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Considering a 98-01 Cherokee....advice??

Discussion in 'Cherokee' started by BigNuge, Jul 27, 2019.

  1. Jul 27, 2019 at 6:48 PM
    #1
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    Hey folks, new member here. I am looking to get into a rig for light off-road and hunting (upland bird). I’m looking to get into something for $5kish, that brings me to the Cherokee (wranglers are way too much $$).

    I’m finding several affordable Cherokee’s for @ $1,500(ish). Finding them 100k-150k, some with a few issues (burning coolant, rust).

    What common issues should I be on the lookout for? I’m planning on buying something stock, then building to my liking. Thinking I’d go 3.5” lift, 33’s on steel rims to start. Looks like to should be able to make that happen within $5k....but I’m still looking, so we’ll see.

    Anyway, I appreciate any input!
     
  2. Jul 27, 2019 at 7:25 PM
    #2
    aggrex

    aggrex Well-Known Member

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    The XJ Cherokee is an excellent platform and wish FCA would reintroduce it. Depending upon your location rust is a concern as it would be for any vehicle. The 4.0L inline six is reliable engine. We have a few XJ owners that can probably express additional information. With a proper lift and tires the XJ should be able to keep up with the Wrangler.
     
  3. Jul 28, 2019 at 4:53 AM
    #3
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    Did a little research last night, it appears I’d be better going with a 4.5” lift to fit 33’s. looks like a good lift kit can be had for ~$600, set of 33’s for ~$1,100, is try and use the stock rims (cleaned up and painted).

    I read about re-gearing too, but would probably hold off on that up front (maybe). This wouldn’t be a DD, just a toy. If it’s a total dog then I’d likely re-gear at some point, but I’d like to get it set up and usable and stay under the $5k (not sure what a good gear set costs).

    The research continues...
     
  4. Jul 28, 2019 at 11:31 AM
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    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    So I found a 97 very close to me. 123k, says it runs and drives good. Rockers need doing.

    He’s having the rockers done, it’s at the body shop now. I told him I’d like to see it before the work is done, maybe I can improve the deal if I scoop it before he pays to have them done.

    In any event, he’s asking $2800 for it (with the rockers done). I’m going to look at it tomorrow, hear it run and drive it. If it isn’t rotted bad, and I am good with everything else, I’m tempted to offer him $1,500 for it (I’ll do the rockers). Does that sound reasonable, too much??
     
  5. Jul 28, 2019 at 11:51 AM
    #5
    Jim Beam

    Jim Beam Well-Known Member

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    Fuel Injection, Dana 44s, T18, 4.10s w/lockers
    I had a '96 Grand w/4.0, that saw more dirt than my CJ did. Issues that I had were the exhaust manifold cracking. I hear this is very common, but easily fixed with a header. I had another issue with many flat tires, but I think that is a separate problem.
     
  6. Jul 29, 2019 at 4:57 AM
    #6
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    I found another good candidate. It’s an 01 sport w/150k. This one looks good rockers wise, but has one of the mysterious coolant leaks that isn’t leaking on the ground. I’m thinking head gasket, but I read that the heads on these can crack and cause this too.

    I have no problem doing a head gasket (or the whole head of need be) for the right deal. Really, I’d rather deal with a mechanical issue like a head/head gasket (rather than dealing with rot issues).

    Any thoughts on this one?
     
  7. Jul 29, 2019 at 6:10 AM
    #7
    aggrex

    aggrex Well-Known Member

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    Agreed...rusty rockers are a tough one as rust in that area is hard to stop. At 150k be sure to consider any engine/axle/trans/TC wear beyond the heads.
     
  8. Jul 29, 2019 at 7:12 AM
    #8
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    Is 150k a dangerous mileage for those items? I’d think the original drivetrain would be good to 200k (more or less). This won’t be a DD at all, it’s be a off-road toy, so miles will go on slow once I buy it.
     
  9. Jul 29, 2019 at 10:01 AM
    #9
    aggrex

    aggrex Well-Known Member

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    Not necessarily "dangerous" but just things I would look over for signs of wear, abuse or neglect. Known problems are one thing but trying to minimize surprises that's all.
     
  10. Jul 29, 2019 at 11:11 AM
    #10
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    Ah, got it.

    I figure 125-150k still presents 50-75k more miles on original drivetrain before major rebuilds/repairs would be needed (on average). I see several rigs for sale at 200k+, but I’m avoiding those.
     
  11. Jul 29, 2019 at 1:08 PM
    #11
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    Headed to look at another option. This one is a 99, no mileage stated on the add, guy is selling it for his MIL. Says it was a DD until it failed inspection for a broken rear shock mount. It’s not far away, so I’m going to look at it. Guy sounds motivated to sell, so if it isn’t rotted too bad, and runs/drives ok, I’ll low ball him and see what happens.

    He’s already said that if he doesn’t get $1k then he’ll scrap it....figure he’s only going to get $300ish from a junk yard....so I’ll work from that.

    I’ll update the thread after I look at it.
     
  12. Jul 29, 2019 at 4:40 PM
    #12
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    Okay....just got back from looking at the 99 mentioned above. It has 144k on it.

    The good:
    Runs great
    Drives and shifts smooth and normal
    4WD works
    Body is in great shape, still shines!
    Very recent front brakes (complete)
    Recent starter
    Recent alternator
    Interior is in good shape

    The Bad:
    Rockers need doing (both sides). Not terrible, the upper/door jamb areas look good and clear, its the lower/under portion that's bad.
    Floor section (outboard side, between the frame rail and the rocker pinch seam) is soft.
    Needs complete suspension replacement (would be part of the lift, so this is a non issue for me).
    Needs tires (black steel wheels and 33's is part of the plan, so this is a non issue for me).
    Exhaust leak under the passenger side (front) somewhere.
    Cluster dropped out/back in a couple times during the drive...not sure what that is yet.

    All told, its a little more body work/rust work than I was looking to start with. However, it ran great and drove good (for a rig with bad suspension). The body (other than the lower rockers) is in great shape, and the interior was nice too.

    He was asking $1,500

    He made it clear that he wanted it gone, and really wanted an offer. After thinking it over I offered $500

    He said that he was going to call the scrap guy to see what he'd get for it, I fully expect to hear from him tomorrow with a "come get it" message...we shall see.

    Now to feverishly research a few things (like the cluster issue)....

    Open to input from all you experienced Jeep guys!
     
  13. Jul 29, 2019 at 5:30 PM
    #13
    aggrex

    aggrex Well-Known Member

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    $500 provides a lot of "good" parts if the rockers are as bad as described. If the rust is extensive / deep into the uni-frame then looking for a better body might be an idea.
     
  14. Jul 29, 2019 at 5:38 PM
    #14
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    So as soon as I clicked "reply" on that post I got an email response on the 01 sport I mentioned above. This one is a couple hours away, so I asked for some detailed pictures to see if its worth it. The rockers are amazingly clean, not a spot of rust, all the way to the seem, and the floors are black and clean. I am amazed how clean the body/rockers are (based on the pics he sent). This one has the mysterious coolant leak, but like I said, I'd rather go into a mechanical repair vs a body/rot repair.

    Going to try and set up a meet to look at this 01.

    The search continues I guess!
     
  15. Jul 30, 2019 at 6:47 AM
    #15
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    I just have to say, I’m having fun with the search for this rig. The options are plentiful around here, that’s part of the reason for picking the XJ!

    Anyway, I found a 95 this morning. That’s a little older than my target range, but I’m intrigued because I wonder if it is carbeurated or not. Does anyone know off hand if the 1995 model year XJ sport was carb or injected?
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
  16. Jul 31, 2019 at 5:01 PM
    #16
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    Well I’ve narrowed it down to my two top picks.

    99 w/known bad head gasket. It has 106k on it, so nice low miles. Runs & drives, but the seller says he can see “bubbles” coming from the gasket. This one has good rockers, but the passenger side is needing a little work to catch it before it gets bad.

    95 w/overheating issue. It has 188k on it. Runs and drives, but seller says it overheats. Seller had rocker done on one side, other side needs doing now. This one is particularly clean, and I’m partial to the color and look. I’m also partial to it because 95 gets me out of the emissions/OBDII test for inspection (big plus for me).

    I’m partial to the 95 because I like the color and look, and 95 gets me out of needing OBDII emissions testing.

    My son is partial to the other one...because it’s red....lol.

    I am headed to go see the 99 tomorrow. I’m trying to set up a showing of the 95 but the guy isn’t returning my emails....WTF.

    I’ll update the thread after I see the 99.
     
  17. Aug 14, 2019 at 4:46 PM
    #17
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    Hey everybody, I’ve been on the hunt and made a couple moves on things.

    Here’s where things are.

    I picked up the red 99 I mentioned above. It is in good shape, started and ran (albeit skipped and started a little hard). He said it leaked coolant from the head gasket, so it was low seeing as it has been sitting. 4x4 worked as it should. I picked it up for $650, towed it home.

    Got the 99 home, began pulling things apart for the head gasket job. I was feeling good about it until I found 3 cracks in the block above the freeze plugs.

    26F2983D-2E43-4B00-8B85-C791D68BD364.jpg

    I got to work looking for a motor. After some digging I found a 96 with rotted floors and blown brake lines. The 96 had 77k on it, true mileage! Starts and runs like new! 4x4 works as it should. Entire cooling system was replaced 8k ago (rad/hoses/tstat/cap/pump). Picked it up for $450, towed it home today.

    I’ve begun prepping the bad motor for pulling and have the donor rig parked and ready.

    I have attached a few picks of everything as it stands.

    A quick question for those who have done it, is it easier to separate the motor & tranny in the truck for the swap, or pull them out as one (in which case I’d just swap the donor motor and tranny as one as well).

    Now the fun continues....swap time.
    46FED24E-53DE-4286-AEB2-5FB16F794169.jpg D49622D6-C292-4376-8483-F23826AAD3F7.jpg 01CED71A-2D7C-4863-B86F-DDBDF81D20A4.jpg 67739355-DC95-41C8-BBBD-29A92BF1E72E.jpg 5ADFF2DF-B48F-4CBC-8017-448826AA8543.jpg 316F69A2-8BB5-4E29-87C6-D73FCB7D8160.jpg 6024E748-29EF-42D1-8BB8-14F5B855CBFB.jpg

    It’s crazy how clean the rockers are, and then the floors completely rotted!

    57BE4D7E-9584-445C-A9CC-CDD41FBB29DA.jpg
     
    JKBob 25 likes this.
  18. Aug 14, 2019 at 5:23 PM
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    aggrex

    aggrex Well-Known Member

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    Ok...the big Cherokee project is on! Yo @Prerunner1982 could provide some experience on this project.
     
    JKBob 25 likes this.
  19. Aug 14, 2019 at 6:06 PM
    #19
    BigNuge

    BigNuge [OP] Member

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    Just uploaded a short clip of the donor motor starting and running....runs really nice!

    For some reason the video makes is sound a lot noisier than it is...

    https://youtu.be/QPoMtmizB7k
     
    JKBob 25 likes this.
  20. Aug 14, 2019 at 6:59 PM
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    JKBob 25

    JKBob 25 Well-Known Member

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    I had a 2000 for 14 years. That 4.0 inline is an awesome motor. Probably one of Jeeps best efforts. I never had an issue with the motor itself. And had 199k on it when I traded it in.

    Should be a fun build. :popcorn:
     
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