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A good drive spoiled

I was 100% certain I was buying a manual, 4L, 4wd XJ today.

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Photo: Moi
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Photo: Moi

I got up early this morning to drive 4 hours (technically “ride” 4 hours, with DSM_OR_DIE in one of his multiplicity of Eclipses; thanks Randy!) to western Illinois, to Kewanee, for a mostly clean XJ. Reasonable price, inspection had been done and came back mostly ok, seller was very friendly and helpful. It had one big rust spot, but this is after all a 20+ year old Jeep.

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Say hi Randy
Photo: Moi
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So much for my misplaced confidence.

As soon as I took it out for a spin (after throwing my backpack into the back seat “since I’m definitely going to buy it anyway”, famous last words) I realized there were a few things wrong.

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The mythical unicorn: a manual Insight that shared a parking lot with us
Photo: Moi

The inspector mentioned a misfire. What he didn’t mention is that it was non-stop. Randy correctly guessed there was a problem with the distributor; he took a look and indeed the engine was only firing on 5 cylinders. That’s something we probably could have (rather, he could have) fixed as soon as I bought it, assuming we could find replacement parts in Kewanee.

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The bigger, more uncertain problem was the clutch. Ermagerd.

The pedal was incredibly stiff, and the shifter would simply not go into gear without begging. Absolutely atrocious. I thought my current transmission woes were bad, but this was all but undriveable. The seller and his family just assumed all Jeeps were this bad and put up with it.

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Probably just a clutch replacement. Probably.

And then there was a new squealing noise that popped up after a few minutes of driving; who knows what that was about.

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Anyway, I came to the conclusion that if I drove it 4 hours back home I’d be miserable and regretting my decision the whole way. Sure, I could eventually get on the interstate and die of boredom avoid most shifting, but the misfiring would be an issue, if we couldn’t find the parts we needed.

And nursing it back home just to leave it in a shop for some indefinite period of time to sort out its ailments was unappealing.

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In hindsight, I should have considered buying it, getting the temp tags, and then leaving it there; I could have found a shipper, probably, and retrieved it eventually.

But there were just enough unknowns at the time, and the idea of finding another way to get it back didn’t occur to me, so now I’m thinking maybe it’s just time to settle for an automatic XJ.

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Or a 2009-10 Commander with the v8 engine, if I’m going to settle for an automatic anyway. Less rust, less hoonage.

https://quadcities.craigslist.org/cto/d/kewanee-very-nice-1998-jeep-cherokee-xj/7194042665.html

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But if anyone else wants it, get in line, because I was apparently the first of about 30 people from all over the country who’ve been reaching out.

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