AutoVloggin’ – Project Decisions and a Visit to CSF Radiators

So, it’s decision time and we’re driving to CSF Radiators to get a replacement for the 2000 Nissan Pathfinder

So, after a dismal showing on YouTube with 35 views at the time of writing this and only four votes (a total of 11-percent of views, about 0.26-percent of subscribers, and 200-percent of Patreon Supporters), I’ve decided to call it and make my own decision. Honestly, I half expected this and it’s not a slight against you, my readers and viewers. It’s not a bad response, it’s just not one I feel is representative of what should be called when it comes to a vote. So, here is my decision.



I will not be selling the Pathfinder but it will not become the 4WD Student project to be called “Project Craig”. Instead, it’s just going to be a daily driver to get me from point-to-point when 4WD isn’t needed. It will make several appearances, though, as I will use it in videos about maintenance and repair. That’s the reason why I went ahead and got a radiator from CSF Radiators in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. The radiator I got is an OE-style aftermarket replacement, like what you can get at your local auto parts store. I’m looking at getting other companies involved to get parts and produce these videos, but I might end up just buying the parts anyhow. The list is: spark plugs, wires, distributor cap, rotor button, intake plenum gasket, valve cover gaskets, water pump, radiator hoses, timing belt with adjuster, and fluids. About a weekend’s worth of parts and repair.

Project Craig

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

So, that means I need to find a vehicle to begin “Project Craig”. I’m looking at going with either a Ford Explorer (1st or 2nd Generation) or a ZJ-chassis Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Explorer works for me because I have experience with Fords – I got my start at a Ford Dealership when I was 16 while in High School. Explorer parts can be cheap and a 5.0-liter swap isn’t that far away, either. If I get the 1st Gen I also get a Twin-Traction Beam front end with the Dana 35-based axle which can be upgraded later to the Dana 44-based axle from a Bronco or a F150 4WD. There are full kits for the swap, but it can also be done with a welder.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

The ZJ Jeep Grand Cherokee is probably the better choice of the two. It’s hard to argue against a Jeep, especially one with a coil spring and linkage setup over a rear leaf spring like on the XJ. Much like the XJ, the ZJ has a large aftermarket from body parts to suspension. Especially so for the front because the ZJ front axle is considered an upgrade for the XJ and bolts right in. The idea for a stupid cheap on is to find one with a transmission solenoid failure.

This doesn’t damage the transmission, to an extent, but it will still operate. While the solenoids do determine programmed shifting, it will still work without them – I just doesn’t change gears until enough pressure has been built up. It won’t even set a code most of the time. Owners don’t want to deal with the expense and hassle of taking it to a transmission tech, but the replacement is easy and straight forward for someone with simple hand tools. Plus, after seeing Jeep’s Grand One build for the Easter Jeep Safari this year, I’ve been ever inspired to find one and build it similarly.

So, that’s what I’m looking at for the moment. If you want to help me get this going a little quicker, donate to our PayPal at the top of the page or become one of our Patreon Supporters. $1 per month is all we really need from every subscriber and viewer of CarbageOnline.com and the purchase can be made right away for either the Jeep or the Ford.

In the meantime, I’ll be pinching pennies and working extra freelance jobs for a bit, like the kid would in our scenario. Either way, it’s either Jeep or Ford.

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Justin Banner
@jb27tt on Instagram or RacerBanner on Facebook and Twitter

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Justin Banner

Justin Banner, Lead Editor and Founder of Carbage Online, has been involved with the automotive media and industry in many capacities and now tackles publication ownership with CarbageOnline.com. Prior to that, he has freelanced for top online publications of modern media that include Speedhunters, MotoIQ, Super Street Online, Hot Rod Magazine and many others. All due to his nearly 20 years experience as a mechanic, service writer, and technical support in the automotive industry. Justin is also a Journalist Level member of the Motor Press Guild - an industry recognized entity of professional automotive journalists - since 2015.