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Old 05-10-2021, 06:51 PM #1
OffKamber OffKamber is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: californai
Posts: 148
OffKamber will become famous soon enough OffKamber will become famous soon enough
OffKamber OffKamber is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: californai
Posts: 148
OffKamber will become famous soon enough OffKamber will become famous soon enough
Most offroad mechanical shops screw you!

This is more of lessons learned/rant with dealing with Offroad shops in general... hopefully some of you can take something away from this...

I got into Jeeps in 2007 when the 4 door came out. Purchased a 4 door Rubicon when I was 21 and living in NY… didn’t even know how to do an oil change at that time. Started going off-roading in PA and NJ and needed to get a lift and 35’s so I can go on harder trails. As I knew nothing, had never held a wrench and youtube wasn’t as active as it is now… I went to an off-road shop in NJ. They were supposed to install a 3” Teraflex lift, 35’s, and spacers. When I picked up the Jeep it drove funky and made rattling noises. I ended up taking the tires off and noticing they used actual barbell weights for “spacers” and things didn’t look right. I ended up finding another shop 2 hours away in PA who had to re-install everything right.

In 2009 I moved to SoCal and started going crazy with off-roading. I learned how to do my own work, install bolt on lift kits, change out axles and so on. I ran most of the Hammer trails, the Rubicon, Fordyce and others tough trails. In 2012 I purchased a house in the middle of my JK rebuild and the JK took a backseat to the house. After sitting in the Garage for 5 years, I figured it was time to learn how to trust a shop to do the work as I will never get to it.

Around 2017 it went to a recommended shop called JeepShack in San Diego/San Marcos. I forget the owners name but he came up to my house with his son, sweet talked like crazy, and took my JK on a trailer with all the parts I had lying around for my build. The build was fairly large and complex and he expected it to take a few months at least. I was OK with that as I was not in a hurry and wanted a better deal. I paid him $5,000 to get on the project.

A year later I visited the shop to see the progress and it looked like almost no progress was made. So we had a talk and he promised it will be done in 3 months. Four months later I visited the shop and it was closed. I called him and he never picked up. He finally texted me that he is going out of business but I can pick up the JK as it’s almost done. We arranged a time for me to pick up and when I arrived it was sitting in the parking lot of the shop… untouched from the last time I saw it and the guy was not anywhere to be found. At least all the parts were still there!

Based on another recommendation I towed the JK to Adventure Offroad in Huntington Beach. I explained the situation and said that I need the clutch fixed, engine cleaned out, ram assist installed, suspension gone through completely and the MOST important thing is to get it to drive straight with no death wobble. The JK was sitting on 40” tires on beadlocks that needed balancing and I was getting crazy death wobble somewhere from the front suspension. Adventure Offroad promised to get everything done.

About a month later I called them and they said the Jeep engine and drivetrain is running great and they will start to work on the suspension next. About two months later they said the suspension is dialed in but I need taller springs… so I approved taller springs. A few weeks later they said the suspension and the steering is done. They said they test drove it at fast speeds and the wobble is gone. I was ecstatic! 7 years later and my Jeep is drivable and headache free! I told them the additional things I wanted to do and figured since they did such a great job, I might as well let them do that additional work as they earned it. Please note that I didn’t bother taking the 1.5 hour drive to verify that it drives great because this is a big shop and I completely trusted them. Adventure Offroad ended up doing a lot of electrical work and some cosmetic work.

Around the time the JK was ready Covid hit and I didn’t have the ability to pick up the JK. I waited a few months and picked it up late 2020. When I came to the shop they said the Jeep is good but I wanted to trailer it anyways… I figured if there are minor issues I will deal with it myself. I paid my bill (ridiculously expensive) and towed the Jeep home.

At home the engine started (great sign) and it drove good for the first few seconds… then at 40 the wobble was still there. I looked underneath and the rear springs they installed were bowed and the suspension didn’t feel right. Now I’m super pissed. I didn’t even want to bother with them again as I didn’t trust them with my Jeep. I’m in over my head and now need to find another shop. So I chose a local shop named Vicious Offroad. No one recommended this shop but it was local so at least I can visit it often and keep an eye out on the progress. I didn’t have much hope so I was already eyeing another local shop when Vicious would give up or screw up…

I spoke to Jeff at Vicious Offroad and I then regained some faith in my JK. It seemed like he may actually know something about something. Two weeks in they did some minor alignment work and checking things out. They fixed the bowed coils and rechecked the suspension/steering. They realized my shocks were at 0 PSI!

After fixing the shocks and still experiencing the issues they took apart the steering and made sure my ball joints and ried racing knuckles were OK… which they were (surprisingly as I installed them myself). They could obviously see the problem so Jeff had a ridiculously creative idea… he installed a winch I had lying around and used the to hold the JK in place as it rolled in the shop to see if the issue can be spotted visually. It didn’t work but it was above and beyond on creative thinking and problem solving.

A few weeks later Jeff took apart the trackbar and Teraflex trackbar bracket and found the problem. The stock bracket which was wrapped around by the Teraflex bracket was cracked at three locations. Such a simple issue that no one was able to visually see. Vicious rewelded the stock bracket and installed a new outer drop bracket. The death wobble was finally gone!!!
We still had some strange driving issues and Jeff ended up plugging a computer into the JK and noticed that the clockspring is off. Fixed that as well. Now it drives as good as a JK with 40’s and a short arm can drive on road (it’s a trailer queen).

When I picked up the JK I was expecting a ridiculous bill as well but figured it would be worth it to just have my JK back! extremely surprised at how little I was charged. This is the first shop I've ever been to that was actually more than fair with their bill and performed above all expectations.

*I just want to say that Adventure Offroad has a good reputation and I don't want to kill it. They probably do good work. But they are a bolt on shop... solely good at adding over the counter upgrades from my experience. They are not the go to shop to tackle issues that are out of the ordinary.


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I also own two 5th Gen 4Runners. One is currently on 34's waiting for Marlin Crawlers suspension kit to go bigger and the other one will be on 34's soon. I have had very similar experiences in the Toyota specific shops. Not going to go on a rant over that as the Jeep rant is better... but I can tell you that RockSolidToys almost got away with stealing nearly 15K from me... luckily I had AMEX. Just saying...
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