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1998 Jeep Cherokee Handling Upgrade - Steering Strategy

Easy Handling Upgrades For The Grand Cherokee ZJ

Ali MansourPhotographer, Writer

It’s amazing how much some people can neglect a vehicle. Jeeps seem to get treated even worse by those well-intentioned, but not-so mechanically inclined, owners. Our ’98 Grand Cherokee was a pretty solid find on Craigslist, but it was obvious that the Jeep had been used plenty off-road. The paint was shiny and the interior clean, but one peek underneath and you could tell that the ZJ had battled the sandy and mud-rich southeast soil a time or two.

When we first test-drove the Jeep, we could tell immediately that something in the front end was either loose or worn out. It wasn’t until we got it on the rack at East Coast Gear Supply to install our BDS Suspension long-arm suspension that we realized just how bad things were. As we tore into the stock Dana 30 axle, we found that almost every joint, bearing, and even the track bar bracket was shot.

We’re still surprised that nothing had come apart before now. Given the Grand was equipped with CV-style front axleshafts, we had already planned on swapping them out with an easier-to-service and stronger U-joint set. Coupled with the fact that we needed to swap out the stock 3.73 gearset to match our new 4.56 ratio out back, tearing down the axle was already on the docket. With the exception of setting up the new ring-and-pinion, every upgrade we installed to our Dana 30 axle can easily be performed in your driveway.