Get your bang-for-the-buck
We have a different definition of a bargain than our wives do. We are betting you do too. We don’t get excited over saving 50 percent for a pair of shoes that still ends up costing $50. Instead, we get excited when we spend money on something that stands the test of time and we actually use. We’ve got a bunch of things that we’ve used or have been using for years that are, quite simply, worth it. No, we aren’t going to point you to a 50 percent off sale, or a buy 1 get 5 free. Here’s the stuff we feel we have more than gotten our money’s worth out of over the years, what it costs today, and where you can find it. All in no kind of order whatsoever.
Dollars to Donuts
Description: We really have no idea where the term came from, but dollars to donuts, give us a Hi-Lift Jack every day of the week, and twice on Sundays. They are useful for clamping, jacking, keeping a busted C-clip axle in, sleeving tie-rods, and more. Accessorize to your heart’s content for whatever you are using yours for. We tend to have one in every Jeep and take no care of them whatsoever. They sit out in the elements until that emergency arises and then we worry if the walking pins will be rusted solid. They never are, or we can lubricate them with whatever we’ve got on hand.
Part number: XT485
Contact: Hi-Lift Jack Company
Description: It seems like every time we try to save a buck and we don’t put a Centerforce clutch in our Jeep we end up smoking whatever other option we chose. From getting mud in the bellhousing to slipping the clutch up rocks or slipping it to get out of deep mud or snow we will often push until we smell it getting hot. After it cools off and we are done wheeling other clutches will often lose a lot of pedal after doing that just one time. There have been a few times where we’ve been pulling the Jeep apart just a few weeks after the initial clutch install to put a Centerforce in it. Save yourself the trouble and expense of two clutches and go with a Centerforce first.
Part number: CFT360981 (for 4.0L)
Contact: Midway Industries, 928/771-8422, centerforce.com
Description: We’ve used just about every inline-six Jeep header available. We all want the same things. Stainless steel, mandrel-formed construction, a thick flange, and bolts into the factory-location downpipe. By far the best bang for the buck we’ve ever had was the header from the APN header. In a day and age where most headers for Jeeps cost more than Chevy V-8 headers, the APN header comes in hundreds of dollars less and features many of the same design characteristics of the more expensive parts. It is made from 321 stainless with a 1⁄2-inch-thick flange and for you rust belt guys it even comes with the header-to-downtube bolts and nuts.
Part number: 15343
Contact: I Need Parts
Description: It is hard to beat the local parts store where you can get your hands on parts to make sure they are the correct ones, but Rock Auto has pulled it off. If the part isn’t at our local store, we can often get it just as fast and always less expensive from Rock Auto. Not only that, but the company can get a hold of hard-to-find stuff. How often does your local parts monkey get you the wrong part? Using the Rock Auto site means you are your own parts monkey and you’ve probably got more parts at your fingertips than the real monkey does. You can often choose from many brands and quality levels of the same part to fit whatever your budget might be.
Part number: Pick one
Price: Yep, there are prices too
Contact: Rock Auto
Description: The ’80s were a dim time for automotive powerplants, with tightening emissions requirements forcing manufacturers to come up with new ways to create cleaner-running vehicles. They did it with lots of vacuum lines, check valves, and computer-controlled carburetors. So today, very few of these engines run well with the factory stuff on it. Enter Howell Engine Developments’ throttle body fuel injection. Yeah, it ain’t pennies, but if we’d just done it from the beginning back in 1994, we’d have saved ourselves over $1,000. We installed our first kit on an ’89 Islander 16 years ago after spending almost $2,000 trying to get it to run right and pass smog. It uses a lot of factory GM parts, replaces the crappy carb with a 2-bbl throttle body and not only makes the engine more reliable, but seat of the pants power is improved. Putting that fuel-injection system on that Jeep saved its life, as we were ready to scrap it. Afterwards, it ran so well that we just couldn’t get rid of the Jeep.
Part number: YJ258
Contact: Howell Engine Developments
Description: The factory motor mounts found holding the fuel-injected inline engines between the framerails are straight junk. If you haven’t looked at yours recently you might want to. Specifically that driver’s side one. Poly mounts will solve the problem, but they transfer a lot of vibration into the frame which has the potential to loosen bolts and in Unitbody Jeeps all that vibration can be heard inside the cab. M.O.R.E.’s torsion-style Bombproof motor mounts feature large rubber bushings that won’t crack like cheap polyurethane and insulated the Jeep from vibrations very well. We’ve run them on Jeeps that we have all over the country and have yet to find environmental conditions that phase them and we are still running the first set we ever installed, after years and years of abuse.
Part number: JM600
Contact: Mountain Off-Road Enterprises