As much as I like the TJ around town, it is completely miserable on long distance drives. The combination of a noisy soft top, gutless engine, and terrible gas mileage makes for exhausting trips. I had been debating selling it and buying something more comfortable, but in the end a truck with more luxury features just means a truck with more things to break. And if nothing else, the Jeep is simple to fix. So I’m left with trying to make it more comfortable.
Starting in ’03, TJs came with a much thicker soft top material that is supposed to be as quiet as a hard top. Unfortunately my soft top was an aftermarket design, so I couldn’t just swap out the skin with a newer one. Luckily I was able to snag a stock soft top frame and a nearly new replacement skin off of craigslist.
It’s spice colored instead of the orignal black, but so far I’m liking the contrast. I haven’t had it out on the highway yet, but just having windows that aren’t hazed over is already an upgrade. The next step is going to be replacing the front upper doors. The windows are either all the way open or all the way closed, and the windblast from fully open windows is exhausting after a few hours on the highway. The solution is either hard doors with roll up windows, or soft upper doors with glass sliders. The first would be quieter, but the second would make it easier to run just the lower half doors when the weather’s nice. It will probably come down to whatever turns up cheap on craigslist.
Another problem with the Jeep is the lack of secure storage. I usually travel with my laptop, which means either dragging it around or taking the risk of losing it if someone breaks in. I had been thinking of bolting in a locking tool box, but thanks to a freebie thrown in by the soft top seller, I ended up with a more elegant solution.
The trunk is made of sheet metal and bolts directly to the tub, so with the tailgate locked it should be reasonably secure. It’s not perfect since it’s awkwardly positioned when the rear seat is removed, but you can’t beat the price.