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BoxheadTim MegaDork
2/8/20 4:15 p.m.

The story so far...

I've been looking for a backup daily driver for my wife for a while. Where we live she has no good way to get to work if the main vehicle takes an unscheduled day off, so we basically both need backup vehicles. I have a couple (some of them even work) but the one she could drive because it's an automatic is my old PowerStroke, and she's not voluntarily going near that. She also wanted another SUV, although I'm anything but a fan. A Jeep, specifically.

I ended up finding this:

Dragged it home:

Poked around underneath it a bit, no holes, so that's good:

Frame looks pretty good, too - I'm planning to clean it out and paint and seal the inside when it's warmer:

I'm not too fond of the rust, but it was local, doesn't seem to need a new frame and doesn't have any holes in the bodywork that shouldn't be there. At least not ones I haven't found so far.

The story is that the PO found it when traveling for work, refreshed it a bit to flip as it needed a new roof and then advertised it before it turned into a money pit. And of course money pits are right up my alley.

BoxheadTim MegaDork
2/8/20 4:28 p.m.

I got it through the local inspection fine, then figured out I should take it for a bit of a run to see if there was anything wrong with it or if I could just hand the keys to my wife. Well, the strong smell of hot brakes and a little smoke coming off a caliper suggested that I better look at the brakes. Well, after limping it home from somewhere in the local woods, that is.

Jeep got dragged into my shop only to find that the calipers on all four corners where more like rusty blobs. All four were seized.

Fronts went well, with new rotors, pads and parts store calipers. First annoyance is that the bleed screws are so short that my one person bleeder doesn't want to work with them. So I order Speed Bleeders and get on with the work.

Until I find out that the rear calipers seem to come with either metric or standard sized bleed screws (fronts are standard). Yay. Of course I ended up with one standard and one metric, and nobody has the LHS in standard anywhere around here. Off to RockAuto I go, they have some that specifically say they have the standard sized bleed screws. Order two, wait, put one of them on. Yay.

Pull the second one out of the box, has a standard bleed screw but for some reason the Speed Bleeder that is the correct size doesn't want to play with the thread in the caliper. For. Berkeley's. Sake. OK, no worries, I have one more part store caliper with the right bleed screw size, so lets button this and get all four corners done.


Yeah, that's me holding the friction material for the parking brake in my hand. It came off when I wiped down the friction material prior to test fitting the new rotor...

Nobody in town has both the shoes and the rest of the parts like adjuster and spring kit in stock, so I guess the work is getting postponed by another week. Great.

I kinda like Jeeps, but for some reason they tend to fight me every time I touch them.

jfryjfry Dork
2/8/20 4:39 p.m.

Were you able to test drive and check it out before buying??

looks good but what does mrs boxhead think?

BoxheadTim MegaDork
2/8/20 4:44 p.m.

Yes, I did drive it, crawl underneath it and all that jazz. It drove OK even with the partially seized brakes - those didn't become obvious until I took it for a much longer drive. It only came home on the trailer as it was about an hour's drive away and I couldn't get it back any other way as my wife works weekends.

She likes it, but hasn't had a chance to really drive it yet. I'm trying to make sure it's safe to drive and also clean it up a bit more before handing her the keys for good. Although I may borrow it back from time to time.

BoxheadTim MegaDork
2/9/20 1:48 p.m.

Weather was too nice to not go into the shop, so I started cleaning the interior. The driver's seat looked rather dirty and for some reason the fabric was very stiff, almost felt like cardboard. It actually looks even dirtier in the photo.

When I started just wiping them down with a damp microfibre towel, they started foaming. Looks like the PO tried to clean them and didn't bother removing all the cleaner. Oh well, after scrubbing them a bunch of times with warm water and the rest of the upholstery cleaner I found, the seat came up reasonably clean. Let's see if it stays that way, although I suspect I'll have a go at it with my upholstery steam cleaner once it's mobile again.

Clearly, the seat wasn't dirty at all. That's just from the driver's seat, too.

It also proved a good time to throw out the stinky "air freshener" that I found in the car. I guess they're called air fresheners because you need some fresh air after encountering them. Time to order the brake parts, hopefully I'll end up getting all of them by the end of the week and can finally make it drivable again.

Azryael Reader
2/9/20 3:19 p.m.

I gotta admit, of all the various forms the Wrangler has taken, the TJ/LJ is by far the most aesthetically pleasing to me. I am, however, incredibly biased.

For quite some time, one of my great uncles had a red '05 LJ, and that thing looked super. For the longest time I wanted to get an LJ for the purpose of boxing in the front seats and basically having a mini Jeep truck, but ultimately decided on just getting an actual pickup and enjoying my TJ that I already have.

How do those seats feel? I actually want to swap up to the later model (and cloth is more than fine) seats to replace the vinyl seats I have now which have begun split and crack and in certain areas.

Also, has the passenger side Air Bag cover begun to disintegrate and get sticky in yours yet? Reading up on it shows that these air bag covers are beginning to degrade, so the surface becomes tacky and you can actually damage the texture from trying to wipe it clean. Don't think new replacements are available anymore, and I don't trust a used one to last any longer than mine, which has spent most of its life garaged from the elements.

BoxheadTim MegaDork
2/9/20 5:54 p.m.

Passenger side Air Bag cover still seems to be OK, fortunately. The seats are OK, they're reasonably comfortable but I could tell that the foam was a bit worn when I cleaned them. It's got 143k on the odometer so I expect some seat wear. I've driven it for a couple of hours and they were OK for that period.

Azryael Reader
2/9/20 7:07 p.m.

I see. You've got about 100k more on the clock than I do. Looking closely at those seats, it seems the only change is the way the headrest and up portion looks. It's more squared while mine literally just look like a pear. I would imagine that the seats would feel the same as mine, with which I have no issue. I would simply prefer the cloth over the vinyl.

Another point of note is that the pressure regulator for in the in-tank fuel pump is known to go bad, and I've yet been able to remove and replace JUST the regulator; the regulator also runs about as much as an entire fuel pump, so it's best to just get a whole new pump. Symptoms were hard starting, cold or hot, with a pressure gauge confirming loss of rest pressure. Ran fine once running. Took about two hours to drop the tank with the trans jack and replace the pump.

If you aren't having any hard starting issues, probably nothing you need to worry about for the moment, but more or less just a heads up.

Rear main seals love to leak on the 4.0, but it's usually a drip that produces no noticeable loss of oil between oil change intervals. Being an auto, you don't have to get used to the AX-15 which sometimes doesn't like going into 2nd when it's cold. Be sure to check out the balljoints if you haven't already. They factory units are also known not to cooperate for long periods of time.

Any other plans for it, or is it truly just meant to be a backup for the Mrs.?

BoxheadTim MegaDork
2/9/20 7:54 p.m.

No hard starting issues, and no oil leaks. She's had an XJ with the 4.0 before so the first thing I checked was that it still had oil in it.

yeah, the plan is pretty much to have it as a nice weather driver for her for a few years. We're kinda waiting to see if FCA actually does come out with a BEV I a few years and then maybe sell both this LJ and her current Range Rover. 

MrChaos SuperDork
2/9/20 9:09 p.m.

its a 4.0, it will end up leaking. its a bulletproof engine.  Also a 4.0 will go a decent ways low on oil with a window in the side of the block from water intrusion after being submerged.  its the chrysler electronics that tend to start having issues.

BoxheadTim MegaDork
2/29/20 1:42 p.m.

Sigh. It does what Jeeps always seem to do when I own them, namely not cooperate.

I finally managed to put the rear brakes together and...

... I can't get brake fluid to the rear brakes. At all. Not quite sure why yet. I guess I'll put the wheels on tomorrow morning and try to drive it up the driveway to see if at least the front brakes work. At this rate I may just throw it at the local shop to get the brakes sorted out and have a better exhaust fitted.

BoxheadTim MegaDork
3/1/20 8:44 a.m.

So this has been bugging me since yesterday afternoon. I don't just like handing my failures over to the local shop (plus I have to get the Jeep movable as I need to change the diff oil before the track day next weekend). Consider the following symptoms:

  • I did have the banjo bolt on one of the rear calipers slightly cracked open for a few days. The caliper ended up gravity bleeding, so some fluid must have been able to get through.
  • The brake pedal is rock hard and doesn't move at all. It's been a while since the engine has run, so no traces of vacuum assist are left, but thinking about this overnight has me thinking about having a closer look at that end of the truck. I would expect to have at least some pedal €movement before the brakes engage. Probably should check if the master cylinder has somehow got stuck or something along those lines, because that would more or less explain the symptoms.


BoxheadTim MegaDork
4/22/20 8:28 p.m.

As the "blow a little bit of low pressure air through the blocked outlet" method didn't unblock the master cylinder, I bit the bullet and spend the princely sum of $50 on a new master cylinder. Bench bled the master cylinder, hooked it up, opened the rear bleed screw and ...

... a hold load of nothing. Rock hard pedal, no bleeding going on. Great. I'm a bit short of ideas other than getting a professional second opinion, although I'm guessing that checking at the distributor block for fluid and then further downstream is probably a good idea, too.

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/22/20 8:46 p.m.

I might have some aftermarket parts for that bad boy, let me take a look 

spandak HalfDork
4/22/20 10:52 p.m.

I would try to work down the lines cracking them at each opportunity. I've seen junk jam up a rear brake line before and cause weird issues. Might help generalize where the problem is. 

EastCoastKrawler New Reader
4/23/20 6:23 a.m.

In reply to BoxheadTim :

Did you check the proportioning valve? The Jeeps had a 70s GM style which has a safety feature that ''locks'' if you lose fluid from a line. They don't always reset themselves as the (this is a GM squarebody) service manual says:


mblommel Dork
4/23/20 6:59 a.m.

Make sure the hard lines aren't pinched anywhere. I had a terrible time getting the brakes functioning again on my FJ60 until I noticed one of the lines on the front axle tube was pinched. No fluid was going to that caliper at all. 

BoxheadTim MegaDork
4/23/20 8:20 a.m.

In reply to EastCoastKrawler :

I did not, I wasn't aware that the proportioning valve could lock like that. Definitely something to take a much closer look at as it does appear to match the symptoms.

In reply to mblommel :

I did give them a once over already as that was my first thought. There is a potential candidate for a pinched rubber soft line to the rear, but OTOH I accidentally managed to gravity bleed the rears before, so some fluid was getting through.

logdog (Forum Supporter)
logdog (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
4/23/20 8:31 a.m.

Further up the thread you said you were going to check and see if the front brakes work.  What did you find?

Have you cracked bleeders on other wheels to see if the pedal drops down?  If you individually crack the left and right front calipers and the pedal drops, but both rear brakes do nothing, I would look at the rubber line from the frame to the axle.  

If nothing is coming from the front I would crack lines at the prop valve to see what happens. 



BoxheadTim MegaDork
4/23/20 8:46 a.m.

In reply to logdog (Forum Supporter) :

Front brakes work fine, I can lock up the fronts if I stomp on the pedal hard enough.

I did do the "crack the lines at the master cylinder and see where I get fluid" (but discussed in another thread) to confirm that the line to the rear was not getting any fluid, but the one to the front was. Hence the replacement master cylinder that is pushing fluid out of both connectors.

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
4/23/20 9:31 a.m.

I've always thought the LJs were cool, but I just can't stomach the prices they bring when I know it's going to be as much a PITA as a Jeep always is.

BoxheadTim MegaDork
6/1/20 9:35 a.m.

Well, it's finally properly drivable. The issue was with the proportioning valve and the master cylinder, so after replacing both - the proportioning valve wouldn't reset and I needed the Jeep on the road - it's finally got brakes on all four corners and doesn't stop half bad either.

It still needs a bit more work on the underbody rust and the fan switch, plus some more cleaning and a good service. But at least it's on the road and my wife appears to like driving it.

BoxheadTim MegaDork
6/1/20 7:58 p.m.

Thread needs more pitchers.

former520 HalfDork
6/1/20 8:42 p.m.

Th LJ is a very cool layout.  It will be a keeper for a long time.  The extra wheelbase is nice to have without being too long for offroad.  

Regarding the brakes, have you checked that the ruber lines haven't collapsed internally?  It can cause brakes to not release (1st issue mentioned) or get fluid to stop (2nd issue mentioned).  When I was living in rust belt area, it was more of an issue and they are 15yo lines.  Might be a cheap addition since you are already replacing all.

BoxheadTim MegaDork
6/2/20 7:18 a.m.

In reply to former520 :

I'll replace the lines with braided lines sooner or later, but they are clear. The issue with the brakes not releasing was definitely rusty blobs masquerading as brake calipers, and there was no issue getting brake fluid to all four corners once I replaced both the master cylinder and the brake proportioning valve.

My suspicion is that (as usual) brake fluid hadn't been changed in a very long time and as a result both the master cylinder and especially the proportioning valve had ample time to accumulate gunk and corrode.

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