It was mentioned before, but when I inherited Jp’s ’07 Wrangler, there were mechanical issues that stopped the 98,000-mile Jeep from actually being a driver. Once those were taken care of, it was time to turn my attention to more mundane issues that had been left over from previous abuse.
When I inherited this Jeep, I might have been new to JKs but not to Jeeps, and I’ve been through a few incidences of “Jeep hood.” You know, when the hood on the Jeep flies up and smacks against the windshield frame. Well, the hood flutter in this ’07 was so bad I was almost afraid to drive it. Right around the time I got the Jeep, ORO came out with this Hop Stopper. Laser-cut from all stainless steel, it includes a jig for the two holes that need to be drilled, making installation super easy. Not only does it stop all hood flutter, it also mounts to a very strong portion of the front of the JK. And if your thieves aren’t too bright, it also works very well as an anti-theft device.
Three Jpstaffers had control of this Jeep before I did, and everything I asked about had them pointing at each other as to which person was the culprit. Hazel blamed Cappa for the radio being the wrong one, scratching CDs, and the mirrors being hammered. Cappa blamed Hazel for the blown-up transmission and severe lack of oil in the Jeep, not to mention the Goldfish crackers, other snack food, and handprints found in the backseat from Hazel’s kids. Hazel readily admitted pouring nasty old gear oil all over the cargo area of the Jeep and swiped the factory trailer hitch while I watched. Simons, meanwhile, has some kind of vendetta against throwout bearings. He also allowed the Jeep to sit under that hot Arizona sun for who knows how long, just roasting and sun-bleaching all kinds of stuff.
I hate stuff not working or even not working as well as it should. So, all the little problems absolutely drove me nuts. Here’s a rundown of all the little problems that led up to this Jeep just being a pain in the butt to use as a daily driver.
Step By Step
When the JK came out, I really loved the headlights. By 2014, this ’07’s headlights were sun-faded, with micro-cracks that no amount of buffing would clear up. I ended up driving around on high beams nearly all the time. I replaced the stockers with Truck-Lite’s 7-inch round LEDs (PN 27270C). They might be the best round headlights I’ve ever had in a Jeep. The pattern cutoff on low beam is amazingly flat and the angle of coverage is actually over 180 degrees.
Cappa had previously wired up some auxiliary driving lights to an aftermarket panel in front of the shifter. However, the boot rubbed the panel, and the way the wiring was run through the firewall scared me in my capacity as chief fireman. So, I opted to add this sPOD control panel. Not only did I run the wiring for the lights in a cleaner fashion, but I also added a rear switched outlet to run 12V DC accessories in the back of the Jeep. Future plans include rock lights and ARB Air Lockers. The sPOD control box mounts under the hood and goes straight to the battery so there are no possible issues with interference with the JK’s CANBUS.
Right from the beginning of my stewardship, the T-case shifter knob was rattling. After some abuse trying to shift a busted NVG370, the transmission knob was barely hanging onto the stick. Mind you, the Jeep had barely 100,000 miles on it at the time. I got these Drake Off Road billet aluminum shifter knobs from Quadratec. I like the rubber around the top of the handle for when my hands are slippery. I also opted for the knobs in black anodized coating. While they don’t photograph as easily as the polished knobs, if you’ve ever left your Jeep in the hot summer sun with no top on it and chrome anything inside, you know how hot that shiny stuff can get.
The passenger side door mirror wouldn’t hold adjustment, while the driver side mirror couldn’t be adjusted. Plus, the glass was so cracked it was like a spiderweb of many cars in the passing lane. A quick call to Quadratec got us a replacement pair of manual-adjusting, non-electric mirrors (PN 13111.0330) that bolted directly in to the Jeep. I was able to reuse all the bolts, and the mirrors function just like the factory ones.
One of the things that happened to our ’07 Wrangler very early on (Cappa estimates it was before it even hit 30,000 miles) was that the front driver side floormat ended up with a hole completely worn through it. I can’t help but wonder if the floormat just wasn’t made with clutch-pedal use in mind. Hazel and I both thought that Cappa just wore through to the floorboards, but in fact, his solution was much better. Cappa duct taped a piece of aluminum to the back of the floor mat. That solved the issue but was way butch. So, I replaced that “fix” with these floormats from Quadratec. Tested to over 100 degrees, these mats are also great for keeping mud, dirt, snow, and water from your carpet and after that, the floor of your Jeep.
I also went with the rear seat mats and cargo area mat. The mats are made from long-lasting TPE. The faux-tread pattern is 5⁄16 inches deep and holds up to 40 percent more debris than other floor mats. They are made in the USA and have a limited lifetime warranty. I had to cut the cargo liner mat so that we could still use our rear seat, but the mat was pre-formed so all I had to do was attack the molded-in lines with my utility knife.
Apparently, giving some love to the shifter knobs angered the Jeep gods, and soon thereafter, the T-case linkage blew up—at both ends. We’ve all heard the horror stories of these things dying due to some dumb $3 plastic clip. Frankly, I don’t have the time to take the Jeep apart once a year to replace some clip after getting stranded, because I can’t shift into 4WD. So, I turned to Advance Adapters for its heavy-duty cable linkage (PN 715596). The installation turned out to be a bit more involved than I planned, but in 30,000 miles, I haven’t had a single issue out of it yet.
The reason I was OK with Hazel taking the trailer hitch was this: The 2-inch receiver hitch from Quadratec bolts directly into the factory location and includes plug-and-play wiring for trailer hitch electrical. By the time I came along, the Jeep had no trailer wiring, and at only $79.95 (PN 12015.1009), it seemed like a no-brainer to go with the Quadratec setup rather than ruin our factory wiring with some parts store hack job. After the ridiculously easy installation, I ended up trimming the included bolts flush.
The section of carpet that Hazel poured that gear oil all over he subsequently cut out. There was no other way to get the smell out of the Jeep. Unfortunately, that section of carpet also included the cardboard cubbyhole cover. This locking cubby cover (PN 143) didn’t even require any drilling to install. The back of it (toward the front of the Jeep) tucks into factory sheetmetal. The two metal strips sandwich the lip of the cubby and provide a secure locking location.
Made of 1⁄8-inch-thick steel and powdercoated in a black textured finish, I expected the cubby cover to hold up to any abuse I dished out. An SM465 and an NV370 didn’t faze the lid. Sure, it deflected a little bit but sprung back to shape once I took the transmissions off of it. I also never had a problem with the lock functioning, no matter what I did to it. As it turns out, I ended up storing my snatch strap, winch controller, gloves, tree saver, and a couple of shackles under this cover full time.
Here’s a sneak peek behind the driver side taillight. You can see the extra connectors that plug into the Jeep. The length of wiring was correct, and the wires were covered with split-loom tubing for protection from the elements.
Whenever I went and actually had fun with the Jeep, one or both taillights would fall off. I ended up scratching paint, losing screws, and blowing bulbs out. It got to the point where I’d not go wheeling, because I was so tired of putting money into the taillights every time. I thought about going with some flush-mount lights, but I really didn’t want to cut the tub up on this Jeep. Then ORO introduced this LitePANEL that allowed me to mount the company’s LED LiteDOT’s to the rear of the Jeep without drilling any holes. I had to retorque the bolts once, but since then, I’ve never had a problem with the taillights falling off no matter how hard I wheeled it. I’m planning on painting the LitePANEL body-colored at some point too.