Buying a Jeep Rubicon

The Rubicon

“I found a Rubicon for sale online… it’s located here in Gresham… it’s a 2013 model… It already has a roof rack and tent.”

My son has a 2012 model and has been bitten by the upgrade bug. He spends his spare time and cash looking for car parts on the internet. He has developed a fair amount of skill and numerous special tools for working on automobiles. He is working on me to join him. I drive a 1999 Chevy Blazer with 450,000 miles on the odometer… it’s due for replacement. Chevy refers to it as a 4WD, but I think that’s a bit of exaggeration. I want a real 4WD. When I shift to 4WD I want all four tires churning. The Rubicon has all the features I want including a navigation system.

“Where is it?”  I asked.

“Gresham Toyota,” he replied.

I am generally opposed to buying a Jeep from anyone other than an authorized dealer. Automobiles are complicated machinery controlled by complicated computers. Having technicians that are factory trained and using genuine MOPAR parts are an advantage.

We decided to look at the Rubicon.


2013 Jeep Rubicon

At first blink the tires appear huge.   Chances are that neither you nor I can change a tire on this rig. I don’t know about you, but I have trouble climbing into this Jeep. It’s a giant leap for mankind… I need an elevator… retractable steps cost $1,700.

A second blink revealed that the Free-spirit rooftop tent had been removed. The roof rack support remained in place. I wonder about the tent… an $800 value.

The greeters… Sales Associates… rushed out to make initial contact. Friendly folks… we got to know most of the people working at Gresham Toyota while we were bartering for the Jeep.  

The Jeep was priced at high Blue Book.

There were issues… we needed to negotiate.

A walk around revealed the body had about a dozen strange dents… as if it had been a target at a golf ball driving range… or at the mercy of someone with a slingshot loaded with marbles.

The Jeep is not stock; it has been modified with a 4-inch lift… 40 x 13.5-inch tires… no records for who did the work… or whether other elements had been modified too… like steering… braking… differential gears etc.

Suspension and steering appeared to be modified… no clue on the differential gearing.

The jeep travels well but a test drive indicated the speedometer wasn’t matching with GPS… the GPS was about 10 mph faster than the speedometer… the engine was struggling reaching for higher RPM.

The speed difference is significant. According to the Jeep manual If the speedometer is left uncorrected, there can be a major degradation in the performance of the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), transmission shifting, and engine performance. Whoever modified this jeep did not make the speedometer correction for the larger tires.   

Some of the remote controls on the steering wheel do not function.

The cruise controls did not engage.

The navigation system: the splash page lights up but does not progress to a navigation display.

There was just one key for the Jeep. That meant another key is wandering around. I’m at the age where I keep a spare key on a cord around my neck to use when I lock the other key inside the vehicle.

CARFAX wasn’t much help for a maintenance history, but the last entry was a failure to pass a Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) inspection. Living in Oregon with a Multnomah County address means I cannot license the vehicle or transfer the title to my name.

At this moment the Jeep is at an authorized Jeep dealer where the service department is trying to resolve the DEQ issues.

The story will continue to evolve.


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