Jeep Wrangler Interior Rehash
Buying a used vehicle always has its pros and cons. For many, the allure of the perceived good deal is often too tempting to pass up. When it comes to the ’97-’06 Jeep Wrangler TJ, you can now pick them up for a fraction of what they were going for just a few years ago. This is partly due to JK prices finally starting to settle.
We picked up this ’97 Wrangler a few months back for a deal, with the understanding that it was in need of some TLC. One of the most obvious areas of age was the interior. Spending most of its life in Southern California, the Wrangler was a pretty exciting East Coast find considering the lack of rust that’s more common for Jeeps in North Carolina. While we were thrilled about a frame and body with a clean bill of health, the inside of the 20-year-old Wrangler was in rough shape.
The interior issues were a mix of cosmetic and safety concerns. Thankfully, it’s a Jeep Wrangler TJ, and replacement parts are plentiful. Here, we’ll show you some of the more common wear points on the TJ and easy (and affordable) ways to fix them.
Despite how often you use your seat belt, we’d venture to guess that it’s probably been a while since you’ve closely examined its condition. Since you can pull the doors and top off the Wrangler (something the previous owner clearly did with frequency), the seat belts can break down due to constant sun exposure. As you can see, our Wrangler’s belts were sun-faded, brittle and tattered.
When it comes to replacement Jeep parts, Omix-ADA is one of the biggest names in the business. Our replacement seat belt kits (SKU 13202.12 and 13202.13) are designed as side-specific replacement belts for the ’97-’02 Wrangler. This setup is a 3-point design, just as what came stock.
The latching portion of the belt is slightly different from stock, so you will need to replace the end at the seat. To do so, you simply unbolt the Torx bolt from the bottom of the seat and use the replacement latch and bracket from Omix.
The new belts attach using the stock hardware. One thing that’s important to note is that the driver-side replacement belt does not come with a hookup for the latch sensor. We modified the wiring so the Jeep thinks the seat belt is always plugged in.
If you opened the door of a Toyota Corolla and found there wasn’t a shred of carpet, you’d likely be pretty shocked. On a Wrangler, it’s not uncommon for the carpet to be long gone. Again, this is another area the Omix-ADA has covered (literally). We picked up the company’s all-black Deluxe Carpet kit crafted specifically for the ’97-’06 TJ.
Omix understands that this carpet is likely going to get wet and dirty. That’s why the company uses a tufted polypropylene carpet, which is designed to be mildew and chemical solvent resistant. One of the things you’ll appreciate about the kit is how complete it is. In fact, it almost hides the fact that the tub’s original color was white. Apparently, someone wanted a yellow Jeep at some point, but didn’t want to pay to spray the inside as well. We call it the "Twinkie TJ."
A few notes on securing the carpet: While Omix provides a spray adhesive to help keep the carpet in place, we wanted to be able to easily remove it for cleaning. To do so, we picked up some 10-pound Velcro strips from our local hardware store. This keeps the carpet in place, while still allowing us to remove it if we need to.
Our final interior addition was a set of Rugged Ridge floor liners. Given that we just put fresh carpet in, we wanted an easy way to keep the floors clean. We’ve had these liners in a few of our Jeeps in the past and always found them easy to clean and very durable.
Minor Investment, Major Upgrade
For the relatively small investment, we made a huge impact in terms of interior quality and safety. By far our most important upgrade is the seat belts, but the carpet and liners make a difference in the sound and heat radiating off of the floor. We got lucky that the Jeep already had some halfway decent seat covers installed; now we can finally turn our attention to some of the more performance-related modifications. Check back soon to see the Twinkie’s continued transformation.