My 'boring' 05 Sport

Discussion in 'Members' Journals' started by Royy, Jun 4, 2017.

  1. Royy

    Royy Full Access Member

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    Finally stumbled across this section of the forum, and figured it might be fun to write some stuff down so I can read it back in a couple of years.

    As far as the 'boring' in the topic title goes, my KJ is stock height, and I have no plans to lift it (I know, blasphemy :icon_razz:). I don't do any offroading, so there's no good reason for me to take on all the extra costs and extra maintenance that come with properly lifting a KJ.

    I bought my 2005 KJ Sport 3.7L 4x4 in November of last year. At that time I had an 03 Ford Explorer, that I had been having a lot of issues with. The fuel pump was replaced twice in just a couple of months (eventually it turned out the fuel pressure dampener was bad, which would damage the new fuel pumps), the engine spit out two spark plugs, plus lots of minor stuff.

    Despite all those issues, the reason I basically had to get rid of it was that the thing was a death trap on slick roads. And since the roads here in Wyoming are covered in snow and ice for about six months every winter, and I have to commute fifty miles for work... I would be driving 20-20 mph in 4x4, and I'd still feel the car sliding all over, and have trouble staying in the lane.
    To this day I have no idea what caused these issues. Dedicated winter tires, alignments, all new tie rods/ball joints/bushings/etc, nothing seemed to help. All I could find online was how great the Explorer is in winter conditions... :Insane:.

    Anyway, on to the KJ. I was looking for a small SUV, either a 4 or 6 cylinder. The KJ was an option, or something like a CR-V or RAV4. At the time the main thing the KJ had going for it was the lack of a hydraulic fan, which makes many repairs a lot easier. Back then I had almost no experience working on cars, but I was planning on doing as much as possible myself from then on, because I was really getting tired of forking all my hard earned money over to mechanics.

    I eventually found this KJ at a small mom and pop used car place here in town. I had bought a vehicle there before, and knew that they are honest about issues with the vehicles they sell.
    At the time the KJ had about 135k miles. It previously belonged to some college kids who were on a trip across the country, when the head gasket blew out and they got stranded here. They sold it to the owner of the used car place, who put in a different engine. He had also put in a new A/C compressor, 02 sensors, and battery. The tires (Hankook DynaPro ATMs) were still almost brand new.

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    He did tell me that the catalytic converter was bad due to all the stuff that got into it when the head gasket blew, and would probably have to be replaced, and that it was also throwing several EVAP codes. It did have quite a bit of rust underneath, but the actual frame was in great condition. Most of the rust was on suspension components, which I had already decided I'd most likely replace anyway, regardless of which vehicle I bought (unless they still were in great shape of course). I took it for a test drive on some slick roads, and bought it.

    The first thing I did was putting in a new PCV valve, and replacing the plastic tubes going from the crankcase to the air intake box with breather filters. The tubes were so brittle they basically just fell apart when I tried to take them off for the first time. I also replaced the rear UCA, which was very rusty.

    I bought a new catalytic converters + Y-pipe assembly from RockAuto for about $300, and took it to a shop to have them install it. I initially wanted to do it myself, but my driveway had been covered in a solid sheet of ice for several months, which would have turned a relatively simple job into a huge pain. Miraculously enough, getting the new cats made not only the cat codes disappear, but all the EVAP codes as well. Even though those are two completely separate systems as far as I know... but hey, I'll take it.

    Besides that, I did all the usual stuff. Changed all the fluids, spark plugs, filters, cleaned the throttle body, etc.
    The only somewhat bigger job I did was replacing the water pump, along with the thermostat and radiator hoses. The water pump pulley had a little bit of play in it, so I just preventively replaced it all. There was a lot more stuff I wanted to do underneath the car, but at this point (mid-March) my driveway was still covered in ice.
    I did replace the muffler and tailpipe at some point. One of the hangers had rusted off, which caused the tailpipe to rub against the plastic of the inner fender, creating all kinds of nasty noises while driving. When I removed it, I found that the pipe had also almost completely rusted through right behind the muffler.

    In April, all the ice finally disappeared. I replaced all rotors and brake pads, and ordered all the suspension and steering components I wanted to replace. I lucked out, and found some of the stuff on eBay for great prices (Timken wheel hubs for $65 each, Moog PS UCA's for $55 each).
    I pulled a set of front LCA's with cam bolts, plus knuckles and clevis forks from a couple of KJ's at a junkyard. I cleaned it all up, painted it, and replaced all the old bushings in the LCA's with new Moog PS ones. Installing the new bushings cost me a whole lot of time, and frustration. Nothing I tried worked, and no place here in town was willing to press in the new bushings. Eventually I got two bearing races that were exactly the right size to use in combination with a ball joint press, and then it was a matter of minutes to get all the bushings done. If only I had figured that out several weeks earlier...

    Just a couple of days before I was going to replace all of this, one of the front brake flex hoses broke on my way to work. It had completely rusted through, and I lost most of the brake fluid. Luckily I made it to work, and then the entire 50 miles back home without accidents. Besides all the suspension components, I now had to replace the brake flex hoses as well. And I discovered that the previous owner left me a nice surprise. The bleeder valves on all four calipers were rounded off and seized, so getting them out was impossible. Hello, four new calipers. Bye, money :blah:.

    I replaced all calipers, front flex hoses, UCA's, LCA's, knuckles, wheel hubs, clevis forks, LBJ's, inner and outer tie rods, and all bolts for those parts.

    I forgot to take real 'before' pictures, but this picture of one of the cam bolts, which I took for alignment purposes, should give you a good idea of how rusty all the old stuff was.

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    After:

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    I want to replace the struts and springs as well, but just couldn't afford to buy good quality ones at the moment.

    This past week I went to the junkyard, and got all the shiny interior trim pieces from a Limited. Radio bezel, interior door handles, and the cover pieces for the switches/buttons on the steering wheel and front doors. I installed them today, and it already makes the interior look a lot less bland.

    Current to-do list:
    - Replace instrument cluster lights with LEDs (already ordered)
    - Install EVIC (need to make another trip to the junkyard to get the bracket)
    - Replace all struts/shocks/springs
    - Replace all emergency brake hardware and pads, and hopefully get it to work again
    - Replace rear wheel bearings and seals (very slow leak from rear right seal)
    - Try to find some darker colored interior panels at the junkyard.
     
  2. Dave

    Dave Administrator Administrator Moderator

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    Nice looking KJ. Good history write-up too.

    Dave
     
  3. Adam Roby

    Adam Roby Full Access Member

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    Wow, its like a new Jeep now. Mind if I ask how much you have invested so far?
     
  4. uss2defiant

    uss2defiant Full Access Member

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    did you grab the leather seats too?
     
  5. Royy

    Royy Full Access Member

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    Around $1800.
    400 for the new exhaust system (except exhaust manifolds), around 700 for all the suspension/steering stuff, 300 for the brakes, and around 400 for all kinds of miscellaneous stuff (fluids, filters, gaskets, some sensors, water pump, hoses, interior trim pieces, etc).
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
  6. Royy

    Royy Full Access Member

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    No I didn't. Leather seats looks great, but they always cause me to be swimming around in my own sweat as soon as the weather gets a bit warmer :rotflmao:. I do want to get some nice seat covers at some point, but I have to save up some money first.