Jolene The Jeep

I have this problem. I tend to humanise my vehicles and some people think it’s a bit weird. My logic tells that because a vehicle is such a complicated arrangement of thousands of parts they tend to, after some time, gain a character of sort. I’m not saying they could tell a dirty joke, or be nice to your mom but they have tendencies and quirks.

Our Jeep is no different.


Grand Mannan Ferry

Very shortly after moving to Montreal we knew that escape from the city on a regular basis was essential for our sanity. This city is very dense and I’m not going to lie, quite francophone. The close border beckons for the cultural closeness of our American cousins as does the Quebec countryside for the vastness of the outdoors. A car it was then…

The purchase requirements were:

  • Under $4000
  • Able to sleep in the back
  • Four Wheel Drive

Canada is full of cheapskates. I think there must be a very strong Scottish strain here, so people use this god awful free-ads site (actually owned by Ebay) called Kijiji. I was on it, graphing price to millage ratios of all the vehicles using I can go into that another time, but eventually I had a load of cars at the right point in the curve and went to see them. They were all Subaru Legacy Outbacks. They were all totally fucked. Subaru engines have two cylinder heads and most were blown, some had horrific knocks meaning, pretty much, a new engine. “Er.. yeah, I have to talk to my… er… BYE!”

Middle of Maine

Whilst circling the Subaru plughole I noticed a Jeep Liberty (Cherokee in the UK) in a dodgy dealer lot and couldn’t believe the price. Off home I went to crouch over car forums and look at “top 10 reasons why you should never buy a Jeep” and other alarmist stuff you always come across.
So the crosshairs moved and we ended up with Jolene the Jeep from Joliette, a small town North East of Montreal.

She had 114,000km, looked pretty clean and was mechanically (as far as I could tell at the time) sound.

Bosh. Money down and off I go. WHAT?? You pay sales tax on used cars in Quebec??? WTF?? No wonder there are people driving round in things Fred Flintstone would be ashamed of. Oooh yeah, there is no Government inspection either. Another reason for the mobile scrapyard that is some neighbourhoods. Anyway, I paid the massive tax and got a numberplate. Sorry, ‘licence plate’! Why do N.Americans need to do that to everything? It isn’t even a licence.

If there is one thing I can’t stand in the world is people who have things and don’t use them. SUVs, for instance. All those poor depressed Range Rovers pottering around town with metro sexual, manicured, selfie pouting idiots at the helm. Poor things. They sit on their Suburban roads and driveways dreaming of leaving the tarmac and it never happens.

We went the other way. Bought the cheapest 4×4 we could, threw a load of gear on it and headed to the most dirty and rough places we could.

One of these places necessitated a three hour trip to get 9km up a mountain. Where we slept. A Canadian Tyre foam mattress was the bed. I had constant paranoid dreams that the battery would go flat and I’d have to hike back up the mountain after sourcing a battery from some abandoned logging machinery. It never did happen, but I guess that comes from always looking to park my car on a hill when I was younger and bump starting it by running, pushing the door frame and jumping in. The joys of a manual transmission.

Algonquin Park

Shortly after that we got the ARB roof tent (another Kjiji find) from the outgoing distributer selling at rock bottom. That thing is great. Shove the pillows, lamp and duvet in and drive off into the sunset. When you get somewhere, be it ankle deep water, knee deep snow or glorious beach, you unzip the cover and yank the ladder. It just pops up and you have an instant warm and cosy bedroom. A coleman stove, foldable sink and some plastic dollar store drawers make up the kitchen in the back.

Now I think it’s a great vehicle but I would in no way recommend anyone buy one. They are just too old. I have worked out that we have spent the equivalent in purchase and maintenance over the time we have had Jolene as the lease cost of something like a Toyota Fourunner. Would I have done differently? Well, no. We didn’t have the choice of a new vehicle because we were new arrivals to the country and would have been laughed off the lot. Immigrants, very untrustworthy.
Jolene is running as well as she does because of the massive number of parts that have been changed… here is a non-exhaustive list..

Water pump, rocker cover gaskets, transfer box gasket, battery, Co2 sensors (3), wheel bearings (3), springs (4), crank sensor, shocks, brake callipers (5), brake disks (4), alternator, AC Pump (and the gas that soon leaked out), rocker panels, wheels, snow and dirt tyres.

I gave up replacing the sensors in the exhaust because there are four of them and every time one goes another fails. Oooh and now the speedometer doesn’t work which a caused highly entertaining 140kph full acceleration incident. I should really fix that, only because cruise control is great on super long trips.

A lot of this is down to the truly horrific conditions of Quebec roads and the winters, but I doubt if there are many Liberties on the road that have had that much TLC. You can acutely see this by looking at the way they sit; the springs are all saggy and they bounce over bumps with loud clanks.

Besides this, Jolene has only let me down once when the water pump failed. All other times I noticed the problems before they got too bad.

Now creeping up on 190,000 km I have stopped apologising for the caked mud, rust and random smelly body amor and hidden socks clinging on and into Jolene. It’s now part of her character and always will be, she’s a real SUV that is used as such.




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