My JLU build thread....

chgrec

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Chris
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I restore & modify cars as a hobby (and occasionally a profit). I am just finishing up a VW bus resto-mod but a recent move limits the work I can do on another project.

So my next adventure will be modifications to our new 2021 JL unlimited....It wont require paint or body work, engine rebuilds or even anything that gets my hands dirty but that wont stop me. I figured since I documented my last 2 efforts (of the 64 cars I have owned so far), I'd run a thread here to document my updates & changes.

Who knows, maybe someone will even learn something from me as I have already learned from this site!

It's a 2021 Sport model with nothing more than window tint & nice rubber floor mats. I sold a 2003 TJ that we owned for the last 7 years but that no longer fit our lifestyle...My wife got tired of climbing into the back of the 2 door with the dog when all 4 of us (incl. her 93 y/o mom) headed to the beach so 4 doors was a must.

Really loving it so far... Stay tuned, much more to come!

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chgrec

chgrec

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So my first mod was to add satellite radio to my u-connect 3 5" radio.

We moved to Fernandina Beach FL in April and now only drive about 20 miles per week so we don't both need a commuter car. I have the VW bus (thread in my signature) as a toy and her mom has a 4 door Lincoln so we really don't need another vehicle. And since we both work from home, our trips are only for provisions & to go to the beach! My wife has a Mercedes convertible with Sirius and lots of nice features. The goal is to sell that car and have the Jeep be her (and my) daily driver. I just need to get Jeep comfortable enough for her to give up the luxury car.

Part of that story is satellite radio & Bluetooth integration so can her music. I could have held out for a factory radio with Sirius but this particular Jeep had everything else, the color we wanted, when we wanted it, and at the right price so I figured I'd just add it later.

I found the Vaistech web site that had a small USB based unit for satellite radio 2014+ Dodge/Chrysler/Fiat Satellite Radio Adapter and Tuners (vaistech.com) that integrated with the factory head unit. It comes with the satellite tuner (SXV300) and antenna so it seemed to be what I needed.

I mounted the magnetic antenna on the primary roll bar and routed the wire inside the bar & down the B pillar then under the driver side carpet to the rear of the center console. My plan was to use the console USB port as the input to keep it all out of sight. I was hoping to stash the interface module between the rear console air tubes inside the rear console rear panel but it just wouldn't fit. I ended up putting it under the passenger seat just in front of the rear floor heater vent. Fits perfect there. I removed the USB port from the console and connected it to the interface's USB cable and stashed it out of sight as well. I plugged the hole in the console storage bin with a small end cap I already had.

I had to run constant power from the rear power outlet to the front dash (need more power for other reasons later) for the unit to keep its presets, etc so I setup a small distribution block for it behind the glove box. I had bought one of the cool tech fuse taps Make Front 12v Receptacle "Always On" | 2018+ Jeep Wrangler Forums (JL / JLU) - Rubicon, Sahara, Sport, Unlimited - JLwranglerforums.com for the front 12v power outlet to be battery power but since I needed aux. ignition power there as well, I may not install that....

I did buy 2 of the 12v taps Amazon.com: Royalo 12 Volt Power Adapter Compatible with 18-20 Jeep Wrangler JL & Gladiator JT: Electronics that plug into the back of the power outlets front and back so I didn't have to cut or tap wires. They are so worth it!

The satellite now shows up as iPod 2 so its not as slick as a factory setup but it works well. If you are listening to it when you turn off the Jeep, it will return right back to the satellite channel providing you set the radio to auto play media. It also has a ton of preset spots. I would like to see the font size or spacing adjusted so it doesn't cut off so much of the song title or artist but it's not critical.

While I am happy we now have sat radio again, if I were to do it all again, I might just hold out for a used u-connect with sat, either the 5" or upgrade to a larger one like the 7". Those seem to sell for only a little more than the cost of the add on.

Regardless, the route I went was still a good upgrade at approx. $370 all in and that upgrade is crossed of my to do list!
 
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chgrec

chgrec

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My next mod was a few weeks ago and one of the best so far. When we moved to Florida, we did expect it to be a bit warmer in the winter vs the 40 deg winter we have been having lately. So, the next mod I needed to do was seat heaters. Since I can’t stand being cold or having the top up on a clear day, I have put these in every car I have owed for the last 10-15 years, if they weren’t included from the factory. It is a straightforward process with the biggest effort being that the removal of the seat cover usually requires removal of the seat from the vehicle.

Fortunately, the layout & design of the Jeep seat cover pattern allows for insertion of the seat heater elements without removing the entire seat. Granted the heater pad section doesn’t extend the entire length or height of the seat bottoms and backs but I have done it this way before and found the smaller heated area is more than toasty enough, even for the coldest of nights.

I started with the seat upright. Around the back of the seat, there are a couple of stretchy straps that unhook from below the seat. Folding that up gives you access to the rear flap that is joined to another flap from the front material with a long piece of locking plastic. Separating the two is probably the hardest task in all this. I started at one end widening the upper part enough to get the lower part out then just pulled it along the entire length and it came apart. If you push that flap up through the gap between the bottom seat cushion and the back, you can get to it from the front of the seat. Then recline the seat all the way back and that gives you access to the space between the seat cover & the cushion.

Cut your seat heater element to fit just below the seat back midway pattern and hang the heater power cord to the back side of the seat between the base and back. It takes a bit of sliding and flattening to get the heater pad to lay properly but once done, you can’t tell it’s there. Reverse the process to reconnect the plastic locking strip but don’t hook the stretchy part back yet as you need that off to do the bottom pad heater.

The bottom takes an extra step of removing hog rings but its not hard to do. Once you get the heater pad inserted and flattened out, you don’t need to reattach the hog rings since the rear material attachment under the seat pulls it all tight again.

After running the wires up the side trim to behind the dash I used the cig lighter adapter harness to get 12v “key on” for it’s power supply. And since it’s a sport there is nothing in the lower cubby and that cubby is pretty much useless to me, I remove it and put an ABS panel over the front. Then after trimming the rear half of the cubby off, I had a clean, factory looking place to put the heater switch (and any other switch I will need but more on that later). The biggest difference between aftermarket seat heater brands is the switch. I went with round chrome edge ones to make it consistent with the rest of the factory knobs & switches.
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So one of the cheapest (<$100 seat heater on eBay), easiest to perform (took 2 hours total), and most appreciated add-ons you can do. Especially since we hit 37 degrees right after…And that’s in Florida, which just isn’t right!
 
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chgrec

chgrec

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A simple mod came next, stripes! We don't like looking like a rental and my wife saw a tan one with a white chief strip and she really liked the look.

I tried to find aftermarket chief stripes but could not find any for the JLU, just the JKU. So I bought some 1" & 1/2" black pin striping and made my own "tribute" stripe to the chief look...I think it came out nice and better yet, my wife likes it!
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On to the next mod, the power mytop!
 
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chgrec

chgrec

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The next mod is the best one so far (though a bit pricey), a power convertible top called MyTop (There are several threads about it already). Mine went on a couple of weeks ago.

A couple of observations.
After the initial install, the top is stiff so it doesn't come as close to the header to latch as I would like. Since I am trying to convince my wife to get rid of her current power top convertible car, this has to be easy for her to use. After a couple of weeks with limited use, it has already gotten much better so I am sure it will work out for her.

It also has a headliner. This make the top MUCH quieter than the factory soft top.

The rear visibility with the top down is not bad. It's a little less than when the top is up but really not bad at all.

The "trunk" is still very accessible with the top up or down.

They provide some mechanism covers but I wish there were a couple more as I don't like seeing as much of the mechanism with the top down. I have been trying to figure out how to do that but haven't yet so maybe it can't be done. Not a real issue anyways....

I'll be curious to see how well the side windows hold up over the years of usage. We plan on keeping this jeep until they make me stop driving so I have lots of time to test that out. The plastic is very heavy and I expect it to do well.

I really love my new top and it make lowering the Jeep top as easy any other power top convertible. I expect we will use the top daily even for the short grocery runs as the weather is just starting to get really nice here. That's just hard to do with the factory soft top so to me its well worth it.

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Roy

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Hi! Would love to find out more about install of MyTop. Can we PM on this site or do you need more contact info?

Thanks.

PS- love the Samba conversion; put a BMW 1600 engine in mine in college!
 
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chgrec

chgrec

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Hi! Would love to find out more about install of MyTop. Can we PM on this site or do you need more contact info?

Thanks.

PS- love the Samba conversion; put a BMW 1600 engine in mine in college!
Wedging a water pumper into the back of a bus is pretty ambitious!

I am happy to share any info about the top installation. I became an authorized installer to get the details & docs but I had to prove I had the skills.. They also asked me if I wanted to install them for other folks in my area but I have a day job already so I declined. Shoot me a PM just please be patient, I don't check this site very often these days....
 
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