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Unread 12-22-2009, 07:21 AM   #1
ramblinman6567
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How Reliable is the 2.5L Engine?

Hi guys,
I am new to the forum and the Jeep world (please forgive me if this post is already answered on another thread - this forum is huge!). Well, actually, I haven't bought my Jeep yet but I have been searching high and low to find just the right one. I really want a Cherokee, specifically manual, in the earlier - more boxy year design of the 80s and early 90s.

I may very well have found my Jeep, but wanted to ask you guys a few questions about the 2.5L engine. I know about the durability and longevity of the AMC straight 6 (I have a '67 AMC Rambler, runs like a champ). But how does the 2.5L compare in durability and reliability? I know it will have less power, but I am not planning on doing much off-roading with my Cherokee. I was more concerned with general performance from a daily-driver standpoint. The Cherokee also has a 4-speed, any known issues with those?
The car itself has 164,000 miles but appears to be in great shape. To me that is a decent amount of miles, but of the 4-bangers run til 300,000 then who cares? haha.

Besides the ruggedness and looks of the Jeep, I am also attracted by its 4-wheel drive capability (we just got 13 inches of snow in Gettysburg!). Does the 2.5L seem to do ok handling itself in rough weather (like ice, snow, etc)?

I know that getting any used car requires attention to particular things - belts, hoses, plug wires, etc. and I am fine doing those things. I just wanted to see if I would have to rip the whole thing apart just to make it run right.

Also, are Cherokees with a stick shift and a straight six a rarity, cause I cannot find any!

Thanks a lot for any help guys
Tyler

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Unread 12-22-2009, 08:31 AM   #2
Kettles
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I have been told that the 2.5L is for the most part about as reliable as the i6. And that they are essentially the I6 less 2 cylinders (maybe even made on the same line).

I seem to remember that they are run at higher rpm's (less power) so they wear a bit faster though. I am not sure though.

Most people will tell you to look for the 4.0 because it is such a great engine, and the power is nice when you need it. Cherokee's are so inexpensive that you usually can find nice ones for your price range too. But If you would like the slightly better economy of the 2.5L than go for it.

Sorry I dont know much about the 4speed (the T4) (or the 2.5L for that matter) But I dont think it is that great. And about handling in rough weather, I dont see the engine being a big factor there, but Cherokee's are very capable.

4.0 with stick.. alot less common than the 4.0 with auto. But the AW4 is an EXCELLENT transmission, so dont pass one up on that accord. The ax-15 is around though, and is a great tranny too (I think).

SO your looking at a 84-86 model? Those are hard to find now a days. I would recommend a newer one just for EFI, but some people like carbs. At least you won't have to identify yourself with chrysler
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perfect depends on how far away you are when you look at it:D
Quote:
Originally Posted by Millermagic View Post
It's a 4.0 ... as long as there's something in the crank case that isn't coolant I'm sure it will still run forever.
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Unread 12-22-2009, 09:15 AM   #3
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Generally, the power difference between the 4.0 and 2.5 is less noticeable offroad; they both put out enough torque to turn (non-insanely huge) tires over rocks.

On-road, though, the 2.5 has to work a lot harder to move the jeep, which is why there are so many more posts about blown head gaskets on the 2.5 than the 4.0 (I haven't 'scientifically' tested this; count them yourself if you want to know if my 'gut feeling' is accurate...)

And, in real-world use, the 2.5 is actually going to get worse mileage than the 4.0 unless you drive like an old lady.
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Unread 12-22-2009, 09:28 AM   #4
XJH-007
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Cherokees I've had in the past and ran for at least 70K:

1984 2.5L with T-5
1992 4.0(HO) with AX-15

The 2.5L is a good motor.....under powered for the mountains, especially if you put on bigger tires. It's nicknamed "The Iron Duke" because of it's reliability. Fuel Mileage will NOT be much better then a 4.0 unless you drive it like a grandma (I got 16-17 all the time). The T-5 tranny will work with the 2.5 well, it doesn't have enough power to break it. (on my 3rd T5 in my CJ7)

5-spd 4.0's are fairly common, from 87-96. In the early 90's they began putting a more stout tranny into the 4.0, the AX-5 and 15 as the T5 had issues with power and longevity.

Ideally you should look for something 91-ish to 96 to keep the style you are looking for and the best motor/tranny and most likely fewer miles. Old Carbureted motors will be a Hassel-hoff passing emissions, needing rebuilt every few years and the spaghetti vaccum systems will leave them spitting and sputtering at some point in your near future.

What ever you do, DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT get an XJ with the 2.8L V6. This motor was a turd in all aspects.....it was a preconception between the 4-cyl and I6.........

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Unread 12-22-2009, 09:31 AM   #5
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Here is a quote of mine from a thread where someone had a similar question.

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Originally Posted by mgramann View Post
On a stock vehicle, I don't think a 4cyl will last as long a 6cyl, based on personal experience, and the evidence below.

With a 4 cyl is the gearing will be lower. While in the city, this isn't as much of an issue, but if you spend alot of time on the highway, your engine will wear significantly faster.

With a 4 cyl at 65 mph, with an ax5, in 5th gear, with 4.10's, 28" tires your engine will be turning at 2719.394 rpms.

With a 6 cyl at 65 mph, with an ax15, in 5th, with 3.55's, 28" tires your engine will be turning at 2182.225 rpms

The 6 cyl is turning at 25% less at highway speed, resulting in less wear and tear on the engine components. If a 4 cyl travels 5 miles, it has 5 miles of wear. If a 6 cyl travels that same 5 miles, as far as the engine is concerned, it only has 4 miles of wear. This adds up quickly.

This calculation is with an AX-5 with a 5th gear ratio of .85. IIRC the final drive of the 4 speed version is 1.0, making the engine turn at a speed of 3199.28 at 65 mph! This is 46% faster than with a 6cyl!

600 is a good deal, but it might be worth waiting a bit and spending a few hundred extra to get what you want. I know I have kicked myself countless times for not being patient, and doing it right the first time...
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Unread 12-22-2009, 05:22 PM   #6
tjwalker
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2.5 ok (iron duke; haven't heard that one in a while!!)
2.8 not a good option at all (I agree with XJH on this)
4.0 best bet

There were a lot of XJs manufactured. Don't fall in love with one until you look at a few of them. You may find that a later model XJ with a 4.0 is not much more money than the one you are currently looking at. The 4.0 and the AW4 tranny is an awfully reliabile combination.
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Unread 12-22-2009, 05:31 PM   #7
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I had a 95 YJ Wrangler with the 5 speed 2.5 "low output" engine. It was a pain to try to get to speed on the highway but off road it was great. Lots of torque when needed and plenty of power for 4wheeling. They are very reliable, and very easy to work on. Seems that the engines that are the easiest to work on are the ones that never need anything...
As long as you treat it right and don't force horse power out of it that it doesn't have it will last for a long time.
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Unread 12-23-2009, 07:12 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by tjwalker View Post
2.5 ok (iron duke; haven't heard that one in a while!!)
2.8 not a good option at all (I agree with XJH on this)
4.0 best bet
The iron duke stopped being put in jeeps in 82 IIRC. 83 and 84 CJ's, and all cherokees got the AMC 2.5 (60 Degree GM bolt pattern)

On advantage to a jeep that had the iron duke was it was the same 90 degree bolt pattern of a GM 4.3, and other V8 smallblocks.

If you have a T-4 or T-5 transmission, a 81 or 82 CJ 2.5 bellhousing will connect a 4.3 or V-8 to it. How long the tranny will last is another story This is also why those bellhousings can be somewhat pricey...
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Unread 12-23-2009, 06:51 PM   #9
ramblinman6567
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Thanks for the help guys.
The trans in the Cherokee I am looking at is a 4-speed, so that would be the AX4 right? Is that a decent trans/engine combo? I would much rather have the six banger, but just curious.
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Unread 12-23-2009, 07:07 PM   #10
Kettles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramblinman6567 View Post
Thanks for the help guys.
The trans in the Cherokee I am looking at is a 4-speed, so that would be the AX4 right? Is that a decent trans/engine combo? I would much rather have the six banger, but just curious.
No its would be a T4 (according to the stock specs sticky). I dont think there was an AX4, atleast not in cherokee's.
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perfect depends on how far away you are when you look at it:D
Quote:
Originally Posted by Millermagic View Post
It's a 4.0 ... as long as there's something in the crank case that isn't coolant I'm sure it will still run forever.

Last edited by Kettles; 12-23-2009 at 07:44 PM..
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Unread 12-23-2009, 07:18 PM   #11
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My experience with the 2.5 was actually in a Dodge Dakota...Other than a blown head gasket, engine was bullet proof.

Funny, I thought the Iron Duke engine was a Pontiac creation first used in the Fiero.
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Unread 12-24-2009, 07:06 AM   #12
ramblinman6567
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I looked at the Wiki thing for Cherokee, the year I am looking at is an '86. It lookes like the AX4 is the trans for that year. It said the T4 was '84 only, or is that wrong? I have no idea, that is why I asked.
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Unread 12-24-2009, 07:21 AM   #13
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If it were me I would keep looking and try finding a 91-96 with the 4.0L 5 speed. There are many out there and they will have a lot better electronics, a non-disconnect front axle and be more reliable. I have the 2.5L in my TJ and it sucks as far as power is concerned. It gets about the same mileage as my XJ with the 4.0L too. The AX-15 is a much better transmission than the AX-4 or AX-5.
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Unread 12-24-2009, 08:05 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramblinman6567 View Post
I looked at the Wiki thing for Cherokee, the year I am looking at is an '86. It lookes like the AX4 is the trans for that year. It said the T4 was '84 only, or is that wrong? I have no idea, that is why I asked.
I am only saying what I read, so either source could be wrong. lol thats what you get with the interent.
Quote:
T4 & T5 - 4 & 5 speed manual - manufactured by Borg Warner - used 84-86 with 2.5L I4 and 2.8L V6 engines
BA10/5 - 5 speed manual - manufactured by Peugot - used only up to 89
AX5 - 5 speed manual - manufactured by Aisin - used with 2.8L V6 and 87+ with 2.5L I4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedbucket View Post
perfect depends on how far away you are when you look at it:D
Quote:
Originally Posted by Millermagic View Post
It's a 4.0 ... as long as there's something in the crank case that isn't coolant I'm sure it will still run forever.
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Unread 12-24-2009, 08:10 AM   #15
ramblinman6567
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Haha, yeah. The internet is full of different "information" these days. Would the Borg-Warner be the better tranny? I know they've made all sorts of trannys for companies over the years, so I would imagine they have pretty decent reliaibility.
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