Buying a new Jeep

Buying my new 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Recon JKU

This is now my third jeep!  

My 2013 JKU Sport was at the point in the build where I needed to upgrade the front axle from a Dana 30 to at least a Dana 44.  I also needed to re-gear both the front and rear axle ratio from 3:73 to a lower of 4:10 or 4:56… and install lockers.  I had a few options: 1) Keep the Dana 30 up front and Truss and Gusset it, or 2.) Keep my rear Dana 44 and just re-gear and install lockers.  Keeping the Dana 30 did not seem to be very smart and the cost savings was not that much.  So, I built a spreadsheet outlining my costs.  New axel up front?  Keep the rear or get two new axles?  Keeping the rear had advantages and disadvantages – all that I was keeping in the rear was axle tube and shafts as I was installing a locker and new gears.  I finally came to the conclusion that I would just get a set of ProRock Dana 44’s for the front and rear.  The cost of that was going to be around $10,000!  The cost of buying two new axles and just swapping them out and running the locker companies was easier than working with the existing Dana 44.

This is when after playing around on I found that Jeep had a Recon edition for 2017 and 2018 Rubicon editions.  One difference with this Rubicon trim level was a few extra interior stitching and red accent; however, the big difference was steel front and rear bumpers and the front Dana 44 axle tube was ‘beefier’!  Now for that personal touch… I have owned three black cars in my life and apart from being bored with that color, I have found that a black vehicle does not photograph well in the mountains or desert environments.  It’s really a matter of personal opinion and preference.

I first started a spreadsheet of all the Recons in the area, from as far east as Philadelphia/Washington, D.C. to as far west as Chicago – both roughly a day drive from northeast Ohio.  After finding everything I wanted in trim levels (Navigation, Alpine Sound, Hard/soft top, gear ratio, and tow package), I narrowed down my search to a few specific VIN’s.  One big factor in getting a new Jeep was the fact that I either had to sell my current 2013 JKU privately for a decent price or get an above fair price for trade.  I was very lucky that a dealer west of Pittsburgh was an American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) dealer and I had an AEV lift/suspension on that helped seal the deal.  I was able to negotiate a great deal over the phone on both the new Jeep and trade value for my Jeep.  Now it was crunch time.  I had about 16 hours, including sleeping and driving (to Pittsburgh) to remove as much off the 2013 Jeep to get it back to stock: I removed the bumpers, all the electrical (lights, switches, switch panels, etc.), and many boxes of upgraded items.  The only things that I could not remove were the two 1310 Adams Drive Shafts.  I was very unhappy and kept trying to figure how I could get them onto my new Jeep?  But I had to accept that when you modify a Jeep you just can’t bring it fully back to stock when you sell it.

But, overall this Jeep was a very pleasant experience and working over the phone was easy compared to sitting at a dealership, going back-and-fourth, dealing away the hours. I was very happy to work with Hillview Motors in Greensberg, PA.

Over the corse of the next blogs, I will detail my build process.  Stay tuned!

Published by Expedition Team. Overland

As a Boy Scout Eagle Scout, camping, camp fires and maps have always been a passion. After getting my professional carrier established as a Boeing 737 Captain for a Major US Airline, I was able to get back to my routes of playing in the woods, mud and building things. I got my first Jeep in 2012. It was a 2002 Jeep Wrangler TJ, I did not modify it, and it had many mechanical problems, as I was a novice, and not mechanical, I sold it for a new 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited. In 2014 I installed an American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) 2.5" lift with Kelly Safari 35" tires. In 2015 I continued my build with AEV front and rear bumpers, snorkel, skid plates, and off road lights. Up until now, I did off-roading at the local Southington Off Road Park, Rausch Creek in Pennsylvania, and Badlands Park in Indiana. was an outstanding resource and I was able to make life-long friendship. In 2015 I did my first big trip with the jeep, first we stopped in Ouray, Colorado. We had two days of trails and did Imogene & Engineer Passes. I left part of myself in the San Juan Mountains and my want to return has been strong since. After Ouray, we went to Moab, Utah for Jeep Jamboree. Moab is "Jeepers Paradise". Endless miles of trails, from dirt roads to the most extreme, Moab offers endless possibilities for the Jeeper, hiker, mountain biker, everyone. Since 2015 I have returned to Moab in 2017 & 2019. In 2018, I traded in my 2013 JKU Sport for a 2018 JKU Rubicon Recon. I did this drastic move, because I was at the point in my build where I needed to upgrade my axels. I made the very difficult decision and striped as much as I could from my 2013 Jeep to move to the new jeep, as they were both the same style of jeeps; JKU's. I spent the spring and summer of 2018 to build my jeep. I once again installed an AEV 3.5" lift, 35" BFGoodrich KO2's and AEV front and rear bumpers. With this build I wanted to move from the "Rock Crawler" to an Overland build. I can still do all the difficult trail of Moab, Rubicon Trail, but also the fire roads and cover many miles full of camping and off road gear. With Overlanding in mind, I have build a cargo platform for my ARB 50q Fridge, and specific loading of the camping gear. Where is the Future? Buying an Earth Roamer and exploring as much of the country as possible? Thats a goal, but I hope in the coming years to get a roof rack, roof top tent, and then doing more Expeditions though Appalachian, Rocky Mountains, desert of New Mexico and Arizona, and the National Parks west of the Rocky Mountains.

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