There’s a slogan well known among Jeep owners: “It’s a Jeep Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand.”
I didn’t understand, fully, until I sold mine. That was early July 2003. I’d put $2000 worth of work into her the previous winter, and some of the same problems cropped right back up. This isn’t so much a problem with the Wrangler brand so much as it is the problem with putting 25,000 miles on your vehicle every year in sometimes very rough conditions.
I was tired of a Jeep. It would make a great second car, absolutely, but the gas mileage and the discomfort had overwhelmed me. My original plan had been to pay off the Jeep – I would have done that within the year – and then buy a second car, while keeping the Jeep. Sadly, with no savings account and a rush decision to sell, that wasn’t an option. I traded in my Jeep for a sporty Celica, but don’t think I haven’t looked back (not so much in regret for selling as regret as not planning things better so I could’ve bought a new car and kept the Jeep).
I bought my Jeep in June of 1999. She was an SE 4-cyl ’98 with 12,000 miles on her. She was a blueish gray with full steel doors. That was the summer I moved to Towson, and much fun was had with the Jeep. (This guy’s Jeep is the same color as mine).
I can remember me, my roomate Ben, and our friend Mohammed driving back to the apartment from Taco Bell, and Mo kept standing up in the back seat. Refusing to listen to my instructions that he should sit down, I slammed on the brakes and he damn near cracked his chest open on the rollbar. “I’m sitting, I’m sitting …” I can remember being down in Ocean City the week after turning 21, and being too drunk to drive, so sitting in the backseat as my roomie’s sober-friend drove us up Coastal Highway (first and only time I’ve sat in the rear seat).
One of my early goals with the Jeep was to remove the doors. Simple enough, right? Just remove the bolts, and lift. Yeah, but I didn’t have the right tool to get the bolt off – it’s like a $3 wrench, but, eh, what’d I know? Finally, that second summer, I borrowed my neighbors’ tools and got the bolts off. I lifted the doors off the hinges, popped the fuse, and was able to drive with no doors!
I guess you could say that, for a Jeep owner, removing the doors is a right of passage. I tell you what, it makes driving a hell of a fun experience — I remember heading into Phoenix with Allison one day, over the Warren/Merryman’s Mill Road Bridge. The bridge has a grated deck, and she leaned out and looked down and clapped, exclaiming, “This is sooooo cool!”
On the other hand, there were a few instances where I would be caught in the open when it began to rain … with no doors. See, I was at the point where I could get the top up in about twenty-seconds (if I was moving slowly) if I was willing to forgo the side panels (which I usually was). But since I always stored the doors at home … well, I’d usually get a little damp (i.e., soaked).
Tonight, I hope to help this fella get the doors off his Jeep. It’s an amazing and damn near godly experience.