Long-term update: 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee facelift

Long-term update: 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee facelift

We’ve been using the 2011 Infiniti QX56 long-termer as our daily driver for the past two months. But if you’re wondering whatever happened to our 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee, it’s still around. Late last summer, we took a trip down to Sharjah and bought parts worth Dhs 1300 or so to make it look new again.

Indeed, our Jeep was starting to look old, because all manufacturers nowadays insist on using stupid plucking plastic headlights that turn yellow in a few years, instead of old-school glass ones. We bought our Jeep four years ago with clear headlights as the previous owner had underground parking. We parked it outside, but that was still okay. Even car-washes at Emarat were fine. Then it only took one trip through an EPPCO automatic car-wash to truly pluck up the headlights. Who knows what soap they use. Avoid them like the plague.

So the headlights had been foggy and yellow for the past two years, both inside and outside, and made worse every time it rained. Detailing only cleaned up the outside. Also, the tail-light bulbs kept coming loose regularly, and the monthly ritual of tightening them was pissing us off. And then the tailgate started falling on our heads because the hydraulic struts were dying.

So after two years of driving blind and battered, we finally took a trip to Sharjah for cheap aftermarket parts. We bought two aftermarket headlights for Dhs 160 each, two aftermarket tail lamps for Dhs 120 each, two unbranded hydraulic struts for the tailgate and two original struts for the rear glass, all for a grand total of around Dhs 1300. Going to the dealer, these would’ve cost us at least three times more.

Now you might be thinking these “fake” parts will crap out quickly. But we saw the awful quality of original Chrysler parts, namely the original bonnet struts we bought three years ago that are already dead again and our old tail-lamps that look like they were assembled using Bangladeshi child labour.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between aftermarket parts and counterfeit parts. Our aftermarket “fake” parts had their own (non-Chrysler) branded boxes but looked just like the original Chrysler “Mopar” originals in quality. Counterfeit parts are ones that try to pass themselves off as originals. Sadly, aftermarket rear-glass struts were not available so we bought originals from the same store. Those were sourced from the Jeep dealer in Abu Dhabi, where parts are cheaper than Dubai. Go figure.

We installed most of the parts ourselves, and paid Dhs 50 to some ghetto garage to install the rest after we got bored and sweaty. Not a bad investment to make a 9-year-old car look new again.

We also went in for a semi-major dealer service in Dubai at around 137,000 km that cost us around Dhs 975. We also asked for the brake fluid and wipers to be changed, which ballooned the cost to Dhs 1400.

We also bought four new Goodyear 245/65 tyres and an alignment for Dhs 3050. These are semi-offroad ones instead of the road-biased Michelins we had before, so they squeal more around tight turns and feel ever-so-slightly bumpier on the road. Ironically, we used the Michelins for the past four years with two nails stuck in one of them. No wonder one of them had a slow leak. It is commendable though that it didn’t burst.

The Saudi-assembled AC Delco battery also crapped out after two years, and we put in a new one for Dhs 460 this January.

So now we have a Jeep that looks fresher with glistening headlights, working tail lights, springy tailgate, safe tyres, new battery and brakes that feel much better.

The only problems left are the sunroof glass that is now jammed due to non-use, and bonnet struts that have crapped out again after only three years. All the “expensive” problems we’ve noted here are all either maintenance items or age-related issues that plague even Japanese cars. Aside from these non-essentials, the Jeep runs perfectly with proper maintenance. We appreciate the lack of major mechanical faults.

Original Mileage When Bought: 117,500 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 140,500 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 17.0 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: Dhs 1350
Cost of Latest Maintenance: Dhs 4910

Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Bought: Dhs 12915

Read all 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 long-term updates

What do you think?



  1. These auto washing stations are real disaster. when I bought my 2011 avalon 2 months ago, I went for the 1000 km free service, they gave me a card for free auto wash in emerate I guess, I thought, if the dealership gave the card, it should be good, I went there and all the outside chrome trims were scratched and damaged, thanks God I had paint protection done to the car before the deleivry so the paint was not effected. so auto car wash … Avoid … Avoid … Avoid

    • Never go to auto washes with brushes. Lots of people complain about getting their cars scratched. Go only for the manual washes.

  2. Hydraulic struts are not going to hold up anything if we park the car under the sun for a while. But over here we do not have another choice.

    • Author

      My 1990 Merc had only one strut to hold up the bonnet, and it was fine after 15 years! Shiny glass headlights too. I wouldn’t expect any of that from even a new Merc with their yellow headlights.

    • My dad’s 1984 model Merc had a mechanical once. Like few other mercs it opened normal height and during oil changes they opened it complete 90 degrees. Even that had clear headlights even after parking for years under the sun. But now these are just customers dreams. No cars are that solid.

  3. Hey mash i l am looking for tail lamps for my 2007 chevy trailblazer.Do you recomend i get both replaced.

    i would really appreciate if you get me the contact details in sharjah for the same.

    I incidentally have the same glass strut problem but they the dealers quoted 260 each .

    • Author

      If you change one, the two may not match. I didn’t have that issue as you can see, my old light didn’t fade, but I needed two anyway. Just go to First Industrial Street, also known as “BMW street” in Sharjah, near Sharjah College. And look for the big logos of different brands on the various shop windows. In your case, look for Chevy logos. I look for Jeep logos.

  4. thanks mash for the info , i was thinking of getting my steering alcantara wrapped and maybe the upper portion of the dashboard as well if the price was right.i sent many enquiries to dk scheiwzer but they never bothered to contact me. i have base option chevy which has the this plasticky steering wheel which keeps slipping of my hand. Would you know of any upholestery guys who you can trust your car with.thanks .

    • I have seen few arabs with vehicles like porsche, land cruiser and nissan patrols get their upholstery done in naif. I think its cheaper there. But don’t if the work is of good quality.

    • Author

      ^That and a couple of places in Sharjah, next to the stadium. Quality is fine. Much cheaper in RAK from what I hear. But Alcantara for the steering wheel is the worst. Burned my hand from friction in C63 AMG and CTS-V.

  5. Thanks you all for the info.

  6. congrats man..
    good looking now, instead of those fogy lights..

    TC and thanks for the report

  7. I recently bought a Grand Cherokee Laredo 2002 model. Need a good mechanic who can give the right advise on its repair and face lift to make it look better. Appreciate if anyone can provide me with contact number of someone who loves to do a good job rather then ripping off customers.

    Thank you
    Nusrat Ghansar

Browse archives

Share This