It’s true. Divorce is difficult, heartbreaking, life-changing, expensive. But sometimes, well, it’s just the right thing to do. The relationship has broken down. Trust. Oh, trust. When that’s no longer present, everything else just doesn’t seem to matter anymore. On this day I must reveal I’ve completed the process. I’m OK. Don’t worry. It was my choice and I’m totally good with it. You see, the breakup was years in the making.
We first got together in 2000 when I decided to move on from a previous relationship because I knew I could do better. Was I selfish? Not at all. I dreamed of soft leather caressing my bottom, plus I needed the cargo space and 4×4 ability.
Yes, that 2000 Patriot Blue Jeep Grand Cherokee was my first. We were together for six glorious years. I loaded my first kayak on her roof and rejoiced in checking its status through the moonroof glass. Ah…the boat was still secure. Awesome. Let’s go paddle off a dirt road the Grand Cherokee would have no problem negotiating. But then things took a turn. At 141,000 miles my wife and I smelled smoke coming from the hood as we waited in the customs line to enter Canada from the Ambassador Bridge. The smoke became heavier, my wife considered bailing out for fear the engine would explode. We managed to limp through the line just long enough to clear customs and then, well, she died. It took a tow truck to haul our blue, burnt-out baby back across the border and then another 26 miles to the dealer where mechanics who appeared to have had deep, deep experience, as deep fry cooks said they had patched her back together and charged me $2,000.
A few months later we attempted another border crossing from Ontario into New York State at Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls!!! Yes, our hot-blooded Grand Cherokee repeated the act she pulled the last time we attempted an international crossing. Smoke, heat. But I was able to coax the bitch the last 70 miles of our trip by repeatedly pulling to the side, letter her cool and adding anti-freeze. I was patient. Every relationship has its tough periods.
But how could she do this to us? We took loving care of her, changed her oil regularly, had her regularly inspected, but no good. It was time to end the relationship. I steered her into the nearest Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership in suburban Rochester, N.Y. and told the salesman I wanted to trade her in for another Jeep. He couldn’t understand why I just didn’t wait until I returned to Michigan, but I told him my mother-in-law had bought a car at his dealership and was happy, so maybe slip her 50 bucks for a referral fee. Uh..ok. so I drove off with a new silver 2006 Jeep Commander. Jeep love was again in bloom.
Yes, yes, I know, the Commander did not have a successful run but I loved the damned beast. In six years it never disappointed me, except for the fact I got about half a mile to the gallon. When fuel prices rose, it was time for another difficult breakup. But I remained loyal to the Jeep brand. Why? For one, I always dug Jeeps. For two, I worked for the carmaker that built Jeeps for almost 11 years and I got a hefty employee discount. That’s also why I bought my wife a 2009 Jeep Patriot. You see, we were in a very happy three-way. Jeep, my wife and I.
I traded the Commander in for a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Moab Edition. Totally cool. Gave and got the “Jeep Wave” and received plenty of compliments on the black beauty.
Meanwhile, my wife’s Patriot broke down and it took $2,000 to have it fixed. A few days after paying the ransom at the dealer, my wife reported a funny noise. Back to the dealer. I was told it needed another $2,200 in work. I told him to forget it. That’s when the first move towards divorce occurred. We traded in the Jeep Patriot for, well, something from a competitor. Now there was just one Jeep vehicle in our garage.
Now, only four months since that day, I was on my way home from playing hockey, 25 miles from my house. I heard a whining sound, then the gears stopped meshing and I smelled burning. It was the Wrangler’s last rodeo. Another Jeep. Another tow truck. Another big bill. This time several grand for a new transmission. It was time for the ultimate breakup.
Jeep. You and I are through after a 19 year relationship. The trust. It just isn’t there. I just can’t depend on you anymore. I tried. Damn..I tried! I stuck with you through four models and only one of you actually gave me little trouble. The one you discontinued! My loyalty was not repaid with dependability. You took it for granted. Yes, you look incredible and can drive over and through almost anything…but only for awhile..and then..well..you can’t…won’t. It’s time to move on…under my next vehicle’s own power.
I guess all along it was a Jeep thing. I understood it. Lived it. Loved it. But I could no longer afford it. I’m just happy we were able to settle out of court. I paid that final exorbitant repair bill. My ex-Jeeps got to keep all the parts and service. I got to keep, and use, their incredible trade-in value.
Yes..they say divorce is all about moving on. I look forward to it…without a tow truck.
I hate waking up to idiocy, but today I did. It was a story in the Detroit Free Press discussing so-called “death wobble” in Jeep Wranglers. The story is based on testimonials from some Wrangler owners that if you hit a bump at a high speed the steering wheel will shake. At least the story correctly explains the Wrangler has a solid front axle which is less forgiving than the independent front suspension. The Wrangler is equipped with such an axle because the Wrangler is designed to be a superior off-road vehicle and solid axles perform better than independent front suspensions when a vehicle is taken off road.
What the story doesn’t talk about is the fact that many Wrangler owners should not own one. So I’ll do that. Oh, thousands of folks aspire to a Wrangler because they look cool and when you pass one on the road the driver will often give you a little wave. What anyone who covets a Wrangler must do before buying one is drive one and know it does not, and is not designed to, provide a cushy, comfortable ride. I know. I own a 2013 Wrangler Unlimited Moab Edition. Some members of my family called it the “back breaker,” while others have dubbed it the “jaw rattler.” When I pull up to give them a ride, you can see their faces drop knowing they will be experiencing a journey destined to churn their insides and maybe loosen the change from their pockets. I’ve made a few bucks from all the quarters I find under the back seat!
“Why? Oh why did you buy this shaky buggy?” I’m asked. It’s easy. I like to drive where I like to drive and obstacles, rutted dirt roads and remote two-tracks amuse me. My kayaks look cool when I pop them on top and my skis and hockey gear fit nicely in the back and I can take them wherever the hell I want. I don’t care much about shiny vehicles. I do like to have fun, and mud on the fenders and gook in the tires are evidence I just had some. Floating on air is not my style. I like to feel the road.
I knew this going in. This is my fourth Jeep, but my first Wrangler and the only one I consider an actual Jeep. I drove one around for many miles and the more bumps and dips I felt the bigger my smile got. That Wrangler has more rock and roll than Cleveland and as much soul as Motown.
So if you’re looking for a smooth, comfortable ride, do me a favor. Don’t buy a Wrangler. Let it sit on the lot waiting for someone who appreciates what it is and what it isn’t. Death wobble? Ha! That’s the Wrangler saying “let’s have some fun!”