The hedge Jeep birthday present has progressed nicely since we released it from its Shropshire bushy prison.
Having initially unlocked with the remote and fired up no problem in the hedge, the old jeep was now running for 10 seconds and stalling. Two seconds of googling revealed this to be a common issue, due to the most annoying feature of 90s cars, the invention of ECU based immobilisers. We read many a tale of woe about months of immobiliser problems and expensive trips to Jeep dealers. Eventually while I sat sulking about the problem in the Jeep making my own engine noises and pretending to be driving off road, I noticed the immobiliser light wasn’t flashing. A little research told me it should flash when active. 10 minutes of ripping out bits of interior, playing hunt the immobiliser module, followed by a bit of probing with a voltmeter revealed the “RKE interface” to be at fault. It transpires that this little unit was OEM fitment when Jeeps arrived in the UK and the RKE interface connects the American Remote Keyless Entry system to a UK alarm/immobiliser unit. The one on our Jeep had rusted out. I simply cut the connectors and soldered the wires together, turned the key and the mighty diesel fired into life, puffed out some black smoke and ticked over perfectly.
Now it actually ran, we were fed up of being attacked by the cast of Bug’s life every time we went near the sorry looking jeep. It was cleaning time. A good wash and a thorough scrub of the interior made a huge difference. The odd spider still crawls out to say hello but the paint and interior for a 160000 mile, 20 year old car are a credit to Jeeps build quality.
With the Jeep clean we turned our attention to getting it MOT ready. Rust was my biggest fear, but surprisingly we only found a small hole in the rear arch and a rusted cover for the fuel filler hose. A liberal covering of underseal and we were on to the mechanical repairs. The front brakes were seized solid. These old jeeps use ceramic pistons in the calipers, unfortunately this clever bit of design makes them extremely prone to seizing. New calipers, discs and pads were fitted and to my surprise only required some mild hammering to get the discs off. In fact more hammering was required to remove the rusty steel wheels. One wheel had rusted so much it no longer held.
Finally we replaced one driveshaft, a steering damper and treated it to some new engine oil and filter. MOT here we come. As with our Nissan Silvia the maiden voyage was to the MOT garage. To start with there was a lot of smoke and the old diesel Jeep was fairly gutless. I guessed blowing 8 years of soot and rust out the exhaust would slow it up a bit. A little bit of lead foot servicing and we were back with full power.
Having driven the 4 litre straight 6 version and read many forum posts complaining about the diesel performance I was concerned of being disappointed by the diesel Jeep. Fortunately, compared to our old Freelander, the performance was pretty good. The diesel engine’s 300N.m of torque at 2000rpm makes up for its lack of outright power, couple that with the MPG readings close to 30 compared to the petrol’s 15 (on a good day) and I remained impressed with diesel Jeep. If I didn’t need it as a work horse I would choose the petrol engine with LPG, but for the convenience and running cost saving the diesel is perfect.
Jeepey sailed through the MOT. As pleased as punch we popped out for a drive a few days later and promptly suffered from a failed radiator and heater matrix. The heater matrix was a long job, not difficult, just so many screws to get the dash out. The old matrix and radiator were well past their prime and with a good flush out of the cooling system and a new water pump our little Jeep was ready to fight another day.