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1988 Jeep Wrangler Wiring Harness Install - Feelin' Burned

Rewiring an old YJ

Verne SimonsPhotographer, Writer

There comes a time in any venerable old Jeep's life when a certain part reaches its mechanical limits. That time when the part screams "Enough is enough!" For our '88 Wrangler, there are more than a few parts that are near or have exceeded their mechanical limits. You know this, we know this, heck, the engineers who designed this thing also know this. We have spent countless hours forcing love upon this hateful Jeep, trying as we might to replace parts that are worn out, broken, or were just cobbled together. We've done most of this within the pages of Jp fixing this and fixing that; it never seems to end.

Many will remember the image of smoke pouring out from under the hood of this first-generation Jeep Wrangler. That smoke came from the burning of insulation from part of the factory wiring harness cause of a short. Somehow we were able to put the fire out, pull a few singed wires and a relay, and for some reason the Jeep still functioned remarkably well, allowing us to squeak it through Arizona emissions and even an ill-advised wheeling trip or two. Fast forward a few months and no one will deny that the wiring in our YJ, fondly (or hatefully) known as Number Two, must be replaced. Years of neglect, multiple insufficient splices, and other dubious wiring repairs—along with drying of insulation and rusting of wires—have left the entire harness as a major liability.

Luckily for us and this spiteful evil vehicle, Painless Performance Products has a nearly plug-and-play wiring harness for this and all YJ Wranglers. That should make our life a bit easier and bring new life to our old YJ. Also, this new wiring harness is in much better shape than the 25-year old harness our Jeep rolled off of the factory line with—even 25 years ago. How, you may ask? Well, Painless has done its homework and updated the harness for these Jeeps over the past several years. Count that as a win for us. We also installed some of Painless Performance's new Classic Braid to keep the new harness looking beautiful while adding protection. Pretty soon ol' Number Two is gonna be so nice that we'll have to start calling it Number One. Follow along as we take this old Jeep through yet another repair and upgrade. Also, check out a few tips we have that will make any wiring repair you may undertake more successful.