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Old 01-06-2013, 10:35 AM   #1
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Gone off the Deep End - New Car Content

Well, I did it again. Just picked up a 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, 5 speed 4.0L I6. The BMW was having some expensive issues that I did not want to deal with. I got good money for it from the dealer, and picked this up. It is a change from the BMW and from our Saabs, but I like that.

Here's a picture of my first adventure with it, on the 2nd day of ownership.



Drove down this snowy field road, through the woods, some fields, up some wooded trails and retrieved my dads hunting gear. All of this with the brand new all seasons she came with, and clearly no need for the 4L or the axle lock features of the rubi. I love this thing more and more everyday.

So, am I crazy, have I officially gone off the deep end? Any Jeep lovers on here?
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:53 AM   #2
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Wicked awesome! My buddy has a 5.9 Grand Cherokee. The thing is insane for being a Jeep.

I do really want a Jeep at some point. But "insufficient funds" are withholding me.

Congrats!!
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:03 PM   #3
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Nice! They are solid vehicles and my buddy had a 1997 with 31s on it. We went mudding a few times and got it stuck but it was always a blast. My only reason for not wanting to get one is they are dogs on the highway and suck gas worst than some trucks. They are a blast off road so have fun with it!
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:11 PM   #4
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Wicked awesome! My buddy has a 5.9 Grand Cherokee. The thing is insane for being a Jeep.

I do really want a Jeep at some point. But "insufficient funds" are withholding me.

Congrats!!
Thanks man, I always wanted a wrangler and figured might as well do it now while I am young.

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Nice! They are solid vehicles and my buddy had a 1997 with 31s on it. We went mudding a few times and got it stuck but it was always a blast. My only reason for not wanting to get one is they are dogs on the highway and suck gas worst than some trucks. They are a blast off road so have fun with it!
Being a rubicon, this has 31's on it stock. I cannot imagine getting this thing stuck, but I plan on trying this spring/summer. I don't find it to be horrible on the highway, sure tons of wind noise but it's a soft top, what do you expect (I heard hard tops really help eliminate this issue). Gas, well yeah so far it has not been pretty. Burned through my first half a tank in 2 days but I did drive it a lot. Going to track the MPG's with my first fill up and see how it does.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:40 PM   #5
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Congrats!

This summer is going be a 2013 JK wrangler unlimited for me, they are rad little trucks. I like your half doors too, that's awesome.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:42 PM   #6
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I just picked up '97 XJ cherokee with the 4L. One owner, super clean.

love it.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:58 PM   #7
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I had an 03 rubicon for a year. Total blast. Traded it straight up for my 9-5 because gas mileage was just ridiculous as I was driving a lot. I will have one again some day.

I sound matted the entire floor and that helped road noise a lot. Definitely pick up a hard top when you can. Soft tops take a beating in the winter.

Half doors are rare as hell. Nice grab!

I've got a K&N FIPK for it somewhere if your looking for one.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:58 PM   #8
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Awesome, love the TJ rubi's. One day I'll own a wrangler; ideally it'd be just like this one with a 4" lift and 35s.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:06 PM   #9
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I just picked up '97 XJ cherokee with the 4L. One owner, super clean.

love it.
I'd like to get one of these. Had an '87 4 dr Cherokee Chief 5 spd that I drove for about 150K and a '90 Sport 2 dr auto. Loved them but liked the '87 better.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:08 PM   #10
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I'd like to get one of these. Had an '87 4 dr Cherokee Chief 5 spd that I drove for about 150K and a '90 Sport 2 dr auto. Loved the but liked the '87 better.
Yeah. Is love another XJ. I actually have the remix 4.0 from my 88 still kicking around, as well as the aw4 and np 231. I just need a donor body.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:50 PM   #11
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I want a Wrangler for a toy really bad. Don't know if I'd like to drive one every day. This one looks super nice! Congrats!
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:58 PM   #12
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Congrats!

This summer is going be a 2013 JK wrangler unlimited for me, they are rad little trucks. I like your half doors too, that's awesome.
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I had an 03 rubicon for a year. Total blast. Traded it straight up for my 9-5 because gas mileage was just ridiculous as I was driving a lot. I will have one again some day.

I sound matted the entire floor and that helped road noise a lot. Definitely pick up a hard top when you can. Soft tops take a beating in the winter.

Half doors are rare as hell. Nice grab!

I've got a K&N FIPK for it somewhere if your looking for one.
When I first looked at this, I didn't really realize that half doors were that rare. Good to know half doors are actually desired, I know they will be awesome come summer time.

To everyone else, thanks for the love. Might be an interesting DD, especially for my last semester of college, but I had to bite and buy this now.

I was really amazed with how rust free this thing is, I mean my dad has been a Jeep guy for a long time (owned numerous CJ's, small-block swaps, worked at Jeep for years), and he said he has never seen one with as little rust as this for the age. I mean the underside is clean, real clean, engine bay too (I will take pictures). Even the interior saw love from the PO's, because it still looks new.

SRP, was the white jeep you had when I sold you the transmission the rubicon? IIRC it was an auto, no ? I will consider your offer on that intake, thanks man.

Tomorrow I will get some pictures.
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:31 PM   #13
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Yup, it was khaki and auto. Tried a manual, but something about the higher up seats and how high the pedals were off the floormade it incredibly uncomfortable for me to drive. I do lots of shifting in Jersey traffic.

Hopefully being a manual, you will get much better gas mileage then I did!

Beware of 4 low, due to the numerically higher axle gearing and 4:1 low gear in the xfer-case, you can easily overcome the brakes in a stock rubicon.

Such a huge aftermarket for wrangler too. Got any plans for her?

Fun fact: If you turn full lock and gun it, you can lift a front tire. Be careful. The factory rear diff, while being an air locker, is limited slip too. So plenty of traction without flipping the switch.

Have fun!
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:44 PM   #14
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I thought those doors were standard back then? Except when ordered with a hardtop did they come with solid doors. I thought the next gen of the jeeps came with the solid doors?

I have a 97 wrangler and a 08 wrangler unlimited, I actually can't stand driving them. The 97 is a 4.0L but is a auto, has zero power and gets 12-15 mpg usually. I only drive it when there is snow and I need to push snow, have a 6.5ft snow plow and it does a good job at moving the white stuff. Prior to this I had a 87 wrangler manual and the auto is so much easier to use when moving snow.

My wife has the 08 unlimited. Has the 4.2L v6 which is a complete dog. The thing has no power but we do average 18mpg which is quite a bit better vs the older one. It also works great for hauling the kids around..... I was shocked last week, took her jeep for a spin due to not having snow tires on my viggen yet. I was completely shocked with how poor it did in the snow, I thought the Michelin tires (can't remember the model, possibly latitude) would of done much better. Wife told me she slips all the time in the rain as well..... Ugh.... We tow this behind our rv.

I would love to get a newer one with the 290 hp 6. Hopefully my 99 will last a. Few more years then I will get a used wrangler unlimited to push snow
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:06 PM   #15
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Yup, it was khaki and auto. Tried a manual, but something about the higher up seats and how high the pedals were off the floormade it incredibly uncomfortable for me to drive. I do lots of shifting in Jersey traffic.

Hopefully being a manual, you will get much better gas mileage then I did!

Beware of 4 low, due to the numerically higher axle gearing and 4:1 low gear in the xfer-case, you can easily overcome the brakes in a stock rubicon.

Such a huge aftermarket for wrangler too. Got any plans for her?

Fun fact: If you turn full lock and gun it, you can lift a front tire. Be careful. The factory rear diff, while being an air locker, is limited slip too. So plenty of traction without flipping the switch.

Have fun!
Interesting fact with the full lock haha. I have yet to use 4 low, but it says right in the manual that in 4 low, you will max out at 35mph in 5th gear. Apparently the 4:1 low in the rubicon allows the engine to rev at 3 times what it would in 4 hi.

As for plans, none yet. The modifications probably wont start until I finish school because until then, I need it to get reasonable gas mileage (18-20 on the highway would work, but I have heard of some getting better by driving sensibly), and have decent ride quality. Not to mention, I don't want to attract any attention to her to encourage someone slashing the soft top to get inside. I do plan on putting fog lights on ASAP, as apparently this had them mounted in pictures I saw, but then had them taken off before sale.

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I thought those doors were standard back then? Except when ordered with a hardtop did they come with solid doors. I thought the next gen of the jeeps came with the solid doors?

I have a 97 wrangler and a 08 wrangler unlimited, I actually can't stand driving them. The 97 is a 4.0L but is a auto, has zero power and gets 12-15 mpg usually. I only drive it when there is snow and I need to push snow, have a 6.5ft snow plow and it does a good job at moving the white stuff. Prior to this I had a 87 wrangler manual and the auto is so much easier to use when moving snow.

My wife has the 08 unlimited. Has the 4.2L v6 which is a complete dog. The thing has no power but we do average 18mpg which is quite a bit better vs the older one. It also works great for hauling the kids around..... I was shocked last week, took her jeep for a spin due to not having snow tires on my viggen yet. I was completely shocked with how poor it did in the snow, I thought the Michelin tires (can't remember the model, possibly latitude) would of done much better. Wife told me she slips all the time in the rain as well..... Ugh.... We tow this behind our rv.

I would love to get a newer one with the 290 hp 6. Hopefully my 99 will last a. Few more years then I will get a used wrangler unlimited to push snow
Most of the TJ's I have seen around here and online seem to have full doors even with a soft top. I did not really notice it until now. My half doors also have the sliding glass window upper half, not really clear if this is stock or not, but I saw you could purchase them (aftermarket) for your half doors for ~400 bucks.

Sorry to hear about your wrangler misfortunes, but I think you should really try a 4.0L with a manual thats geared right (the rubicon has 4.11, while some offer 3.07 ). The acceleration on this is not terrible, it is not great or even good, but its not bad at all.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:06 PM   #16
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Make sure as shit you undercoat the piss out of the frame. Its EXTREMELY common for them to crap out in several places.

1) The tranny/xfer case are held in place with a huge steel panel / skid plate. That attaches to the lower flat portion of the frame rail with 3 or 4 bolts on each frame rail. Shit collects around those welded nuts on the flat of the frame, and rots. Eventually one side of that whole frame rail rots through and drops the whole damn pan holding your drivetrain. Ax me how I know. To resolve it, I had to drill through the top of the frame, and use 6" long bolts to go from the bottom skid pan, all the way up through the frame, and use nuts on the top of the frame. It was a real shitshow. Get under yours and check it out. If its clean, undercoat the hell out of it and keep an eye on it.



2) On the front axle, there are 2 trailing arms that go back to the frame just about at the base of the firewall. If you get under there and look backward like the path that road grime would travel to get into that mounting area, you'll see that shit gets in, but can't get out. It'll get in and just cook and cook. I have also seen several with cracks in that area. Ax me how I know. The below pics were on my rig. The pic that says "CRACKS" was on the outside of the frame rail, and the next pic is of the inside of the frame rail next to the starter area. When you search classifieds for TJ's, you see a lot of "good frame" and what not mentioned which is pretty damn odd for a vehicle; there is a reason for it.....because unfortunately where there is salt, the frame is a weak spot.

If your rig is clean, KEEP IT CLEAN. Oil undercoat it and keep an eye on it. I had a '00 Sport that I LOVED. Unfortunately, it had the above issues, along with crusty brake lines, fuel lines etc. It also needed a rear diff rebuild, but that was a Dana 35. At least with the Rubie you get Dana 44's front and rear which will do anything you want, as long as you don't go NASTY rock crawling every weekend and piss pound them.

EDIT

As you can see.......my rig looked clean. 105k miles, 2000 model. It wasn't until I really got under it (and bought it) did I realize I'd totally fuhkt myself and purchased a rotbox.







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Old 01-06-2013, 07:25 PM   #17
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Most of the TJ's I have seen around here and online seem to have full doors even with a soft top. I did not really notice it until now. My half doors also have the sliding glass window upper half, not really clear if this is stock or not, but I saw you could purchase them (aftermarket) for your half doors for ~400 bucks.

Sorry to hear about your wrangler misfortunes, but I think you should really try a 4.0L with a manual thats geared right (the rubicon has 4.11, while some offer 3.07 ). The acceleration on this is not terrible, it is not great or even good, but its not bad at all.
I really don't know what I was thinking.... yea they all come with solid doors and not what yours has. My 87 had the older doors........ It was so nice in the summer. However it's also pretty easy to just remove the entire door!

Yea the 4.0 with a manual is so much better vs the crappy auto that I have. But due to using it for snow removal that's the direction I thought I would try and it's much easier but not nearly as much fun

Quadratech is your friend . Lots of cool stuff there!
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:49 PM   #18
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I have one HUGE complaint about owning a JEEP.




Supressing my urge to modify it. The aftermarket is MASSIVE and parts are so cheap. I'm already pricing out all kinds of goodies after I get the general service up to date.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:39 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by VI009DZ View Post
Make sure as shit you undercoat the piss out of the frame. Its EXTREMELY common for them to crap out in several places.

1) The tranny/xfer case are held in place with a huge steel panel / skid plate. That attaches to the lower flat portion of the frame rail with 3 or 4 bolts on each frame rail. Shit collects around those welded nuts on the flat of the frame, and rots. Eventually one side of that whole frame rail rots through and drops the whole damn pan holding your drivetrain. Ax me how I know. To resolve it, I had to drill through the top of the frame, and use 6" long bolts to go from the bottom skid pan, all the way up through the frame, and use nuts on the top of the frame. It was a real shitshow. Get under yours and check it out. If its clean, undercoat the hell out of it and keep an eye on it.



2) On the front axle, there are 2 trailing arms that go back to the frame just about at the base of the firewall. If you get under there and look backward like the path that road grime would travel to get into that mounting area, you'll see that shit gets in, but can't get out. It'll get in and just cook and cook. I have also seen several with cracks in that area. Ax me how I know. The below pics were on my rig. The pic that says "CRACKS" was on the outside of the frame rail, and the next pic is of the inside of the frame rail next to the starter area. When you search classifieds for TJ's, you see a lot of "good frame" and what not mentioned which is pretty damn odd for a vehicle; there is a reason for it.....because unfortunately where there is salt, the frame is a weak spot.

If your rig is clean, KEEP IT CLEAN. Oil undercoat it and keep an eye on it. I had a '00 Sport that I LOVED. Unfortunately, it had the above issues, along with crusty brake lines, fuel lines etc. It also needed a rear diff rebuild, but that was a Dana 35. At least with the Rubie you get Dana 44's front and rear which will do anything you want, as long as you don't go NASTY rock crawling every weekend and piss pound them.

EDIT

As you can see.......my rig looked clean. 105k miles, 2000 model. It wasn't until I really got under it (and bought it) did I realize I'd totally fuhkt myself and purchased a rotbox.







Wow thanks, good info. I will take a look again today. I know my dad took numerous looks underneath before we purchased, like I mentioned he worked at Jeep for years. Where exactly are the cracks in your 2nd and 3rd pic, is that by the skid plate... er the one right by the tranny?

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I really don't know what I was thinking.... yea they all come with solid doors and not what yours has. My 87 had the older doors........ It was so nice in the summer. However it's also pretty easy to just remove the entire door!

Yea the 4.0 with a manual is so much better vs the crappy auto that I have. But due to using it for snow removal that's the direction I thought I would try and it's much easier but not nearly as much fun

Quadratech is your friend . Lots of cool stuff there!
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I have one HUGE complaint about owning a JEEP.

Supressing my urge to modify it. The aftermarket is MASSIVE and parts are so cheap. I'm already pricing out all kinds of goodies after I get the general service up to date.
I hear ya, what is the best site for aftermarket and OEM Jeep parts? I have been on quadratech already just to look around, as well as a few others. There is a HUGE aftermarket following for the TJ, more than the NG900 and E46 combined.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:07 AM   #20
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The cracks were directly where the first pic has the red circle, on the joint / weld line between the frame rail and the plate that's welded to the frame to hold the front axle trailing arm. The first pic that says "CRACK" is on the outside face of the frame rail, and the next picture is on the inside face of the frame rail in the exact same location, passengers side. The frame rail was on its way to breaking in half. The CRACK picture not only was cracked along that weld line, it was broken vertically upward toward the gusset for the front passengers body mount.
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