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2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ Unlimited - '06 TJ Unlimited Diesel

Posted in Features on February 1, 2010 Comment (0)
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2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ Unlimited - '06 TJ Unlimited Diesel
Photographers: Dan McKeag

How often have you looked at another vehicle's power plant and thought that it would fit nicely in your Jeep? The 2.8L CRD diesel engine that came in the 2005 Jeep Liberty is one of those motors. It is compact, lightweight, and puts out respectable power for its size. Fuel mileage is also respectable as a diesel Liberty is capable of 25 to 30 mpg. Here's the recipe for one cool Jeep: take one part wrecked diesel Liberty and combine with one part 2006 TJ Unlimited Rubicon. The result is something almost everyone wants a piece of.

Diesel conversions are no easy task. Wiring systems, fuel delivery, and computer controls are vastly different than their gas-powered counterparts. To start this project, a rolled-over 2005 diesel Liberty was purchased at a local auction by Burnsville Offroad. The vehicle was brought into the shop, and the power train, wiring and instruments were all stripped to be put into the Unlimited. Rather than use the automatic transmission that came in the diesel Liberty, a six-speed manual was to be installed instead. At the same time, a set of take-out JK axles were set aside to be used in the build-up. The axles were prepped with 4.88 gears, ARB Air Lockers, and axle bracketry was changed over from JK to TJ so that the Rubicon Express long arm kit would fit with no hassles. JK axles are not only beefier than the stock TJ axles, they also come equipped with ABS wheel sensors, which are essential to making the Liberty computers function properly.

In order to keep all the functions of the diesel engine intact, several components of the Liberty were swapped into the Unlimited. The steering column, instrument cluster, and 75 percent of the wiring harness were all incorporated into the Wrangler. That way, the sentry key that was originally with the Liberty crossed over to the Unlimited enabling all of the VIN protected modules from the diesel donor to be retained. The gauge cluster from the Liberty was custom fit to the dash of the Wrangler, giving it an OEM appearance. Even the Liberty's cooling module, A/C condenser, and inter cooler were all reused in the build-up.

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Blending the two vehicle's wiring harnesses was the most time-consuming part of the whole conversion. Approximately 150 hours were spent stripping the wiring harnesses apart and combining the two together to make all the systems function. Even the A/C blows ice-cold air.

The suspension system chosen was supplied by Rubicon Express. The 3.5-inch kit along with the Xenon flat panel flares provide plenty of room for the 35-inch Dick Cepek Mud Country tires mounted on Cepek's new 17-inch Torque wheels. An added bonus of RE's front radius arm construction is that you can eliminate the front factory upper control arms. This gives you the room you need to fit the 2.8L CRD motor, which is almost as wide as the frame rails.

To top off the build, Warn Rock Crawler bumpers were added front and rear, along with a Warn 9.5ti winch.

The product of our original recipe is quite impressive. The diesel's torque feels about as strong as a 5.7L Hemi. The Jeep has no problem at all maintaining 75 mph on the freeway. But what really makes you smile is its off-road capability. The torque of the diesel combined with the 4:1 low range of the NVG241OR Rock-Trac transfer case makes this a real crawler. You almost never have to touch the clutch! All of this combined with the economy of the four-cylinder diesel engine truly creates a recipe for success. If this looks like something you want, give Burnsville Offroad a call and they'll bake you up one.

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SPECIFICATIONS

Vehicle: 2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ Unlimited
Owner: Burnsville Offroad
Hometown: Burnsville, Minnesota
Engine: 2.8L CRD diesel
Induction: Injection
Transmission: Getrag six-speed manual
Transfer Case: NVG241OR Rock-Trac
Low Range Ratio: 4.0:1
Front End: JK Dana 30
Rear End: JK Dana 44
Ring and Pinion: 4.88
Front Differential: ARB Air Locker
Rear Differential: ARB Air Locker
Suspension: 3.5-inch Rubicon Express long arm
Tires: 35x12.50R17 Dick Cepek Mud Country
Wheels: Dick Cepek Torque 17x8.5
Backspacing: 5 inches

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