Category Archives: Repairs

Maintenance Brake

As you can tell by the parts stack above, I’ve got my hands full doing a little brake work this weekend.  After a few drives, I thought I should replace the pads since the brakes were a little light, but since I had no idea when the rotors were done (and they looked a bit worn), I figured I should swap those out too.  And then after looking around the underside of my TJ, I saw a little too much rust for my comfort on the calipers and went ahead with a new set of calipers all around too.  Since I’m not really upgrading, just replacing, these parts aren’t terribly expensive.  At the pace that I wrench, this will deff be a few hours worth of work getting my stopping power back.  I’ll post up some comparison pictures and gripes after the work is done but won’t be doing another write up.  This one applies to TJs too.

What’s that third pedal for?

Things I’ve learned today… Before tossing the keys to your Jeep to anyone, make sure they understand that it’s a manual transmission and how to properly start it.  I tossed my buddy the keys, he put is foot on the brake (the e-brake was on & it was in gear), and proceeded to crank it for all it was worth.  The screeching sound of grinding metal echoed through out my garage.  When everything went silent, she would turn over no more.

My local garage wanted to charge me $400 for parts & labor for a new starter motor.  I sent them to hell and you should too since all it takes to replace the starter on a manual transmission Wrangler TJ is a whopping three bolts and a single clip.  I spent more time repairing the clip (it broke due to corrosion when I attempted to gently remove it) then all the other steps combined.  My local Autozone had a starter in stock for around $100-$120 depending on what coupon you use.  Don’t forget to set the parking brake and leave it in gear before you start working whether you are up on jack stands or sitting on the ground.

First, start by disconnecting the negative terminal on the battery and tuck it aside.  Next, disconnect the power wire from the starter shown in the picture below (it’s a 12 or 13 mm nut I believe) and GENTLY remove the black clip on the right hand side of the starter.  Ignore the other terminal on the starter motor.  The ground is grounded to… well, itself.

Remove the 15mm bolt at the bottom of the starter motor and set it aside (you will reuse this bolt).  I’m pointing to the bolt in the image below.

Next remove the second and final 15mm bolt (set it aside for reuse) holding on the starter. The starter should remove freely.  I’m pointing to the last bolt in the image below.

Here are some glamour shots of an Autozone Durlast starter.  I know, not a very glamorous item, but very necessary.

Ugh, looks like I fished the broken starter from the bottom of a lake!  Makes me wonder what on earth the previous owner did to my poor Jeep.

Re-installation is the exact reverse of removal.  Start by bolting the starter back in place with the two 15 mm bolts you set aside.  Connect the red power wire to the starter motor, and reattach the clip.  This is the part that I dorked up.

The clip (pictured above) is comprised of a plastic housing (top) which contains the metal contacts (center).  I picked up a close enough version (bottom) from Napa & soldered it up.

Unfortunately, that brilliant plan didn’t fit in the plastic clip.  So I stripped it all back apart to start again.  In the end, I took a wire brush to the broken metal clip, soldered the wire to it, popped it back into the original plastic housing and plugged her up.  Finally, finish up by connecting the negative terminal and test your work by turning over the engine.

Autozone Duralast Starter Sound Bite 2006 Wrangler Rubicon

You, rockstar, just saved around $300 vs. going to the shop!  Put that money into some mods instead.  Some armor perhaps?


Damn.  I’m convinced I have more trouble with state inspections than ANYONE I’ve ever met.  I thought certainly a bone stock Jeep could pass with flying colors, but the state ain’t having it!  The TJ failed due to a worn drive belt, rusty exhaust hangers, & readiness sensors not being set.

The drive belt is an easy fix despite the shop wanting $200 (that’s two HUNDRED bloody dollars!) for a $20 part & 5 minutes worth of work.  I sprung for the $30 belt from Autozone (3 year warranty on the belt thank you very much!) and popped it on.

The exhaust I knew was rusted out and was on my ‘to replace list’ anyways, I just didn’t expect to replace it immediately.  I’ve got an exhaust kit shipping to me now that I plan to write about when I swap out later this week.  The only downside is that since this is kind of an emergency (can’t title the Jeep if I can’t pass inspection), I picked up the cheapest kit I could find instead of taking my time to do a bit of research.  I watched a YouTube clip or two of the exhaust note and it didn’t sound bad at all.  Especially for this price point.

As far as the readiness sensors are concerned, I just need to drive it a bit to get those things to set themselves.  Luckily, I already have a Veepeak bluetooth OBD II scan tool & combined with the OBD Fusion app to check the readiness status.  Hopefully this three pronged approach will have me up and running legally by the weekend.  Fingers crossed!

Rust Spots & a Sqeak

This ARB rear bumper/carrier really is the gift that keeps on giving.  Whether it’s an annoying little squeak that’s recently developed or rust spots around the hinge that need to be dealt with.  There’s no shortage of issues that need repair on this lovely part.  Please, please, learn from my mistake and just say No to ARB’s rear bumper/carrier.  This part has been a disappointment since the day I began installation and there are too many fantastic parts to choose from on the market.  My local paint & body guy is working the rust issue as I type, so even if that doesn’t fix the squeak, it’ll at least get it looking rust free again!


I’ve emailed ARB to ask why their powder coating has decided to rust out so early and I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything positive or negative.  With regards to the squeaking, ARB sent me their updated instruction manual which I must say is much improved.  However, it shows a new carrier design so that doesn’t do me a ton of good.  I’m hoping that a little Sil-Glyde will finally quiet that noise.  I’ve already tightened every loose bolt I could find and adjusted the striker plate… What else is left??

Tag! I’m it.


With another wheelin’ trip in the books I’ve managed to keep my streak of vehicular damage umbroken!  This time, I’ve broken off the rear license plate bracket.  I’m just guessing, but I’m fairly certain it happened when I came down off of this rock you see under my rear driver side tire.  The hit was hard enough that the bumper flexed briefly and pushed up on the bracket cracking the OEM plastic.

Initially, I ordered a JKS Spare Tire Mount License Plate Bracket as a replacement but unfortunately, my ARB tire carrier just wouldn’t play nice.  The way the bolt patterns lined up on the carrier and the bracket would have put the license plate at a 90 degree angle from where it’s supposed to be.  Yeah, I could have built some right angle brackets or re-drilled the mounting holes for my bolt pattern buuuuut… No.  The OEM replacement from Omix-Ada was cheap and an easy fix.

For less than $30, I picked up the Omix-Ada 11233.07 License Plate Bracket which was an exact replacement for the OEM bracket.  It didn’t come with any mounting hardware, but luckily I still had the four 7mm bolts so the swap was pretty easy.  The only negative thing I’ll say is that the kit doesn’t include any bolts or the light bulb housing.  It includes the license plate bulb and wiring, but make sure you save/reuse the housing from your OEM unit if you go this route.

As far as things to break go, this was a damn easy one to fix!  4 bolts, 1 clip and it’s looking good as new.