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seeking San Diego Jeep guru mechanic/enthusiast

2262 Views 9 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Ianhappens
Okay - I don't know if I'm crazy to ask for this, but does this person or company exist in San Diego, and if so, can you please tell me his/her/their name & ph. #?:

I'm looking for a Jeep-lovin mechanic that is so into Jeeps, that they know things like:
* what to do about the 1986-1990 Cherokee's overheating issue
* how to modernize a Jeep (if/when possible) with latest and/or most suitable after-market items (i.e. seats/covers, cup holders, consoles, smartphone holders, improved/renewed wiring and electric locks/windows controls, led lighting, speakers, etc, etc, etc)
* tips/tricks to fix some of the inadequacies of original design of vehicle, maybe improve mpg
* if/when engine/tranny should be rebuilt, or other things repaired/replaced - and if so, best parts/prices on it
* where to find best prices on parts, whether online or locally in junk yards, auto parts stores, etc
* affordable! (as opposed to only catering to those who have lots of money to put toward an awesome hobby). I'm just trying to get everything functional on my 1988 Cherokee XJ, so it can be my daily (or occasional) driver, and my work vehicle and outdoor play (camping, surfing, mountains, snow, desert) vehicle. But I don't have much moolah to put toward this :-/

SO, if any of you fit this description in San Diego and could be available for hire, or know anyone that does - please let me know!!

Thanks much!
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There's a bunch of folks in the San Diego area (many who are on this forum) who could tackle pretty much everything you mentioned, plus a ton more. I know, I lived is San Diego for ~32 years & moved to the east coast about 3 years ago.

I have met numerous folks like yourself over the years and helped several of them. Naturally, there's pros and cons to doing that.

After being burned a bunch of times - I rarely ever offer my talents/experience/tools/consumables/utilities unless it's a trusted friend. There's plenty of other folks on the forum who have gotten a bad taste in their mouth from similar experiences.
There's a bunch of folks in the San Diego area (many who are on this forum) who could tackle pretty much everything you mentioned, plus a ton more. I know, I lived is San Diego for ~32 years & moved to the east coast about 3 years ago.

I have met numerous folks like yourself over the years and helped several of them. Naturally, there's pros and cons to doing that.

After being burned a bunch of times - I rarely ever offer my talents/experience/tools/consumables/utilities unless it's a trusted friend. There's plenty of other folks on the forum who have gotten a bad taste in their mouth from similar experiences.
Thanks for your reply, Joe!
How would I go about finding folks like you mentioned, so I could hire them for help?
Also, what would I do, or not do, to avoid burning said help (I guess I don't know how to burn someone)?
Posting a thread like this one *could* work. There's almost always some sort of projects being worked on and some guys here open up their houses for folks to learn & turn wrenches. A give & take type environment.

Getting somebody to commit to helping you do numerous projects isn't going to be easy. It's similar to asking a highly skilled journeyman carpenter, electrician, plumber, etc stranger to volunteer their talents for an large amount of work for pennies on the dollar. It's simply not worth most folks' time & effort given many have families and their own stuff to do.

As an alternative - if you had just a couple items you were looking to tackle (nothing too major to start with) & asked for help - you *might* have better luck.

Long laundry lists that'll take potentially hours & hours to accomplish & to do it professionally with a low/modest budget, simply doesn't interest many of the true masters of the trade who have multiple talents and resources.

I'll give you one example of many, of a situation where I feel I got burned.

There was somebody who asked if I would help him with a fairly complex project. He swore he'd compensate me for my time, consumables, etc etc.

Well, the project took about 70 hours to finish, plus I had spent ~$280 in metal supplies out of my own pocket, ~$460 in increased electricity bill over my normal bill (I was running a 220V welder & 220V plasma, plus drill press, air compressor, grinders, hand drills etc for numerous hours almost continuously).

When all was said & done - I lost about $835, and was compensated $0.00 for my time. The dude disappeared from the forum & would not return calls or texts. The project came out fantastic & I had heard he sold the Jeep soon after I did the work. This same bozo borrowed some expensive tools & never returned them.

I know of many situations where folks came to somebody's place to work on a project(s), then just stood around and didn't assist at all except by making a mess. Then left multiple oils that were being changed, tons of dirty rags, spilt fluids all over the place, never cleaned up, then left as if it were somebody else's pleasure to clean up the mess.

These are just a few examples, and don't get me wrong - I'm not saying you'd do something like this. However, it's a gamble for who's ever allowing jobs to be done at their home who may have to deal with stuff like this.
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Oh, yeah - I'm definitely not looking for anyone to volunteer their time to me. I'm a photographer/videographer and I've definitely been roped into that for many people over the years, so I'm familiar with that routine. Probably like most of the skilled people on this forum, and yourself, I'm glad to help someone and don't easily say "no" to a request - but I'm definitely looking to hire someone for their help, if the right person is out there.

Ooph - sorry for the time/money burn - that's truly terrible. I'm definitely down to learn and assist - but I'm also looking to offload some of my tasks to hired help (if I can afford it) - just too much on my plate - but I'd love to save my Jeep instead of resorting to selling it for almost nothing and turning to some economy car loan payment. (On that note, if I don't find sufficient help, and very regretfully have to resort to selling my Jeep, I'd love to see it go to some enthusiast here who really appreciates the XJs like I do (and will give me a fair price for it)!)
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The best part of owning a jeep and being "into the hobby" is working/learning on how to do things yourself. YouTube is wonderful and is a GREAT tool that wasn't always there in the past. Now a days you can just type Renix 4.2 overheating issues, or cherokee cooling system troubleshooting.. etc.. and read a little and get results.
Simply hiring someone to work on your vehicle and "fix" the things that a person with a basic tool set can do themselves, to me, draws no interest. If you want it done the cheapest as possible then you gotta do it yourself. Simple as that
If you said," Hey guys I've been knocking my head against the wall, doing hrs of internet searching. I've looked at everything on the jeep and I've been asking around but I just can't figure out this dang problem w/my jeep. Here's whats going on and here's what I've done so far. These parts have been replaced, I isolated it to this or that. What do you think? Any one have experience? Anyone care to help?
That may draw my attn ...
To say, "who wants to fix this jeep that I have no understanding of. I will pay you... You won't get much help and or the help you get won't be very quality. I think the large percentage of people on this forum are do-it-your-selfers and it usually pains us to have to accept defeat to have someone else "do" our work for us. At least I'm one of those types.
If you intend to keep your vehicle, understand that it will take MANY little steps to get it the way you want it. I've had MANY great paychecks that had me eating top ramen because I was obsessed with getting something fixed or installed on the jeep.
As Joe stated, many don't want to get burned. I personally will NOT just Do stuff for people that otherwise could do it themselves. I will however LOVE to help and teach people to do it themselves. Just as I would hope someone would teach me how to do something myself.
So what's the 1st thing you want done? I would assume your overheating issue(s)
Simple system. Radiator, hoses, thermostat, mechanical fan, pump.
Being with looking for visible issues. Do you have enough coolant/water. Is it the RIGHT mixture? Are there leaks? Do you smell coolant when you drive it? Check your oil. Does it smell like coolant? Flush your system. Install a cooling system cleaner in your radiator and drive it around for a few days. Drain the fluid, check for mud/dirt/grim. Disconnect your radiator hoses and blast it out with a water hose. Remove you water pump and thermostat, blast your block out with water. Then put a new thermostat in, put everything back together and fill the radiator with DISTILLED water and radiator fluid. If that doesn't help, come back on and let us know. We can go from there. A vehicle thats 30 yrs old, I BET has not had a proper cooling system service. If this doesn't help you may simply have a tired engine.
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Oh, man, brokenyoujoint, I would LOVE to have the time/money to work on and fix everything on the Jeep myself, but after having it for 15 years, I've come to grips with the truth, which is that I just don't have the wherewithal to do my repairs while I have the general disarray in life that I continue to have (which is its own long story).

I've tried to fix my Jeep myself MANY times (researching YouTube, Chilton, Haynes, online forums, auto shop employees/customers, buddies, etc) almost ALways resulting in me either spending 20 times as long as it probably would've taken you or a mechanic, and many times just resorting to paying someone else to fix it (AFTER I already spent tons of my own time on it). I'm the guy that almost ALways tries to DIY at first (to which many incomplete projects scattered around me will attest)
For instance, just last night, I spent 2 hours online researching what to do about the mysterious puddle of water in my driver side floorboard, I see plenty of suggestions, but I totally feel daunted tearing my carpet/seat/dashboard apart (rendering the Jeep undriveable until I reconstruct it) while the back door panels are still removed from months ago cause I haven't finished the locks/windows repair I started. "Really, Ted?! Start another project before you've finished the last several?! Okay , Ted, get a clue - start handing off things to lighten your load!"

I TOTALLY get it about you and people at this forum much rather DIY and not have to resort to someone else - and I AM like that - but I've got broken electronics, broken tools, broken appliances, broken (fixer upper) house, broken body parts to deal with, too -- so, sometimes you gotta just reach out for help among the community, so that's what I'm doing.
I would LOVE to learn it all, but I'm coming to grips with I just can't do it all.

As for the cooling system, as you might imagine after having this XJ for 15 years, I've replaced all cooling system components 1-3 times (something like 10 times for the coolant bottles/caps, and I've replaced radiator twice).
I would do the swap out of radiator & related parts, to typical open cooling system (w/radiator cap!) if either a) my mechanical skills/knowledge, tools and workspace were adequate, or b) I could afford to have no vehicle for however many hours/days until I figure out what issues will inevitably arise that weren't mentioned or accounted for in any of the instructions/tutorials/videos/tips/techniques I found before starting the process.

"Okay, Ted - accept it. You've been going backwards or sideways for 15 years with this Jeep. So, find someone who knows their shiiit, loves doing this stuff, has the right knowledge/tools/workspace, and pay them to do in 2 hours what would take you 4 days of missing work to make countless trips back and forth to auto parts stores and internet to do a half-asss job".

Sidenote: I, too, have been burned a few times, but in the opposite direction - by mechanics claiming to know what's up, and then end up charging for many hours to do what I later found out would've taken a skilled mechanic lot less time to do - so, I share y'all's trepidation - I know where you're coming from and appreciate it.

Finally, my currently most pressing need is the newly flooding floorboard. One really shouldn't keep a puddle of water inside their car ;-)
Off to a body shop tomorrow to get a quote :)frown2:) so that I don't have to miss days of work to figure out: how to remove carpet, console and dashboard (without breaking the brittle 30-year old plastic irreplacable parts), where to buy new carpet padding, how to install new carpet padding, how to shore up windshield seal, find if cable grommets in firewall are leaking, re-putty the areas where body was puttied in 1988 instead of welded, find/clean drain ports, blower this, hvac that, weatherseal this, a-pillar that - and all else that I read about last night as solutions.

Wish me luck!
And BIG thanks for comments thus far, and in advance to anyone that might be available to help at some point.
I would still like referral for any San Diego mechanics (whether pro or not) that could help. If you don't want to help for money, maybe I could do some photo/video work for you? Maybe teach you about that, since I'd be learning auto stuff from you? I'm open to suggestions!
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I need to change a wheel bearing. While I have done a bunch of work on the jeep on my own, it really does take 20 x as long to figure things out and get it done. When I was part of a car club, it was so helpful to just have somebody around that knew what to do and could just guide you through things. We used to get together and all fix things at the same time so that people could share knowledge.

I'm feeling like the OP - there are some things that I just want to pay somebody to do, especially when I don't have friends that can help. If I could find a buddy or two that would just come over and drink my beer and mind the BBQ while I do the work while adding their expertise, that would be GREAT.
I'm always down to help fellow jeepers out, just a couple weeks around I help a guy I had only met once before with his 4wd conversation on his jk. Jeep guys tend to stick together!

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