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1997 Jeep Cherokee - Keep Your Cool

Posted in How To on August 1, 2007
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FlowKooler in San Luis Obispo, California, has many high-flow water pumps available for a huge variety of makes and models, including most Jeep models and Ford Broncos and Chevy Blazers. The all-new pump housing includes a high-flow impeller to address low-speed heating issues. The unit is also said to double the water-flow rate at low rpm and idle and then return to normal at 3,500 rpm to limit water flow at high speed.

When your cooling system starts to go, you're usually lucky enough to get a few warning signs before it completely craps out. Overheating is typically the first sign and could be caused by many different things. Although the cooling system in our '97 Jeep Cherokee hadn't been too finicky, we could see from the corroded steel fittings and lines on the plastic radiator side tanks, the multiple missing sections of cooling fins in the radiator core, and the quickly spiking thermostat gauge in the dash cluster soon after engine start-up, that it was just about on its last leg. The final blow came on a typical drive home from the office when more than half of the radiator's fluid bubbled over. Thankfully, we were able to limp the rig home and even drove it for another 150 miles after topping off the radiator with some hose water, but the time had finally come to replace and upgrade our cooling system's major components.

Among the the new cooling parts we'll install in this article are an aluminum-core McCulloch Fab radiator, a FlowKooler water pump, a Turbo City high-flow thermostat housing and 180-degree F thermostat, and new hoses and serpentine belt from Summit Racing.

PhotosView Slideshow
Shown side by side, the new McCulloch Fab radiator is an obvious improvement, but even when compared to a new factory replacement unit the McCulloch unit still offers stouter construction. Also, the new radiator easily accepts all of the factory hoses and connections and offers a direct-fit installation.

In order to complete the installation of the new cooling components on our Cherokee, we sought assistance from Don-A-Vee Chrysler Jeep in Placentia, California. The Don-A-Vee team was well equipped for such an installation and even had the right parts on hand to replace some of the miscellaneous water pipes and hose sections that we'd neglected to order beforehand. Don-A-Vee technician Gary Grinkivich attacked the job with his usual fervor and had it completed in about a day's time. This type of job can be completed at home too, but you will need to make sure you dispose of the old coolant and used components properly.

With parts in place, we noticed an obvious power improvement, chiefly due to the fact that our cooling system was performing as intended. The temp gauge settles in under 180 degrees F during most driving situations, and even fuel economy normalized, putting up numbers much closer to the original advertised fuel-economy figures than the engine had previously offered. Check out the photos and captions for the play-by-play, and take steps to improve your vehicle's cooling system. You'd be a lot cooler if you did.

PhotosView Slideshow


Summit Racing
Akron, OH
Turbo City
Orange, CA
Bryan Mcculloch Fabricating/Custom Aluminum Radiator Warehouse
Don-A-Vee Chrysler Jeep

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