Work from home LJ

kameronkales

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Jun 19, 2021
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174
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Charlotte
2004 LJ. Auto with <86k miles. Zero rust. Let’s get started!

Why buy a Wrangler?

I wanted to buy one before college and ended up buying a WJ instead. Fast forward 10+ years and I was looking for a "fun" car. I owned my "daily" outright and don't have kids, so pretty ideal situation. My fiance and dog are the only 2 people in car with me 99.99% of time.

It took next to no convincing. AutoTrader, Craigslist searches were setup, and I was in the market.

Why an older Wrangler?

I wanted to learn how to do most everything myself, and buying a 45-50k Gladiator (what I actually want) sounded like a recipe for disaster. I should learn on something cheaper where worst case scenario was a lot easier to manage.

Why an LJ?

I wanted the extra space, and intend on owning forever. So, I wanted to buy the "right" thing to start.

If I bought a TJ I'd build it, and 3-5 years from now sell it to buy an LJ. It is just who I am.

Usage

I work from home, and will be for awhile. I had previously been daily driving a 2012 Honda Accord. It was in great shape, and I decided to keep it so the LJ wouldn't have to be a daily.

Before WFH, I drove about 6k miles a year. After, Im closer to 4k. I might sell the Accord eventually but its great for when the LJ is on jack stands in the garage.

I intend on building the LJ into a "buy once, cry once" machine.

Being efficient with the dollars allocated but I intend on owning forever and don't want to "re-buy" a part later because I cheap-ed out and got the wrong thing.

This LJ

I had been passively looking at 3rd gen 4runners, diesel trucks, sequoias and wranglers for 18 months. I randomly opened Craigslist and found this listing. Previous owner knew his stuff, he walked me through maintenance history and was about 2 hours from my house. Bingo.

Here was the listing.

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I asked for 1500 off if PO got to keep audio equipment, backseat and uncertainty around CEL being on. He agreed.

The LJ would also come with a TON of parts he had ordered but not yet had installed. Double bingo.

It has 2" pucks and 32" ATs on it. Cold air intake, JL wheels with adapters and an aftermarket exhaust of some kind.

Sadly, Its a big of a dog with the 3.73s. Not the mods I'd have done but at least it wasnt 20" rims and an angry grill!

15k for near perfect shape LJ? Perfect deal. (I knew what CEL code was and was ready to fix).

Carfax said "value" was 13k. Ok. If anyone can find me a near perfect condition LJ with 86k miles for 13k I will also buy that one 🤣

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Went to bank, got cashiers check and was off to buy 4 days after I saw listing.

Build Goal

35s done right.

Driving Home

No return drive from buying a car can ever be "uneventful", so of course, my fiance blew out a tire 2 hours from our house at about 11:30 PM in the middle of no where.

We used head lights / light bars previous owner installed (the first time a light bar was ever useful 🤣) , changed tire on side of road, and carefully ventured the rest of the way home.

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At this point, our dog would have been in the crate for over 9 hours (traffic, buying car took way longer than we anticipated, etc) so friends went over and let him out while we drove. Huge help.

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Jeep as it sat day 1. Dog loves to hang out. Garages are tiny in downtown Charlotte.

We are moving after wedding in April. 2 car is a requirement for the next house.

Getting to Daily Driver Condition

P0031 - H02S - Heater Control Circuit Low - Bank 1, Sensor 1 was present. There was also a Bank 1, Sensor 2 code as well, but I dont have a picture of that one.

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Ordered all new O2 Sensors (NTK) and hoped. I didn't need all new ones but wanted to be sure of condition.

Fast forward a week and that didn't fix the issue.

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Fast forward another week and I had new catalytic converter from amazon installed ($350, not the $1500 it costs now) and the CEL was off.

Its been 7+ months and it hasn't come back so I am checking that box as complete.

More Preventative Maintenance

In the following weeks/months I did the following:

  • Oil change
  • Spark plugs
  • Fan Clutch - Jeep would spike in temperature while idling.
  • Coolant Leak Tests - Did as safety measure
  • Redid all of audio - previous owner kept most of this. So new amp, door speakers, sound bar, etc
  • Sound deadened interior - anything I could do to make ride quieter.
  • Installed backseat/rear seatbelts - Beach trip planned and we needed the seats
  • Moved mirrors from doors to body - NC requires mirrors and I didnt yet know about the "doorless" mirrors. This seemed logical at the time.
  • New rear window seal - previous one was leaking pretty bad.
  • Front Pinion Seal - was slightly leaking
  • Diff fluid change - wanted to be sure of condition
  • Nutserts - Had a stripped nutsert on the cross member by transmission. Was a PITA to get out, but I did.
  • New hardtop clips - hard top popped loose every bump in road. Drive to the beach was 4 hours of misery, and 4 hours back holding hard top down by hand. Its a miracle I am still engaged!
Fun stuff

Now that most preventative maintenance was knocked out (more to come below, but we were at a good starting point to drive the LJ at this stage) the fun can start
  • Roof rack - I don't love it, but have some plans to improve the rack and maybe then I will like it more.
  • Unknown tuffy box - Its stuck closed so I need to cut the bottom out (its getting bolted to frame so this wont matter) to see if I can get it open.
  • Half doors - decent condition half doors for a steal of a deal, some interior paint and the wafer set from ebay. Fast forward a month and I completed re-keying and coloring matching interior!
  • Steering stabilizer - came with LJ from previous owner. I didn't really need a new one, and wouldn't have purchased myself, but wanted it off the shelf in my garage. Took 30 min.

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Jeep as it currently sits on our mountain vacation.

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Alright - That is where we are today. I have a laundry list of parts at home and will add to this thread in a few hours.

I am getting married in 3 months (and should be wedding planning right now) and work a pretty demanding job....so be back later!
 
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kameronkales

kameronkales

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Charlotte
I have 1.5” seat risers at the house from Buchanan Precision. Those will go on this weekend.

Stable seats new bushings are en route. ETA next week.

Those should help a ton with comfort of the Jeep.

I’ll provide pictures when I install.

I picked up all the necessary tools to do a regear over the last few months. Sticking with my theme of learning myself before buying an expensive vehicle, the LJ will be my test dummy.

I’m pretty technical and generally have no issue following detailed directions. Pair that with this forum, BFH garage videos and I’m most likely golden.
 
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kameronkales

kameronkales

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The brakes suck on the LJ with the bigger tires and weight from bumpers, rack and me skipping my wedding diet/workouts.

so BMB 15” kit is going to help me fix part of that issue.

I don’t think Blaine can help me ride the peloton more often.
 
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kameronkales

kameronkales

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Jun 19, 2021
Messages
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I’d love to just order all the parts but I’m super limited on space and time.

So the build is being shaped such that a minimum number of parts are in my tiny garage at a time.

Going to pick up a HP Dana 30 for the regear but that will be after the move. I just don’t have the space for it right now.

The build is going to be 4 phases. A phase being a general section of work related to each other, when done, I can drive Jeep. Even if the entire “build” is not yet done.

2 I can reasonably complete in my current house and 2 will need more space.

I’ll keep updating thread with the parts as I go.
 
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SvtLdr

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Wow, I'd say you found a great one! Looking forward to your build here - and remember, all the good Jeeps have name!
 
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SvtLdr

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The brakes suck on the LJ with the bigger tires and weight from bumpers, rack and me skipping my wedding diet/workouts.

so BMB 15” kit is going to help me fix part of that issue.

I don’t think Blaine can help me ride the peloton more often.
Yup, you weren't messing around when you boarded the "buy once, cry once" train. You certainly won't be disappointed in the brake upgrade.
 
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kameronkales

kameronkales

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Phase 1 of build:

  • 15” Big brake kit
  • Savvy double adjustable aluminum arms
  • Cooling system refresh - also doing transmission cooler as well.
I posted a few days ago about a slight leak on the transmission cooling line from radiator to transmission. I intend on replacing that entirely with this refresh.
 
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kameronkales

kameronkales

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I need recommendations for track bars front and rear.

The final build goal is 35s with the standard 4ish springs + 1” body lift.

Ideally adjustable so plans could change and still be usable.
 

SvtLdr

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I need recommendations for track bars front and rear.

The final build goal is 35s with the standard 4ish springs + 1” body lift.

Ideally adjustable so plans could change and still be usable.
RockJock (Currie) trackbars are the gold standard followed closely by JKS.
 
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SvtLdr

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...but when the clearance matters as you dial in you'll appreciate the small extra bits you get from the Currie.
^^^This is the truth. I didn't get it until I set up my front Currie TB. Then remembered it and wished I had a second Currie bar when setting up my rear JKS.
 
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NashvilleTJ

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Currie for both. The JKS is a fine substitute, but when the clearance matters as you dial in you'll appreciate the small extra bits you get from the Currie.
Depending on what you do with the rig, IMO I’d put the ORO Swaylock at the top of the list for the front. All the benefits off road, and a tighter than stock ride on road. The down side is cost. For the rear, on 35’s the stock sway bar is fine with a good set of extended links - unless you are planning on a crazy amount of travel.
 
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kameronkales

kameronkales

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Depending on what you do with the rig, IMO I’d put the ORO Swaylock at the top of the list for the front. All the benefits off road, and a tighter than stock ride on road. The down side is cost. For the rear, on 35’s the stock sway bar is fine with a good set of extended links - unless you are planning on a crazy amount of travel.
Nice! I’ll hold off on Currie for the rear then. I can add later if I really need it.
 

Apparition

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Depending on what you do with the rig, IMO I’d put the ORO Swaylock at the top of the list for the front. All the benefits off road, and a tighter than stock ride on road. The down side is cost. For the rear, on 35’s the stock sway bar is fine with a good set of extended links - unless you are planning on a crazy amount of travel.
You're confusing track bars with sway bars. But the swayloc vs anti-rock is good advice.
 

SvtLdr

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You're confusing track bars with sway bars. But the swayloc vs anti-rock is good advice.
Unless he was planning for an Antirock in the rear? And decided to heed Nashville's advice and stick with the stock rear sway bar?
 
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