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ZONE 4.25" combo lift for TJ available at Rockridge4wPoison spyder items @ oconee off road 706 534 9955FrEaKy FrIdAy SaLe!!!!

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Unread 01-11-2013, 10:02 AM   #1
gunnersmateguns
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General Questions concerning the best ZJ to buy

Hello,
I am new to this forum, and new to Jeep ownership. At the current time I am just looking, but intend to purchase a Jeep in the next couple of weeks (hopefully). I previously owned a 1993 Range Rover. The modifications that I made to it were inspired by the Camel Trophy Land Rovers. This made a vehicle that was well mannered on road, and very capable off road in a variety of situations. I enjoyed being off road and want to share this experience with my family. I have been looking at the Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ as a way to do this. In my area they are cheap ($2,000.00 to $4,000.00), most have 130K to 170K on them. Usually a little rust on the hoods and tailgates, but no major rust out issues. I seem to remember reading here on the forum that the consensus is that the 1996 and 1997 Grand Cherokees are the best, and there was extensive discussion of the best engines, transmissions, and transfer cases. It seems that the 4.0L 6 cylinder was said to have the best transfer case and be the most likely to be alright with high mileage, but the V8 engines had better transmissions. I am looking at a couple of Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo's, one with a V8 and the other with a 6 cylinder (lower trim level equals less to break and go wrong which was the basic problem with my Range Rover, the accessories). Are the above prices in line with the age and mileage of these vehicles? Which engine/transmission/transfer case combination is most durable, and can you identify which transfer case a Grand Cherokee has by its shifter bezel? I plan on up grading the vehicle over time, in kind of the same way that I did to my Range Rover (front and rear bumpers, bull bar with grill guard, winch, mild lift and suspension work, tires, auxiliary lighting, skid plates and rock sliders, etc..). I guess I am looking for your professional opinions concerning is this a good deal, durability issues, and pricing (kind of like was done in the Grand Cherokee WJ forum) Thank you
Mike

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Unread 01-11-2013, 10:08 AM   #2
PolkaPower
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All 96-98 v8's have the 249 transfer case, dana 44a rear axle and 44re transmission except the 5.9 which has a 46 re transmission. 93-95 had the earlier 249, dana 35c and 46rh transmission.
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Unread 01-11-2013, 10:29 AM   #3
HighLonesome
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I only know V8s...

Early ZJ = 93-95, late 96-98

97s are the worst IMO. Electrical troubles.

93s are odd and a lot of parts are unique to that year.

Early ZJs are OBD1 so engine performance mods are very limited.

Early V8s have a stonger trans than 96-98. Except for the 98 niner.

Late ZJs have a way better transmission mount and crossmember. Easy swap to early ZJ.

Late V8s have the D44a rear axle, Early has the D turdy five.

93-early 94 have a nice ujoint front driveshaft. Later have a crappy CV style.

Personally, I think 98 or late 95 V8s are the best. Late 95s have the best fuel injection system of any year and the newer brake system. And the symmetrical flexplate. Would have been nice if 95 had the Ujoint front DS.

V8 transfer case is garbage in all years.
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Unread 01-11-2013, 01:53 PM   #4
ejschultz
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I'm pretty sure the front drive shaft was either u-joint or CV depending on how the guy installing drive shafts at the factory felt that day. I have a 97 5.2 with a stock u-joint front drive shaft. The Jeep was bone stock when I got it a few years ago with only 65k on it. I doubt the old lady that had it changed the DS and the pinion yoke.
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97 ZJ - 5.2L, 242, 4" IRO lift w/short arms & adj. TBs, JKS Discos/BPEs, DT3000s, Aussie'd 44A, sliders, OEM skids/hooks/hitch, 31" Duratracs on 15x8s
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Unread 01-11-2013, 02:33 PM   #5
HighLonesome
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejschultz View Post
I'm pretty sure the front drive shaft was either u-joint or CV depending on how the guy installing drive shafts at the factory felt that day. I have a 97 5.2 with a stock u-joint front drive shaft. The Jeep was bone stock when I got it a few years ago with only 65k on it. I doubt the old lady that had it changed the DS and the pinion yoke.
Thanks. Didn't know that. My early 94 has ujoint and my late 95 has CV.

More power to her if she did the swap!
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Unread 01-11-2013, 02:35 PM   #6
PolkaPower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighLonesome View Post
Thanks. Didn't know that. My early 94 has ujoint and my late 95 has CV.

More power to her if she did the swap!
My early 95 limited had the u joint. I looked at a late 95 limited in Vegas and that had the CV.
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Unread 01-11-2013, 04:31 PM   #7
ejschultz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighLonesome View Post
Thanks. Didn't know that. My early 94 has ujoint and my late 95 has CV.

More power to her if she did the swap!
Lol, you never know!
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97 ZJ - 5.2L, 242, 4" IRO lift w/short arms & adj. TBs, JKS Discos/BPEs, DT3000s, Aussie'd 44A, sliders, OEM skids/hooks/hitch, 31" Duratracs on 15x8s
14 JKU Sport S - Stock
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Unread 01-11-2013, 04:41 PM   #8
dunkeye11
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The 95 below have a more boxy interior

96 above look very modern
96 limited is a good choice in my mind get the one with the nicest interior and lowest mileage
You will have to replace parts no mater what you buy
96+ seem more prevalent in most areas and parts can be upward comparable not backward compatible with the 93-95 years work ok in 96-98 it's really personal preference I recommend a V8 as the 318 is very strong
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Unread 01-11-2013, 04:44 PM   #9
dunkeye11
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Also do the turn test with the v8 transfer case

Mine is still strong after 173xxx miles so some are still good
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Unread 01-11-2013, 05:02 PM   #10
T-nave
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My vote would be a 98 limited 5.9 liter. Then find a 242 transfer case and go from there. That's what I did anyway.
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9er, 3.5 IRO lift + 3/4" spacers w/ adjustable trac bars and arms, 242 swap, 285/70/17 Duratracs and some other doo dads
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Unread 01-12-2013, 04:40 PM   #11
gunnersmateguns
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So I take it from the responses that I received that the recomendation is for a 1995 or later (just not a 1997) Grand Cherokee Laredo with a V8, in the best conditions possible. I thank those that replied for their recommendations, and would like to ask if there are any other things that I should be taking into consideration.
Mike
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Unread 01-12-2013, 04:52 PM   #12
Jeeples
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejschultz View Post
I'm pretty sure the front drive shaft was either u-joint or CV depending on how the guy installing drive shafts at the factory felt that day. I have a 97 5.2 with a stock u-joint front drive shaft. The Jeep was bone stock when I got it a few years ago with only 65k on it. I doubt the old lady that had it changed the DS and the pinion yoke.
Agreed.

My '96 has a U-joint front shaft, however I am unsure of the vehicles' history, but given that it is completely stock I doubt its been swapped.
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Unread 01-12-2013, 05:03 PM   #13
Eric1080
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i say get a 98. ive had a couple and my latest i bought with 180k now up to damn near 200k with original 5.2, 44re, and 249. everything works. get good mileage (yeah i do). i do light wheeling with it and dd it- wouldnt trade it for anything. previous owners maintenance was TOP NOTCH hence the reliability
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Unread 01-12-2013, 05:05 PM   #14
Eric1080
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i checked everything and looked at owners receipts during my test drive. paid $4000 for a 98 with 180k miles but i KNEW it was good for another 50K+ miles- besides tires
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Unread 01-12-2013, 05:57 PM   #15
ejschultz
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96-98 are the same as far as electricals go. I don't understand why you don't think a 97 is bad. My buddy's 96 has more electrical gremlins than mine. Mine has none.
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97 ZJ - 5.2L, 242, 4" IRO lift w/short arms & adj. TBs, JKS Discos/BPEs, DT3000s, Aussie'd 44A, sliders, OEM skids/hooks/hitch, 31" Duratracs on 15x8s
14 JKU Sport S - Stock
Build
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