Long-term update: 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8
Chrysler knew that their Jeep Grand Cherokee was a cash cow, and went all-out on its 1999 redesign. A lot of work went into this one, including frame engineering inputs from none other than Porsche. The result was a true off-roader with solid-axle front and rear suspension, with acceleration and handling performance that was surprising for such a “simple” setup. Indeed, barring the Wrangler, it was the last of the real Jeeps. Quality problems made it a headache to own, right up till 2002, when most reliability issues were sorted out. But the stigma of “unreliable American cars” forever haunts the Jeep brand, so after extensive research, I decided to pick one of these up last year, when I finally had money to burn on a second car. It has been a year now, and so far, it has been delightfully manageable to own.
So I bought a black 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 Limited in October 2007. Being a GCC-spec Austrian-built version, my research had shown that these non-American ones were more reliable. It was lady-driven, had a stamped service booklet from the dealer, and had already endured 117,500 km of what I assume was 99% on-road driving. That last bit is rather funny, because being the top version, the V8 Limited had the high-tech Quadradrive all-wheel-drive system with low-range, three auto-locking differentials, and skid plates all over the underbelly.
The Jeep had absolutely no problems when we bought it, other than mushy-feeling brakes, a tiny plastic clip broken off one of the sun-visors, and broken rear-bumper reflectors. Another problem was worn-out hood struts, so the bonnet didn’t stay up by itself any more, and had to be held up. The struts for the rear window glass are also busted, so that window doesn’t stay up either when opened. It was also fully serviced recently, and came with nearly new tyres.
Two months later, one power-window cable snapped, which is apparently a common problem with these Jeeps, and the entire power-window assembly needed to be replaced. The Dubai dealer wanted Dhs 1200 just for parts. I picked up brand-new original parts from a Sharjah shop for only Dhs 770, and paid an electrician Dhs 100 to help me install it. I also picked up two new rear-bumper reflectors for Dhs 110, while the dealer wanted Dhs 240.
Another few months passed, and I finally decided to get those hood struts that held up the bonnet. I picked up the new parts from Sharjah again, for Dhs 160, and installed them myself. This thing is just too easy to work on, especially when various instructions are available online.
The battery finally crapped out in the summer of 2008, and it took the Fastrack garage at an Emarat petrol station five tries before they found a battery that would fit. That cost Dhs 230.
It is now October 2008, and I still haven’t changed the oil, having driven only 7000 km in the past one year. Surprisingly, it hasn’t burned any oil or lost any coolant in this time, which used to be a common problem with my old 1990 Mercedes-Benz. But it will go in for service soon, and I’ll see how the dealer handles it.
Original Mileage When Bought: 117,500 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 124,700 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 17.6 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: Dhs 1140
Cost of Latest Maintenance: Dhs 230
Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Bought:: Dhs 1370