by Steve and Mary Kay Grosvald (edited by Bill Cawthon)
Our 1992 Jeep Cherokee Laredo was delivered new as my company car. When I left the firm I purchased it, since we have large dogs and it’s the perfect vehicle for our needs. Since then we’ve enjoyed over 300,000 miles of generally trouble-free driving [301,225 miles as of November 18, 2010]. The Jeep is primarily my wife’s car.
I've always enjoyed tinkering with cars. Our other car – “mine” – is a 1986 Toyota Supra, also in great condition with only 127,700 miles.
Other than the first year or so, I've done all the oil changes and lube jobs. Since it’s a 4x4 I want to make sure all the lube points are properly serviced. About the time it hit 150,000 miles I began replacing one quart at each oil change with a quart of Lucas Heavy Duty Oil Stabilizer. I use 5 Minute Motor Flush before every oil / filer change. It’s paid off: no engine problems and the acceleration is as good as new. Spark plugs are changed every 24 months and none come out oily, just light to medium tan. I change the coolant every 2-3 years.
Over the years I've installed two radiators, put in a couple of thermostats, two oxygen sensors, replaced the valve cover gaskets, a heater control valve, an idler pulley, spark plug wires, distributor caps, rotors and assorted hoses.
I had Goodyear or Jeep install couple of water pumps, an alternator, Monroe shocks, brake jobs, and serpentine belt replacements (though I've done that once as well). I also had one pitted windshield replaced, and a couple of mufflers and one catalytic converter professionally installed.
Major work by the Jeep dealer has included replacement of the air conditioner compressor and related parts, the main oil seal, wheel alignments, and similar work.
About five years ago our car was stolen and, unbelievably, found by the police within about eleven hours. The thieves had broken into the fixed wing window on the driver’s side and smashed the trim on the steering column to start the car with a screwdriver. Until then I didn’t realize how easy it was.
We got a call from the police at 3:00 AM that our car had been found. We immediately drove to the site where the police had caught the suspects. After a few days of starting it with the screwdriver I studied the procedures to fix the damaged parts associated with the ignition switch. It required a parts kit called a rack kit C – cost about $65 and working slowly with the Jeep provided diagrams and photos it took me about three days to fix. I learned a lot about tilt steering wheels, wheel pullers and compression rings. But mainly I learned I don’t want to do that job again. Nonetheless it was an interesting experience.
I keep the cosmetics in very good condition and have used Armor All for decades. One of my mainstays for replacement parts is A1 Chrysler, in north Tulsa. It’s a great bone yard and I've been able obtain parts to fix or update the Jeep. In addition to obtaining the replacement wing window and overhead power lock circuit board which the thieves had smashed, (I had to order a new after-market remote using the code on the circuit board), here are a few other items I've purchased there:
I backed into a post and dented the rear bumper and one of the taillights. A1 to the rescue: Replaced the tail light with a good-as-new one. Found a perfect gold rear bumper and end caps. Sanded, primed, and painted them Jeep silver and we were back in business.
Recently I've replaced the old windshield washer bottle, passenger seat belt receiver, and several other parts. Also after 18 years of my wife using a clip on battery operated clip-on vanity mirror on her sun visor, I found one with a built in electric mirror in a 1995 Jeep at the bone yard. The big surprise was that when I pulled out the old visor, I found the exact wiring and connector sitting up there. So it’s obvious the same wiring harness was used on several models and years.
I've also removed and repainted the fender flares. It’s a pretty easy job and they look great.
Two months ago I took the plunge and tried something new: I pulled out the headliner and replaced it. Just a two-day job using tips I got on the Internet.
Perfect replacement headliner material with foam backing is available at JoAnn’s fabric store. I used Permatex heavy-duty headliner and carpet spray adhesive. You need 1.5 cans for a Jeep. Most work involved removing, scraping, sanding old foam from the headliner. As compared to the same job for a sedan, this was easier since after removing trim, shoulder belt bolts and electrical connectors, you can pull it straight out the back. Looks great.
As to updating systems, we love music and the OE radio and especially the dried out speakers were pretty tough on the ears. In 2008 I installed a new Kenwood head unit with CD, USB and Aux inputs. I purchased and soldered a Jeep wiring connector to the Kenwood harness and it was pretty easy to do the install. I replaced the old weather-beaten speakers with four Infinity Kappa 5.25-inch and applied Dynamat Extreme around and behind the speakers. Sounds sensational.
As to trips – well we’ve taken a number of fun rides: To dog shows in Arkansas, Kansas, Texas and other parts of Oklahoma. A family-related trip to New Mexico was a lot of fun. Another long haul about 12 years ago was to Montana for my wife’s family reunion.
On the way home we visited Mt. Rushmore (incredible experience) and, best of all, we stopped at our favorite breeder of Great Pyrenees and picked up two wonderful puppies as our previous Pyrs had passed away of old age. Sadly those two have also passed on and we have two more, the youngest a one-and-a-half-year-old male who now weighs 123 lbs. So the Jeep is definitely his “limo.”
Of course the older Jeeps are truck-like so it’s more noisy and bumpy than today’s sedan-like SUV rides. But this has been a great car and we live in a hilly area of Tulsa so during those few weeks of snow and ice the 4WD is worth every penny and works like a dream to get us safely to and from home.
It’s hard to believe we’ve rolled over 300,000 miles in this Jeep, but with the rare exception of a couple of flat tires and one bad fuel pump, it’s never let us down. That inline six 4.0-liter engine is just about bulletproof.
Here are some photos from the day we turned 300,000 miles. I had a banner made up at Office Depot and took the car to the Jeep dealer where we have the heavy maintenance work done. In the photo, that's me on the left and John Medina - our terrific Service Rep on the right.
Don’t know when we’ll need a new SUV but this one doesn’t have airbags so that’s a major consideration. In the meantime we’re looking forward to many more pleasant miles in this great Jeep!.
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