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1989 Jeep YJ - Number Two: Part 1

Posted in How To on May 1, 2013
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We first saw the Jeep on Craigslist and honestly we should have kept looking. Yep we definitely should have known better, but it was clear the owner was done with his failed Jeep project, and that meant we might be able to haggle for a better price. The ’87-’90 Jeep YJ has a solid base, but these Jeeps also have a few bad apples mixed into their bushel of parts that make them relatively cheap and somewhat of a headache. Topping this list is the computer-controlled Carter carburetor and leak-prone induction system with miles of vacuum lines. Add the Dana 35 rear axle, expensive Peugeot BA10/5 transmission, and NP207 T-case (found in ’87 YJs) and you have a real pile of…well, it’s a fixer-upper. Also while the vacuum-actuated center axle disconnect front Dana 30 is a fairly solid unit…its function relies on 25-year-old vacuum lines and switches.

We’ve been righting all its wrongs, but for reliability’s sake we’d still aim readers to a ’91-or-newer YJ with a 4.0L if you must have a square-eye’d open-top Jeep. Yeah, it’s gonna cost more, but the fuel injection and much more durable transmission are well worth the extra cost…unless you like a challenge. If you do, or you are unfortunate enough to already own an ’87-’90 6-cylinder YJ like ours (fondly nicknamed Number Two cause it’s kind of a pile of, well, number two), follow along to see how we took our non-running, garage-dwelling forgotten project, got it running fairly reliably, and went wheeling.

When we arrived at the seller’s house, we found the YJ unwilling to start. Generally that’s a good sign to walk away, but for us it’s all part of the game. We figure if the Jeep won’t start that’s a good way to haggle down the price. Sure, we have to gamble that the fix is fairly simple and be wary it could be a convenient way to hide a blown transmission, bad head gasket, or other expensive repair. You shouldn’t trust anyone, but we could see that the seller had recently spent money trying to get the thing running. For us, this meant we were able to talk the price down and haul our new piece home.

The 258ci-powered ’89 YJ we were ogling had many of these questionable parts, including a Carter carb, Dana 30 with center axle disconnect, and the Peugeot transmission. Chances are you would not hear us telling you to buy this Jeep, but for us this Wrangler would be great fodder for “fix it” articles. Why, you ask? Well there is plenty to do, and honestly, a YJ like this has some pretty decent parts for the long run. Having said that, working on this thing has been a frustrating time at best.

A trip to the parts store yielded new radiator hoses, a new mechanical fuel pump, and a clear inline fuel filter (so we can keep track of what kind of junk is floating around in the fuel system). After all this the Jeep would start, but despite our best efforts, it wasn’t running quite right. Boo.
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West Chester, PA 19380

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