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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Memorial Day 2013 I purchased a new 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara. I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I just wanted to be that Topless Soccer Mom. One month later, I posted my first ever blog post and joined social media. That opened a Pandora's box for me. Prior to that, I had no idea about modifications, Jeep accessories, Jeep Forums, tools, and this amazing Jeep community. I found myself enthralled and immersed myself into this whole new foreign world. By April of 2014, I discovered Off-Road YouTube videos and bam the whole -- Just Empty Every Pocket began. May of 2014 I took my first ever off-road class at Rausch Creek Off Road Park, the crazy addiction started the second I put my Jeep into 4lo. Who knew? Not me. I loved it and I have never stopped loving it. I had a huge list of Jeep parts I wanted, but I didn’t have money to spend on me. I was a stay-at-home mom with two kids. But wait! My kids had Legos they didn’t play with anymore. So, I struck a deal. I spent hours sorting Legos and selling them on Ebay. Yes, we wish we still had those Legos, but we can’t live in the past, so we move on. We split the proceeds. I finally made enough money to buy my first real Jeep part.

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Barricade Trail Force HD Front Bumper

I was determined to install the bumper myself. I had never done anything like that before in my life. I ordered the bumper, and it was shipped right away. I was so excited. I was also very impatient waiting for the Brown Santa. :rolleyes:

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When the bumper finally arrived, I got to work on removing the factory bumper and air dam. I had no idea what an air dam was. I was so worried about taking it off and not replacing it thinking it was going to be a catastrophe for my Jeep. That was one of the first things I learned about my Jeep and modifications. Turns out it was no big deal to remove it. My Jeep was just fine. My oldest helped me unwrap the bumper. Sadly, he didn’t partake too much in my Jeep Life. When you are in middle school mom’s and mom stuff isn’t cool.
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The toughest part of the job was loosening those bolts on the factory mounted front plastic bumper. I had to have my then husband loosen them. However, since that time I have learned a few tricks about leverage and know how to get more leverage with my tools. Once the stock bumper was off and set aside it was time to line up my new - heavy duty steel black powder coated bumper. I didn’t have the proper tools so I improvised using whatever I could find in the garage.

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When it came time to hook up the fog lights nothing was lining up. My then husband said he go out to buy wire and splice them together. I knew it wasn’t supposed to be that difficult. I was determined to figure it out on my own. I went online to read the reviews and read there was excess factory wires. I looked and didn’t find it. I just sat there and stared at the wires for about 30 minutes. Then finally, this blonde girl realized it – ding, ding the light bulb went off! Just open up the wire loom and pull out the excess wires. Well low and behold what do you know. I figured it out. There really isn't any extra wiring. All I needed to do was separate the passenger side fog light from the main wiring and bring it under and around the frame -- a perfect fit.
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Next I mounted in the fog light covers -- definitely a good idea to do this before you bolt on the bumper. However, I'm not sure how most men get this done. It's a real tight fit getting those screws and the teeny tiny nuts in there. Luckily my thin, nimble fingers were able to do the trick.

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It was a pretty simple easy install. I was so proud of myself and felt empowered! I immediately began looking for the next modification to my Jeep.

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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Barricade Rock Sliders Install

As a mom with a Jeep Wrangler, I struggled with the changes I wanted to make to my Jeep (it was the family car, kind of). It was a daily tug-o-war trying to figure out how to make modifications for the off-roading I wanted to do and yet keep my Jeep in daily driver form.
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My new rock sliders did not look like they were going to be an easy swap with my stock side steps. I was in panic mode all night trying to figure out how the new rock sliders were going to attach to my Jeep. The stock steps had six bolts attached to my Jeep in three different locations. The new rock sliders only had three attachment points with what looked like one bolt. I read over the directions probably about 50 times. I went under the Jeep about 20 times trying to figure out what these body mounts were.

Some of my Jeeper friends thought I was a little loco that night as I posted questions and shot off panicked emails. Well, everything does look better in the morning. Once the kids were off to school I got back under the Jeep in the daylight and went OHHHHHH!!!! Duh!!! ( I did that a lot and still do it to this day) There they were right in front of my eyes, if they were a snake they would have bit me.

So, I jumped right to it. I broke out the tools I needed and sat down to work.

I attached the ratchet to the bolt and began to pull... and pull... and pull... and pull... I even swore a bunch of times. I was bound and determined to do this whole change by myself. Not wanting to ask for help, I finally broke down and asked my then husband for his muscle. I still hadn’t learned about that tool leverage trick yet. Plus, just like I get my left and right switched around, being upside down working on a bolt really messes me up.

After showing my then husband what I was doing he just shook his head and laughed. I was tightening the bolts not loosening them, as everything is backwards when you are down under your vehicle. Righty tighty, lefty loosey is reversed, I think. It still confuses me. Once I had that squared away it was a quick and easy removal.

So, step two began... the removal of the body mount bolts. I took the advice of many online Jeepers and sprayed the body mounts with WD 40. I don't think this made a difference for my Jeep. It was pretty new and there wasn't a whole lot of rust. Actually, there wasn't any rust but a lot of dirt and mud. I think this was a trick by everyone. The WD 40 created a muddy greasy mess. Or maybe WD 40 isn't really to help loosen things up but to make things messy just so it looks like you were working hard.

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The body mount bolts didn't need a whole lot of muscle, with just a little force and lots of grunting they came loose.
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But, then they kept spinning and spinning and spinning. I couldn't figure out what in the world was going on. So again -- I headed back to my computer. I emailed a fellow Jeeper and texted another. After some good tips I went back out and tried again.

With the use of my ratchet and some channel locks – at the time I wasn’t exactly sure what channel locks were -- the first bolt popped out. Those body mount bolts are persnickety. They need a firm but gentle pull and out they come. Whew! With the steps off I was ready to get those sliders on. I was expecting some tough work, but I was determined to do it all myself.

I wish I would have just taken those side-steps off in the first place. I never did use them to get into my Jeep plus I think my Jeep looks pretty Beast-mode without the plastic. If you read your owner’s manual you are supposed to remove the factory side steps when you go off road.

Each slider weighs about 50 pounds so I was a little nervous I wouldn't be able to man handle the powder coated, hard tubular steel. But I knew it was possible after watching posted videos of other installs.

I looked around the garage for something to hold up the heavy steel sliders while I attached them to the Jeep. It was quite hard since our garage was mostly made up of soccer balls and bikes. This is where the resourcefulness of a mom comes in handy. I grabbed the rolled-up garden hose I bought a couple of weeks prior and an old paint bucket. I lined up the sliders to the body mounts on the Jeep and started the attachment process.

But first, I needed to get the body mount washers to drop into the round hole of the attachment point of the slider rail. UGH!! It was millimeters off. At the time, I didn’t own a grinder, nor did I know anyone who did – Suburbia life. I was heartbroken I wouldn't be able to finish my install that day.
Trying to figure out a solution, my then husband said get the hammer. Of course, that's his answer to fixing everything, use a hammer or duct tape. BAM! BAM!
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I was able to get the first bolt into place, and it started to tighten. Yeah Me! It was working. Then came the next bolts.

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I slide my legs under the slider, and held it up with all my might and started turning the ratchet again. But then... the spinning and spinning and spinning started to happen again. Thank goodness the kids were still at school because you would have thought a pirate was working in our garage.
I double checked I had my rights and lefts correct, but it still was spinning and spinning. I headed into the house to get my husband.
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After checking over my work he informed me with the kind of bolts the body mounts were, there needed to be weight pulling down on them to be able to screw them back up into the nut. Who knew! -- I sure didn't. Well know I do!
The rest was pretty simple -- a couple of turns of the ratchet and they were done. If I say so myself I did a pretty good job after a lot of trial and error, and a few slips of the tongue.

Even today if I had to do it over I would for sure install these on my Jeep. They have held up amazingly on all those trails I have wheeled. Plus, they have saved the body of my Jeep many times.


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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Raxiom 3 inch LED Lights

For me these lights are more for aesthetics (yep Mall Crawler sign). They do come in handy at night when you are setting up your tent or when your son and his friends want to play football in the dark.

After much thought, a lot of research, and many, many suggestions from fellow Jeepers, I decided to mount these lights on the A pillars near the windshield. So -- I went ahead and ordered two light mounts as well. The installation of the mounts and lights were a pretty simple job. Six little steps.

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Once these 6 steps are completed the wires can be connected. Thanks to the Jeep community (JKOwners Forum) for helping inform me of the proper wiring for vehicles lights. This is where the love – hate – love – hate – love relationship began. LOL!

--Lifetime LED Switch and Wiring Kit - Universal Application
--The power to relay wire has a in-line fuse rated at 20a and is ~36 inches in length
--The relay is a mini-type 30a relay
--The switch is a mini toggle switch
--You can run 1 or 2 lights off of this wiring harness
--Universal application ('87-'15 Wranglers)
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The initial wiring, I did on my lights, was based on what my then husband told me to do. Yes I was made fun of. Thanks to someone on JKOwners, I don’t remember who, I was given the proper way to wire a vehicle.

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Okay so is everyone done laughing?

I will continue on.

So -- the first thing I did with my original wiring was undo the tape, wire nuts and wires. I re-stripped the wires. Then I set forth on soldering all the wire connections.

I connected the driver side light wires to two wires and strung them along the hood. The connection I used was soldering the wires, then adding some heat shrink material. Just for a little added protections I used liquid tape, and then some Super 33+ vinyl tape. Yeah I tend to go overboard
. The next step was to connect the driver side light wires, passenger side light wires and the wiring kit together. I used the same connection method with these wires as I did with the driver side light.
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The next step was to find the firewall hole, and pull through the wires for the switch. It took me quite awhile to find the hole. Again I had zero clue. Jim from JKOwners helped me with that one. The first thing he told me was to calm down. I used the hole on the passenger side. I just removed the side panel on the dash, and there it was. It took a little work to pull the wires through. I did need to cut those wires because the plug was too big for the hole. I later found out there is a hole on the driver’s side too. Who knew? LOL!!!

Once the wire was pulled through, I again soldered and added heat shrink, liquid tape and tape to those wires. I really love to solder. Its satisfying for me for some weird reason.
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By the way this is totally the wrong way to hook them to your battery. I found this out later.
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Several months later my Jeep Wrangler's dash was lighting up and dinging. This happened several times followed by the ESC malfunction indicator light illuminating. Checking out my newly acquired manual, it stated a malfunction in my ESC system had been detected. The ESC is the Electronic Stability Control - which senses when you begin to over- or under-steer and applies individual brakes and controls your throttle as needed to help put you back on track.
Well --- the problem turns out to be my fault. I attached my LED light wires to the wrong spot on the battery which messed with the Jeeps computer system.

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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My Biggest Upgrade
Lockers, Dana 44 front and rear, 4 to 1 Transfer Case, electronic disconnect

Just over a year in my Sahara I wanted the off road capability of a Rubicon. So I traded my year old Sahara for a Rubicon. It was such an amazing difference. I was so happy. But only for a year. LOL! Just Empty Every Pocket.

Before I went home with the JKU Rubicon I asked the dealer to swap out my Barricade front and rear bumper as well as my rock sliders. After I got home I inspected everything. They left those flat washers off the Barricade Sliders. They said they didn't fit. :LOL::ROFLMAO::LOL: I took my Jeep back and told them to do it right.
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By the way, they put my Sahara on the used car lot for $1000 more than I bought it for new.

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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Barricade Trailforce HD Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier

This bumper weighs 110 lbs, and the tire carrier weighs 49 pounds. I was concerned about the rear end of the Jeep sagging and losing clearance, so I decided to measure from my muffler and the rear axle. The good news is, once I installed all the parts, and put the spare tire back on, it did not drop anything from my measurements.
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Then I disassembled the factory spare tire mount from the tailgate. It was very simple. All I needed was a 13 mm socket, and it came right off. The bolts were not on too tight where I couldn't get them off.On the inside of the tailgate is a black plastic panel where the wiring harness is housed for the brake lights. I unplugged the 3rd brake light wires from the brake lights. Next was the removal of the factory rear bumper. It was easy. First, I removed the four 15 mm bolts, two on each side. There are also two more bolts on the frame near the muffler as well.
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Now it was time to pull off the factory rear bumper. This was a little tricky. You needed to maneuver the bumper so you could slide it out from the fenders. But it wasn't too difficult.
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The last step I needed to complete before I was able to install my new Barricade Trailforce HD Bumper with Tire Carrier was to remove the factory tow hitch. I thought this would be simple It wasn't. The rear bumper bolts weren't that tight, so I figured these would be easy. But these bolts are very difficult to get off. So I had to call in the big guns again. Still haven’t learned about tool leverage yet. That’s a few more years. This rear bumper will allow me to upgrade my tires to a bigger size, eventually. The tire carrier will take the weight off the tailgate. First, I attached the mounting bracket to the inner side of the rear bumper support beam. These bolts are about 5 inches long. It was a tight space in between the muffler and the support beam. By pushing slightly up on the cover over the muffler, the bolts will slide in.

Then I slid the L-Shaped mounting brackets into the frame rails with the nut backing up to the pre-drilled holes in the frame. All the parts fit to the existing holes all ready on the frame. There was no drilling necessary.

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Now it was time to slide my new rear bumper over the brackets and bolts I set into place. However, it was all hands on deck for this one. This is something that needed two people. The rear bumper weighs 110 pounds. I called in my then husband to lift the rear bumper, as I guided it into the bolts that were attached to the support beam. It took some adjustments, but we eventually got it into place. Unfortunately -- there are no pictures of this step as my photographer had gone off to play with his friends -- my nine year old son.

Once the bumper was on it was time to thread the supplied bolts to the side bumper support and tighten. Then I crawled under the Jeep and threaded the nuts onto the bolts and began to tighten all four bolts.

Now that the rear bumper was installed and secure, it was time to get the tire carrier gate installed. First make sure you pull the plastic off the post. It is also good idea to add some grease to the post for a smoother operation. To secure the gate on the post I added the cap and secured it with the allen-head bolt. Years later I found out I used the wrong kind of grease. My swing gate would seize up. Getting it off the post is a pain unless you know the trick. Big Effing Pry Bar a 2 by 4 and someone to catch the swing gate. I did a YouTube Video on this and almost broke my son’s foot.
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Next up was the tire carrier gate latch. I slide the latch into the end of the swing arm and secured it with the two supplied bolts and nuts.
Finally, the last step -- install the rear tire carrier by securing it to the rear swing arm. Then adjust it to the desired height.

I had to move this piece to the top holes because my tire wouldn't fit right otherwise. This meant my view out of the back window was obstructed. Which would be okay if I had bigger tires.

I couldn't figure out why my tire wouldn't fit at a lower height. Then it hit me the next morning -- DUH!!! The piece is adjustable. All I had to do was loosen the bolts and slide the piece out and the tire now sits at the right height.

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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
About a year and a half later after trading my Sahara for a Rubicon I was lucky enough to come into some money to get a lift. There was no way I was ready to install it myself. Plus, my then husband said I couldn’t void the warranty. Well, I found a way around it. My Jeep Dealer I bought the Jeep from installed lifts.

So I did a 3.5” lift with 35” Duratracs and 17” Black Rock Wheels.

In the fall of 2019, I went with Nexen Roadian MTX Tires. I LOVE them. Unfortunately during 2021 I needed new tires (later in this thread I will explain) and with the pandemic and my location I was limited in my selection so now I have Falken Wildpeakes

MetalCloak True Dual-Rate 3.5" Lift Rock Sport Edition
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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Yeti HD by Steer Smarts

I first added the steering attenuator then later upgraded the Yeti XD system with the tie rod and draglink with the attenuator. They wanted to use my picture on their website so they traded me with the steering attenuator.

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Before I bought my Jeep Wrangler I never paid much attention the vehicle I drove. I would put the key in the ignition, and drive to my destination. i would have to say, I was driving my Sahara that way for about a year, as well. I spent most of my time focused on the topless ride not paying much attention to anything else. Yes, I realized driving the Jeep was noisy -- to be expected. Yes, driving in my Jeep Wrangler I felt every bump, crack and crevasse on the road, but isn't that what it's all about.
I remember the tense times driving on the interstate though, I always had both hands on the steering wheel never sitting back to relax. I wondered if it was the fact I was getting older, and soon I would be the one those old drivers cruising 40 mph on the interstate because I was too nervous. Or maybe I just wasn't manly enough to handle this awesome piece of machinery. After the first time the attenuator was installed, I jumped into my Jeep hoping I would notice a difference. Most of the comments I read, the folks noticed a difference, but some didn't notice a change at all. I honestly felt I wouldn't notice a change at all since my experience in the world of autos and auto mechanics was basically nil.

I turned the key, and put the Jeep into drive. Immediately I felt the steering wheel was different. It was like someone took a screwdriver to it, and tightened it up. I attributed it to wishful hoping for a change on my part. As I continued down the road I still could feel the slap of my BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires on the road. I still bounced in my seat as my Jeep rumbled over the bumps and cracks on the highway. It was still the same great Jeep ride feeling the grooves and contours of the road.

It wasn't until about half way back down the busy I-95 trek home did I realize I was cruising along at over 75 mph with one hand on the steering wheel. I was lost in my thoughts of what I needed to get done that day. I hadn't even once had to stretch my hands out because they had been in a white knuckle grip on my steering wheel. I was even able to change lanes, and pass the slower cars instead of being the slower one in the far right lane the whole trip. It makes a difference for me so that’s all that matters.
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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Headlights / Taillights

I have Headlight issues since the day I switched out my factory headlights for LED’s. I investigated every possible solution. My LED’s are hard wired to the Jeep’s factory wiring. No plug. My taillights are some Chinese knock offs.
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Barricade Adjustable Brake Light Bracket with LED Light
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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Tom Woods Custom Front Driveshaft

This was a fun install because I learned about the Geometry of my Jeep. I also learned about the rzeppa joint vs CV joint. One of the reasons I upgraded was because of my lift the factory driveshaft rubbed on the exhaust as well as was leaking grease all over the undercarriage of my Jeep. I was lucky enough to find a Jeep mechanic who would let me in his shop and I watched the install.

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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Grab Handles

EK SPorts Grab handles

I feel these are super sturdy especially in those off-road situations. I had a friend who used cheap factory ones. She pulled one and it came undone and she fell on the rocks. My A pillar grab handles come in real handy. Especially if you are out on the rocks at a weird angle and need to really pull yourself back up in your Jeep. Super sturdy.

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Wild Boar Grab Handles
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Simple and Easy, or so it looks. There are two stand off's for each handle. You insert the bolt through the handle into the stand off. Then you line up the bolt with the holes on the A pillar. Easy right?!

I was having one heck of a time trying to line up the bolt just right to go into the existing A pillar holes. Finally, after two hours, of jiggling, maneuvering, manipulating the bolts, swearing and screaming, I was able to get the bolts lined up, and in the holes. Then with a couple of spins of the rachet screwdriver, I tighten them up, and they were ready to go.

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Rear Passenger Seat Grab Handles
by 13 Cords

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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Justice OffRoad MOLLE Tailgate Panel & Molle Bags

Great for storage but after using it I think I would like to have one of those tables you can fold down.
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MorRyde Ammo Can Carrier with Molle Bag panel

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JK Pockets

Tip I would super glue these in because they like to pop out when you get in and out of the Jeep because your feet tend to hit them.

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For the life of me I can't remember where I got this shelf. I LOVE it!!!

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Tuffy Center Console

Lockable and I keep my purple pee shooter in there.

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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Artec Axle Truss, Shock Mount Brackets, Lower Control Arms, Lower Control Arm Brackets

Synergy Ball Joints

This was one install I would change. I should of listened to my Maryland mechanic. He said stick with OEM.
My Jeep was at the dealer getting warranty work done. Pinion Seal Leak. While there they said I need new ball joints. They suggested Synergy and welded my c-gussests. It took me 500 miles for those ball joints to seat. That was the scariest 500 miles of highway driving ever in my whole life.

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1,195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My Jeep now

112,000K miles. Replaced leaking radiator, wallowed out knuckle, leaking oil housing cooler, replaced broken shock mount, replaced leaking steering stabilizer. My UndertheSun purple flag grille insert got left behind in Colorado along with my 11 cans of sumptuous purple spay paint.

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