How to Minimize Fullsize Jeep Rattles for Under $100
Installing new window wipes and tailgate bushings on a 1978 Jeep Cherokee Chief
There's no denying the cool factor of a fullsize Jeep as it drives past you down the road. Those squared-off lines of yesteryear, copious amounts of chrome and polished aluminum, and stylistic emblems, badging, and graphics. They reek of the '60s, '70s, and '80s. But while these Jeeps may look like a perfect 10 from the outside, unfortunately, they can sound like a covered wagon on a rocky trail from the inside. This is especially true of the 1970s models, which had comparably poorer build quality control standards and used some inferior rubber and plastic components. The end result after several decades is cracked or broken rubber weatherstripping, rattling sheetmetal, and myriad squeaks, rattles, and groans. Such was the case with our 1978 Cherokee Chief. Going down the road it sounded like you're riding the inside of a snare drum. The roof creaks and pops, the door panels vibrate, and the windows and tailgate rattle in their channels.
When we redo the bodywork and interior we're planning on laying down plenty of Dynamat adhesive sound deadener on the roof and side panels and will replace the missing jute carpet underlay the previous owner removed when he installed a replacement carpet. But one thing we could easily take care of was helping the tailgate to be more securely fastened when closed and replacing the window wipes with some parts we purchased from BJ's Off Road.
Tailgate Conical Bushing
BJ's Off Road specializes in performance and replacement parts for all kinds of fullsize Jeeps. And it's one of the only places we've been able to find replacement conical tailgate bushings. Factory fullsize Jeep SUVs (Wagoneer and Cherokee models) use an adjustable pin on both sides of the tailgate to prevent rattles. The pins are mounted on the body and index two pockets on each side of the tailgate when closed.
These pockets normally house a conical bronze bushing encased by a rubber sleeve. Over time, the rubber that holds the bronze bushing in the pocket deteriorates and the bushings fall out and go missing. We bought a pair of replacement bushings for our Cherokee Chief, PN 05-2557-2 for $32.
BJ's Off Road sells replacement conical bushings that fit perfectly in the tailgate pockets. To install, you simply lube up the rubber and carefully press them into the open-ended pockets until the "barbed" portion on the bottom protrudes. The rubber barb holds the bushing in the pocket and prevents the bushing from being pulled out as the tailgate is opened. Be careful installing them. We used a small socket to get them started and then carefully pulled them the rest of the way home with a small pair of pliers. Installation time was a whopping 1 minute per side.
Replacement Front Window Wipes
Another common wear item on these old Jeeps is the rubber window wipes, window channels, and upper weatherstripping. Although our wing window seals were OK, all of our other window rubber was cracked, brittle, or missing. We'll do a full weatherstripping replacement on this vehicle after we disassemble if for paint and body, but for now the passenger-side window rattled so badly on the road when rolled down we couldn't stand it any longer, so we purchased a set of inner and outer window wipes from BJ's Off Road for our Jeep under PN KIT-7500-A for $60. That included all four wipes to do the front doors.
The factory window wipe rubber helps hold the window glass in place and really cuts down on rattling. Since our rubber had hardened and broken off years ago, there was nothing keeping our window from making a ton of noise.
The factory fullsize Jeep window wipes are held in place by clips that slide and lock into holes punched in the door sheetmetal. To remove, simply pry them up and pull the old wipes out from the top.
Inspect the window wipe mounting surface to make sure the holes are free of debris before your try to install the new parts. The clips are (more or less) one-time use only, so once you install them and pull them out, they're not going to grab as well.
Make sure you keep the wipes in their protective bags BJ's Off Road ships them in until it's time to install them. The bags are labeled "Inner" and "Outer" for driver and passenger side, respectively, so you don't mess up which side is which. The install is pretty easy, but take your time. You want to get all four of the clips started in the clip bores in the door panel before you press down. As we said, these are pretty much one-time-use clips, so if you accidentally miss installing one clip and the others are in their bores, you'll have a really hard time moving the wipe back up to reposition the clip.
We took our time and made sure we were installing all four clips at once and then pushed firmly yet carefully down on the wipe to lock the clips into place. The replacement BJ's Off Road wipes don't have chrome like the originals, but they function and fit perfectly. Not only do they keep the windows from rattling no matter if they're rolled all the way up, all the way down, or somewhere in between, but they keep leaves, dirt, and debris from collecting at the bottom of the door, which can cause the sheetmetal to rot out from the inside. All in all, two great upgrades to quiet down this old Cherokee that cost less than $100.