Cheap Jeep Challenge Ep. 5: Transforming the Wrangler – And Blowing Out the Budget

Some big changes are in store for our cheap Jeep.

A few weeks ago, Roman and Tommy had just purchased this 2002 Jeep Wrangler TJ from its original owner in California. After a 1,000-mile road trip back to Colorado, it was time to make some changes. First, it was about cosmetic changes. After sitting in the California sun for the past 16 years, the black-painted trim looked a bit faded and tired. Tommy went to work with some spray paint, making the Jeep look fresher than ever.

This is what the Jeep looked like when TFL bought it. [Photo: TFLcar]

There was also an issue with actually being able to see in the Jeep, particularly driving over the Ike Gauntlet at night. Purchasing a new set of sealed beam headlamps for about $50 solved that issue. Now, it’s time for some more substantial changes to help turn this cheap Jeep into an even more capable off-roader. While this is the “cheap Jeep” challenge, we may or may not have blown out the budget in that task.

So what did Roman and Tommy do to the Jeep to make it more capable? Those changes included a short arm lift kit courtesy of Teraflex. Next, you need off-road worthy tires. To that end, we installed a set of BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tires. In the end, the kit costs about $915, while the tires cost about $750 per set. Naturally, that figure doesn’t include installation fees for either one.

Cheap Jeep Challenge: Transforming the Jeep (and blowing out the budget)
Here’s what our cheap Jeep looks like now! [Photo: TFLcar]

So, what’s the damage? After spending $6,500 on the Jeep itself, about $1,800 on the lift and tires (if you were to buy them yourself), and a few hundred dollars in other changes, the total comes in a bit under $10,000. Still, not a terrible deal for a capable-looking 2002 Jeep Wrangler TJ.

Just how capable is it? Check back to soon to find out!