2002 Mountain Montero Build & Repair

I'm about to start work on a 2002 Montero limited I recently purchased through CL.

Before that though, let's get to me and what I was looking for... I moved from Dallas to the mountains in Colorado almost 3 years ago. I'm just under 8500 feet in elevation and west of Boulder. The last 4 miles is all dirt and includes steep switchbacks, bad wash boards, giant holes and depending on weather, can be very windy, snowy (we've seen a 3 footer and several 2 footers the 1st two winters), muddy and slippery when it rains. It also has amazing views and some long drops.

When we moved up here we did it pretty sudden and I had just sold a 2002 Expedition that I would have kept had I known. I only had it for a few years and never drove it out of the city. We moved up here with a 2006 Trailblazer with 180k miles that my wife had been driving since 15k miles. I did no maintenance on it and she took it to a local mechanic for maintenance and any repairs it needed. The transfer case went out on it at the end of our first winter, so we purchased a 2011 Forester, but continued to drive the TB when we can, which was most of the time. We have 235k miles on it now and most of the suspension and steering components are needing replaced and then it started dieing while driving down the mountain on my wife about 4 weeks ago. 1. She wants the Forester as her daily now. 2. I've no desire to put the time or money into fixing her 12 year cold car so I can drive it. So she said I should find something as a daily and to use as I had been the Forester, to explore the unpaved roads and trails of Colorado.

I had a small budget and an idea. My idea was to get a Cherokee XJ, or a older Forester and build something I could go further in and stay gone longer. I started searching CL when I decided to just search all 4x4's. I scrolled a few and saw a two tone 2001 XLS that caught my attention. I remember when the Gen 3 came out and liked the looks of it, that was it. No knowledge of the earlier models, although I loved a neighbors Dodge Raider years ago, just didn't know. So I started looking into the Montero history and was very surprised but impressed with its capabilities and durability. Then I started reading what owners said and it was all positive. That's what I needed to hear. I also have to add I love to be a little different, this place is full of Toyota and Jeeps and Subarus are every where. I wanted something to make mine and the Gen 3 seemed to fit the bill.

The first one I saw had 175k miles on it and they where asking $200 more then what I saw next, a 2002 with 135k. I contacted him, got some basic history and issues, but I was still waiting on money to come in and he didn't want to waste time with someone without money. My wife took a loan out against her 401k and they were delayed, so I was shopping to soon! I let the guy know it was delayed when he asked. He then told me because of my interest he'd hold it for me for 3 days. The check came in the 4th...but he still had it! My wife and I went and checked it out and it drove great. Loved it. Maybe too much, time will tell.

The issue's he told me at that time was the rear ball joints needed to be replaced and that was causing bad wear on the inside back tires, the driver's side was through the rubber. On occasion, the check engine light would come on and indicated the EGR valve needing replaced. The last issue is that after driving 200 miles if he parked uphill it would leak some antifreeze be he wasn't for sure where. If he parked downhill or didn't drive as far it didn't do it.he had replaced some of the lines, saying he thinks he's narrowed it down to one's running into the back heater/ac.

I came home, it was an hour and a half drive, we talked it over and really liked the damn thing. Got home searched the internet, found this page and a couple of others dedicated to Gen 3s and Monteros in general. I looked up the carfax, had decent history, he had bought it from a dealer with 95k. The dealer had replaced the transmission. Changed water pump and belt, plugs and wires and the brakes. He bought it and when it started having alignment issues and took it to a shop and was told the rear ball joints needed to be replaced. I read about the damn camber bolts getting rusted and shops not doing the alignment so I figured that was going to be the issue. I looked up EGR valve issue and saw that even after you change it if you don't clean near inside near it, it can still throw the code and a few people also had issues with aftermarket valves and went to an OEM one and it took care of the code. I did not read anything related to the uphill leak but did about some other issues it might be. We decided to offer $900 less than he was asking. He took $800 less instead.

We drove back the next day with cash. He'd told me he had brand new snow tires if interested but I was tapped out as far as cash goes. He was from India and invited us in for tea with him and his wife. It was g damn cool actually and enjoyed the tea. They even gave us some of the tea with instructions on how to make it like they did. After a bit, the wife called him back into the kitchen and said she liked us and to just give us the other tires, so he threw in a new set of blizzacks! No, I didn't take to a mechanic first, will it bite me in the ass?

So we did the deed, signed the papers, paid the money and headed out. It drove great even with the rear camber off so much. I kept it slow and easy, stopped on the way home at O'Reilly's for some cleaner, air freshener, PB blaster and some marvel mystery oil. I was worried about the back tire so I took the longer route home up the mountain and only the last mile is dirt but that last mile supposedly the steepest county road in the country. Made it to the very top and steam came out from under the hood, temp gauge didn't go up to hot so I kept driving, only lived another 1/2 mile away. When I got home I jumped out and looked for anything leaking and nothing. I stayed out and spritzed the whole interior with a water and vinegar to freshen it and to get the interior windows clean. And still, no drips under cat when I was finished.

Left it at home the next day to get temp tags for it and started looking into what it is going to take to get the back camber bolts off, loosened. The next morning I was up before sunrise to drive it down for the first time and take my first pictures in the mountains with it.

Lol, I'm long-winded! I should have said that at the start. Took longer than I thought so I'll continue later.

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So to continue this story, the day I drove it down for the first time for an amazing sunset, I was run off the road by a few deer on the way home. Yes I know you should just hit those damn things but sometimes they just take you by surprise and you jerk the wheel. Well, I did and there just happened to be a large stump right on the edge of the road before it dropped down several feet. I hit that stump right on passenger side fog light and then inside the right wheel, this launched the front end up a little higher and then dropped down, the stump did some damage but just about any other car I would have bought would have taken much more! I ended up hanging sideways for a bit, the passenger's side tires were down in the dirt and both drivers side tires were a half inch or so off the ground, I was waiting for it to tip at any second before someone passed by and was able to stand on the steps while I climbed out.

The front right side of the bumper is partly gone, not as much as I would have thought though, the fog light is was busted and looks like the metal behind it was bashed in pretty good, it also broke the windshield wiper fluid reservoir that right there. Underneath, it looks like the control arm and steering rack are both going to need to be replaced for sure so that is where I'm starting. After that I'll be working on the rear camber bolts. I just brought it home a couple of days go, started clearing/leveling out space to jack it up, looking up parts/tools I'll need to fix it and preparing myself for the work but climbing under it and spraying all the bolts with PB Blaster. Went ahead and removed the side steps as I'll eventually want to replace with slide rails and it makes it easier to get underneath, took the front skid plate off for not also and got most of the front bumper ready to come off so I can see the damage under it.

I'll be honest I haven't worked on much since my '74 Bronco in the 90's. Don't have many tools and sure not a good workspace but it is what it is. I'm sure I'll be looking for advice once I get started, right now I'm just trying to put together a list of tools/parts I'll need to complete this. Then it's trying to work it all in on a tight budget, took out a $3200 loan, purchased for $2500.

Doesn't look too bad from this angle

My wife was driving home and about **** when she saw me, here you can see how it was actually setting and you can see the big stump right there. It could have been much worse, if I would have rolled over I don't know where I would have stopped rolling... if I had been doing more than 20 I would have for sure rolled.

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Couple pictures underneath.... I don't see the bend in control arm, but the steering rack is leaking on passenger side and the boot is torn on the drives side. Not for sure if it's best to order a rebuilt or used one. I know they're is a pull in pay with a 01 in it that in going to look at and another on ebay from a wreck but it's in good shape, but had 175k miles.

I did notice it looks like A/T cooler was added, or did these come with?

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The A/T cooler is standard, and actually my steering boot is cracked and looks just like that so it may not have been from the incident. I may try to rebuilt mine, or at least replace the seal, I've got to replace a front axle seal anyways..
The A/T cooler is standard, and actually my steering boot is cracked and looks just like that so it may not have been from the incident. I may try to rebuilt mine, or at least replace the seal, I've got to replace a front axle seal anyways..
The passenger side is cracked, the drivers side (I didn't get a picture when I was under there) is broke in half. It's been raining this week and my driveway is dirt so I haven't been able to get back under it yet.

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Glad your okay, that's definitely scary
Thanks and yeah I wasn't too bad until I got out and saw just where I was. That's when it hit me that a little more speed or a few feet further and I would have been testing its abilities to keep me safe for a long roll...

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