A Wrangler’s original equipment (OE) plastic center console costs more than a night at a luxury resort hotel to replace. If for some reason just the lid alone must be replaced, it lists for about what you might pay for groceries in a week. For a whole lot less you can order an entire steel security console from Tuffy Products. It’s strong and lockable, and has a soft marine-grade vinyl pad on the lid. It is offered in two models: one can be equipped with the OE internal subwoofer (or a third party’s), or without a subwoofer and a larger storage area.
The 16-gauge steel Tuffy console will accommodate the factory subwoofer or an aftermarket 8-inch speaker and incorporates four drink holders—a pair in the front and another pair in the rear—that are larger than the OEM cup holders. Its design matches the interior (we ordered one up for our LJ) while offering more storage space than the factory console.
With a shipping weight of 35 pounds, the Tuffy console we ordered for our LJ measured 42 1/4 inches long by 8 inches wide by 17 inches high. It fits ’97-’06 Jeep Wranglers. Although some drilling may be required for mounting, the console mounts to factory holes in most cases, and installation is relatively easy. If any suspension modification or body lift has been done to the Jeep that altered the height of the shift lever, the lever will have to be modified. Regardles, we suggest you be very careful not to break the plastic shift lever base, as we did, by trying to bend it sideways during the new console installation.
When a Jeep is built to be ready for any trail, it can become a target for wandering eyes and hands. One of the ways you can protect your valuables inside is with a Tuffy security console.
Over the decade or more of use, all the hinge screws had pulled out of the console’s plastic bulkhead, and the bulkhead was too damaged to hold new screws.
Our first step was to remove the transmission shift lever T-handle. We simply pulled straight up. There is no setscrew holding it on to the lever, but it’s a tight fit. We couldn’t get the right angle for sufficient leverage, so had to use a very large open-end wrench and a small hammer to tap it up and off. We also recommend removing the front seats to aid in OEM console removal (we also removed both doors to ease removing the seats). Each seat has four bolts.
In order to loosen the OE console from the trans tunnel, we removed the mounting screws in the front and rear cup holders, and the bolt beneath the shifter plate.
A flat-bladed screwdriver was carefully used to pry up the shifter plate.
Once the shifter plate was removed, the final securing hardware on the OE console, a hex-head bolt passing through the console’s tab, was removed. The parking brake lever and the transfer case shifter were pulled upright in order to easily remove the OE console.
After unpacking the three pieces of the new Tuffy security console, we aligned them to get an idea of how they would be assembled in the Jeep.
Prior to installing the console, we cut the gasket rubber to fit around the lid’s edge and then peeled off the paper backing and applied the gasket.
We carefully positioned the new Tuffy security console in the Jeep to locate any holes to be drilled. Note that the transfer case shifter and parking brake levers are in their upward positions to facilitate fitment of the console.
The new console’s rear mounting bracket’s holes nearly match the Jeep’s original console’s mounting captured nuts. Rather than drill out new holes as instructed, we used one of the original holes and a self-tapping screw.
Tip: Don’t try to bend the shift lever sideways in order to match the Tuffy console’s mounting tab with the Jeep’s original bracket. It was a $185 mistake. The original plastic is very brittle.
For some reason (possibly because it’s a Jeep and manufacturing irregularities could exist) the two mounting brackets did not match up, so we secured the front half of the console with large self-tapping screws.
There are four notches in the console so that the four tabs on the shifter plate could be snapped in and then the shifter plate slid backward into its place.
Four kit-supplied screws were used to secure the OE front change plate to the Tuffy console’s body. Another tip: Install the change plate before installing the forward portion of the console. The TJ’s dash sits too low to install the change plate after the console is in position.
We could have used the kit-supplied Phillips head screws meant for attaching the cup holders to the captured nuts in the console’s forward portion. However, we substituted the screws for hex-head bolts because they’re easier to install when the console is in place. We secured the forward section with a self-tapping screw at each corner.
Everything was now in its place and secure, including a Tuffy travel mug for a celebratory sip. Although not much less than a nine-iron will keep the determined thief at bay overnight, the Tuffy security console can be locked with the kit-supplied key to protect your valuables while you’re out of the Jeep having dinner, shopping, or for other brief periods of time.
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