Holy crap, my Jeep life has been a disaster for about the past four weeks. Finally got it all back together. lol
First, you need to understand something about me. A friend once asked me what I was up to for the weekend. I listed 3 projects. He replied, "Brandon, that's like 78 things." Not only do I try to cram and unreasonable amount of things into a short period of time, I have a knack for expanding the project exponentially.
So, I got a code that I had a lean condition in bank 1. With that, rough idle, some smoke from the tailpipe and hesitation under load. Fine. A quick look under the hood showed that the cylinder 1 fuel injector was cracked. Wasn't sure if that was the whole problem, but I knew it wasn't helping. Looking up the list of potential suspects for that particular code, I had many things to inspect. So I looked at local part stores and online and quickly found that, as usual, buying a part locally was quite literally twice the cost of ordering it online. And, since I wasn't in a huge hurry, fine.
While I was waiting for my injector to arrive, I decided to address the slow drip from the rear differential. Simple enough, right? Take off the cover, clean the surfaces, re-seal and fill with fluid (and the solid-gold friction modifier from the stealership). But when I got into that, I found that the top two bolts were broken off. Fine. I'll need to drill them out. But there was only about two inches of clearance between those and the gas tank.
O.k., so I need to drop the gas tank. Fine. But wait...you have factory towing. The rear hitch assembly bolts over top of the metal skid pan that holds the plastic fuel tank. Son of a monkey.
Before long, my Jeep was up on jack stands with it's fuel tank, left rear wheel and towing bar lying in the driveway. But I could finally sit under it and get the broken bolts out. I decided that, since I had taken the time to take all of this stuff off, I was going to address any rust, of which there was plenty after nearly 200,000 miles. I ended up using a drill with a wire brush to remove loose rust and paint (after dumping all of the sand and gravel that had accumulated. That alone took a couple long afternoons. Then I used Eastwood's rust encapsulator on everything. That takes about three days to really, truly cure. Then I coated the metal tank skid plate with rubberized bedliner. I finished the tow bar off with Eastwood's satin underhood black. It's a high-solid content paint that is really tough. Also coated the tank straps with rust encapsulator.
Replaced the fuel filter (why not, right?). I ground the Dana 44 cover down and painted it with a high-temp metallic caliper paint. Replaced the rusty remaining bolts with stainless bolts and lock washers. I don't want to ever have to do this again on this Jeep.
About this time, we had to go to the hospital because my girlfriend went into labor a week and a half early. I looked down at my rust, metal flake and grease covered hands and clothes and said something like F*&%ing $h*& my Chr*$t. She ended up having to have a c-section, making me essentially her nurse and super-dad. So, for the next two weeks, the Jeep sat jacked up in the driveway, parts everywhere looking like Sanford and Son's backyard. About a week ago, her mother came over on a Sunday to help watch the baby so I could put everything back together. To my amazement, it started up and ran.
Yesterday, I finally got to the original problem of the fuel injector. And I decided to replace the spark plugs since I was taking so much apart on top of the engine. Holy schnikeys it is a pain the d*&^ to get those coils out. I bought the Jeep about 40,000 miles ago. And I don't know when those plugs were last replaced, but I've never seen plugs so...gone. The cathodes were completely gone. The tops were eaten down to points. I'm amazed it ran. Finally managed to get all of the coils out, against their will, and replace all of the plugs. The amount of vacuum lines and electrical connectors I had to disconnect was incredible. Even more incredible...I managed to put them all back where they belong without breaking anything.
The good news is that I now have a whole lot of stuff I don't have to worry about for a good long time. And I went from averaging 17mpg to 23mpg. And it really only cost me the cost of plugs and the fuel injector. The rest was just time, labor and paints/coatings I already had lying around. Turns out when you only partially burn your fuel and blow the rest out the tail pipe, your mileage sucks. I also replaced the air filter and PCV valve while I was at it. I have to re-learn how to drive it. I push down on the accelerator and get pushed back into my seat. It's like a whole new engine.
Now I just have to take it somewhere to have the damn front pinion bearings dealt with. If I have it all ship-shape by winter, I'll be happy.