Jeep|o|nom|ics (jep-o-näm'iks) the act of spending a good portion of one's capital on aftermarket products, and/or modifications for one's Jeep, thereby enhancing both the Jeep's job performance and the economic health of companies offering the products and/or modifications in question. Also accounts for the acronym j.e.e.p. Just Empty Every Pocket.
Stim|u-lus Pack-age (stim'yoo-ls pak'ij) a gathering of quality products and/or modifications together for the purpose of stimulating the performance of the vehicle in question. A by-product of this packaging is stimulation of the bottom line of the companies offering involved products. It is hoped that no pork is installed during this packaging.
Back in the September 2009 issue of 4 WHEEL DRIVE & SPORT UTILITY MAGAZINE, we introduced Project Jeeponomics, a bright yellow 2007 Jeep Wrangler JK two-door. In that article, the installation and performance of an American Expedition Vehicle's (AEV) 3.5-inch suspension, coupled with 35-inch Interco M16 tires and AEV beadlock wheels were discussed. These modifications turned the Jeep into a more capable 'wheeler due to better ground clearance(s) and formidable tires. With these new abilities it quickly became apparent that its bright yellow body was in dire need of some armor to protect it from the new elements it was now capable of visiting. Heck, I even bashed in the dreadful front "rubber baby buggy bumper" setting up approach angle photos for that suspension article!
Besides its bumpers, the Jeep's most vulnerable areas were its rocker panels and rear corner panels. Along with adding armor to these areas, I wanted to open up the wheel wells to give the JK a lighter, airier look and get away from the multi-piece, massive O.E. fender flares that I knew, sooner or later, would get mangled by an errant rock or tree limb.
All of these bodily areas of concern are well covered by the aftermarket, with lots of different designs to choose from. In many cases it's a matter of personal preference as to what you want your JK to look like. In this article we'll look at the parts I chose, and point out a few reasons why, besides aesthetics, I feel they are a good choice for a JK owner who plans to use his Jeep hard.
As a quick overview, these are the body armor pieces I installed on Jeeponomics in the order I installed them. For details on each product and how it installed, check out the photo captions.
• AEV Rear Corner Guards
• Poly Performance High Clearance Rocker Guards
• Xenon Flat Panel Design Fender Flares
• Owner custom-designed and built front and rear tube bumpers
The other goody that's been installed on Jeeponomics to date is an AEV snorkel. Many people have commented that it's silly and/or stupid because, "you'll never drive in water that deep!" No, duh! Maybe the term "snorkel" is misleading and conjures up images of tropical fish and Hawaiian shirts. Oh well, that's what they call 'em all over the world, and in most places they are far handier for air filter longevity and keeping dirt out of your engine than they are for playing submarine. A snorkel might be good on a late model Jeep for the occasional big H2O splash, but since all of the vehicle's water sensitive electronics are cowl high, it would be pretty silly/stupid to expect the vehicle to be a boat.
However, in the dusty desert climate I live and 'wheel in, its amazing how much fine dirt that pre-filter, mounted atop that long tube, captures while following another rig for just a few miles. All that dirt would otherwise be trapped in the air filter, leading to poor fuel mileage and frequent filter cleanings or changes. Have I sold you on one yet? Like all of the stuff in this article, it's really a matter of personal preference. But it is cool to watch the dirt swirl around in the pre-filter while driving down the road!