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Jeep Wrangler JK Shift Boot Blues: The Rugged Ridge Remedy

Rugged Ridge JK Billet Black Aluminum Console Shift Bezel #11422.12 For Manual Transmission – Model Years 2007-10


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(4.5/5)

Pros: Heavy duty machined aluminum bezel is solid, functional and attractive.  Hardware and installation sheet are included.

Cons: Made necessary by Jeep‘s initial lack of quality control.  Pricy for what it is – but by far the best of the lot.


In about a month’s time, it will be five years since I purchased my six-speed manual Jeep Wrangler JK.  Aside from being the most enjoyable and unstoppable vehicle I’ve ever owned, it has also proven to have been the most reliable.  Sure – here in the snow-belt I’ve had to replace the rear brake calipers due to corrosion – but no significant expenditures have occurred beyond the realm of routine maintenance.

Shifting the Blame

In the course of one recent drive, the rubber shift-boot’s leading edge popped-out from below the plastic bezel that anchors it to the console.  Chrysler‘s cheapo plastic rivets that secured the upper and lower bezel were beginning to fail.  Not a major issue, for sure – but continued use in such a compromised condition could rip the boot mounting holes clear to the edge – adding the cost of boot replacement to that of the bezel.


Exhibit A: My Re-Bezeled Jeep JK Sahara. [Image: J. Nine]
Exhibit A: My Re-Bezeled Jeep JK Sahara. [Image: J. Nine]
Of course, I could have simply disassembled the components and replaced the defective plastic fasteners.  There was nothing wrong with the original equipment plastic bezel – other than it never met the standard of the interior’s otherwise quality accessories.

Jeep JK Shift Boot with Original Equipment Plastic Bezel. [Image: gopixpic.com]
Jeep JK Shift Boot with Original Equipment Plastic Bezel. [Image: gopixpic.com]
 An online search of Jeep JK aftermarket parts could literally take days – with the proper financial means you could built a complete vehicle from one catalog alone.  Ironically, in this instance the choices were limited.

My Jeep JK Shift Boot after installation of the Better Bezel.
My Jeep JK Shift Boot after installation of the Better Bezel.

Embezeled

My inventory of Wrangler catalogs contained mostly chromed trim-piece examples of stick-on bling.  Since my situation was structural and not cosmetic, I went with the more substantial Rugged Ridge JK Billet Black Aluminum Console Shift Bezel Manual [Model Years] 07-10 – available for $46.99 (US) at Amazon.com.


When it came time to order, I was confronted with (and accepted) the option of buying a returned and repackaged bezel whose condition was rated ‘Very Good’ for ten bucks less.  I had accumulated close to twenty bucks in Amazon points, which brought the grand total spent to around $18.  Amazon Prime handled the shipping.

Jeepers

As I carried the package to the house, I could hear a few pieces of unrestrained hardware rattling-about.  Fortunately, all eight of the black, 8mm allen-head screws and conventional nuts remained within the box throughout the journey from Amazon‘s Kentucky facility to the foothills of Maine.  The only thing missing was one washer, which was the sole part slim enough to fall through the box’s bottom seam.  The bezel itself remained flawless inside its sealed plastic bag.

Installation

Thanks to Rugged Ridge and the Amazon.com Bargain Bin, it was not necessary to float a loan to afford a bezel upgrade.
Thanks to Rugged Ridge and the Amazon.com Bargain Bin, it was not necessary to float a loan to afford a bezel upgrade.

In anticipation of the part’s arrival, I had unfastened the lower plastic bezel from the console and used a punch to remove what remained of the broken plastic rivets.  I then sandwiched the boot perimeter between the new upper and original lower bezel.  With the holes aligned from all three components, the next step was to insert one of the 8mm bolts, slide on the washer and hand-tighten the nut.  Once all eight were prepared, an applied allen wrench held the bolt steady while an 8mm open-end snugged the nut from beneath.

Rugged Ridge includes an illustrated, two-sided sheet of assembly instructions consisting of five total steps.  Also listed are both company phone and e-mail contacts – should technical assistance be required.

Wrangler Reboot

The completed structure was easily aligned within the console’s oval cut-out, then pressed firmly downward at the rear to anchor the two plastic tabs.  Within thirty minutes time I had accomplished a level of quality that Chrysler should have originally realized on the assembly line.

With a finish that resembles oiled bronze, my new oval shifter trim plays nicely with the medium gray interior appointments and black floor mats.  Best of all – no more floppy boot!

Guaranteed Not to Need

Details of the 5-year Limited Warranty for what is essentially a machined metal ring can be accessed via PDF from the Amazon link located above.

Rugged Ridge, a division of Omix-ADA, Inc.
(770)-614-6101

Featured Image:  Rugged Ridge

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