|The newest ride. 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon!|
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Some time around the spring of 2006, I began thinking about my next vehicle. The ZJ has evovled into a modified rig suitable to trails, but still ok to drive long distances. Around our house, we try to take turns between the wife and I on who gets a new ride. Lori has had two brand-spankin new vehicles.. and one that was about a year old. The ZJ was the newest thing I ever bought for myself. It was a close tie to the 93 Geo Metro 4dr I bought back in 1994. The Metro was purchased early in the model year, and my ZJ had been purchased late.
Either way, it was my turn.. and I had sat down and really considered what I would get. I laid out all my values in a vehicle.... all my likes... dislikes... needs... wants.... I ended up with two vehicles. Slow and fast. Fast being a new Pontiac GTO... slow being a 4dr Unlimited Wrangler. After laying it all out in my mind, I chose to get a new Wrangler. It was just a matter of time.
I already had a salesman. I just needed a Jeep. Lori and I had driven a new '07 Unlimited X with a 6spd and soft top. It was mainly to sell the wife on it. She liked it, but agreed with me that the automatic tranny was for us. I advised my salesman to give me a call when he had a location on a Rubicon with auto and hardtop. February 14th, while getting ready for work, I found a voicemail on my cell phone from my salesman. They had just gotten a rubicon with the hardtop and auto. The next day, I went to Quitman and drove it.
To get this straight, I have been watching as many customers had ordered their Wranglers and further as there were holds, delays... anywhere from 2-5 months depending on the options selected at the time of order. So... there she sat. Solid black and sexy and hell. I love black on a vehicle. There is just something about it. After a long drive... that led up to about 8 miles or so, I returned the Jeep to the dealership, but very reluctantly. I got home and explained it to the wife. I was in love with this rig.
So, I made a couple of phone calls and didnt quite get the response I had hoped for. The intrest rate was ugly. So, I resolved myself to wait a little while. After speaking with a couple of people "in the know" on auto sales and stuff, I went on with my search for a god loan. That Saturday, I got online and went to LendingTree. Oh, my what a nice intrest rate. So, I called my salesman. This was unexpected, really. I was going to order my new Wrangler. The truth was, that this particular Wrangler came nearly identical to the way I was going to order mine. The only exception was the stereo. So, my salesman asks me the loaded question... "If we can beat their rate, will you go with us?"
So, after a few phone calls we had it settled, and we were on our way. My wife has not seen this rig. She hasn't even paid any attention to any hardtop JK at all. When we finished up the papers, the Jeep came around the corner.... and I swear I heard Lori go "Ooooooo....." :-) THAT is a nice sound.
Lori got in it and looked around, adjusted the seat and I could tell she liked it. Let's put it like this... I got left with the Tahoe. She took the Wrangler to her sister's house. Her excuse was that I had to go home and sleep because I had to work that night. True.. but not what I wanted to hear.
It was 2 days before I got to spend any amount of time with the Wrangler. I had errands to run, so I loaded up the kids and off we went. In the middle of running errands, we returned to the dealership to retrieve a missing wheel lock key and to have a minor issue with a hand screw on my top resolved. When the all the sales crew saw the Wrangler... there was a lot of laughter, and hand shaking. Not too many people have the balls to take a brand new rig into a mud hole. :-)
We had an opportunity, so we parked the Wrangler behind the building and snapped a shot of us in front of my rig.
It hasnt even been a week yet, as of this writing. I have taken the Wrangler offroad twice now. I love this thing. I have found a quirk or two... like the tendency of mud to get onto the fan blades and cause an imbalance in the fan.... but, the disconnectable swaybar and both lockers make this thing twist like crazy. With a couple of trips offroad, I have yet to lift a tire. There are plans, though.
It's been a little over a month, now. I have taken the Rubi through some sloppy mud holes. Some deep, some small. A couple a trails. My perspective on this rig so far follows.
The JK is a pretty solid ride. Very smooth, even over a washboard dirt road. It tracks well, but there is a little bit of wander in the front end. This is more pronounced when there is a heavy crosswind.
The engine is quiet. Silky smooth. The power is adequate for a 4door. I imagine it is a little more spirited in the 2dr. There is a signifigant power surge from about 3500 rpm. I held the brakes and floored the throttle. The rear tires got to spinning good, and I let loose of the brakes. As the ground speed climbed, the RPMs picked up, from around 1700 as the speed rose. When the RPMs hit about 3500rpm the Rubi was just about to "catch up" to the tires... but the tone of the engine changed, the tach shot to the right and the Rubi went sideways. It was not the sureface condition, as I repeated this three more times with the same results. The engine is strong past 3500rpm.
The tranny shifts pretty good. Smooth operation for the most part. No complaints.
There are NO complaints from the axle and tire departments. Thank You, JEEP!
This is the first offroading rig I've owned with an electric fan. The fan blades have a ring that runs around the outter edge of the blades to add rigidity. Mud collects here. It causes the fan to be out of balance and shake the hell out of the Jeep. You must hose it out.
Mud, again. The radiator is prone to clogging with mud. VERY prone. The plastic item -i'm guessing a splash guard, cause it aint no skid plate!- under the radiator seems to act as a boat's hull and push mud and water up and over the front bumper... and with any speed, this causes the mud/water to fill the grill. Be ready to rinse the grill out after slogging through the mud.
Jeep should reconsider the positioning of the O2 sensor. The wiring harness was found rubbing the front driveshaft. Given the substantial diameter of the shaft, I thought they would have given this more consideration. No damage, I just saw the ring where the mud was rubbed off of the shaft, and noted how close the wires run at ride height.
It is also tough to keep the speed down on this rig! It cruises so easily. Before you know what youre doing, your over 75mph.
One of the rare instances of Stephen at the wheel. Mark this one on your calendar folks. 5 mintutes after this, he gave me reason to keep him out of this particular seat for a good while.
Let me share some updates with everyone on my JK. I am going to list some of my problems that I have had and explain what has been done with it. The previously mentioned overheating. Seen at dealership and attributed to mud in radiator.... not alot, either. Since removing the plastic cover over the top of the radiator, the JK has not ran hot again. No problems there.
The drivers' seat quit reclining for a while. You could pull as hard as you wanted to on the lever, and the seat wouldnt recline. My son experienced this the first time it happened, and I thought he was just pulling the wrong lever... which he wasnt. When I came around and did it, there was a VERY loud 'POP' and the seat reclined. It did this several more times. The wife couldnt get the seat to recline one day and took it to the dealership and set up an appointment. After the seat was inspected, it was found that there was some internal failure in the spring mechanism that is integrated into the upper seat frame. The frame was replaced under warranty. Took about an hour once the part was on hand.
I have noticed since the driver seat issue, that there was some inconsistancy in the seat foam on the passenger seat. I had not riden on the passenger side but once or twice. I usually drive it. However, when vacuuming the Jeep out, I noticed that the upholstery was sagging on the lower seat cusion of the passenger seat. The side bolsters on the OUTTER part of the seat just seem to "go away". Apparently it wasnt cut right. When the mechanic replaced the parts on my driver's seat, I had him inspect the passenger seat. As of this writing, the replacement cusion is on order.
I got a set of the door handle wraps from Quadratec and the grab handle wrap with the Quadratec logo on it. I also waited patiently and got the Quadratec rollbar grab handles. Apparently they are quite popular. :-)
Lets get an update, shall we? In the past couple of weeks, I have made a few small additions to the Rubi. I finally got a Ham radio antenna installed and ran a cable to the radio. The FT8900 has excellent receive. unmatched by anything I already own, including the FT100 (on 2m). I have added some Rugged Ridge light mounts at the base of the windshield, courtesy of Quadratec. I added a pair of Hella 500FF lights. The black ABS plastic houseings are excellent. I have had fluted lense 500's on the ZJ for a few years and like em. I wired them to a switch on the lower panel just above the center console.
I had the appointment to take the Rubi in to have the seat cusion replaced. I had the top and doors off for about 2 weeks prior to this, so I put the top and doors on. Shortly after, the master window switch malfunctioned. It wouldonly raise the left rear window. it would not lower it. the rear window switch worked fine. Hmm. Something else to fix. I had to change out the r/f tire due to a slice on the sidewall. While the tire was off, I took the opportunity to look around. In doing so, I found a thick film of oil all over the steering damper. A quick inspection revealed it was in fact coming from the damper. I dropped the Rubi off and gave em the bad news. New parts on order. (later repaired without trouble)
I'm also adding a "problem" list at the bottom of the page nd will update it as things come up.
Let's get the year started off with an update. This past month, some good things have happened. Since the last update, the JK has been trouble free. We took a trip to New York City, and we drove the Rubi. I also added a LCD monitor to the 6disc radio and we played some DVDs to pass the miles. Works great.
I also located my very own Jeep Mopar Parts front winch bumper. I bought it used from another JK owner... which just happened to be another black Rubicon Unlimited. :-) Anyway, the bumper was modded with sftermarket fog lights. They are pretty decent, but they have caused other drivers to flash their high beams at me... never had that issue with the factory fogs. They are aligned down, too... they just dont seem to have as much control over the beam.