Thinking of Japanese 4WD ~ Cars and Bikes
Cars and Bikes

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Thinking of Japanese 4WD

After using 1996 YJ Wrangler and 2002 ZJ Grand Cherokee (both with the same 4.0 ltr I-6 gasoline engines) for more than 4 years in Indonesia, I’m started to think for buying a Japanese Diesel 4x4. FYI, due to government regulation for big engine and 4x4 car, Jeep price in Indonesia is almost the same as a luxurious Mercedes C or E class.

I‘m happy with the Jeep products, the exterior style are so beautiful, especially the YJ Wrangler is so sexy with its canvas top. It is easy to buy a modification parts especially for the Wrangler. Bumper, winch, additional light, roof rack etc, just name it, all available in many shop like, ARB or quadratec. They will send you a bundle of thick catalogues for free, and after that just watch your wallet, it will drained easily. And my wife regularly contact my mobile phone because I spent to much time in workshop for modification both jeeps.

Interior. Don’t ask, its really WW II style for the Wrangler, the steering wheel looks like a 1957 caldillac. Power window? No way, I still can’t believe that this 1996 wrangler have no power window. Sitting on rear sit? It is a nightmare, even my 7 years old daughter complaining, no head rest, bumpy, noisy and feel like trapped in a cage. Baggage capacity? Very limited, but who cares? It’s a Wrangler, you even don’t need a wearing a cloth while drive it. The ZJ Grand Caddy its much better, this is a real full size SUV, very comfortable cushion, good quality steering wheel, and of course a power window. A rear baggage is small, ¼ of capacity is used for spare tire.

Engine. The 4.0 ltr in-line 6 engine really a bullet proof, both cars using the same engine. No complain about it, its old but strong. 190 hp and around 300 nm torque its enough to haul its body. However, the electrical system is not as strong as the engine, torn wire, melted wire cover, excessive battery consumption, but its normal for 11 and 7 years old vehicles. Fuel consumption is not the part of discussion, it’s a Jeep anyway, it would not more than 20 mpg, 16-18 mpg is normal for daily use. With a good maintenance I never have an overheat experienced. The spare parts its quite expensive but tolerable.

Suspension and Driving Experience. A solid axle, strong transfer case made the Jeep suspension very reliable and strong. However its not comfortable, bumpy and lack of steering precision at Wrangler and excessive body roll at Grand Cherokee. Death wobble is a nightmare. But again, it is a Jeep anyway.

Why thinking Japanese 4WD? By time both jeeps started have a minor problem, not big but start make me worry especially for long journey. The workshop is limited in Indonesia, the fuel quality is poor. It is better to use a diesel engine than a gasoline one. And Japanese car workshop are plenty, the old diesel engine (not the high tech common rail diesel) is not too reluctance with poor fuel quality as long as we maintain the quality of fuel filter. What kind of car? Toyota 70 wagon series is the best workhorse, alternately I can choose Toyota 80 series, Mitsubishi Pajero or several Japanese double cab from Nissan, Isuzu or Mitsubishi.

Jeep would not give up. I will take my Grand ZJ for long trip next week, its almost cover 3000 km. Hopefully my grand caddy will performed normally. All of the Japanese can’t compare to this Jeep, I would not let my ZJ surrender.
UPDATE ...12 january 2008,
I completed my 2600km journey yesterday, it did within 5 days. The Grand ZJ have a problem at the biggining of the trip. Firts, it lost its power in high rpm, I suspect cause of poor fuel quality. So I refuelling the tank with higher octane gasoline (RON 92), in Indonesia this kind of fuel is 50% more expensive than the regular premium (RON 88). However the the RON 92 fuel is cleaner, lead free. The good quality RON 88 only available around Jakarta. The lost power problem never came after I changed the fuel. Second, transmission problem after 4-5 hrs driving, it happen when the transmission become very hot. So, I took a short rest after 3-4 hrs driving for cooling down the transmission oil. I have plan to change the original transmission oil cooler with a bigger one, to keep the transmission oil in normal working temprature. The rest is no problem, The Grand Cherokee ZJ still comfort and capable for long distance trip.

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