugged it in and left it. I don't really know if it's made a difference or now, but for $100, I got what I paid for.

I also removed the throttle body and gave it a good cleaning, and ran some Seafoam through the brake booster tube.

McCloudsZJ 03-08-2012 04:13 PM

Interior Electronics

I decided that I wanted a switch board in my dash. I didn't even know what I would hook them up to, but I wanted a new project... So, I made one. It started with a rectangular cutout made from a small piece of MDF that I had laying around with three holes in it for switches. I notched out a little piece of the little nook where the ashtray would have been.

Here is it fitted in the hole for the first time. It's an interference fit, basically. You push it in and it clips into place.

After about two days I felt pretty stupid having switches that didn't do anything, so I had to decide what they were going to control. I knew I wanted foglights, so I got some and put them in (see below on how that all went down). That was one of the switches. By this point, I also had quite a bit of juice going to power the subs in the trunk (see below for details on all of that, too), so that was another switch. The last switch went to a power splitter that I put in the glove box. At this point I had a whole bunch of stuff on my dash and all of the wires were just cascading down all over the place.

I hard wired a splitter into the cigarette lighter, attached it to the third switch, the put the splitter in the glove box. Then I removed the dash and ran all of the wires (for the radar detector, GPS, Ultragauge, and phone charger) up behind the dash so you couldn't see them. Pictures of the carnage below:

Wires for the switches

Hard wiring in the power splitter

Power splitter location

The mess

Also, I've had people comment on the fact that all of my wires are red. I'm color blind, so I label all of my wires at each end. It doesn't make a difference to me what color they are.

And a clean dash

McCloudsZJ 03-08-2012 04:14 PM

Sound System

I spend 99% of my time on the road on the high way, usually by myself. I appreciate a good sound system because it's usually the only thing keeping me company. I had a Nissan Maxima that I put all Bose components in, and it sounded amazing. I even put Bose components in the old, beat pickup truck.

I decided to try something different with the Jeep. Now that I had something with a little more volume on the inside, I had more potential for some really sweet sounding music. I started with the tweeters. They were ok, but not anything like I wanted. I got some 4 way JBL 6x9's and threw them in the door. I was excited! Turned it on and all I heard some low rumbling... I went to WJJeeps and found out that the front 6x9's were low pass only...

I went back to the Infinity amp and spliced some wires to get the full sound out of the doors and kill the dash tweeters. I was extremely happy with this as a starting point.

Then I picked up a Clairon head unit for a bargain price at the local audio shop. Install was a breeze. Easiest head unit I've done to date.

Now it was time for the subwoofers. I've always been a big fan of quality over quantity (that's why I always liked Bose more than Kicker or other companies like that). After a couple weeks on Craigslist I pieced this system together:

Kenwood amp

Sony amp

2 10" Sony subs in a SEALED box

2 10" Infinity subs in a SEALED box

And one 12" Polk Audio sub in a PORTED and PADDED box

I had thrown the idea for a custom box around for a while, but decided against it... for now :D

Finally, I need to say that I've already heard that you can't effectively run two different size subwoofers at the same time. I never got a definitive answer as to why, though. Can you run two sizes at the same frequency? Absolutely not. But the way I have it set up, the 10's are tuned to what the manufacture recommends for optimum performance, and the 12" is tuned to its. They're all run off of separate amplifiers and each have their own tuning mechanisms. Regardless, if somebody has the math to prove me wrong, I'd love to see it.

McCloudsZJ 03-08-2012 04:14 PM

Exterior Lighting

The headlights that came on my Jeep were crap. They were so foggy that they were basically worthless. I used three different types of headlight treatments with limited success--most of the problem was condensation on the inside of the lenses. So after a week or two of frustration I gave up and got new lights. They took +/- 20 minutes to do total, plus another 15 to aim them using the technique from WJJeeps.

Here they are installed

I decided I wanted something a little more unique so I used VHT Nightshade to tint them. The process I followed (that came out great):
-Wash the lights with soapy water and dry
-Rub down with 2000 grit w/d sand paper
-Wipe down with paint thinner on a microfiber towel
-Paint over the lights *lightly* and make sure to use even coats so it doesn't run.
-Do as many coats as you want (the bottle says don't do more than three coats; I did three in the front and two in the back)
-Paint over the Nightshade with automotive clear coat (I did two coats of clear)


Tail lights

As I mentioned above, I'd always wanted foglights, and after a near death experience driving up Snowshoe MT. in WV in fog so thick you literally couldn't see the front of the car, I knew it had to be done. After consulting with some JF members, a guy from JU, and WJJeeps, I decided to do it. I went to the local junkyard with a pair of tin snips and cut out some lights from a totaled WJ. I cleaned them up really well, cut out the bumper, and put them in. I used some 3M trim adhesive to hold the mounting bracket in place. Of course, I tinted them to match the head lights and tail lights.

No fog lights

Fog lights :D

To get the fog lights to turn on, I grounded them to the frame then ran a +12V wire from the fuse box to one of my switches, through the fire wall, and out to the lights.

I decided, on a whim, to get some lights from Walmart. They were cheap. Eventually, I'd like to put bigger lights in now that the wires are in place. The Walmart lights are essentially placeholders for now.

They were originally behind the radiator:

But the wires came undone and melted against the radiator, so I moved them under the bumper.

They're brighter than my low beams.

McCloudsZJ 03-08-2012 04:15 PM


I like the silverblades a lot, but I wanted something different. I'd read a lot of threads on here about Plastidip, and Home Depot was having a sale. Worst case scenario I would be out $10. Luckily I think they came out pretty well.

I also had some left over red caliper paint from my other project. A 1986 GSXR 750 that I street-fightered out. I decided to throw it on the Jeep just because.

That's not a Jeep...

This is :D

I also threw on a red stripe around the edge of the rim to match the calipers; you can kind of see it in this picture

You'll also notice that the grill and grill insert were different in that picture. I had some left over Plastidip and some left over body colored paint from Mopar. This is the result:

McCloudsZJ 03-08-2012 04:15 PM


So far, the only major repair I've done was the radiator. There was a little hair line crack along the side. I followed some of the writeups on here and was able to do the job myself in an afternoon for +/- $100. I replaced the thermostat, all of the hoses, the coolant, and the radiator. I had a bunch of coupons at Rockauto :D

Also, I made a diagram to show the location of the transmission cooler for those WJ's that have them (usually the one's with the towing package). Apparently there was some confusion about it...

McCloudsZJ 03-08-2012 05:34 PM

Misc pictures

Coming back from driving through the woods all day after an FTX

First snow of the year in VA

Had a guy with a JF sticker park next to me at the mall. No, I didn't take up four parking spaces--I pulled forward to get both stickers in the picture.

McCloudsZJ 03-08-2012 05:40 PM

MPG Experiments

I'm picking up a minor in aeronautic control systems, so I have a pretty basic understanding of things like wind resistance and aerodynamics. The Grand Cherokee has the aerodynamics of a brick. I tried an experiment to see just how much a difference the wind made (drag force is a function of velocity^2, so the faster you go the more work your engine has to do and the less efficiently you operate)

Every weekend I make a trip that's about 150 miles round trip on open, empty highway. I usually get between 17-19 mpg. I slowed down to 55 (instead of cruising at 80 like normal) and this is the result:

I thought that was pretty cool. I wondered how much more room for improvement there was. Well, I found a trucker who was willing to play along and took drag-reduction to the extreme (ie, I followed in his wake so there was very little wind pushing against me). The results were pretty neat. These pictures are 100% honest BTW. I double checked by filling up right after the trip, and the real mileage was about 25.5 MPG, which is still a huge improvement.

25.5 MPG over 150 miles in a 4000 lb vehicle with a V8 that's shaped like a brick was pretty impressive. At least, I was impressed...

mreed21 03-08-2012 06:32 PM

Looks like a great start, keep me updated.

lazebum 03-08-2012 07:48 PM

dude your build is coming along great!!!

snobrdrkid07 03-08-2012 09:54 PM

431 Attachment(s)
Looks like a good Jeep you have going there man. Lucky that you have a v8 and get good gas mileage. Did you calculate it by hand? My EVIC lies to me and says that it is 18 mpg for example and it is actually like 17 mpg by hand.

Mellor 03-09-2012 07:55 AM

Great pics.

XJ_Renegade 03-09-2012 08:15 AM

Looks good!

McCloudsZJ 03-11-2012 12:50 AM

New headlight bulbs

I lost a headlight bulb the other day. I just replaced the old ones with the same PN that was in there before, just not burnt out. Sylvania 9006's. These are good shots for people worried about the light out put with VHT Night shade on the lenses.



They're still plenty bright, even with the tint.

The time now is 10:25 PM.

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