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Mot's 2005 "X" Rocky Mountain Edition OEM+ Build

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
My TJ
2005 Wrangler "X" Rocky Mountain Edition, Bright Silver
Manual 6 speed, factory Dana 44 rear axle (3.73)
Purchased April 2018, 102k miles, clean Carfax with near complete maintenance records.
Everything stock except for Quadratec bolt on nerf bars, Quadratec mats, and Bilstein 5100 shocks.

My Story
Hi, I am from the Toledo, Ohio area, the hometown of Jeep and Dana\Spicer, aka the Glass City...also home of the Toledo Rockets (UT is my alma mater), Mud Hens, Walleye, Jamie Farr, Tony Packo's etc.

Not too long ago, our community finished celebrating 75 years of Jeep in Toledo.
from http://www.toledoblade.com/75-years-of-jeep:
“The Jeep won World War II. It saved nations. It was part of the rescue of France, of the Philippines. The Jeep vehicle was that important. And in peace times, it’s saved a lot of companies as well,” said Patrick Foster, an automotive historian and author of Jeep: The History of America’s Greatest Vehicle. “I think it’s gotta be one of the two or three most important brands in the world.” Here in Toledo, the hometown of Jeep, you’re unlikely to find anyone willing to dispute that.


After moving to Toledo and spending 3 decades here, I have always wanted to buy a Wrangler. This was especially true as I grew older and could better appreciate the heritage, as well as the role Jeep plays in the lifeblood of our city. I always brushed it aside because they weren’t practical for me. However, over the past few years, the want to own a Wrangler had developed into a need. And, meanwhile, we had been thinking about and seriously considering moving out West in 5 years. I grew up in Tucson, AZ during my childhood years, often riding on dirt bikes and in the back of 4x4’s through the desert terrain. This was all before my long stint in Ohio. If I were to ever leave the Toledo area, I would want to take “a piece of Toledo” with me. What better way for me to accomplish this than buy a Wrangler made in Toledo? And what would be nice to own when we finally get back out West? Yeah, I like this idea!

About a year ago, I was considering buying myself a new JLU. I particularly was interested in the upcoming turbo 4 or diesel when they finally came out for better fuel economy. But, holy hell, it sounded like even the turbo 4 (a 48 volt mild hybrid eTorque engine) was going to be quite a bit more expensive than the standard V6 Pentastar models. This meant I would probably need to sell my other car, a 300 WHP 2015 VW Golf that I have put much time and $ into. Beyond being fun the drive, the Golf also has comfy heated seats, good road manners, and great fuel economy when we want to take longer trips. I soon decided that just owning a Jeep as a DD was still probably not an ideal situation for me.

Sigh...what to do now. I still could not get owning a Wrangler out of my head. While not entirely practical as a first and only vehicle, a less expensive used Wrangler as a 2nd vehicle was suddenly very appealing. Then, I could drive it as much or as little as I wanted. I started researching all the Wrangler generations. While the JK’s had more space and modern amenities, and the older YJ’s had their allure, of course I fell in love with the handsomely classic TJ! The TJ is the “Goldilocks” of all Wranglers with the smaller footprint, proper round headlights, coil suspension, and just enough amenities ;) The last of the real Jeeps some will say.

As I did my TJ research, I recalled this wasn’t my first run-in with a TJ. My first TJ experience was a rental in Moab, Utah back in 2002. It was a nice yellow one with a manual transmission from Farabee’s Jeep rentals (if you can help to identify the year, let me know). The wife and I did the Shafer Trail through Canyonlands and up through the side of the cliffs to Deadhorse, and then back down. When we arrived back at the rental place after the awesome experience, I told the Dutch owner it was more challenging and dangerous than we expected. Only then did he share that many have died on the trail, and that just recently (back in '02) a couple Germans visiting had died in one of his rentals by sliding off the cliffs...the ones we had just been sliding around on!

Needless to say, Moab is a magical place. We've been there twice...I hope the third time is the charm and I will be in my own TJ! Here is the Moab rental, plus a bonus pic of our visit to Arches NP back in 2002. My wife is the tiny person at the bottom!
Moab 2.JPG Moab 3.JPG
Moab 1.JPG Moab 4.JPG


Well, on May 23 of 2018, I finally did it. Holy Toledo! I bought a 2005 TJ X RME with a Dana 44 rear end. A 13 year old Jeep, but in very good condition. I paid a tad bit more than I originally wanted, but it was hard to find a clean, unmolested subject in my area like this one.

It doesn’t seem right to call this a build thread, since I really am not building anything, just assembling parts, and sometimes with the help of others. Anyhow, we’ll track the progress here…

Purchase Day Pics

first day.jpg Purchase Day 8.png first day 2.jpg Purchase Day 3.png Purchase Day 4.png Purchase Day 6.png Purchase Day 7.pngPurchase Day 5.png

More to come to catch up with what has transpired since...
 
OP
mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
My Goals

The goals for my TJ is “OEM+”. Keep it mostly stock, but make some tasteful yet subtle improvements. Kind of a mild resto-mod...if you can call it that with a 2005 Jeep already in decent shape. This will be mostly a street Jeep that may see some light off-road duty from time to time but never anything serious like rock crawling or 3 ft deep mud holes etc. I came up with the following list:

  1. First order of business, I want my TJ to be in tip-top working condition from top to bottom. If there is something broken, not right, or looking unattractive, I was going to fix it.
  2. Second order of business was preservation. I’d like to keep this Jeep in the family for many years to come. In that, I wanted to thoroughly clean the frame and underbody, sand off any rust that I could find, treat any remaining rust, and then do some rattle can magic to finish her off. Before every Winter, I plan to use a couple cans of Fluid Film to keep the rusting at bay the best I can.
  3. Stereo upgrade - something with Bluetooth streaming/hands-free calling.
  4. ProClip dock for my Pixel XL so I can use it for Navigation, stereo remote, and Torque app monitoring.
  5. Modest suspension lift - reasons are twofold:
    • Be able to fit larger tires, 32's or 33's.
    • Replace the tired old springs and shocks for a better ride.
  6. New alloy black wheels with proper backspacing for wider tires.
  7. Taller, wider and more aggressive A/T tires.
  8. Remove old nerf bars and replace with a black flush sidestep that also serves as light duty rocker protection.
  9. Lighting upgrades - LED headlights and interior LED bulb upgrades for sure, and then perhaps LED taillights, front parking/turn signals, and fog lights.
  10. Soft top - probably a frameless Trektop NX since my came with the hardtop from the factory. I love the fastback look and the options this top provides.
  11. Hard top hoist system. I still want to run it for 6-7 months out of the year here in Ohio. Looking for options here. I don't want to break the bank, but I need something sturdy and easy to use. I am considering DIY options as well if I can build something that will work.
 
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mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
My progress into the abyss. I want to buy a TJ, lift it, and install bigger tires...
As I learned more about Jeeps, I read somewhere (paraphrasing) “Lifting and modifying Jeeps is just almost as much of an art as it is a science.” From my short time in the community thus far, I can attest to this statement after some of the Jeeps I have seen and drove!

I realize those of you that have a lot more experience find many threads repetitive and frustrating, but the subject of lifting TJ’s to fit larger tires did turn out to be a tad more complex than I expected it to be. I’m pushing 50 and have some good experience with automotive repair and aftermarket modifications in general. But, I had very little experience with Jeeps, lifts, solid axles, u-joints, 4WD etc. These things are different animals from what I am used to working on. There always seems to be several different ways to skin a cat with these things, and sometimes the different methods are even used in combination (suspension lift + body lift + motor mount lift etc.). And wait, some folks are actually are using hockey pucks for coil spring bump stops, and they work great!

In the Jeep world, things were new and different for me…I had to learn the way of the Jeep folk, LOL. For a little fun, I decided to provide an overview of my thoughts as things progressed in my hunt to find a TJ, and also to determine what I needed to do to run the bigger tires. I’m sure many can identify with this process, and I can only imagine how it is for folks with far less automotive experience than I have. Well, here it goes....maybe it will help someone else new to the subject.
  1. I want a Jeep! I really like those TJ’s. I would love to have a lifted TJ with larger tires!

  2. I go online to research. Hmmm, the classic look I dig appears to consist of a TJ with a 33 inch tire, a 2.5” to 4” lift (depending on who you talk to), and 15x8 wheels with ~3.75 to 4” backspacing. Seems simple enough.

  3. Start locating TJ’s online. Looked at hundreds of TJ’s in a 3 state area.

  4. Went and looked at many TJ’s. Walked away before a test drive most of the time due to rust, overall condition, questionable modifications etc.

  5. Hmmm, what are these LJ’s. These are rare and kind of cool. I may want one of these. They have a longer wheelbase and a factory Dana 44 axle with . Need to research more about the axle types and what it will mean for me...

  6. Discussed some Jeeps I found in the forum whilst creating my first post.Thanks for the help guys! https://wranglertjforum.com/threads/looking-for-expert-advice-on-these-ljs.10754/

  7. Wow, rear axle gearing make a huge difference! Drove several lifted TJ’s that had larger tires, but some were not properly re-geared. I reevaluate what I am looking for. The 3.07 gearing is out after driving an 04 TJ X automatic with 31’s. It had no passing power on the highway. I then drove some LJ’s with the 3.73, one stock on 30’s and one lifted on 33’s. I now know I want a Dana 44 rear axle with at least a 3.73 gear ratio.

  8. I don’t mind the automatics, but I really want a manual, we’ll see. Lot’s of different transmissions in the mix with TJ’s over the years. When combined with the gear ratio, the different transmissions will also affect how the Jeep performs. Need to research more about this as well.

  9. Researched more online to what it will take to properly lift and run larger tires. Put in several hours of reading about lift types/brands/heights, tire sizes, wheels, backspacing, clearance on-road vs off-road, suspension/driveline geometry problems, proper gearing, axle types/strength, gearing of different TJ transmissions etc.

  10. Hmmm, this is going to take more research, but let’s start by by procuring a TJ with the Dana 44 rear end and a manual transmission, if I can find one. There are way more automatic Jeeps than I thought there would be...we’ll need to research each individual Jeep that I consider from here on out since there are so many flavors and combinations of axles and transmissions.

  11. More searching for the right TJ...more test drives.

  12. Finally found and bought a TJ! A 2005 X RME with factory Dana 44\3.73, and a manual 6 speed transmission.

  13. Keep researching suspension lifts...OK, it makes sense. The higher I lift, the higher the odds that I will need to start making “corrective” changes after the lift to fix the driveline geometry angle. In particular, the shorter rear driveshaft and pinion angle changes when installing a suspension lift, the rear driveshaft angle will get steeper and this is where the problem will develop with vibrations during acceleration/deceleration. To correct this angle, depending on it’s severity, it could be as simple as a transfer case drop, or perhaps a 1” MML+ 1” BL combo, or 1” MML+fan relocation, maybe adjustable track bars or rear bracket, or perhaps all the way to a modified T-case with SYE (Slip Yoke Eliminator) + new driveshaft + adjustable rear control arms etc.

  14. Crap, maybe I should just run 31’s on the stock suspension?!!!

  15. Nah, I really want like to run some bigger tires…that is the look of the TJ I wanted from the beginning!

  16. Maybe a cheaper budget boost from Zone or RE? Maybe just do a body lift...Nope, this won’t work because I really want to freshen up that older suspension. The springs are original and the added Bilstein 5100’s are OK, but they seem overly sensitive on the street. Jerry Bransford mentioned that you could “roll over a quarter and tell if it was heads or tails”, LOL.

  17. Find local guys running BDS lifts and talk to local BDS installer. BDS seems well respected after researching online. Products are made in the USA and they have a no fine print warranty that I like. Just marketing perhaps, but I still like it!

  18. Look at local Jeeps with 2” and 3” lifts. I’m sold, this should be perfect for me. Just need to determine 2” or 3” and what is right for me and how much I want to spend.

  19. Start to configure lift kits on the BDS website. Lots of configuration options...

  20. Consider doing the lift it myself, but I decide to let some local experts work on the 13 year old Jeep this time. Their work is also warrantied.

  21. Screw it, let’s just go ahead do a 3” suspension lift! I started adding up all the expenses for the more expensive 3” lift, 33’s, wheels I wanted, gearing up to 4.56 or higher. Let’s also count on doing the SYE, the recommended adjustable track bars, and also the recommended adjustable control arms etc.

  22. Damn…this is going to be expensive to do this right! I’m not willing to put that much into this Jeep, at least not right away. Not to mention my wife will make me sleep in the garage with the Jeep!

  23. Hmmm, I could add a 1” body or maybe a coil extension lift in addition to the 2” BDS suspension lift to run 33’s. A body lift won’t change my suspension geometry further, but will a coil extension lift? Will a 3” lift of any sort require extended brake lines? What if add the 2” suspension lift with a 1” body lift, will I still need extended brake lines? Damn, need to think this all through...

  24. In principle, I don’t care for body lifts…it will be one more step away from stock, and I don’t want to that. I do think they can be very useful to provide a little extra lift without throwing off suspension geometry when someone wants to get a little extra lift. Maybe I’ll revisit back at some point.

  25. OK, I still want a lifted Jeep, but can I live without those 33’s? What about 32x11.5xR15? They still look great. Voice of reason also says 33’s will be more cost and more trouble in the long run. It will be more money to lift now, plus more weight to stress the axles, brakes, ball joints, tire carrier/rear door etc.

  26. I look more closely a local TJ with a 2” BDS lift, MT Classic III wheels, and 32” BFG’s. Wow, it looks awesome! Not really that much different than the 33’s. A little less of the “balloon” look, but a little rolling resistance for fuel economy, due to the 1” less width. The 11.5” width on the 32’s is actually also a better fit for the 8” wide rims I would likely buy (15x8)

  27. OK, it’s now settled. 32’s are the new 33’s! For OEM+, 32’s are more suitable for me. We’ll do the 2” suspension lift and I’ll run 32’s. It just makes good sense for my mostly street driven Jeep with minor offroad duty. I may not even need to regear the Dana 44 with any urgency since the 3.73 should do fine with the 32’s and my 6 speed manual transmission. I now have more appreciation for how Jeeps can also look good and perform better on the street with 31’s or 32’s.

  28. Went back to talk to the local shop. They have lots of experience with the BDS lifts on TJ’s. We agree to move forward with the 2” BDS kit, add the 0-2” lift JKS quick disconnect front links, and NX2 steering stabilizer. The BDS 2” kit has choice to upgrade many other different components, but I decided to keep it simple...OEM+.

  29. I ask installer about SYE requirements and they agree it is not needed for a 2” lift…good!

  30. The “Beginner’s Guide to Lifting…” in the FAQ states (and I'm not saying it is wrong!), that you need also need bumpstops, adjustable track bars, for a 2" lift, and either an SYE or T-case drop.

  31. Hold it, the 2” kit didn’t mention needing extended bumpstops, adjustable track bars, SYE or T-case drop.

  32. Go back to local installer to confirm and they agree, in some cases, a T-case drop may be required for the 2” lift if driveline vibes ensue after the install. However, per BDS and the installer, the extended bumpstops can be added, but shouldn’t be required if using the recommended tire size (32”). The installer and BDS also say I don’t need adjustable track bars for the 2” lift. Double check the FAQ and it does say under Adjustable Trackbars that 2.5” and lower lifts can “get away” with the stock trackbar. OK, glad that is all settled. One axle will be slightly skewed to the right and the other slightly to the left. But it won’t cause any issues...interesting.

  33. Ok, glad that is all settled...I make the appointment to get the lift installed.
Here is the local TJ that was my inspiration to go with the 2" lift and 32's:
Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 12.23.21 PM.png
 
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mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
Nice man! Look forward to seeing where it goes!
Thanks! It's hard to believe all the things I have done over the past 2 months or so (some small, some big). I figured it would be good to get it documented now while I can still remember everything. More to come as I get everything organized!
 
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mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
May 24, 2018
Right after purchase I immediately removed the old Quadratec nerf bars. One of the plastic step inlays was broken on the passenger side and I really didn't care for the “tubular” look for steps and bumpers. We'll replace the steps later after it is lifted and after my short wife complains it is hard to get in. Funds for the replacements will come easy then, LOL...always thinking ahead!

I also removed the plastic bumper ends, aka "Milk Jugs". It was an instant improvement getting those crappy POS off of the Jeep.

Finally, I painted the stock Ravine wheels black with Plasti Dip to see how they would look. I also figured it would also help protect them for their last months of use since I soon planned to remove them. I will eventually sell all 5 locally with mounted tires if there any interest (PM if interested!).

Remove nerf bars.png


May 25-27, 2018
Minor paint reconditioning (clay bar, touch-up, polishing, waxing). Working on the paint will continue to be a work in progress as I do a bit at a time. Didn't take any pics of the process, but the paint was much shinier after I was done with the first pass. While this vehicle clean, maintained, and taken care of by the previous couple owners, they didn't pay attention to the little details. For 102k miles on the clock, I was surprised how few rock chips there where on the front end.

Next, I turned my focus on the hard top and restored it to near factory condition. I cleaned it with mild soap and water to start and then I scrubbed every inch with magic erasers to remove the white oxidation and ground in dirt (almost used a whole box of them!). I finished up by polishing it up with S100 paste wax. Next time I clean it, I'm thinking about using a good sealer and then a wax.

Before cleaning
Clean top 1.jpg

After magic eraser cleaning on right and after waxing on the left.
waxed on left - only cleaned on right.jpg


Took the family on a couple drives without the top on for the first time...they are starting to fall in love with the TJ!
 
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mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
May 28, 2018
Time for a little under the hood maintenance. I popped an O2 sensor CEL (P0421) and I cleared it after the maintenance. We'll see if it comes back after this. I have a feeling that I have a slightly clogged catalytic converter(s) and it looks like all 4 O2 sensors are original . I plan on replacing the whole exhaust from the manifold back at some point. I'll likely replace all O2 sensors as well at that time.
  • Replaced spark plugs with Autolite iridiums (XP985).
  • Removed and cleaned throttle body and IAC valve.
  • Replaced air filter.
  • Changed oil and filter.
Interestingly, I found a hodge podge of plugs installed. 3 NGK's and 3 Autolite XP-985. Kind of sad to pull the old iridiums, but I want a full matching set of plugs with the same age. Not sure what someone had going here. Perhaps the parts counter didn't have enough of one brand, or the owner was cheap and trying to fix a CEL, or got ripped off by a shop...not sure. Jeep was running fine before, and still is running fine after the plugs were installed. I don't expect the new plugs to fix the O2 CEL and potential catalytic converter issue, but we'll see.

spark plugs.png

P.S. Nope, got the P0421 CEL again after a few days :(. Time for that exhaust work and replace all O2 sensors...I'll probably do this sooner rather than later. Heading off on vacation for a week, we'll get some more work done when I return.

P.S.S I forgot to mention that I accidentally bought and installed the AP985 Autolite plugs at first. After reading the @Jerry Bransford posts on this, I quickly swapped them out. Instead, I found that I was supposed to have been given the APP985 (double platinum) not the AP985 plugs. Or, better yet, the XP985 iridium plugs. Even though some parts computers show the AP985 will work with the newerTJ's with direct ignition, they are only intended to be used with the older TJ's with a distributor and plug wires. I can tell you, even when they were brand new, the TJ did not run as well on the AP985. I knew there was something wrong right away because it ran better on the old mismatched plugs shown above. I was baffled and thought I had a gap issue. I quickly researched online and found that I had been had! Went back to the parts store and exchanged for the XP985 Autolites.
 
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mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
June 23, 2018
Stereo Upgrade - to keep with the OEM+ motto and not overdo it, I decided I didn’t want an expensive system with an additional aftermarket amplifier, more wiring, higher current requirements, larger sub in the back etc. I was already spending enough on this Jeep with the lift, wheels, and tires I had coming soon. And, since I would do the work myself, that would also help to keep the costs down. In the end, I spent just around $300 for a system that can be further upgraded in the future if I wanted.

After some web research (Crutchfield, forums, reviews, specs etc.), I decided the best recipe for my plan was to pick up a decent single DIN name brand head unit with Bluetooth, Sirius, USB etc., 4 efficient OEM+ direct replacement speakers with a 90dB+ sensitivity rating, and upgrade the old tired factory subwoofer with a better dual voice coil unit. In my research for efficient speakers, I found the JBL GTO 9 Series. They had exactly what I was looking for. They are specially engineered 3 Ohm speakers with 92 dB sensitivity that are designed to get the most out of modestly powered systems and stock wiring, i.e. better efficiency = more volume\better sound output per watt.

The system works great and is perfect for my listening needs. I may do a phase 2 with an amplifier, but really I don’t feel the need for anything more powerful or complex. It has enough bass for my needs, far better than the stock head unit and sub, but is still using the stock sub amplifier that was still working fine.

Hardware:
  • Kenwood KMM-BT522HD (Single DIN, BT, Sirius, etc.)
  • Sound-bar speakers (2): JBL 529, 5 1/4”, 92 dB sensitivity, RMS 5W-50W (150W peak)
  • Front corner speakers (2): JBL 429 4”, 92 dB sensitivity, RMS 5W-50W (105W peak)
  • Subwoofer (1): Kicker CompRT 6 3/4”, all-weather, dual voice coil 2 Ohm, 150W RMS - wired just like stock using the stock subwoofer amplifier.
Harnesses:
  • Single DIN Adapter (1) - Metra 99-6503
  • Speaker wire adapter (4) - Metra 72-6514
  • Stereo Harness for Jeep/Chrylser (1) - Metra IBR-WHCR2
  • Antenna adapter (1) - Metra 40-CR10
More info on the JBL GTO 9 Series:
https://www.jbl.com/on/demandware.static/-/Sites-masterCatalog_Harman/default/dwc39c1b59/pdfs/Specification Sheet - GTO 9 Series Speakers (English).pdf

Updated: added Poly-fil, see here:
https://wranglertjforum.com/threads/mots-2005-x-rocky-mountain-edition-oem-build.12446/page-2#post-260985

Old front vs new front.png New front installed.pngRear GTO 529.png
New rear with direction tweeter.pngRear installed.png New sub vs old sub.png
 
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mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
July 5th
Painted front and rear bumpers with Krylon Rust Protector, Satin Black. This stuff dries really quickly between coats. I applied about 5 thin coats and they turned out really nice. Found a 15 oz. at Walmart for $3.96 in (25% more can). I probably have half a can left, but I'd have to check to be certain. Definitely some left for future touch ups etc.
https://www.krylon.com/featured-products/rust-protector/

front bumper.png

rear bumper.png
 
OP
mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
July 10, 2018
Added a couple complementary items to the stereo:
1. Proclip center console vent dash mount for 2003-2006 Wrangler (item #853223) and Pixel XL phone holder. I've not seen a better phone holder on the market, these are made specifically for the vehicle. I have used these in my last few cars.
2. Added rapid charge USB charger into cigarette lighter. Can't recall the brand, but I got it on Amazon for like $10-12

Now my 2005 Jeep has the same capabilities of pretty much any new car. One of my goals have been met!

July 11, 2018
New Wheels and Tires are in!

Wheels - American Racing AR172 Baja, 15x8, black alloy, 3.75” BS (-19 offset)
Tires - BF Goodrich KO2 32x11.5x15 A/T

I am very happy with the wheels. After the $50 BFG rebate and Tire Rack sale on the wheels ($88/each), I was able to get all 5 for less than $1500 including shipping, mounting/balancing, center caps, and black lug nuts. I just had to instal myself, easy peasy and worth the effort.

For only a bit more than steelies, these alloy wheels are well made and they balanced nicely at only ~19 lbs a piece. I liked the look of the Soft 8 steelies, so these were a great choice for me. With real steelies, you really have to watch out for the cost. Many seem cheap, but then you find out lugs and center caps are not included. And some of the cheaper 15x8's weighed 29 lbs. The lightest ones I saw were ~26 lbs. I liked the idea of less weight on my tire carrier, ball joints, suspension, and less weight for the brakes to handle etc. The 32" fit on the stock carrier without modification and is nice and secure.

Tirerack package.pngWheels and tires 2.pngWheels and tires 1.pngWheels and tires 4.png


Another goal down, but now the Jeep really needs a lift! I drove around for a bit on the 32's without issues or rubbing, but it was sitting pretty low! Love the BFG's with the RWL out...old school for an old school Jeep.

Wheels and tires 3.png
 
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mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
July 14, 2018
Whilst waiting for the lift to be installed, I received my WHDZ LED headlights from Amazon and got them installed. Huge improvement over stock. I had the Wagner "not so" BriteLite's already installed when I bought the Jeep recently. These are supposedly upgraded halogens that "Deliver 80% more light to the road than standard halogen headlamps". Yeah, right. Not sure how the Wagner's compare to stock, but they still really suck! When I would go into a parking garage and it would say "turn on lights", I would turn my lights on and barely be able to tell they were on!

As much as I didn't want to buy knockoff headlights, I wasn't' ready to spend $300+. And, since the stock lamps sucked so bad, I really needed to do something. For $99, even if they don't work out for the long haul, these are a great upgrade if I can get a few years out of them. Also, since others here had already reported much success, I felt comfortable going with these. Went for a drive on a dark country road that I frequently travel after the install. Wow, what a difference!

Reference:
https://wranglertjforum.com/threads/replaced-headlights-with-truck-lite-knockoffs.6239/
LED next to Wagner halogen.jpg LED headlights off.jpg LED headlights compare old and new light color.jpg LED headlights on.jpg
 
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mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
July 18, 2018
After much debate, I decided to have the professionals down the road install my lift. I received a bonus from work and that sealed the deal. I didn't feel like wrestling with 13 year old rusty nuts and bolts and I knew they could do it in a day while I was off working at my day job, as opposed to me wasting a whole weekend, LOL. The shop installs many BDS TJ lifts and had many local Jeeps as examples in their portfolio to demonstrate their work. They also do re-gearing and many full-on hard core builds and custom fabrications. The owner also lives in my neighborhood, so I needed to befriend these guys anyhow in case I ever need something!

Here is what I went with keeping with my OEM+ plan:
  • 2” BDS Lift (BDS springs + NX2 shocks)
  • NX2 steering stabilizer (maybe not giving any performance gains, but hey it looks cool and the stock one looked beat!).
  • JKS “Quicker Disconnect” adjustable front sway links for 0-2" lift.
I'm very happy with the lift height and the ride is nice and compliant on-road. A bonus was that the NX2 shocks and stabilizer have a silver painted body that matches my bright silver TJ.

Before and after:
Side by side before and after.png


Lifted with sky backdrop.jpg


Lifted just in time for the sunset.jpg

Lift getting installed.png Lift installed 2.png Lift installed 3.png Lift installed 4.png Lift installed 5.png Lift installed 6.png Lift installed 7.png

July 19, 2018
Manifold-back exhaust installed. As I reported back a few posts, I was getting the dreaded CEL with code P0421 (Warm Up Catalyst Efficiency Below Threshold - Bank 1). It kept coming back after I cleared it several times, at least once every 200 miles and sometimes more often. Usually it was by itself (typically means the cat is bad). Along the way, I also received the P0153 (CAT slow response bank 2 sensor 1) 2 times.

The stock manifold was still in decent shape at 102k miles, but the mid-pipe (downpipe with 2 pre-cats + 3rd cat), O2 sensors, and cat-back were original. I also had a very strong suspicion that there was some blockage in one or more of the cats because the Jeep didn't readily allow me to push past 3500-4000 RPM. Many others have reported the same on TJ's around the 100k mark.

It was time get 'er done and make this thing run properly with no CEL's. Here is the system I went with. To my surprise, I was able to do this in a very economical fashion.
What a difference! The TJ exhaust is now flowing properly again and I can easily and smoothly take it up to redline. There was definitely some blockage in one or more of the cats. With the new exhaust and the XP985 spark plugs, the TJ is running like a champ. Since I am writing this post one month later, I can also say that I have run 4 tanks of gas without a CEL.

Some think the Banks cat-back is a noise maker, but it is barely louder than the stock exhaust on the later TJ's with the 3 catalytic converters. On older TJ's with the single cat, it will be a bit louder.


Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 7.30.15 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 7.29.30 PM.png

Banks exhaust.png Lift installed 8.png

Lift installed 9.png
 
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mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
July 24, 2018
After the lift was installed and some test drives, there was now some minor vibration when taking off from a complete stop in first gear (rear driveshaft pinion angle related issue). I could feel it most in the 6 speed shifter as the driveline shimmies a bit and then goes away fairly quickly as I continue to accelerate. Nothing violent by any means, but it needed to be fixed. It was a little more pronounced the faster I attempt to accelerate. Dropping the t-case ~1" solved the minor rear driveshaft vibration as expected.

Loving the new setup. I got almost 2.5" of lift from the 2" kit (stock hard top, no winch, stock bumpers, no extra armor etc.). No issues getting into 4H or 4L after the drop. Since it's just a street Jeep, I have no issues running it like this...clearance isn't an issue for me and driveline angle looks pretty much like stock from the pics that I have throughout the process.
 
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mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
July 25, 2018
Driver’s seat ~1” lift - added firmness and padding using multi-layer heavy duty cardboard, foam padding, duct tape (of course!), and a couple 1mm thick washers.

After 103k miles and 13 years, the original high back seats were in surprisingly good shape, but the foam cushion inside the driver's seat was worn down and not supporting me properly. I would sink in too low, and with the decent lumbar support on the high seat backs, this really made my lower back hurt on longer drives. I had to remove the driver seat and partially remove the lower part of the seat cover to get it fitted and tested. But, it was worth the effort and has been working out very well thus far. And, it still looks stock :D.

Removed seat and loosened the bottom half of the seat cover.
Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 8.37.00 PM.png

Cut heavy duty cardboard to fit - I duct taped two layers together. This was much thicker, heavier, and more rigid than your typical box cardboard. We received something heavy duty packed with this thick cardboard, but I can't recall what it was. I tested the fit and trimmed as necessary. About 1/2" height added with just the layers of cardboard.
Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 8.36.43 PM.png

Next, I added some padding and duct taped that onto the cardboard. This added another 1/2" of height or so.
Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 8.36.15 PM.png

Slipped it back between the spring and the bottom of the seat cushion to "fill" the void in foam cushion where it had been flattened. Also, since the cardboard was laying over top the metal spring at the bottom, it made it much firmer, but still soft enough.
Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 8.37.34 PM.png

I then pulled the seat cover back over the (now much fuller) seat cushion and buttoned things up (stretch and clip on to the bottom of the seat using the plastic fastener on the seat cover).
Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 8.35.54 PM.png

Finally, I added a couple 1mm thick heavy duty washers between the tub and the seat frame for ~2mm of height addition, but only on the back 2 bolts when I reinstalled the seat (I still used the 4 original bolts). At first, I also added the washers to each side in the front as well, but I removed them and just left the back ones in place. It felt just a little more comfortable for me this way.
 
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mots

mots

TJ Enthusiast
May 11, 2018
919
OH, USA
Nice thread! Looks like a nice clean TJ you have there
Thanks, I appreciate it! I'm real happy with my purchase and to be part of the TJ family! I'm trying to catch things up after doing so many things over a 2-3 month period. Finally getting close. I'll probably do a little more this weekend. Chris has been awesome and has made some setting changes to allow us to edit our build threads indefinitely (post would lock after a short period before). This has really been helpful for me as I slide stuff back in here and there in chronological order. I am also going to go back add a table of contents in the OP after I am done catching up.
 
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