I am looking into doing a budget build on a Wrangler or CJ. I am not particular on the year, just looking for cheap. I would prefer a five-speed six-cylinder. I would primarily use it for a fun weekend car and a little plowing in the winter. I was hoping to put in a rebuilt engine and transmission, Rhino-Line the interior, and add a mild lift. The toughest part of it all is I am considering using a Toyota drivetrain. What really concerns me about this is having to possibly put in a new computer and/or transfer case. I think that might get expensive. What do you think? What model year would you recommend, engine setup, and any other tips, as I am new to Jeeps?
Oak Grove, KY
By all means go with the Wrangler over the CJ. To start with, the suspension system is much better, and the frame is stiffer. Find a '91-or-later with the 4.0L fuel-injected six-cylinder and the AX15 transmission. The really weak link is the Dana 35 rear axle. If you don't use it hard, and limit the tire size to, say, 31 inches, then I have known the axleshafts to last well over 150,000 miles. With 33s and a bit of traction, the axleshafts are made of butter. If you decide you need a stronger rear axle, then keep your eye out for a disc-brake 8.8-inch rearend out of a Ford Explorer or a Jeep Dana 44 from a TJ to swap in.
When you say you want to use the Toyota drivetrain, do you mean engine, transmission, and transfer case along with the front and rear axles? Well, the Toyota components are pretty darn strong, but to go to all that much work to install them would be, well, a heck of a lot of work. Yes, you would need a new computer and wiring harness to make the swap, and then would the Jeep still be emissions-legal in your state? If that is the way you're going, then I suggest you buy a pre-'91 as it would be easier to get around most emissions issues.
I have a '95 Dodge Ram 1500 two-wheel-drive with a 360 V-8. I was in an accident where I rear-ended someone, with most of the damage occurring to my vehicle on the driver side. Now, with the wheel at center, and turning to the right, it will go to the lock, but from center turning to the left, it only goes half to three quarters of a turn. I have replaced the steering gearbox, replaced the passenger pitman arm, had the drag link and tie rods checked to see if they were bent. I need help to fix my truck. Does anyone have any idea what could be wrong?
New London, OH
That's a tough question to answer without really looking at all the steering components. My first-and in reality, only-thoughts I have are that you do not have the steering gear in the steering box centered. I suggest that you pull the drag link off the pitman arm and then turn the steering wheel all the way until it stops in one direction. Mark the steering wheel with a piece of tape in alignment with a fixed object. Now turn the wheel in the opposite direction, counting the turns it takes. Divide this number in half, and then turn the wheel back to this number. This will place the steering box gears within their center.
The steering wheel's crossbars may or may not be centered. If they are not, remove the coupler from the splined input shaft of the steering box and reinstall it with the wheel in a centered position.
There may be a flat spot on the steering box's input shaft. If so, this flat spot should be facing upward; if not, turn it so it is before connecting the coupler. My guess is that you're going to now have to change the adjustable length of the drag link so it properly lines up with the pitman arm.