Our 2007 JK Wrangler Rubicon (aka “JACKAL”) is something that we’ve seen many times driving down the road and we’re sure that you have too…a relatively nice Wrangler JK that isn’t necessarily stock from the visible mods he’s sporting but the look just doesn’t inspire us. The ideas started flowing and none of us could wait to buy this Bad Boy and begin his transformation! We gave him a thorough mechanical inspection and knew that he had good bones, he was what we were looking for to start with, and so we paid the man and took our adopted Jackal to his new home…WranglersDirect.com in North Providence, RI.
- Here’s what “JACKAL” looked like the day we brought him “home”. Not much…just another grey Wrangler Rubicon with black rims and bigger tires. BORING!
2. Again, before I continue, I need to apologize for NOT initially taking many pics! I don’t know what I was thinking…maybe my excitement of transforming this ‘nothing-burger’ into a SOMETHING RUBICON had taken over and I wasn’t thinking straight. Yeah…that’s what happened.
3. Anyway, what we did was start removing the complete interior. Everything inside this Rubicon that could be was removed cleaned and replaced. What a job, its surprising some of the things you find. (note to previous owner. We found that missing sock. The dryer did not eat it. ) Anyway another note… If you have a furry friend that joins you on your rides seat covers are a great investment. Next we removed the stock fenders, they will be available if anyone needs them. Then Removed front and rear bumpers. They were aftermarket but just looking a little aged so we are going to repair them and reuse them on our build.
4. Of course, we also had to remove the console, etc. in order to clean as much of the rest of the interior as we could. The best part was that overall, the interior was in pretty nice shape, all things considered, and will give JACKAL’s new owner much joy!
5. We always perform our EXCLUSIVE WranglersDirect.com “Wrangler Physical” and generate a custom “Vehicle Condition Report” for all of our Wranglers. We inspect over 350 items covering all of the various Wrangler systems, from stem-to-stern and top-to-bottom. We want to know everything that’s wrong with them so that we can address any problems. It’s our goal that when they leave us and they’re given over to a new home, their new owners can enjoy them instead of having to spend more time and money getting them repaired. Remember: At WranglersDirect.com, we treat each of our Wranglers like they are our own personal vehicles and that every new owner becomes a member of our family. JACKAL’s Vehicle Condition Report revealed that the front driveshaft’s rear CV joint had failed and needed our attention. We ordered up a replacement CV joint, installed it, and tested JACKAL to see that she was all better…A-OKAY!
6. JACKAL also appeared to have antifreeze leaking from her nether regions but we couldn’t tell from exactly where, so we put in a few drops of dye, ran her for a while until she came up to temperature, and put him back on the lift to see what the UV flashlight revealed. Just as we suspected, there was a leak at the bottom area of the water pump so we sent out for a new water pump, installed it, topped-off the anti-freeze, and stopped the hemorrhaging.
7. JACKAL had his ‘check engine light’ (CEL) illuminated that turned out to be a bad oxygen sensor on the driver’s side behind the catalytic converter. That’s called the ‘downstream’ O2 sensor in case you’re keeping track. Anyway, once we troubleshot and repaired that, she obviously felt better and snuffed out the CEL for us…good boy, JACKAL!
8. Another pesky issue with JACKAL was that the driver’s door lock got boogered-up somewhere along the way before he got to us. We went to our local MOPAR store and got a new door lock keyed alike to JACKAL’s others so that ‘The One Key Would Unlock Them All’…just a little Lord of the Rings humor thrown in here for fun. Enjoy!
9. While JACKAL was up in the air on the lift, we noticed that his rear coil springs were kinda loose with the rear axle at full-droop. Everyone likes lots of articulation…and we’re no different…but when the coils are too loose they sometimes won’t return to their correct position. That can cause some serious street/trail handling issues. To fix this, we opted to install a shorter set of rear axle limiting straps (about 2” shorter) to keep the coil springs in check without impacting the flexibility of the rear axle too much. It’s a good compromise and if the next owner wants to return JACKAL to her previous, crazy-droopy status, then they can just go 2” longer on the limiting straps (but we DON’T RECOMMEND THAT!).
10. Next came the front anti-sway bar mess. This is QUITE COMMON on Rubicons equipped with the dreaded ‘Automatic Sway Bar System (ASBS)’. Essentially, the front sway bar is a two-piece affair that gets mechanically connected/disconnected by virtue of the combined work of an electric actuator motor and some gears. The next pics show the motor and its connector (all neatly taped up).
11. There’s a switch in the cab that allows the driver to engage/disengage the front sway bar electrically when off-roading at speeds below ~18MPH, or thereabouts. If/when the ASBS is working, it works…but that’s not always the case as history continually proves. Just ask another Rubicon owner. The motors are fated to early deaths by moisture, road debris, electronic failure, etc., and the gears that ultimately join/unjoin the two sway bar halves are prone to corrosion and debris from water/mud infiltration. I could go on and on with more gory details but the Web is full of discussion threads, YouTube videos, pictures, and the rest as to what goes wrong and why. Suffice it to say that JACKAL was no different when it came to his front ASBS.
12. We began by separating the electric motor from the gear assembly just to test whether or not the actuator motor actually worked or not…it didn’t. Bummer…potentially a $1000 bummer…make that a Super Bummer! Next, we pulled the rest of the anti-sway bar from JACKAL and brought it over to the bench for further investigation. When we opened up the gear casing, about a ¼ cup of nasty, rusty, dirty water drained out revealing what we thought we’d find…nasty, rusty, dirty gears and things! Oh, and no grease! We got to cleaning up everything and finding that at least the parts were still good, so we commenced putting everything back together with a generous amount of marine-grade grease to help fend off any future moisture attacks and ensure that all parts moved like they should. It’s worthy to note here that the actuator and gears for this system are very robust, to say the least, and SHOULD always be cleaned up to provide many more years of faithful service…ours was no exception. With everything clean and lubed, the sway bar worked as-designed, save for the dead electric motor/actuator assembly. At WranglersDirect, we don’t promote throwing good money at junk parts and to return JACKAL’s ASBS back to original (i.e., put in more junk OE parts that will also fail) would cost between ~$1000-$1500 and go against our better judgement. To repeat ourselves here, we already told you this system is JUNK and WILL fail at some point during its lifetime. We’re not going to financially burden JACKAL’s next owner with that bill, so we went to EVO Manufacturing for their brilliant solution…the EVO-1087 No Limits Manual Sway Bar Disconnect System for 07-18 Wrangler JK Rubicons. And…to extinguish the annoying, always-on SWAY BAR LIGHT on the dash, we added AEV’s 30406007AG ProCal Module for 07-18 Wrangler JKs.
13. The EVO-1087 takes the place of the junk electric motor/actuator and will permit the new owner to manually disengage/re-engage the front sway bar system according to their choice and be confident knowing that they system will work! The ProCal module interfaces with the onboard computer via the OBDII port and allows the next owner to not only extinguish the Sway Bar Light from the dash (already did that) AS WELL AS perform a host of other computer-controlled functions required when changing axle gearing, tire sizes, and much more. Both of these pieces put together are less than half of what just a new motor assembly costs and roughly two-thirds less than a new ASBS system from MOPAR. NICE!!! Here’s what the ASBS looks like now with the EVO-1087 installed. I also ran a bead of silicone around the face of the housing so that there’d be even more protection against future water/crud/corrosion infiltration…or said another way…from getting the sway bar disconnect inards all boogered-up. That last pic shows where we zip-tied the old wiring harness for the former electric motor to the center brace just underneath the radiator. We double-bagged and taped the connector to shield it from grime/moisture just in case a future owner wants to return the ASBS to original by installing a working motor (but we can’t imagine why!).
14. We’ve become more picture-conscious here at WranglersDirect as we continue working on our Wranglers so we’re hopeful that you’ll get to see more of our good work going forward. We took some time off of other projects and customer work to focus on JACKAL’s front and rear bumpers. Both bumpers came to us in good shape with small areas of surface rust blistering the original bedliner coating. When we removed them originally, we’d removed the scaling and sanded those areas smooth while we awaited figuring out what we wanted to do for their new topcoat. Our friends at Impact Collision Parts in Cumberland, RI, stopped by one day and gave us some of their professional suggestions for what to do with finishing the bumpers. We opted to try out their aerosol-canned “EZ Liner Bedliner and Industrial Strength Coating” product. We liked the SEM Rocketliner product that they’d recommended for RED (our 2003 TJ) but we were looking for a more flat and ‘grittier’ texture…and this product delivered for us. The EZ Liner was simple to apply, gave us options for creating different textures and adjusting the sheen, and had excellent coverage per can. Once they were cured, JACKAL’s bumpers turned out exactly how we envisioned they would…and would be protected from abuse for years to come. See for yourselves…
15. As far as the winch plate and brackets go, we still haven’t decided on their topcoats and have opted to wait for the bumpers to get installed. We’ll make our decision then after we see what it all looks like. We’ll take some pictures and let you know what we decide.
16. Well, as usual, we got WAY more involved in getting JACKAL ready that we totally neglected…wait for it…yep…PICTURES! I guess our issue is that we’re ‘new’ to this multi-media stuff and it really shows. So, WE’RE SORRY AND WILL TRY TO GET BETTER AT DOCUMENTING OUR WORK. Forgive us? Thanks…
17. We did manage to capture some shots of when we put on the new front and rear fenders. These are a low-profile design, made from steel, and have a satin finish similar to a bedliner look and feel. What we improved on was how we attached them…instead of using the factory plastic fasteners or nuts/bolts, we opted to install nutserts so that future owners could take them on/off without having to worry about breaking plastic or getting to the nuts/bolts. The nutserts worked out well for this application and we look forward to using them more and more…they’re really that good.
18. Here are some shots of JACKAL sporting his ‘transformation’. You can see the stark contrast from his ‘before’ and the ‘after’ look and, if you’re like us, we prefer him now. We put on a new grill, off-road lights, gave the wheels a better look, added that sweet hood, and brought JACKAL into the modern day. Those DV8 inner fender wells look pretty sharp and give a nice finished look to the overall appearance of the Wrangler. We also put on new tailgate hinges to better support that big spare tire. Now, we didn’t go over-the-top with doing too much since he’ll ultimately go to a new owner (JACKAL IS FOR SALE!) and, like all Wranglers, become what the new owner wants…not necessarily what WranglersDirect.com wants. We try to keep it real here.
19. Hope you like our work and recognize that what we do here to this and any Wrangler that comes through our doors is to care for it like it’s our own…look for things that aren’t quite right and fix them for a reasonable price. Our goal is to keep Wranglers on the road, the rocks, the woods, and everywhere in between. Hope we see you and your Wrangler soon!