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1991 Jeep Cherokee XJ Unlimited Buildup - Finishing Touches For The Former "J_ep" - Tech

Posted in How To on June 1, 2010
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There's a minimum threshold that separates the functional from the unfit. When we first started on this XJ, it was clearly the latter. Sagging suspension and threadbare tires were only two of the issues that needed to be addressed. The stock bumpers were only slightly thicker than tin cans. They had to go. It seemed fitting that the hood badging was missing an "e" from "Jeep."

With a Skyjacker suspension, Mickey Thompson tires and wheels, a re-commissioned winch, and a pair of Proto Fab bumpers, the XJ was looking like something that could conquer commute and trail alike. The hood badging was replaced during the process, re-asserting its status as a real Jeep. Faults remained.

The biggest offender was the poorly-functioning ABS brake system. Known as the Bendix 9, this ABS system was overly complex and questionably reliable when it was brand new. Throw in nearly two decades of use and neglect, and the brakes were downright dangerous. Stepping on the pedal resulted in weak stopping power. Worse, the ABS system would randomly pulse the brakes, pulling the XJ in every direction but straight even on dry ground.

Next, the fenderwell under the battery tray was rusted through, and the battery hold-down was missing. Forty-some-odd pounds of lead and acid bouncing around under the hood is not a good thing. The battery mounting system needed to be completely replaced.

Stock headlights are decent for street use, but they're inadequate for trail use after dark. The Proto Fab front bumper has a pair of light tabs on its upper hoop, ready to be filled with something powerful. The steering box had a sloppy sector shaft, and puked power steering fluid all over the place. No good.

During our mechanical ventures, we also discovered the stock air cleaner housing was warped and no longer had an adequate seal around the filter. This, too, had to be remedied. These remedies had a deadline. Nope, not just an editorial deadline, but an educational deadline. My college-kid brother, Seth, owns this Jeep and the wrenching had to be done in time for him to drive it back up to school in Utah before the new semester started. Midnight oil had to be burned.

PhotosView Slideshow

Seth ended up missing a couple of days' worth of classes, but he lucked out and his instructors cut him some slack. He arrived back at school with a functional XJ: capable of commuting, fit for the trail. No Jeep is ever "finished," but this one is well over that aforementioned minimum threshold. It's gone from unfit to fully functional. Now the fun can finally begin.

PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow


Skyjacker Suspensions
West Monroe, LA 71294
Phoenix, AZ 85043
Dave's Customs Unlimited
Fruita, CO 81521
Desolate Motorsports
Whittier, CA 90605
Dewey, AZ 86327
Tom Wood's Custom Driveshafts
Ogden, UT 84404
Durabak Company
Aurora, CO 80014

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