Nearly three weeks ago I bought a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, though it took until yesterday to get it registered. I had the desire and the means to buy something like this for a long time, but it took some prodding from my wife to get the motivation to actually go through with it. I took a day off work and we drove to American Fork to look at the most promising of several Grand Cherokees that we were interested in. Besides having nearly-bald front tires and an oil leak, the first car we looked at was great. We negotiated on the price and got it low enough to be worth buying with the few minor issues it had. Traci and I had to drive to the nearest branch of our credit union in Herriman and wait for the loan approval before returning to American Fork and handing over the check. Traci drove the Jeep half of the way home, then we switched places and she drove the truck while I took a turn behind the wheel of the Jeep.
In the first couple of days of having the Jeep at home, I fixed a couple of minor things on it. Neither the power window or speaker in the right-rear door worked, and I found some broken wires between the body and the door that were the cause. I soldered new wire in to repair and lengthen the existing wires. Since we’d financed the Jeep, and the previous owners still owed money on it, I had to wait for the lien on the title to get released by the sellers’ credit union, then it was sent to my credit union, and finally it made its way to me. In the meantime, I ordered set of 245/75/16 Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires and a 2″ Rubicon Express coil spacer lift to accommodate the larger tires. The tires came from Discount Tire quickly, but there was a problem with the coil spacers from 4 Wheel Parts. The boxes that the coil spacers came in had the correct part numbers–one set of front spacers and one set of rears–but the boxes contained only rear spacers. It took several days to get 4 Wheel Parts to figure out the problem and many more days with the return parts in transit before I finally received the correct parts.
With a complete set of coil spacers, I installed them on Tuesday after work. I jacked up the rear axle and placed jack stands under the Jeep, then lowered the jack under the axle a little, and used a second jack to raise one side of the axle. That caused the axle to pivot above the center jack and resulted in one side of the axle being low enough for the coil spring to come out. I installed the rear coil spacer on one side, then repeated the process for the other side. The front was a slightly different process. Since the front coil spacers have a cone-shaped protrusion, the coil spring needs additional compression to be able to fit over the spacer. Once I realized this, I compressed the spring using a jack below that side of the axle, then wrapped two ratcheting tie-down straps tightly around the spring. When I lowered the jack on that side of the axle and raised it on the other side, the spring stayed compressed enough to install the spacer. With a little trial-and-error, it took me 3.5 hours to install all four coil spacers, though now I think I could do it in about two hours.
The tire shop was closed when I finished installing the coil spacers, so the next day I dropped the Jeep off with the new tires to have them mounted and balanced. After a safety inspection and a relatively quick visit to the DMV, I finally had plates on the Jeep and could legally drive it! The Jeep serves as a perfect vehicle between my car and truck–it seats my family more comfortably than the truck, but is more off-road capable than either the car or truck. I’m looking forward to a lot of exploring the outdoors in the WJ.