Why I Chose A Jeep TJ For My Overland Rig

For years, my primary source of fun included going on relaxing cruises in my Honda CRX on some of the winding mountain highways around British Columbia. I’ve always enjoyed road tripping but I’ve noticed an obvious increase in the volume of vehicles travelling many of the routes which I used to consider as somewhat quiet highways. My favorite highways were now becoming a bit tedious to drive, so in 2023 I made a spontaneous decision to replace my very boring daily driver Toyota Camry with a fully off-road capable vehicle. My focus was on smaller SUVs as I needed a vehicle which was not longer than my Camry due to limited parking room, and I found that the short wheelbase of the Jeep Wrangler would probably work out best for my needs. As I also do all of my own mechanic work, I also wanted something that was easy to work on and not full of modern technology just waiting to break and leave me stranded somewhere. The Jeep YJ’s interior was a little too dated for me so I looked specifically for a TJ, and decided that my planned budget would probably allow for a reasonable condition Sport model or something along those lines. I completely threw out my budget when I stumbled across the Jeep I would end up buying.

Enter the Rubicon… I opted to set my vehicle search to include areas within a few hours drive from me as the local listings were fairly limited, and I came across a 2006 Jeep Rubicon about 3 hours from me at a price I considered to be reasonable. Unfortunately it was way over the amount I intended to spend, so I spent a bunch of time doing research on Jeeps to determine if blowing away my budget was a wise move in order to end up with a very strong 4×4. With some of the extremely remote areas I wanted to explore, the thought of potentially breaking a weaker Dana 30/35 was a concern. I often end up places with no cell service, alone. I always carry tools with me for emergency purposes but I had no intention of also carrying an entire spare drivetrain. The LSD rear on the Rubicon was also a feature I very much wanted to have. The front and rear lockers on the Rubicon are also nice to have, though I figured I probably wouldn’t be using them all that much. My only other requirements were having a manual transmission and the 4.0 I6. After considering the likelihood of coming across another Rubicon, especially one in decent condition and reasonably priced, I said to hell with the budget and bought it immediately.


Since I already blew away my budget, I decided I might as well go all in and get my build mostly completed right away. The picture above is the build nearing completion. A previous owner of my Jeep had already installed a body lift, but I knew I wanted to also run a minor suspension lift to help clear the size of tires I wanted to run. One of the things I love about Jeeps is the ability to turn it into whatever type of rig you want. My plan for this Jeep was to have enough clearance to get me to some fun places and have the ability to stop and camp basically anywhere in the wilderness. I also wanted to throw in some extra parts which may help a bit with efficiency and reliability. Here’s a rundown of my Jeep Rubicon as it currently sits:

  • 1″ or so body lift along with motor mount lift, installed by a previous owner
  • Unknown brand exterior frame for mounting a RTT, installed by a previous owner
  • Hella H4 headlight conversion, installed by a previous owner
  • Smittybilt winch, installed by a previous owner
  • 2.5″ Rough Country suspension lift, with additional OME 10mm spacers in rear
  • Rough Country front/rear adjustable track bars
  • Rough Country adjustable control arms
  • Bushwacker flat fender flares
  • BBK performance throttle body and Rough Country air intake
  • 12 hole fuel injectors
  • Pro Comp 15×8 wheels with General Grabber ATx 33×12.5 tires (summer)
  • OEM Rubicon wheels with General Grabber Arctic LT studded tires (winter)
  • VICKEL roof top tent and Power Fist awning
  • Dynomax cat-back exhaust

I’ve also performed a lot of preventative maintenance to ensure reliability. The oil pump drive thing was replaced with the Crown Automotive unit, replaced brakes all around, front wheel bearings and U-joints (rest of them will be done this year but it doesn’t NEED them yet), tie rod ends, exhaust manifold and gasket, transmission mount, new starter and alternator, fluid changes in everything, new hoses and belts all around… There’s probably more which I’ve already forgotten but I don’t necessarily mind throwing new parts at the Jeep as I learn while I perform this work. Since buying this Jeep, the only things which actually failed were the heater core and radiator. Aside from this sort of work, I did drill some additional drain holes into the frame and coated everything with POR15. My frame is in good shape but just want to do what I can to keep it that way.

Am I happy with this rig? Yes, but the gas mileage is taking a brutal hit on my bank account compared to the vehicles I’m used to driving. I’m sure I would have been happy enough with a Toyota SUV of some sort, but getting into the world of Jeeps was something I certainly don’t regret. To see a bit more about my Jeep build as it was happening last year, check out this video (and others on my YouTube channel):