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"Refreshing" a tired XJ

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blalor
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Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Location: Nashua, NH

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:15 pm    Post subject: "Refreshing" a tired XJ Reply with quote

Good evening, all. I picked up a '99 XJ yesterday! This makes the sixth XJ I've had since 1992 when I started driving; I've had an '84, 85, 87, 90, and most recently a nice (albeit 2WD) 93 which I traded in for an F-150. My daily driver's a 2005 MINI Cooper S and I decided I wanted something more utilitarian for skiing, camping and hauling my two dogs.

My "new" XJ is a 5-speed 4x4 4-door Sport in metallic blue with 142k miles on it. The body's nice, but I'm beginning to think it's a little more tired than I originally thought. The clutch, throw-out bearing, front brake pads and rotors, and rear drums were replaced by the previous owner. Transmission and transfer case fluid were changed, too (although the t-case seems to be leaking, now, dammit). The engine seems strong and is quiet, so I'm fairly confident the drivetrain makes this a worthwhile purchase.

I am looking to keep this Jeep pretty stock and reliable; it's going to be a back-up for the MINI for when the going's getting too dirty or dangerous for a low-slung sports car. Although there's no hitch (and it obviously doesn't have the tow package), I would like to be able to haul the occasional trailer. It's got 225/75/15 tires (not sure about the aspect ratio, actually), and I might go up to 235/whatever/15 to comply with Massachusetts regs for taking it into the beach at Cape Cod. I'm mechanically capable, but not overly experienced.

The shocks are shot, and the rear leaf springs are looking kind of soft. I figure the front springs are probably due to be replaced, too. I think I want to sort of beef up the shocks and springs to tow package specs. Can anyone offer a recommendation on a suitable shock absorber that'll offer a fairly good ride yet is a good fit for towing?

I'm assuming the springs (front and rear) are heavier on a vehicle with the tow package; should I try to source new springs new, or from a salvage yard?

I'm going to also replace the engine and transmission mounts in the near future, as I believe these are original. Should I go with an aftermarket mount, like M.O.R.E., or just stick with OEM? Sounds like cost isn't an issue, and I'm more interested in comfort; any off-roading I do will be pretty mild.

What other wear items should I address now and in the near-to-mid term? Other bushings and mount points?

Seems like a good bunch of folks here; glad I found this forum! Smile
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TheBrat97
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Joined: 28 Jul 2006
Location: Dallas, TX

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

-Spark plugs.
-Leaks.
-Diff fluid.
-Coolant.
-Hoses.
-Spark plug wires.
-Throttle body might need cleaning. (Mine did)

These are just a few things I did when I got my 97.

Check your trackbar too they tend to wear out pretty quick like mine did pissed
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pipxj
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Joined: 22 Jan 2006

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The leafs in XJs sit pretty flat as-is. There are a few things that go into my uncle's "just bought it, might as well make sure it runs good list":

Tune up (wires, plugs, cap, rotor, etc)
Intake gets cleaned
New Waterpump
Grease everything
Change all the fluids
Timing belt/chain if it's old enough

Enjoy replacing those shocks, they're a PITA. Soak them for a few days in PB Blaster or some other penetrating lube because it's likely that bolts will break and you'll have to rethread it.
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TheBrat97
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Joined: 28 Jul 2006
Location: Dallas, TX

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pipxj wrote:
The leafs in XJs sit pretty flat as-is. There are a few things that go into my uncle's "just bought it, might as well make sure it runs good list":

Tune up (wires, plugs, cap, rotor, etc)
Intake gets cleaned
New Waterpump
Grease everything
Change all the fluids
Timing belt/chain if it's old enough

Enjoy replacing those shocks, they're a PITA. Soak them for a few days in PB Blaster or some other penetrating lube because it's likely that bolts will break and you'll have to rethread it.


what bolts? i haven't changed my shocks yet could you explain what you mean by that?
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Code3TJ
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Joined: 01 Jan 2004
Location: Uzbekistan

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://jeephorizons.com/tech/xjshock.html
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blalor
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Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Location: Nashua, NH

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the suggestions, guys. Part of me is kind of excited to have something to wrench on, the other part of me is saying "what the [expletive deleted] did you do, man?!".

What's the threshold for replacing the timing belt or chain? I've got the 4.0L engine (think I forgot to specify); which does it have? Does the chain have a propensity for breaking? I'd be more concerned about a belt.

The rear of the leaf springs looks to have a *slight* upward curve where it becomes a single leaf, forward of the rear attachment point. It looks pretty wimpy, regardless. Smile

Is Liquid Wrench a suitable alternative to PB Blaster? Never heard of the PB, but the smell of LW brings back childhood memories.

What wears out on the trackbar? Are we talking front or rear (or is the rear called a swaybar)? What wears out? Bushings? Can they be replaced independently of the whole component?

Extracting bolts is probably a technique I'm going to have to learn at some point, but that little write-up is enough to make me want to have one of the chains do that job...
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JeepinNH
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Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Location: New Hampshire

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 5:56 am    Post subject: XJ's Reply with quote

The track bar is in the front of the car. It's the long bar that goes from one side then up to the frame. I had to replace mine this week, failed inspection. It was moving up and down, where it mounts to the frame, when cranking the wheel back and forth. Seems to be common as is front axle u-joints, had to replace the passenger side this week too. I'm pretty sure these vehicles have timing chains.

As for the springs, I replaced mine last year with springs made locally. They already droop and wrap. I'm thinking April will bring the stock HD ones which are for the towing package, the price is pretty decent online. About $120 each.

I've been looking locally for PB Blaster, seems the only place around here that sells it is NAPA on main street in Nashua.

BTW, if you see another light blue 99 with a plow frame on it driving through Nashua, that would be me. Very Happy
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Mike

Present: 99 Cherokee
Past: 86, 87 Cherokee; 94 Grand Cherokee
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blalor
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Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Location: Nashua, NH

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:14 am    Post subject: Re: XJ's Reply with quote

JeepinNH wrote:
The track bar is in the front of the car. It's the long bar that goes from one side then up to the frame.

Ah, ok. Man, I can't believe you've gotta replace that whole thing! Everything else seems to have a bushing of some kind...

JeepinNH wrote:
Seems to be common as is front axle u-joints, had to replace the passenger side this week too.

What's the indicator there, play in them?

JeepinNH wrote:
I'm pretty sure these vehicles have timing chains.

Yep. Has everyone seen the parts catalog over on XJJeeps.com? Pretty cool resource. That shows the chain under the timing cover.

JeepinNH wrote:
I've been looking locally for PB Blaster, seems the only place around here that sells it is NAPA on main street in Nashua.

Good to know! Thanks! I started soaking the shock bolts in Liquid Wrench this morning. Smile

JeepinNH wrote:
BTW, if you see another light blue 99 with a plow frame on it driving through Nashua, that would be me. Very Happy

Cool! Of course, you've just shown you're handy with a wrench; your weakness is now known to me. Twisted Evil
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JeepinNH
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Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Location: New Hampshire

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 7:32 am    Post subject: ha ha Reply with quote

Yep, handy with a wrench but very little time to do it. I still feel kinda bad because I paid someone to replace the track bar and u-joint. Both items I could do but take too much time. Oh well, sometimes my time is worth more.

As for the u-joints, you can jack up each side and spin the tire. With the wheels turned it should not make noise. If you have any binding, creaking or see play then it's pretty much toast. Check the manual sometime to see what needs to be done, a bit time consuming without certain tools.

Oh yeah, welcome to the forum.... there's a ton of knowledgable people here. tool
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Mike

Present: 99 Cherokee
Past: 86, 87 Cherokee; 94 Grand Cherokee
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TheBrat97
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Joined: 28 Jul 2006
Location: Dallas, TX

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How much did you pay for your trackbar? The cheapest I found was $89.99 at AutoZone
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JeepinNH
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Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Location: New Hampshire

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 3:30 pm    Post subject: trackbar Reply with quote

It was around $150. They put high end brand in there. I didn't have time to price around and want it to last a while.
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Mike

Present: 99 Cherokee
Past: 86, 87 Cherokee; 94 Grand Cherokee
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pipxj
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Joined: 22 Jan 2006

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Changing U-joints is a PITA but much better than snapping a shaft. I just did it two nights ago. One of those things where they cost $30 to do yourself but is next to impossible to do without the proper tools and knowhow if you take it to the shop it will cost five times more. Had my neighbor (who is a mechanic) not come over when he did and tap on the shaft with a hammer while I worked the vice to press the joint out I'd probably still be out there cussing.

Jeeps aren't that hard to work on. You have lots of room and there are enough of them out there that they're easy to get advice on. If you have a little mechanical knowledge, a good Haynes/Chilton manual and a decent set of tools you're ready to go. Some stuff takes me a little longer but I'm learning a lot as I go.
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blalor
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Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Location: Nashua, NH

PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I recall, changing the U-joints requires removing the hubs/bearings, which in turn requires a slide hammer. I did both sides on my '90 XJ; I can still remember how bruised my hand was from that damn slide hammer! Smile

I agree with you on

pipxj wrote:
Jeeps aren't that hard to work on.

That's why I got another one! Wink My dad and I have had more Jeeps than most would consider reasonable, and they haven't been the most reliable vehicles, yet they're fairly bulletproof (little things break or die, leaving you stranded, but it's rarely anything major). Crank position sensors, blown transmission cooler lines, ECUs, neutral safety switches and the occasional fuel pump have left me stranded (or working in sub-par conditions trying to get home). I still think they're rugged beasts, and being able to work on them myself is as gratifying as it is necessary. Smile

I miss being able to turn a wrench in anger on my MINI; even when the warranty's up, I'm not sure I'll be able to, since it's so computerized. Even though I've got some work to do on the new XJ, I'm looking forward to it!
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pipxj
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Joined: 22 Jan 2006

PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

blalor wrote:
As I recall, changing the U-joints requires removing the hubs/bearings, which in turn requires a slide hammer. I did both sides on my '90 XJ; I can still remember how bruised my hand was from that damn slide hammer! Smile



I think you're confusing the U-joints with the axle bearings or something. The Universal joints are the cross-shaped things that connect the driveshaft to the transfer case and differential respectively. Getting them out is only a matter of getting the rear suspension extended and unscrewing four bolts in the rear. Then you slide the slip yoke out of the diff. That's where the easy stuff ends. Now you have to get the bearing cups out of the driveshaft Shocked
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blalor
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Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Location: Nashua, NH

PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pipxj wrote:
blalor wrote:
As I recall, changing the U-joints requires removing the hubs/bearings, which in turn requires a slide hammer. I did both sides on my '90 XJ; I can still remember how bruised my hand was from that damn slide hammer! Smile



I think you're confusing the U-joints with the axle bearings or something.

Guess so. Aren't the joints on the front axle called universal joints? I'm pretty sure they're not CV joints, because it's not a full-time four-wheel-drive system. Either way, those bearings and joints are what I was referring to above (with the slide hammer).
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