2004 Jeep Rubicon Built by a Toyota Guy

One of my biggest complaints getting this TJ was how poor these brakes performed. I was surprised how long it took to stop with 33s and wanted to address that asap. Everyone raves about Black Magic Brake Pads so I decided to give them a try.

First I wanted to give the system a nice bleed since I was unsure when that was last done. I think this is the first time I’ve seen brake fluid come out like coffee 😂


I was also greeted with two completely rounded bleeder valves. Had to grind them down a bit, use heat and an adjustable wrench to pull them.


Now comes the fun part putting in new parts and cleaning things up.


Wow what a difference a great set of front pads and rotors make. Stopping is significantly better and I’m not even done breaking the pads in. If I ever decide to step up to 35s I’ll look into getting dual piston calipers but for now I’m a pretty happy guy.

Next up is to address engine issues!
So admittedly I've been a Toyota 4WD enthusiast all of my life. They perform great, are extremely durable, reliable and easy to work on. After spending the last seven years building my 2012 5th Gen 4runner I wanted a new project and a new challenge. I've always admired Jeeps and how well they perform on tough trails. Even though I like doing those same trails in my 4runner :) I've never had a 4x4 with a front solid axle before and wanted to try it out and learn a new platform. So here I am.

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I was lucky enough to stumble onto this forum and found a member who was selling his 2004 Rubicon 5MT that was in great shape. Picked it up a few weeks ago and this is how she sat on day 1. Notable mods on it:
  • 4" Rubicon Express Lift
  • 33" Goodyear Duratrac Tires
  • Tom Wood rear driveshaft
  • Posion Spider front bumper w/ Warn M8000 winch
  • Poison Spider Hood Vents
  • Smittybilt rear bumper with tire carrier

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I bought this Jeep to tackle some of the harder trails that we have here in CA. So the build will be tailored for that use case, I also would like to keep things more on the OEM side of things because I love how these things look from the factory. Lets get on with it shall we!

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BTW, if you like the Toyota stuff check out these kids. I am hooked on this channel as they are headed to Argentina in this thing they built.
Phew it’s been a minute! I was focusing on a big trip that was on my bucket list for the Toyota. I’m Pleased to say that we took a few mall crawlers across the Rubicon Trail a couple of weeks ago. To say it was an experience is an understatement. Look forward to taking the TJ on it hopefully this year before the snow comes.


Had some time this weekend to prep for a trip coming next weekend. On the doc was to finally install a top on this thing after months driving around topless. I went with the tried and true Bestop Supertop and I’m pleased with the results.



While under the hood I discovered a cracked coolant reservoir and that the PO damaged the mount for it. So I’ll need to figure out how to address these things asap before the weekend.


More to come soon!
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