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August 2010 Your Jeep

Posted in How To on August 1, 2010
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Bizzaro World
I turn sixteen next month and really want a Jeep. I've been having trouble deciding which one, though. I really like the XJ, but at this point they're mostly below $10,000, and my dad wants to spend like $10,000 to $15,000 on my car to make sure it's reliable. I can probably convince him to buy me an XJ, though, if I can prove to him that it is reliable. The other problem is that I started a pressure-washing company and I need room to carry my equipment from one job to another. So a Wrangler is out of the question. I also really like working on cars. I plan to upgrade my Jeep so I would like one that was somewhat easy to work on. Since this is going to have to be a daily driver, as far as upgrades go, what would you suggest? Most of my friends drive F-150s and Tacomas, and I want something that could out-perform and outlast their "trucks." What do you suggest?
Chris Heinmiller
Via email

You dad wants to spend more money on your first car than you do and you own your own business? That's an unusual set of circumstances.

I doubt there is another Jeep model on the planet as reliable as a 4.0L-equipped XJ. It just is. I'd start searching for a '97-newer Sport model with the 4.0L and either the AW4 four-speed auto or a '00-newer with a five-speed NV3550 manual. Both transmissions are very durable and reliable.

The thing with the XJ is that it was such a long production run (since '84) Jeep had time to work most of the bugs out of the vehicle. There are very few inherent problems with the late-model XJs. I'd look for a low-mileage one that has had routine maintenance performed. You should be able to nab one for well under $10K. Then you can take the overage and put it towards ensuring the following common areas of concern are addressed:

Cracked exhaust manifold: Most of them crack, but a good aftermarket stainless header like a Banks Torque Tube is smog-legal, won't increase the noise level, and will up your power.

Worn front axle unit bearings: They're inexpensive and easy to replace for most shops. They're really not a problem area, but if you're looking at an XJ that's already lifted with big tires it's worth checking it out

A/C recharge: True of any 5-10 year old vehicle. If it's not already converted, change the system over from R12 Freon to R134A refrigerant.

General leaks and drips: Early 4.0L engines up to '91 usually required a rear main seal replacement at 100K miles, but the late-model Jeeps have a redesigned seal that lasts much longer. Still, there's the potential for small leaks around the valve cover, rear main seal, harmonic balancer, etc. Seals are easy to come by, and in most cases, easy to replace. Most commonly it could be the rear main seal, gasket at oil filter housing, possibly the T-case to transmission seal, or sometimes the front axle seals.

Otherwise these vehicles routinely hit more than 200K miles with little-to-no major work required. The '97-up have passenger- and driver-side airbags, lots of creature comforts, good upholstery that lasts without showing a lot of wear, and deliver good power and mileage. Expect about 19-22mph on the freeway from a 4.0L with stock tires and suspension.

Good luck in your quest.

Seat Stretch
I purchased a '70 CJ-5 before I went to Iraq. It needs new seats, but the only replacement seats I am finding through Quadratec and other vendors are for '76-up Jeeps. Fabricating mounts is not a problem, but will the seats fit? I know they stretched the wheelbase in '73, but did they change the length of the tub? Thanks for your time and the great magazine.
Curtis Randall
Via email

I mounted a set of Bestop low-back buckets in my '71 CJ-6. The driver-side bolted right up. You'll have to weld some strap steel onto the stock passenger seat frame, but it's really easy and will allow you to keep the flip-forward function to get to the tool box. Aside from the seat bolt pattern difference, most guys don't have much trouble fitting larger aftermarket seats in these early Jeeps. If you're much taller than six feet, you may want to notch the front of the rear wheel tub on the driver-side to allow the seat to be mounted further back for more legroom. It's a fairly common practice and is covered on the website

English XJ
I live in the north of England and have an '01 60th anniversary-edition XJ Cherokee with a 2.5L diesel. It has covered 96,000 miles and has been fantastic. On rough Lake District roads it is great, so no need to improve its off-road performance, but I am interested to know if better shocks would improve its high-speed performance (80mph is a good motorway speed). Also, is there anything I can do to make the steering more direct? It is running on 16-inch rims with BFGoodrich 235/70R16 tyres.
Marcus Mackay
Cumbria, England

Most XJs have a somewhat heavy steering feel, so I'm surprised you feel the need to make the steering "more direct." This leads me to believe you may have some worn components. I'd first start with the basics, like making sure the tie rod ends are all still tight and that the steering shaft (shaft between the steering column and steering box) doesn't have any play in it. With the key forward to unlock the steering wheel-but with the engine off-have somebody turn the steering wheel back and forth until resistance is encountered while you watch the shaft. There should be little-to-no play, but it's not uncommon for the couplers to wear in the factory steering shafts. Also, watch the steering box sector shaft for any play (sector shaft is the shaft protruding from the bottom of the steering box that the pitman arm attaches to).

If the tie rod ends are worn, replace them and have an alignment done. It shouldn't cost much because to align a Cherokee you only need to set the toe. There's no provision for easily adjusting the caster or camber, and if the vehicle is still stock, there's really no need.

If the steering shaft is worn, I'd suggest a Borgeson ( replacement steering shaft (PN 000893). It uses solid U-joint couplings instead of the wear-prone factory type couplings and will really make a huge difference in drivability if your old shaft is worn.

Also, replacing the stock steering dampener with a Rancho ( unit (PN RS5401) may help the vehicle track a bit straighter and resist drifting due to road imperfections.

Your shocks? I'm sure the factory shocks are worn and ineffective by now. While they're very expensive, I think you'll appreciate the Edelbrock Performer IAS shocks, ( I ran a set on my '99 Cherokee when it was stock and they improve the handling without negatively affecting the ride quality. You'll need PN3328 for the front and PN3428 for the rear.

One other thing you may consider checking is the front control arm bushings at your suspension links and the track bar tie rod ends. While fairly sturdy (especially when not off-roaded hard), the pressed-in upper control arm suspension bushing on the axle and the lower control arm bushings can crack and wear. A new stock-replacement upper control arm bushing from Crown Automotive ( may help, as would some upgraded aftermarket control arms. JKS ( makes very nice ones, but most aftermarket suspension companies like Superlift, Skyjacker, and Rubicon Express offer them as well. If you've got a Jp magazine there, check out some of the advertisers to get an idea. However, I'd leave the control arm and bushing fix as a last resort since they're somewhat cumbersome and expensive to replace.

Slipped Disc
I have a 258 inline-six with a Weber carb and a header. It runs the T-176 transmission and Dana 300 T-case with a 4:1 gearset, a Ford 9-inch rear with 4.56s and an ARB, and 35-inch tires. I just finished putting in the 4:1 and figured I should replace the clutch while it's apart since it's been in there a while. I am on a budget, so I want to know why I would spend considerably more money for a Centerforce or Hays off-road clutch versus the standard stock replacement. I see statements claiming 30 percent more holding capacity, higher burst strength, heavy-duty springs, unique Marcel backing, and stuff like that. It all seems like sales gimmicks. I know how to drive a clutch, so I think I'm okay with a standard one. I just couldn't find a write-up or decent advice. I think my lower gearing will extend clutch life over stock, but I don't know for sure. Any help would be appreciated.
Aron Gorham
Via email

You're right. Your lower gearing will help extend clutch life. That's not to say the Centerforce or Hays products are gimmicks. They really do offer what they say.

One misconception regarding the Centerforce Dual Friction clutch is that it lasts longer. The DF is a high-performance clutch that offers no more of a lifespan than a comparable Centerforce I or Centerforce II disc. Where it excels is by offering a ton of grip where others can't. I run a little 9-inch Dual Friction clutch in my Shortstar-powered flattie and it gives me the clamping feel of a big 14-inch dump truck clutch. However, for most enthusiasts the Centerforce I or II is plenty. I put a Centerforce I in my Hatari CJ-6 project behind its Buick 225, a Hays in my '85 Ramcharger with 42s, and a stock replacement in my '95 4-cylinder Wrangler on 33s. My M-715 on 38s, flattie, and other really high-performance builds get Dual Friction clutches because they're just all-out crazy rigs whose main purpose is max performance. It's all about what you expect of the rig and how you're going to drive it.

To that end, it sounds like with your low-range gearing and your cautiousness with the clutch pedal you'll be able to keep a stock replacement alive for a long time.

Big Squirt
I have a '96 Cherokee that I just put a 4.7L stroker in and am having issues with fuel starvation at 3,500 rpms and above. It's most noticeable at top end just before shifting. I know I saw something on this in your "Insane Inline" story, but was not sure what month the article was in. I gave my old mags to a buddy and he won't give them back.
Jeff Bassett
Colorado Springs, CO

The stock 19-lb/hr injectors can't deliver enough volume for the added displacement. You missed out on the easy '91-'95 models with the external fuel pressure regulator that allow you to turn up the fuel pressure to deliver a larger squirt of fuel when the injectors open. Your '96 has a returnless injection system that regulates pressure at the fuel pump inside the tank. You'll want to upgrade to larger injectors. Accel ( makes some 21, 23, and 24 lb/hr injectors that would work well depending on overall horsepower of your engine, whether you run nitrous or a supercharger, etc. I ran the 23lb/hr in my 4.6L stroker with nitrous.

The Accel injectors are expensive, however. Ford Motorsports' ( are a bit cheaper. The Ford injectors are 24lb/hr and should deliver plenty of fuel for your vehicle. You may also hit the junkyard and see if any Ford pickups, Mustang, or Lincoln V-8 vehicles are hanging around and yank the used injectors to save some coin. Here are some flow and part numbers for factory injectors that you may stumble across.

  • Ford 21lb injectors (high) #s: D9B, F65E (305/350 GM)
  • Ford 22lb injectors (high) #s: FOTE-D9B (Vettes and Range Rovers)
  • Ford 23lb injectors (high) #s: F7TE, F8TE (7.5L truck)
  • Ford 24lb injectors (high) #s: F5DE, F1TZ, F2LE, F2LE-9F593-B2A, FMS-M-9593-A302
  • Ford 24lb injectors Ford '93-'95 Mustang Cobra
  • Ford 24lb injectors '93-'01 Lincoln Mark 8
  • Ford 24lb injectors '95-up Lincoln Continental DOHC 4.6L
  • Ford 24lb injectors '88-'97 EFI 460s F-250-450 & E-250-450
  • Ford 24lb injectors F-350 with V-10
  • Ford 24lb injectors Lincoln Aviator 4.6L DOHC
  • Ford 24lb injectors Lincoln Navigator 5.4L DOHC
  • 26lb '00 LS1 F body '99-up, same as Ford 24s
  • Ford 30lb injectors (high) #s: E9SE, F1SE, F1SE-E1A (3.8SC and SuperCoupes)
  • Ford 30lb injectors: '95-'96 Ford 4.0L Explorer & Ranger & Other
  • Ford 30lb injectors: '89-'93 SuperCoupe
  • Ford 36lb injectors: '94-'95 SuperCoupe
  • Ford 39lb '03-'04 Cobra
  • Ford 42lb '99-up Lightning

Tangled Weber
I had a Weber carb installed about a week ago. It ran fine for the first week, but now it seems to be flooding out on me. I don't think it's the install but maybe the choke voltage. I know with key on there should be 12-volts at the choke. If there is not will it still start and could I be losing that voltage and flooding it? Also is that 12-volts a constant 12-volts while running? It seems to be getting enough fuel from the mechanical pump. The Jeep is an '81 CJ-7 with the 258 straight-six. Any feedback would be great.
Via email

Your choke should get a source of 12V key-on power that stays hot when the engine is running. Usually this is taken straight from a circuit on the fuse box that stays hot when the engine is cranked or straight from a key switch terminal in older vehicles. Don't run the 12V straight from the battery or your choke will be powered even when the key is off, which can kill your battery.

Your electric choke should be automatic. It'll sense engine temp via an internal thermal spring and will close the choke when cold and open it when hot. Once you've hooked up your source of 12V power, the choke should have 12V from the time you turn the key to the time you shut down the engine. It'll do the rest. Once the engine is up to normal operating temperature, remove the air filter and make sure the choke is opening. If not, your voltage may be too low at the choke (verify voltage with a multi-meter) or the choke itself may be bad or need adjustment.

I'd suggest taking a look at your Weber owner's manual and familiarizing yourself with the float adjustment procedures. It sounds like your floats are either set too high or have gotten stuck from debris or foreign materials from when you did the carb swap. Usually a moderate rap on the float adjustment nut with a screwdriver handle is enough to dislodge a stuck float. Or, you may need to crack open the fuel bowl and check that no debris got into the carb.

If you're not doing so already, run a filter before the carb fuel inlet inside the engine compartment. Also, your Weber may just be jetted too rich for your engine application. If the float adjustment doesn't solve any problems, contact Weber with your carb's model number and your engine specs/application and ask a tech about jetting it so it delivers less fuel to your engine.

Tranny Suckfest
Last year when some friends and I were in Moab we all experienced the same problem. When the Jeep reached a certain angle, the transmission would starve for fluid and halt forward progress. This was very frustrating because in most cases we all felt that we would not have necessarily been stuck. I have asked around at different off-road shops and no one seems to have ever heard of this problem. I know that this is not an isolated incident because three '03 Rubicons and one '05 LJ in our group all had the same problems. I have looked for someone who offers a deep pan, but no luck. Any ideas?
Timothy Aker
Via email

Jeep introduced the 42RLE four-speed automatic in '03, but the 13-bolt pan hasn't enjoyed much aftermarket support. There was a company called Performance Transmissions & Parts, (888/201-2066, that offered a deep transmission pan under PN 8-44. The pan added 2 quarts and helped the starvation issues, but it's no longer available and the company says it has no plans of offering it again in the future.

Jeep has an updated pan for the early 42RLE that's supposed to cure the starvation issues at angles. You can go to your local dealership and order a transmission pan, pickup, and filter assembly for an '06 Wrangler. The new revised pan should cure the starvation at angles. If not, try adding and additional 1/2-quart of fluid.

Got a tech question you're just itching to get answered? Send it on in to Jp magazine, Your Jeep, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245, or e-mail

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