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  • Writer's pictureFrank Oles

2000 Jeep Cherokee

The hand-me-down Jeep - The story begins...

There are some vehicles that are destined to lead a pampered life - parked in garaged, buffed with non-scratching microfiber towels, and never exposed to salt, rain or harsh sunlight. And then there are the everyday hacks that are neglected, abused, never washed, and then CURSED when they do not start on the first crank. Can you guess which camp this fine vehicle fits in?

My sister was the second owner of this vehicle. She liked the image of Jeeps - tough, rugged, reliable and 4 wheel drive. She purchased this 2000 model Cheep Cherokee Classic (it's called an XJ if you're in the know) off the used car lot at a Chrysler dealership in nice condition and then proceeded to drive it into the ground. It's kind of a drab color, grey, and every time I see one on the road, 9 times out of 10 they are painted the same color. This vehicle is an outside dog - raised in the brutal harshness of the Midwest, soldiering through 100 degree humid summers and frigid salty winters. So it has character. Bags of it.

Theresa was rear-ended in traffic, and the vehicle was repaired. Then she rear-ended someone else, and that was not repaired. Instead, she passed it along to my father. My dad drove it for a few years without incident. Until he stopped driving it and it sat. And then he passed it on to me. By the time I got my hands on it, it was looking a bit rough around the edges. Time to start breathing some life back into it. This might be my most challenging project to date. But hey - free car!

The 4.0 liter AMC Jeep engine is pretty bulletproof. At first blush, the engine compartment doesn’t look too bad. At least the oil has been changed regularly. But it does have a penchant for leaky valve cover gaskets. And leaving nice, black puddles of goo in my driveway. Fuck it. I don't live in on the North Shore.

A common problem that plagues most vehicles from the 90s - faded black plastic bumpers. This might not be to hard to remedy.

This is going to be harder to fix. When my sister had it, the Jeep had a cracked windshield. My father replaced it, but they did a crappy job sealing it. Not it leaks. And the rubber gasket surround is all dried out and shrunk. So I'm going to have to pull the windshield back out, sandblast the rust away, and then re-install. That will happen. Maybe...

Little fender bump in the front. She ain't pretty. But she is fearless in a parking lot.

Grey Interior. Not much to get excited about here. Creaky noises abound. It actually smells OK inside... unless you turn the AC on. I guess that's why God invented windows that roll down. Fixing this vehicle up will be a long road. But hey - free car!

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