Working on my 1998 Jeep Cherokee at home & fixing multiple issues

I am still waiting for the radiator and other parts to arrive. In the meantime, I also need to do some work on my 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider.

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In between all the big jobs, I had time to do some smaller jobs as well. The list is long and goes on and on. Just about the first job I did, when I got the Jeep was to fix two small leaks in the exhaust, sorry no photographs. I just used a bit of this metal band-aid around the exhaust with lots of exhaust paste around it.

At some point in time, I might have to replace sections of the exhaust no doubt. But for the MOT the complete exhaust system from the exhaust manifold at the engine all the way to the tailpipe needs to be free of leaks.

The Cruise Control worked fine. Expect that now and then I had to push the Cruise Control On button a few times. According to the Jeep manual, you can repair these switches, which are mounted on the steering wheel. I never believe those statements, so I disabled the airbags and took the switch out.

I just sprayed electro cleaner into the switch quite liberally. Waited a few minutes and then blew some compressed air through it (gently). Has been working fine ever since!

To be on the safe side I opened up the parafan. You will remember not too long ago the one on the Spider was badly corroded. Did not really show till I took it off. Also, underneath the parafan is where leaves and muck collect, potentially clogging drains and air vents. So off it comes.

I was pleasantly surprised by everything. It was bone dry, with very little rust, only a bit surface roost. Virtually leaf and muck free. So just cleaned it, and dealt with the rust.

In order to remove the parafan you need to take the wipers off. The wipers’ arms were a bit rusty, and the paint had peeled off. So I also took off the wiper at the rear. Cleaned them, dealt with the rust and sprayed them all matt black.

As I already mentioned the indicator stalk /switch was not working properly. I took it out, to see if I could repair it. No luck, so I got myself a new one, that I fitted when I had the dash out a few weeks later.

Getting at this switch is not too difficult, remove a bit of trim around the steering wheel.

When I took the instrumentation pod out earlier, I also opened up the pod. Some of the little instrument backlit bulbs were blown. (There are 18 or so I think). Replaced all of them, for good measure.

The doorsills have these plastic bits of trim on top of them. To prevent you from scratching the paint. I noticed a bit of rust in the paint near the edges of these plastic trim bits. So I took them all off, dealt with the rust, which meant running my steel wire brushes on it, cleaning it, some filler and then spray painting it.

The trim is held in place with the usual plastic trim fastener. I have three boxes full of them, but still not the correct one. Had to get a different type, also with its own little tool.

You might remember, on every car I have, I install a battery quick disconnect. So I installed one on the Jeep too. Very handy when you want to work on the car. No spanner required, you just loosen the green knob a bit.

When Martin did the pre-MOT inspection on the Jeep, one of the items he found that would fail was the left-hand light unit. Its reflector had become very dull. The right one was borderline. I told him I would replace both. So I got two new original Hella units from Edwin at Jeepparts.

On the Jeep, it is very easy to replace these units. That is in theory. You undo some 4-5 bolts and the whole grill panel drops out.

Each unit is held in place with four screws that hold the chrome trim ring.

Of course, half of those screws were rusted solid, the other half just snapped off. So I had to spend quite a bit of time, sorting that out.

This is how the old ones looked on the outside. The inside was less corroded, but only marginally so!

The grill itself had a problem as well. It never aligned well with the right front fender. There was a considerable gap. I investigated and had to use considerable force to whack the inner part of the fender in place by about 8-10mm. Took about an hour and a half before I was happy with the new fit. Not perfect, but a whole lot better than before.

Also, the mounting studs on the grill were in poor form. Rusted and one had snapped off. So I fixed that back on with one of the special kits.

Spend quite a bit of time polishing the chrome rings around the light unit. Of course, with Autosol, your trusted automotive chrome and metal polish. They don’t sell under this name anymore. I still have two tubes of the stuff though!

As I mentioned in my first post on the Jeep, it was pretty filthy on the inside. Family car with three kids. And it showed and I don’t think they were in the habit of cleaning and mucking out their cars. Disgusting, I can’t stand a dirty car. So I had already done a bit of cleaning on the second day I owned the car. Could not stand it. But it needed a proper deep cleaning as far as the carpets and the seat was concerned. I wanted to rent one of these special “wet-carpet-vacuum-machines. They spray special cleaning fluid onto the carpet/seats, and then you hoover it up.

But I needed at least three days of a decent temperature, lots of sun and preferably wind. Although these wet vacuum machines do suck out a lot of moisture, some will always be left. You really need to air out the car for a few days, doors and windows wide open, the sun blasting away and a nice breeze running through the car.

The night before I proceeded to take the rear seat out and put it in the back of the Jeep.

I also undid all the bolts of the passenger seat and two out of the four bolts of the driver seat. The next morning I picked up the wet vacuum machine with one of my other cars. Drove the Jeep out of the garage and reversed it into our drive towards the garden. Which means it is facing south towards the sun. Took all the seats out. You can see the wet vacuum machine behind the Jeep.

A bit bare, but excellent for carpet cleaning.

All the seats out, for easy access and thorough cleaning.

I discovered some rust (no surprise) on the driver seat mounting points. Dealt with the rust and sprayed it with some Hammerite.

Same with the tailgate closure mechanism. Very rusty, not a nice sight when you open the tailgate. So a lot of wire brushing, some filler and a proper Hammerite spray job.

It was very hard work to clean the carpets and the seat. Really back-breaking type of job. I had to go over each and every square millimeter of carpet and seat multiple times. But very pleased with the end result. Bit difficult to tell from these images and I don’t have “before” images. But trust me the inside of this car was really disgusting. I also polished all the plastic trim as well.

I had the Jeep sitting out here for three days, in the sun, and everything opened up. Dried out quite nicely!

You might wonder about the white registration plate. Dutch plates are Yellow. This is a special plate for when I am towing a trailer. Any trailer less than 750 kilogram and with no brakes is what we call an “unlicensed trailer”. It needs to carry a white registration plate with the same registration as the towing vehicle. When you pull a trailer over 750 kilograms with its own brakes, it will come with its own unique (yellow) registration plate.

I am still waiting for the radiator and other parts to arrive. Tomorrow I will take the Jeep to Martin for the annual MOT. He will sort a few things as well.

In the meantime, I also need to do some work on the Spider. In the next 5 weeks, two trips each 5 days or thereabouts are planned. I am likely to be driving about 4000 km or thereabouts. So I need to get the Spider 100% sorted. It is in good nick, obviously, but there are always some things that need doing.

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