Panic, and problems found.
I don't know about other people, but when I buy a used vehicle, I don't trust it at first and I usually seem to have a panic with it immediately afterward. I certainly did with the F-250 years back, and I did with this one too! In both cases, it really amounted to nothing.
A graphic like this was on the very first Willys civilian Jeeps, and appears
on the current "Willys Edition" vehicles. Had to have one! First thing I did.
What's more American than a guy in a skirt with an M1 Garand rifle standing in front of a Jeep?
Probably should have worn my heels with this picture.
Parade rest - maybe do my nails?
Proud Papa! Never mind the wrinkles in my skirt...
Nope, I wasn't kidding about the heels!
Uh-oh, part deux, although not obvious from this picture.
The dealership claims that nobody noticed the chunk missing out of the front driver's side rim - and they probably didn't because I didn't notice it either, although its right there for me, and anyone else to see in one of the original advertisement pictures as seen on the previous page! But even though I signed the usual purchase contract "As is, where is", etc, etc - they immediately agreed to purchase a replacement rim for me, a week later it came in and it was perfect.
In the meantime, I figured out that the Jeep was both idling too fast, and wouldn't "come down" to what passed for idle (1100 RPM) very quickly, it would stay up at 1800 or so, sometimes higher, for about 2 seconds then float down. A quick Google search revealed this is a very common problem caused by a dirty throttle body.
I had already replaced the FILTHY-dirty air filter, so I tore into the throttle body, which was indeed dirty. Cleaned it up, replaced its gasket, reassembled. No difference. To make a medium length story shorter, the cause was obvious in hindsight, but took some detective work on my part to find and fix.
Referring to the above engine picture, one will notice there are two right angle fittings on the top of the engine's valve cover with hoses attached. The front one provides fresh air into the crankcase, the rear one would be called a "PCV" - Positive Crankcase Ventilation - on most vehicles. Here, its called a "CCV" - Constant Crankcase Ventilation. In both cases, gases stirred up from the oil in the crankcase get sucked into the intake and burned. The two elbows look identical. They are NOT. The front one is a simple elbow, with a 1/2" passage. The rear one has a filler in it, it is only 0.060" (sixty mil) inside diameter. However, someone had replaced the rear elbow with an open type as used on the front. This resulted in way too much air getting into the engine (a vacuum leak), the computer senses this and gives the engine the correct amount of fuel for the amount of air it sees, thus increasing the speed!
I think I know what happened. "Someone" had to replace that back elbow - they are noted for getting brittle and breaking. Probably when the valve cover gasket was changed. The rubber grommet associated with the elbow was nice and pliable, obviously new also. Every auto parts store I checked with did NOT know the difference between the front and rear elbows, and only sell the open style that goes in the front. I had to special order the correct elbow, which fixed the problem very nicely - now the engine idles between 500 and 750 RPM like it should and there's no high RPM lagging. But I certainly can understand how the wrong part ended up being installed, it took some digging on my part to find out the reality of this - making it worse is the fact that the last two years of this iteration of Jeep ('05/'06 TJ), there were a few differences from earlier models and the correct elbow isn't listed by most auto parts sources - confusion all around. So I can't blame the dealership or whomever put it in, a natural mistake. No harm, no foul, all's well. Besides, I learned something and ended up with a clean throttle body out of the deal. The front elbow's grommet was pretty stiff, so I replaced it with the one removed from the rear while I was installing the correct setup in the latter.
So, while this is going on, I took the Jeep to the local "Discount Tire" franchise that had been recommended to me by my sister in law as well as my nephew. They called this one right, I'm very impressed with this outfit. They swapped out the broken rim with the replacement the dealer bought for me and re-balanced the tire - and rotated all 4. The rotation turned into a bit of a thrash - the stock 2 piece lug nuts created rust where rust shouldn't be, and were coming apart! They showed this to me, told me the nuts themselves were still OK if I wanted to use them, but they'd look funky. If I liked, they could replace all of them for $45 with 1 piece nuts that wouldn't do this. $45 for 20 quality lug nuts from a tire shop seemed completely reasonable to me! Later, I later found out the "usual dealer cost" is $40 - so that makes me even happier with Discount Tire. They certainly earned the $5 profit from the difficulty in getting the old lug nuts off in the first place!
To finish up with Discount Tire's story, I took the Mercedes in the next day to have all 5 of its wheels re-balanced, and they really needed it, and the cost was very reasonable. Rides like a cloud now. The day after that, the Jeep ended up going back, because the 4 wheel rotation revealed that the other three wheels also needed rebalancing - and Discount Tire had seen enough of me by then so they rebalanced the three Jeep wheels for free! "You'll be back for bigger tires..." - yep. They won a loyal customer! And yes, the rebalance restored the Jeep's smooth ride.
Now, back to the Jeep. Another long story, but suddenly the cooling system wasn't holding pressure anymore, was using water, and I was convinced I had a heater core leak. Heater cores are cheap enough for this vehicle, putting them in isn't as its a major PITA, involving complete removal of the entire dashboard! This panic happened while I was at the tire shop the first time. I called the dealership all in a panic, and they told me to bring it in...
Short version: The dealership was completely prepared to replace that heater core - which as far as I'm concerned, was above and beyond the call of duty as it didn't have that problem when I bought it (with no warranty). The reality turned out to be a bit different:
New thermostat housing!
The thermostat housing had developed a crack - how? Goddess knows, but I'm told (by others) that its fairly common. In any event, they put a new one on along with a new thermostat (which I would have replaced myself eventually) and a new oil pressure sending unit as well just because I'd seen apparent anomalous oil pressure (which hasn't reoccured since). All done with a smile, and the system now holds pressure again.
So if you're in the Cocoa, Florida area, I'll recommend this dealership. It doesn't look like much, its in a field on the side of the highway surrounded by several decrepit mobile homes that have seen better days. Low overhead for sure!
They are Eon Auto, and I can recommend them without reservation. Their Google reviews back me up on this. There are good guys left in the world, and they're some of them.
Read on for the next part.