Weak link: Front suspension shackles
Models affected: '76-'86 CJ, '87-'95 YJ
What happens: On these vehicles, the shackles for the leaf-spring front suspension are located at the front of the leaves. One of the downsides to this setup is that whether you are on the road or trail, when the front tires come in contact with an obstruction, the impact is partially transmitted back to the frame via the solid rear pivot point. Further, this system creates unwanted handling issues as well as wandering.
Strong fix: A shackle-reversal kit eliminates these issues by relocating the pivot point to the rear of the leaf springs. This allows the impacts to be better absorbed by the spring and shackle, which translates to a more natural suspension flow over an obstacle. It also offers a smoother ride and improved handling at higher speeds. There are a number of aftermarket companies manufacturing shackle-reversal kits. We talked to a number of shops, and they all spoke highly of the shackle-reversal kits manufactured by Mountain Off Road Enterprises (M.O.R.E.). One of the things that make them attractive is that they feature new front pivot brackets that are designed to move the front axle forward from the stock location. This helps keep the tire from contacting the fender during suspension compression.
Contact: Mountain Off Road Enterprises, 970/625-0500, www.mountainoffroad.com
Weak link: Windshield frames
Models affected: '87-'96 YJ
What happens: The windshield frames on these vehicles are notorious for rusting out, especially in the Rust Belt states.
Strong fix: Don't plan on jeeping down to your local dealer for a new one, because they don't have them anymore. There are many aftermarket companies offering them, though, including Jeepglass.com. They can hook you up with a complete, ready-to-install windshield frame with glass and inner and outer seals for a little over $400. Further, they can even paint it for you for an additional fee.
Contact: Jeepglass.com, 253/473-7691, www.jeepglass.com
Weak link: U-joint retaining straps
Models affected: All YJ and TJ
What happens: These light-duty straps are used to mount both the front and rear driveshafts to their respective axles. On the street they seem to hold up fine, but they often succumb to off-highway stresses.
Strong fix: The hot ticket is to change out your yokes to ones featuring much beefier U-bolt-style mounts. Randy's Ring & Pinion offers everything you need to do this swap, no matter what factory Dana axles you have under your rig.
Contact: Randy's Ring & Pinion, 866/245-2316, www.ringpinion.com
Weak link: Front driveshaft
Models affected: '97-'05 TJ
What happens: These vehicles use a driveshaft with a non-greaseable front CV joint. Over time, these joints can dry out and eventually seize. When they seize, they can cause damage to the transfer case. "We've actually seen them split the transfer case in half when the CV seizes up" says Dan McKeag at Burnsville Off Road in Burnsville, Minnesota.
Strong fix: Obviously, this is a problem you want to deal with before damage occurs. The best way to head off this problem is to have a new front driveshaft made that includes a greaseable CV joint. A quick call to a company like Driveshaftsuperstore.com can mean the difference between spending a little or a lot.
Contact: Driveshaftsuperstore.com, 800/845-6326, www.driveshaftsuperstore.com
Weak link: Exhaust manifold
Models affected: '91-'99 TJ with the 4.0L engine
What happens: The exhaust manifolds on these rigs are infamous for cracking. The question isn't if it's going to crack, it's when.
Strong fix: Practically every aftermarket exhaust manufacturer offers a header for these engines. We've installed a few, and one we really liked was the unit manufactured by Borla. The header is constructed of T-304 stainless and includes a new gasket and all associated hardware.
Contact: Borla Performance Industries, 877/462-6752, www.borla.com