Rebuild VS Replace '99 4.0L in an XJ -
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Unread 09-16-2013, 01:28 AM   #1
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Camas, WA
Posts: 7
Rebuild VS Replace '99 4.0L in an XJ

Hey there,

I'm at a crossroad with my Jeep where I need to either rebuild or replace the engine.

My 1999 XJ has 275,000 original miles on the engine. 8 hours from completing a 10,000 mile road trip around the US I blew the head gasket and broke something metallic inside, presumably push rods. The engine died without warning while going about 65mph along an interstate, there were no common signs of bad engine voodoo.

I haven't tore down the engine yet but I can only turn the flywheel about 1/4 turn when I hear a metal clunking sounds and then the flywheel stops.

Is it worth rebuilding an engine with that high of mileage or would I be better off getting a crate engine?

Also, should I rebuild the tranny while I'm at it and have the engine out? Will I run into any common problems with a rebuilt or zero time engine mounted to a high mileage tranny? Are there any higher performance or stronger trannies?

How complicated is it to rebuild a tranny?

Does anyone have personal experience and opinions with any of the following crate engines in their jeep (not to be confused about anything you've read or heard someone else talk about ):

If I rebuild, this will be my first rebuild project. Likewise if I do the install, this is the first time I'll be working on a complete engine. I wouldn't say I'm a mechanic by any means, but I can read and follow directions pretty well and do most of my own maintenance.

I appreciate any insight you might have to offer.

Be well.


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Unread 09-16-2013, 02:24 AM   #2
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2004 LJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Location, AL
Posts: 844
The only to tell if the block is worth rebuilding is to tear it apart. If a connecting rod has broke and has slammed into the piston wall it may be fatally wounded.

As for the various crate engine companies every has reported good and bad experiences with them. There is really no definitive answer there other than go with the one that has the best warranty and customer service.
2004 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
1997 Jeep Comanche - 4.7L Stroker, Lifted, "Restored", and soon to be supercharged.
2000 Jeep Cherokee - Dimples, Factory Stock
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Unread 09-16-2013, 02:28 AM   #3
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1995 XJ Cherokee 
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Location: Los Angeles / SFV, California
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Assuming the core is rebuild-able, the mileage isn't a factor.
If you pay a shop to rebuild it, figure it'll cost up-wards of $2200 (including removing/re-installing the engine).
If you have the shop space, tools and the desire to do it yourself it'll cost a lot less.
Crate engines will run $3000 to $5000 but you can choose how much power it'll make.
As for the transmission, if it was running OK and was properly serviced, I'd leave it alone.
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Unread 09-16-2013, 04:56 AM   #4
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: MB, IL
Posts: 54
Usually, I think rebuilding the engine will give the best results - if it had been done by the book.
(meaning, replacing everything that should be replaced...)
But you will know if that is possible only after checking the current engine.

2001 Jeep XJ
2001 Mitsubishi Montero
My [URL=""]Montero DIY[/URL] site
While not playing with my Jeep, I play other [URL=""]racing games[/URL] or fixing my Alfa Spider :)
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Unread 09-16-2013, 07:54 AM   #5
AZ Jeff
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2014 JK Wrangler 
Join Date: Sep 2005
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Posts: 7,521
If you broke a connecting rod, there is a real chance the crankshaft is bent due to the uneven load and/or the pounding of the broken rod on internal surfaces of the crankcase.

A bent crank cannot generally be straightened by grinding sufficiently to insure the journals can be ground true again. The crankshaft is trashed.

Once you factor in a new crank into your build costs, its pretty easy to see that a new (reman) engine, or at least a new (reman) "short block" is your best bet.
1992 XJ -- stock (RIP)
2000 XJ -- lots of basic mods. Sold to fellow forum member. I miss it.
2014 JK -- the project is just starting!
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Unread 09-17-2013, 10:15 AM   #6
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Camas, WA
Posts: 7
I appreciate the insight folks. The consistency in your statements sends a pretty clear idea.
I do have time and shop space so I may do the full tear down and investigate further.
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