My Jeep Experience History
As I have mentioned in an earlier post I was exposed to Jeeps in the late 1980’s by Erin’s dad my best friend Jim. Jim owned what I believe was a 1979 Jeep CJ-5 or CJ-7 I’m not exactly sure and my memory on the subject changes daily. Jim’s background was also that of a monster truck owner. Prior to the Jeep he owned a lifted Dodge Power Wagon with I believe 44″ tires. It was a true monster truck. When Jim sold the power wagon and bought the jeep he immediately lifted it and added monster tires.
I loved that Jeep and everything about. That experience has left me wanting my own jeep experience for over 30 years and finally in November 2018 the opportunity to buy my dream Jeep presented itself in the form of a 2018 JK Wrangler Unlimited Altitude Edition with almost $9000 miles on it.
My 2018 JK Wrangler Unlimited Altitude Edition
When I set out to buy my dream Jeep I was dead set on a few things:
- My jeep had to be a 4 Door Unlimited model because I needed the space.
- The jeep had to be the “Bright White” color. I was willing to settle on “Firecracker Red” and fortunately I didn’t have to.
- I wanted the Alpine Sound and Navigation System. While the system isn’t anything near audiophile quality it is the best system available from the factory for the JK. I knew if I got anything less I would be ripping out the factory system and replacing it with a system that most likely would not integrate with the Jeep controls. I also know that there are better Alpine systems that can replace the factory Alpine and they are designed to work with the jeep controls.
- Coming from a fully loaded Nissan Murano I wasn’t willing to give up all the creature comforts that spoiled me for two years. I wanted heated leather seats, keyless entry and an alarm system.
Fortunately the “Altitude Edition” gave me the Alpine sound system and all the creature comforts I wanted. I spent two weeks searching several states to find “My Jeep” and on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I put a deposit on a 2018 Wrangler Unlimited JK Altitude Edition
Jeep Upgrades, Accessories and Add-On’s for My 2018 JK Wrangler Unlimited
I knew before I located my Jeep that I was going to upgrade it and make it mine. Being mildly superstitious though, I waited until I had the wrangler in my position before starting to look for ideas on upgrades. You see the thing with Jeep Wranglers is there is practically unlimited options to customizing these vehicles. There are entire industries devoted to aftermarket jeep parts.
In browsing the various jeep forums you quickly realize that there are many variables that affect the path jeep owners take when upgrading there jeeps with aftermarket parts. The first obvious difference is geographical location. The needs of a jeep owner crawling around a Nevada or Arizona desert are much different than Erin who lives in the green mountains of Vermont. Recently I read a comment from a guy in Florida about why he modded he’s jeep the way he did, he simply stated “where I live in Florida we don’t have mountains, hills or boulders in fact we have very few rocks”. To me this speaks to just how adaptable the jeep is to a users needs. Erin’s jeep will never see the desert and scorching 120 temperatures, guys in Nevada and Arizona wont see blizzards, months of snow and prolonged twenty below zero temperatures.
Jeeps are vehicles that have substantial ground clearance and as a result they sit pretty tall. That said they typically look pretty mild and most folks buying jeeps want them a little higher for a more aggressive look. That look is accomplished a few different ways with leveling kits and lift kits. These kits also allow for bigger tires. Depending on your intended use of your jeep your options range from mild to wild with prices to match. It comes down to three things, intended use, budget and personal preference.
Aside from geographical location there is also primary intended use. For some Jeep owners their jeep is not a primary vehicle, it’s a toy or hobby for driving through four foot deep mud puddles why other guys are crawling over rocks to name a few activities. Other folks their Jeep might be their every day driver that rarely goes off road. I fall into this category.
My jeep will also driven by my girl. This means she has to be able to get in it without a ladder. The jeeps ride has to remain somewhat factory like or better. More importantly the Jeep needs to drive effortlessly on the highway. It’s easy to make a Jeep that is “work” to drive at highway speeds. Needing to make constant corrections to stay in a lane on the highway is not wife or girlfriend friendly. Noise, those big monster tires with aggressive treads can be very loud. This too can be female unfriendly as well as tiring on long trips.
Lift kits can be found in different styles and the type you choose should reflect your intended use because the different types are designed to achieve different goals. The guy who wants simply to have larger tires on an everyday driver doesn’t have the same needs as a guy who is crawling over 4 foot boulders
Other handling elements such as cornering and braking can also be affected dramatically by aftermarket jeep upgrades. Again my advice before spending thousands on lift kits, suspensions, wheels and tires , be honest with yourself and do your homework.
My Intended Use
My Wrangler is my daily driver, I spend a lot of time on the highway, My girl will drive my jeep often and unfortunately off roading in Connecticut is minimum and mild by most standards. I describe my jeep as a daily driver but an occasional weekend warrior and thats how I will proceed with my jeep upgrades
My Jeep Upgrades
My intentions at this time are to lift the jeep mostly for appearance sake and to allow for either 33″ or 35″ tires. I would like to either retain the factory ride or even better improve on it. Initially I might opt for what is called a “Leveling Kit” or “Budget Boost” but those are subjects of seperate posts. I also want new wheels. On the exterior I wont do to much other than maybe additional lighting front and rear and probably a new spare tire mount to accommodate the larger and heavier wheels. The interior is where I spend most of my time and I see me adding storage, lighting and some interior dress up and improvements.
Below is the list of what upgrades and add-ons I have done to my jeep. Clicking the links will take you to the referenced post.
My Jeep Wrangler JKU Upgrade Wishlist
Below is a list of planned jeep upgrades and relevant links. Obviously this list is subject to change. Once an upgrade is purchased, installed etc it will be moved to the previous section above. All things being equal I use Amazon for purchases because I get 5% back and free shipping with prime. I also have a dedicated public “Jeep Wishlist” check it out.
- Sill Guards
- Rugged Ridge 13260.02 C3 Cargo Cover with Subwoofer for Jeep Wrangler JKU (4 Door)
- Spare Tire Bracket
- S-TECH 6 Switch Systems
Jeep Wrangler JK Wheels and Tires
- MHT Fuel Offroad Assault D576 Gloss Black & Milled Wheels
- MHT Fuel Offroad Vapor D560 Matte Black Wheels
- Method 106 Beadlock Wheels
- Sota Offroad SSD Black No Ring Wheels
- BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tires
- AEV JK Borah Wheels
- Spare Tire Mount
Jeep Wrangler JK Lighting
- Black Oak Led 4″ Double Row Rear Light Kit
- Rigid Industries SR-M Flush Mount JK Backup Lights
- KC HiLites Led Backup Light Kit C-Series Clear Lights
- ZRoadz Two 6 in. LED Light Bars w/ Rear Window Hinge Mounting Brackets
- J.W. Speaker Model 279 J Series LED Tail Lights
- Rugged Ridge Accessory Brake Light LED Ring
- Crown Automotive Tail Light Wiring Harness
- J.W. Speaker Anti-Flicker Harness
- Vividline LED Reverse Light Replacement
- Genssi 2 x 80W White 3157 3057 High Power LED 12V Brake, Reverse Light
Jeep Wrangler JK Lift Kits & Parts
- AEV 3.5″ DualSport SC Lift Kit for 07-18 Jeep Wrangler JK
- Rare Parts RP29500 Steering Attenuator
Jeep Wrangler JK Engine Modifications
- Jeep JK Pedal Commander PC31 Bluetooth
- Airaid MXP Cold Air Intake
- Airaid 311-132 Air Intake System
- Airraid Throttle Body Spacer 300-637