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1997 Jeep Cherokee - ATK VEGE Remanufactured Crate Engines

Posted in How To on January 1, 2009
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Photographers: ATK North America
The ATK long-block arrived sealed in a bag and ready for installation. ATK's detailed assembly process includes new balanced pistons and piston rings, new balanced rods, new main and camshaft bearings, new intake and exhaust valves, new guides and lifters, new connecting rod bearings, new timing components, including chain and cover, and new brass freeze plugs already in place.

With more than 160,000 miles on the 4.0L I-6 in our 1997 Jeep Cherokee, engine performance and reliability are not as great as they once were. The engine suffered from various gasket and seal leaks, particularly along the rear main seal, which provided a thick coating of grease to the transmission on a regular basis. When an engine reaches such a state it's time to either rebuild or replace. Since machine shop hours can add up quickly during a rebuild, often the more cost effective method is to replace the aging mill with a ready-to-run, remanufactured long-block. We found just what we were looking for from the well established crate engine remanufacturer, ATK VEGE.

ATK VEGE offers a full line of remanufactured engines for both domestic and import vehicles, and also remanufactures and distributes cylinder heads, crank shafts, and transmissions. The company has 7 warehouses across the U.S. and 5 in Mexico. All ATK facilities are ISO/TS 16949 certified and the skilled engine builders take extra steps to reverse-engineer each engine to remove any factory deficiencies.

High performance crate engines are also available through ATK VEGE and are professionally built to meet varied customer needs. ATK currently offers high-performance engines for Chevy, Ford, and Chrysler applications and also produces a 4.0L Jeep Stroker engine that is used by many racers in the JeepSpeed racing series. These engines and many more are available through ATK's high-performance division.

After an engine is power tested it is issued a birth certificate that contains a serial number and also lists oil pressure, water temperature, compression, and running time.

All ATK remanufactured engines are offered with a complete warranty and award winning customer support. The standard ATK warranty provides coverage for 3 years with Unlimited Mileage. Additional warranties include the Valued Installer Program (VIP) Warranty and the Gold Seal Program Warranty, both of which are optional and available at an extra cost. The company's attached warranty program is a leader of the industry and made possible through ATK's in-house control over engineering, design, and assembly of its products.

While we easily could have swapped in the new ATK long-block in a matter of days and been back on the road and trail with a fresh-purring mill, we have bigger plans for this particular Cherokee and more extensive work would take place before we could button up the engine install. You can plan on seeing more about the ATK long-block and our Cherokee project in an upcoming issue as we swap-in a later model 4.0L intake manifold and pursue additional power enhancing methods.

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ATK's remanufacturing process involves more than 150 processes and procedures to ensure a superior end product. Each engine block is visually examined for cracks and deficiencies and is also magnafluxed to check for subsurface flaws. The cylinders are bored and precision honed and both the block and cylinder head are precision surfaced. The cylinder head is also magnafluxed and machined for three-angle valve seats and the camshaft and crankshaft are either reworked or are new. Plugs keep debris out of the intake and exhaust ports.

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One of the reasons we opted to replace rather than rebuild the 4.0L in our '97 Cherokee was because the amount of corrosion on the block. The vehicle spent the first ten years of its life on the east coast and rust was abundant. Although it was likely in decent shape internally the extra work it would have taken to clean up the exterior of the block was not inviting. To remove the exhaust manifold bolts we soaked them with loads of JB-80 over a two-day period before even trying. After that they turned out pretty easily.

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Totally Stainless
Mountain Off-Road Enterprises (M.O.R.E.)
Delta, CO 81416
ATK North America

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