Hi everyone! My name is George and I live in Estonia, Eastern Europe. I’ve been in love with aviation since childhood. I got my Private Pilot License on my 18th birthday and last winter I studied Air Traffic Control in Germany. I am now employed in the Air Traffic Control Center here and I’m getting prepared for the air traffic controller (ATC) job. ATC’s are people who work in a radar control room or in the so called Tower and primarily make sure that airplanes don’t crash to each other in the air or on the ground. We have to maintain a certain distance and vertical height between every plane and we use modern radar systems to achieve it. We’re talking to pilots via radio and also assisting them with everything we can. It can be a stressful, but also challenging and interesting career. I decided to choose ATC right now instead of airline pilot because I had a very good opportunity to get educated + employed. I’m planning to acquire the commercial pilot license within the next few years.
Cars have always been my interest and I’ve especially adored American cars. One reason is their different style, but I just admire their big dimensions and huge engines. I’m a fan of machines and I think American cars are some of the greatest machines one could buy without being a millionaire. I didn’t have my own car until last Christmas. When I went to Germany in August 2007 I really got the idea in my mind that I now want to buy my own car. Soon I knew it had to be American. It would have been so wrong in my mind to decide otherwise! I was firstly planning to buy it from Germany and I kept looking at the used car sites every day. The very first idea was to get a Chevy Van but then I soon began looking at trucks and SUVs. One of the preferred SUVs was the older Chevy Blazer from the 80’s but I just couldn’t find a good offer. So I began looking at slightly newer vehicles and stopped at Jeeps. At the beginning I became interested in the ZJ (93-98) Grand Cherokee and I then knew that’s the one I want. However, again I couldn’t find anything near my area which would suit my pocket + requirements. I even went to see one 300 km away and it ended up being a really bad condition ’95 5.2 V8 which had all sorts of problems. I figured that there were a lot more Cherokees available and I almost bought one. The day I wanted to meet with the seller he didn’t answer his phone anymore and I decided to pause everything for a moment. I found there were several nice looking Grand Cherokees available in Estonia and I finally ended up buying my Jeep here. I actually bought the very first one I went to see and perhaps it was a mistake but right now I’m really happy I did so.
So, about my Jeep… it’s a white ZJ Grand Cherokee built in 1996 and it’s the Limited version – meaning full accessories. The engine is Chrysler 318 cid (5.2 litre) V8 which produces 158 kW (215 hp) and 410 Nm of torque. The engine has no supercharger; and gets the fuel through multiport injection. At the time of purchase, the Jeep had 217,000 km (134,800 miles) and I was able to check that the odometer has almost certainly not been hacked. The vehicle was originally from an owner in Switzerland but spent a year or so in Denmark. The equipment on it is quite remarkable and I don’t really miss anything. Some of the features include fully electrically controlled seats with memory (also saves mirrors and radio stations), leather, all automatically dimming mirrors, automatic transmission, automatic climate control with A/C, CD and Tape player with 6-CD Changer, Infinity Gold speakers with amplifier, trip computer, heated seats (which don’t work anymore/yet!) and much more. The overall condition looked fine at the time of purchase but then several problems began showing up. There was noise from the rear differential, the electric mirrors didn’t save their positions properly, the A/C lacked coolant, after a cold night the engine just stopped randomly on the road if I let off the gas, and oh finally the transmission was going bad (which I found out 20,000 km later)! And believe it or not, I couldn’t spot any of those problems in the car shop. I guess I was a bit disappointed but I didn’t let any of those problems turn down the enjoyment of having such a nice big Jeep as my first car! I remember that the engine died already when I drove it home from the shop and I even took it back to show what it does. Then I couldn’t make it die anymore and so they just thought there was some debris on the bottom of the tank :) After that I decided to forget about the shop and fix everything what’s wrong with the Jeep, cause it’s mine now.
I managed to drive it a week before going back to Germany again and no guessing here if I took it with me or not. Of course yes! My mate came with his car and we took a ferry to northern Germany. 24 hours after boarding, we arrived late at night. I warmed up the engine on the ship deck and everything seemed just so fine. That was until we had driven off the ship cause after 500 meters (1640 ft) the engine died! Oh boy we were pissed… I could start it up by giving throttle with my foot but it died just as soon as I let off the gas. 650 km (404 miles) of driving ahead, things didn’t look too bright. At the end the engine began keeping its idle again and we decided to start the journey. Everything was quite perfect all the way and I could enjoy the V8 on the Autobahn.
I kept having problems with the idle and although I suspected a bad battery, everyone told me that it can’t affect the idle. Things settled up the day when I couldn’t start the engine at the gas station anymore – not enough power. I immediately bought a new battery and all the idle issues were gone with the wind! The Jeep roared like never before and since then I’ve had no issues with the engine. Evidently, the vehicle’s computer didn’t get enough power and the alternator couldn’t probably work properly because it used most of its resource to try to charge the faulty battery.
Since then, I’ve collected a vast amount of information about this Jeep. Both from own experience but also from manuals and forums, I now have a pretty good understanding of how everything works on it.
I told you the transmission was also bad… Well, there was some noise coming underneath the vehicle almost everytime the gear changed from 1st to 2nd. Also, whenever I took off from halt with a bit more gas, there was a shudder and vibration. I was a bit worried but since nothing went worse through all the months driving in Germany, I didn’t find it necessary to get it fixed right away. Once I finally arrived at home in March this year, the transmission was slipping a lot more than it did before. I had the Jeep driven by a transmission technician and he told me that he should really look into it. After having collected the required funds a few months later, I finally had the transmission overhaul done. The first-second gear clutch assembly was completely messed up and the frictions were even bent! He had to cut the clutch drum open and replace it with a new one. After 5 days in the shop the transmission was fixed and it was one of the best days ever with my Jeep. I had never had the chance to feel it the way it was supposed to be and ofcourse also the acceleration and overall performance improved dramatically. I’ve now been driving happily and the trans. is perfect.
I fixed the power mirrors myself by opening their assemblies and cleaning the memory sensor contacts. Now they’re working quite well. Two bulbs under the dash instruments had gone out and I replaced them. Very recently I had another electrical problem – the rear license plate lamps were flashing on/off. I opened the hatch assembly and found an almost broken wire that powered those lamps. In addition to adding new wiring, I decided to replace the old lamps with Hella LED license plate lights which I carefully fitted into the old lamp housings so that the outside look remains original. Now I have some of the coolest license plate lighting solutions on the streets – at least that’s what people have said :)
In Germany a rear wheel bearing began making some noise and the noise somewhat increased this summer. I don’t know why I didn’t have it replaced right after getting home – I believe I saved money for the transmission repair. Unfortunately I drove too long with the faulty bearing and once I went to service about two months ago, they said that there’s no point in replacing the bearing anymore – the axle shaft was too worn from there and I had to find a new shaft. What a bad day it was – no place in the country to buy a used or affordable axle shaft and the places which could order it, asked around 1400 USD! A great guy from Jeepforum.com helped me out and shipped me a genuine brand new axle shaft from USA for which I paid around 300 USD grand total incl. shipping and taxes. 3 weeks ago the axle was fixed and now I can say the Jeep is more or less in a very good condition. Small things still need repair but at least it drives like it should! I’ve never worried much about the outside look because the paint is very good and after a good wash it always looks as shiny as a white limousine.
The vehicle came out from the factory configured for European roads, hence it had the yellow front turn signal covers and no side marker lights. A good offroad-lover friend of mine had his Jeep brought directly from the States and as he just used the ’93 vehicle for offroading, he didn’t need the white lights with sidemarkers. So we exhanged them and now I have the transparent covers plus yellow sidemarkers. I just love all the yellow lights on American cars so this made me real happy.
V8 fan as I am, I’ve always liked these engines greatly because of the awesome sound they produce. The Harley-Davidson kind of rumble at low RPM and the bassy roar on acceleration. I finally decided to make myself a good gift two months ago and install the new Flowmaster Super 44 muffler. It’s remarkably loud, not even talking about the volume when I really push the pedal, but I really enjoy it. I just wish I could hear more of the outside sound when driving. I try to keep one of the windows open whenever possible but the weather is quite cold now so I have to be happy with what I hear windows closed.
That was my long story about the vehicle I drive and I am happy to assist anyone with the issues that I’ve experienced. I will keep you updated on the well-being of my ZJ.