Upgrading A Jeep XJ Cooling System
The XJ Cherokee wasn’t originally designed to have an inline-six engine in it. It was designed for a small V-6 or inline-four. The inline-six is much longer than those engines, and the radiator had to be moved to clear it. That is the reason for the 36-inch-long and 10-inch-tall radiator with the goofy mechanical and electric fan setup. If that wasn’t enough, the factory electric fan that is supposed to pull air through one third of the radiator doesn’t come on until the Jeep is over 212 degrees.
We spent a lot of last summer fighting overheating in our ’98 Cherokee. We threw fan clutches, thermostats, radiator flushes, a water pump, and even a couple of radiator caps at it. But in 100-degree weather, when we worked it hard it would overheat no matter what we did. That is despite having a big three-core copper/brass radiator in it. Our fan shrouds were broken and epoxied back together, and last fall a small leak started where one of our tanks was attached to the core. Basically our cooling system was showing all of its age
Then about a month after we noticed the leak, we saw Flex-A-Lite’s booth at the 2012 SEMA show and low and behold there was a short and wide radiator which could only fit an inline-six-powered Cherokee. The radiator was a two-core aluminum unit with internally and externally finned aluminum tanks that were welded on for off-road durability. If that wasn’t enough, the kit was to ship with a triple electric fan setup, an automatic fan controller, and optional heavy-duty oil cooler for automatic-equipped Jeeps.
Needless to say, we were on that like a fat kid on a doughnut, and we arranged right then and there to get a hold of a kit for our overheating XJ. We ended up installing the second one ever and the first one outside of Flex-A-Lite’s corporate headquarters. We are glad to show you how the install went and include our real-world results.
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