Kristina is now driving her very own Jeep Cherokee. This little quest started a rather long time ago and the quarry changed a number of times along the way but the safari is finally over and the game has been bagged.
We rescued a 1988 Jeep Cherokee from Walt’s Towing that was likely headed to the salvage yard . The Jeep had taken a light hit in the front which had munched up the front grill, headlight panel, bumper, and right fender. The motor seemed to run fine when we started it up although it does have nearly 200,000 miles on it. The interior was in pretty sad shape and the paint job was also pretty rough. We tried to take it for a test drive but could only get a few blocks as the fender was rubbing against the wheel and the radiator had a hole in it.
The Jeep did have some merit though. Sometimes you have to squint a little bit to see those diamonds in the rough. The body is rust free, it has excellent tires, the interior can always be cleaned up, the 4-wheel drive works, and, the price was right. So, we forked over some cash and had Walt use one of his handy tow trucks to bring it home.
Then the real work started… Kristina went to work on the interior and I made a trip down to the local U-Pull-It junk yard. Walt had clued me in on this place (ABC Used Parts Inc.) as the prices were supposed to be quite reasonable. Turned out he was right too. They had four Cherokees in various states of disassembly. My first pass through did not look too promising. But as I took a closer look inside each vehicle on the way back I found the front panel parts inside the gray one. Someone else had taken them off to get at another part and stuck them inside the vehicle. Then I realized the front bumper was still there too. Unfortunately, the fender I needed was gone.
I got the bumper off and then noticed the dual outside mirrors. Kristina’s Jeep only had one fixed mirror and these had the nice little remote control thingie. So, I left ABC having spent only $100 for the fully loaded front panel, bumper, two mirrors, and a clutch fan for the water pump. A few doors down at another yard I located a fender but it was already off and I had to pay $50 for it. So I headed for home with all my parts having spent a mere $150.
I decided to buy a new radiator after a number of people told me not to get one from the junkyard because the original equipment radiators had a tendency to fail due to their inner tanks being made out of plastic. I got an all metal one from a local radiator shop for $135.
Next up was taking the damaged parts off. I was pleased to find that the old parts came off quite easily, no broken bolts, wrenches, or skinned knuckles! Another advantage of not living in the “rust belt”. I was able to straighten out the mounting points for the bumper and fender with a minimum of fuss. Then I put the radiator back in and refilled the cooling system.
In the meantime I had Kristina wet sanding the replacement fender and front panel so we could paint them up with primer. Everything went back together quite well. We repainted the grill and headlight surrounds to freshen them up too. I had to go back to the junk yard for one little trim piece I missed but now it’s all there and it looks pretty darn good.
The interior cleaned up quite nicely and Kristina has been driving it for a week now and is very pleased with how it runs and drives. Seems to get pretty good gas mileage too. She plans to keep working on the paint job and one of these days we might even paint it back to it’s original color. Next project is installing a CD-player we found on Ebay…