New soon to be ZJ owner! - JeepForum.com
Search  
Sign Up   Today's Posts
User: Pass: Remember?
Advertise Here
Jeep Home Jeep Forum Jeep Classifieds Jeep Registry JeepSpace Jeep Reviews Jeep Gallery Jeep Clubs Jeep Groups Jeep Videos Jeep Events Jeep Articles
Go Back JeepForum.com > Models > Jeep Grand Cherokee & Commander Forums > ZJ Grand Cherokee Forum > New soon to be ZJ owner!

Premium LED Lighting by VISION X, Proudly sold at ROCKRIDGFS: Wrangler RGB Multicolor Fog Light LEDs: Awesome EffectCess Recovery Gear Snatch Tow Strap OffRoad @ ROCKRIDGE4WD

Reply
Unread 10-13-2013, 04:54 PM   #1
BackRoadSeeker
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Posts: 91
New soon to be ZJ owner!

Hello folks,

First time here! I'm in the process right now of buying my first Jeep, a '97 ZJ Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 with the 5.2L V8. It's a one owner vehicle, with only 78,000 miles on the clock. It is bone stock and has the NV249 "Quadra-Trac" transfer case. The agreed on price assuming no deal-breaking items are found is $4500, including dealer, titling and registration fees.

I was originally looking around at XJ's for a daily driver, but I found them a bit cramped and lacking in the comfort department. Wasn't planning on looking at ZJ's at all, to be honest. Most I saw were beat to hell and well loved past my interest. I drove a WJ and wasn't that impressed...and then stumbled across the ad for this ZJ. One drive and I was sold! It feels surprisingly planted and nimble for its size, and is completely rust free and drives like it is new.

Here's several pictures; sorry I don't have anything else higher quality or of the interior. It was raining and I was focused on checking out the Jeep.









I'm going to have a mechanic give it a look over sometime this next week; anything I should have him look at in particular? I've gone down several common ZJ issue threads, and the only things I've noticed that might be relevant are as follows:
  1. There is a slight whining that sounded like it was coming from the front of the vehicle that can be heard on deceleration; it only happens at speeds above 40 or so, and goes away when you accelerate, as well as put the vehicle in neutral and let it coast and slowly lose speed. It did not sound severe at all. I tried looking up sounds on YouTube that replicated it, and couldn't find anything; nothing like videos where the front pinion bearing was bad.
  2. The headliner is sagging and the leather steering wheel is pretty worn.
  3. The back liftgate wouldn't hold its own weight up; bad struts probably

Other than that, no issues I could find! It pulled like a freight train, 4-LO worked great, no weird sounds, cold AC, power seats work, sunroof works.

BackRoadSeeker is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-13-2013, 05:14 PM   #2
tucsonzj
Registered User
2000 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,132
1) idk
2) common, just replace
3) happens all the time, not bad to replace (still need to do mine)

it's a 97 so the 249 is the better of the 2 made. 93-mid 95 was a 50/50 split 249, late 95-98 was a 90/10 split so much better system. Still check if the VC is shot, most last about 100k. 300 kit if its bad to replace if you can do the work yourself. Check drive shafts (front will be a cv) and if you do offroading once you lift it will want to replace with a u-joint style. It will have the D44a, so an aluminum pumpkin and those things like to chew threw bearings. So make sure that whining sound isn't coming from the rear. Low miles, I think 4400 is too much, but that's just me and I dont know the condition other then the pictures.

Just an fyi, you'll get about 14-16 mpg, it's an awesome jeep with a solid engine (i have the 5.2 as well) but lifted i average 12 or so, not good for commuting. Check for electrical bugs (anything acting up) and any engine codes. Parts are pretty available and lots of upgrades and help on here.
__________________
"washing it inside and out is on my to-do, eventually, maybe, if I have time, OOOH angle grinder."
tucsonzj is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-13-2013, 05:38 PM   #3
AnotherRedZj
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: fort walton beach, fl
Posts: 1,627
If its pulling, tire wear will speed up vc issues in the 249. If the sound is from the front then prob time for a rebuild. Mine was $1400 at the stealership (no really, cheapest place in town on that job!) Could start negotiating on that note. Get in a parking lot turn it hard over and do some circles and see if it binds, hops or chirps the tires, if so = vc = more negotiating room.
__________________
5.2 crate - fourwheelcustoms 2.25 BB - 31x10.50 BFG at-ko's 249/242 swap - front drive shaft upgrade by driveshaftspecialistincorporated - jcr off-road front bumper - engo 12k lbs winch......
AnotherRedZj is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-13-2013, 05:39 PM   #4
MyZJ98
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Ellington, Connecticut
Posts: 1,007
This jeep is my jeeps twin, except mine has the 4.0, everything else is identical.

1) being so slight could be a number of very insignificant things, although also could be a few significant things. Definitely get a trusted mechanics opinion on it.
2) headliners are super easy, do-it-yourself projects that nearly every zj owner probably has (or needs) to do. Cheap, easy, plenty of write-ups, don't sweat it.
3) the struts are kind of a pain in the arse, and a little pricey (like $50, give or take). See if the dealer will replace them before taking delivery of it, for $4500, they should be more than happy too...

As mentioned, double check that 249 transfer case. The quadratrac is an excellent system, especially in the later '96-'98 model years, don't let anyone tell you differently there, as everyone is strongly opinionated there. However, it is a very sensitive case, and with just a little mistreating, the viscous couplers fail quickly. Easiest way to check is take it into a Parking lot and try to take some sharp, slow turns into open spots, listening for groaning, screeching tires, and wheel hop. As also mentioned, a new VC is rather expensive to replace, $300 for just the little part, hence why so many find themselves swapping to a different t-case (since other can be had at junk yards for $125 +/-). Also check that the tires are 4 (preferably 5 including the spare) matching brands and sizes, as this is the most common cause it seems of failed VCs.

If all that checks out, however, jump on it. That looks incredibly clean and very low mileage for a pretty fair price, depending on your area, and considering it is a dealership. Good luck on your purchase!
__________________
Derek

'98 ZJ Laredo, 4.0L, 140K, NP242, stock. (Sold @205k)
'99 WJ Laredo, 4.7L, 175K, NP249, stock. (Sold @240k)
'97 ZJ Limited, 4.0L, 109K, NP249, stock.(Current)
MyZJ98 is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-13-2013, 08:33 PM   #5
BackRoadSeeker
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Posts: 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherRedZj View Post
If its pulling, tire wear will speed up vc issues in the 249. If the sound is from the front then prob time for a rebuild. Mine was $1400 at the stealership (no really, cheapest place in town on that job!) Could start negotiating on that note. Get in a parking lot turn it hard over and do some circles and see if it binds, hops or chirps the tires, if so = vc = more negotiating room.
I did some slower turns in it and didn't feel any odd binding...but I wasn't looking for the pulling, so I'll be sure to mention that to the mechanic. Just how involved is the job to replace the coupling? I have access to air tools and some pretty knowledgeable friends, if the worst comes to pass. I did a quick search and apart from handling the heavy transfer case, it didn't look too bad....

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyZJ98 View Post
This jeep is my jeeps twin, except mine has the 4.0, everything else is identical.

1) being so slight could be a number of very insignificant things, although also could be a few significant things. Definitely get a trusted mechanics opinion on it.
2) headliners are super easy, do-it-yourself projects that nearly every zj owner probably has (or needs) to do. Cheap, easy, plenty of write-ups, don't sweat it.
3) the struts are kind of a pain in the arse, and a little pricey (like $50, give or take). See if the dealer will replace them before taking delivery of it, for $4500, they should be more than happy too...

As mentioned, double check that 249 transfer case. The quadratrac is an excellent system, especially in the later '96-'98 model years, don't let anyone tell you differently there, as everyone is strongly opinionated there. However, it is a very sensitive case, and with just a little mistreating, the viscous couplers fail quickly. Easiest way to check is take it into a Parking lot and try to take some sharp, slow turns into open spots, listening for groaning, screeching tires, and wheel hop. As also mentioned, a new VC is rather expensive to replace, $300 for just the little part, hence why so many find themselves swapping to a different t-case (since other can be had at junk yards for $125 +/-). Also check that the tires are 4 (preferably 5 including the spare) matching brands and sizes, as this is the most common cause it seems of failed VCs.

If all that checks out, however, jump on it. That looks incredibly clean and very low mileage for a pretty fair price, depending on your area, and considering it is a dealership. Good luck on your purchase!
I do know the tires were matching, but I'll be sure to mention that to the mechanic as well to check the tread on them. The concept of the Quadra-Trac system seems pretty cool....assuming the previous owner didn't drive like a moron, what's the expected life of the VC?

The thing really IS that clean. Not a spec of rust along the rockers or pinch welds, and paint is in excellent condition except for a few wear spots on the roof from things improperly mounted on the roof rack. Everything works in the interior, and the seats are really clean with no rips or tears. Compared to the prices people wanted for clean XJ's, this thing seemed like a steal to me so I didn't bat an eye at the price. It seems about on par with all the NADA/KBB/Edmunds values.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tucsonzj View Post
1) idk
2) common, just replace
3) happens all the time, not bad to replace (still need to do mine)

it's a 97 so the 249 is the better of the 2 made. 93-mid 95 was a 50/50 split 249, late 95-98 was a 90/10 split so much better system. Still check if the VC is shot, most last about 100k. 300 kit if its bad to replace if you can do the work yourself. Check drive shafts (front will be a cv) and if you do offroading once you lift it will want to replace with a u-joint style. It will have the D44a, so an aluminum pumpkin and those things like to chew threw bearings. So make sure that whining sound isn't coming from the rear. Low miles, I think 4400 is too much, but that's just me and I dont know the condition other then the pictures.

Just an fyi, you'll get about 14-16 mpg, it's an awesome jeep with a solid engine (i have the 5.2 as well) but lifted i average 12 or so, not good for commuting. Check for electrical bugs (anything acting up) and any engine codes. Parts are pretty available and lots of upgrades and help on here.
I'll pass along the drive shaft info to the mechanics. I'm not planning on any hardcore off-roading with this for at least a while, maybe some light trail riding and a trip or two on the beach each summer. It might get a lift, but if it does, it won't be anything more than two inches; I don't wanna screw the gas mileage too much with it since like you said it isn't stellar to start off with. With this in mind, how can I expect the D44a rear to take the abuse?

The price seemed fair to me, but of course if things are wrong with it, I'll ask for money off of it. The overall Jeep is so clean that I really would like to work with it regardless if anything proves to be questionable, provided I can chop some bucks off the asking price.
BackRoadSeeker is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-13-2013, 08:43 PM   #6
jay-h
Registered User
1989 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: , NJ
Posts: 4,335
Just a hello, I'm very new to the ZJ world (long time Wrangler driver). OUr ZJ is a 6 cyl, with 242 TC.

Like you I got a nice deal on a pretty clean and rust free one. I'm just starting to learn my way around it.
__________________
My toys
'89 Wrangler YJ
'47 CJ2-A

wife's toys
97 Grand Cherokee (ZJ)
87 MB 560SL roadster
jay-h is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-13-2013, 08:45 PM   #7
tucsonzj
Registered User
2000 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,132
Quote:
Originally Posted by BackRoadSeeker View Post

I did some slower turns in it and didn't feel any odd binding...but I wasn't looking for the pulling, so I'll be sure to mention that to the mechanic. Just how involved is the job to replace the coupling? I have access to air tools and some pretty knowledgeable friends, if the worst comes to pass. I did a quick search and apart from handling the heavy transfer case, it didn't look too bad....

I do know the tires were matching, but I'll be sure to mention that to the mechanic as well to check the tread on them. The concept of the Quadra-Trac system seems pretty cool....assuming the previous owner didn't drive like a moron, what's the expected life of the VC?

The thing really IS that clean. Not a spec of rust along the rockers or pinch welds, and paint is in excellent condition except for a few wear spots on the roof from things improperly mounted on the roof rack. Everything works in the interior, and the seats are really clean with no rips or tears. Compared to the prices people wanted for clean XJ's, this thing seemed like a steal to me so I didn't bat an eye at the price. It seems about on par with all the NADA/KBB/Edmunds values.

I'll pass along the drive shaft info to the mechanics. I'm not planning on any hardcore off-roading with this for at least a while, maybe some light trail riding and a trip or two on the beach each summer. It might get a lift, but if it does, it won't be anything more than two inches; I don't wanna screw the gas mileage too much with it since like you said it isn't stellar to start off with. With this in mind, how can I expect the D44a rear to take the abuse?

The price seemed fair to me, but of course if things are wrong with it, I'll ask for money off of it. The overall Jeep is so clean that I really would like to work with it regardless if anything proves to be questionable, provided I can chop some bucks off the asking price.
44a is stronger then the 35c that came pre 96 zjs. If you're doing light trails and what not (small lift) the cv shaft will probably be ok, with that said be prepared for it to blow on a trip, bring a spare cv. If I haven't blown my 35c, your 44a will be fine. Remember to check and prob worth doing it yourself or making them change the diff fluids before you take delivery. Do some research on kbb/nada etc on current purchase price and value of a jeep with that many miles. Take it paperwork and research. As said try and get them to fix things that are wrong (lift gate struts etc). This isn't the 5.9, its not that rare of a model. Low miles is awesome but just be aware. Doing figure 8's with wheels locked (turned as tight as possible) to check for the vc issues. Changing a vc is basically taking apart the transfer case. There's lots of threads on here on the swap. Its an excellent case. Thicker chain and stronger then the 231 or 242, I won't ever change mine unless I lock the front axle
__________________
"washing it inside and out is on my to-do, eventually, maybe, if I have time, OOOH angle grinder."
tucsonzj is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-13-2013, 10:08 PM   #8
BackRoadSeeker
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Posts: 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by tucsonzj View Post
44a is stronger then the 35c that came pre 96 zjs. If you're doing light trails and what not (small lift) the cv shaft will probably be ok, with that said be prepared for it to blow on a trip, bring a spare cv. If I haven't blown my 35c, your 44a will be fine. Remember to check and prob worth doing it yourself or making them change the diff fluids before you take delivery. Do some research on kbb/nada etc on current purchase price and value of a jeep with that many miles. Take it paperwork and research. As said try and get them to fix things that are wrong (lift gate struts etc). This isn't the 5.9, its not that rare of a model. Low miles is awesome but just be aware. Doing figure 8's with wheels locked (turned as tight as possible) to check for the vc issues. Changing a vc is basically taking apart the transfer case. There's lots of threads on here on the swap. Its an excellent case. Thicker chain and stronger then the 231 or 242, I won't ever change mine unless I lock the front axle
I'm certainly going to try and get some of the basic stuff taken care of with the Jeep before purchasing; the sunroof rails are already being greased, and I'm sure I can add the struts on and possibly the diff fluid. If not, I wouldn't mind doing it myself for the experience. I read on a 249 to 242 swap that the lifespan of the VC can be up to 150k miles....if that is the case, I wouldn't have to worry about it for quite a while hopefully, provided the unit is in good condition. We'll see.

I'm going to be calling the mechanics tomorrow for the inspection; I can't be there in person unfortunately, because the dealership is about 30 minutes from campus and I have class all week.

Thanks all for the advice!!! If anybody has anything else to add, please do so!
BackRoadSeeker is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-13-2013, 11:45 PM   #9
tucsonzj
Registered User
2000 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,132
Quote:
Originally Posted by BackRoadSeeker View Post

I'm certainly going to try and get some of the basic stuff taken care of with the Jeep before purchasing; the sunroof rails are already being greased, and I'm sure I can add the struts on and possibly the diff fluid. If not, I wouldn't mind doing it myself for the experience. I read on a 249 to 242 swap that the lifespan of the VC can be up to 150k miles....if that is the case, I wouldn't have to worry about it for quite a while hopefully, provided the unit is in good condition. We'll see.

I'm going to be calling the mechanics tomorrow for the inspection; I can't be there in person unfortunately, because the dealership is about 30 minutes from campus and I have class all week.

Thanks all for the advice!!! If anybody has anything else to add, please do so!
Can be, mines at 196k. All depends on PO. I'm one lucky SOB
__________________
"washing it inside and out is on my to-do, eventually, maybe, if I have time, OOOH angle grinder."
tucsonzj is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-14-2013, 12:06 AM   #10
dnuccio
Registered User
1995 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 3,484
contrary to popular belief, the dana 44a is not a "bad" axle, it is pretty strong, and with a truss, ive heard it can handle 35" tires no problem. its a better axle than the dana 35, thats for sure
__________________
Reliability is relative
R.I.P. Ratmonkey
dnuccio is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-14-2013, 07:00 AM   #11
AnotherRedZj
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: fort walton beach, fl
Posts: 1,627
Quote:
Originally Posted by dnuccio View Post
contrary to popular belief, the dana 44a is not a "bad" axle, it is pretty strong, and with a truss, ive heard it can handle 35" tires no problem. its a better axle than the dana 35, thats for sure
This
__________________
5.2 crate - fourwheelcustoms 2.25 BB - 31x10.50 BFG at-ko's 249/242 swap - front drive shaft upgrade by driveshaftspecialistincorporated - jcr off-road front bumper - engo 12k lbs winch......
AnotherRedZj is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-14-2013, 08:30 AM   #12
BackRoadSeeker
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Posts: 91
Alright, the beast is going in for a look over sometime today! Passed all of the info to the mechanic; he seemed familiar with most of it. We'll see how things go...thanks all!
BackRoadSeeker is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-14-2013, 11:18 AM   #13
zj97ltd
Registered User
1993 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Cape Coral, FLORIDA
Posts: 1,064
Can't beat it only having 78k miles. I'm on my second '97, third ZJ and love them, except for the horrible gas mileage. With only 78k I'd lean more toward maybe a bad hub bearing up front vs. diff noise. Common and pretty easy fix. Head liners aren't bad, I did the one in my last '97 in a couple hours. It's at a dealership. Even though the miles are low, I doubt they have more than $2k-2500 in it because it's a '97. $3500 cash I'd almost bet would buy it, at least around here it would.
zj97ltd is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-14-2013, 04:27 PM   #14
BackRoadSeeker
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Posts: 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by zj97ltd View Post
Can't beat it only having 78k miles. I'm on my second '97, third ZJ and love them, except for the horrible gas mileage. With only 78k I'd lean more toward maybe a bad hub bearing up front vs. diff noise. Common and pretty easy fix. Head liners aren't bad, I did the one in my last '97 in a couple hours. It's at a dealership. Even though the miles are low, I doubt they have more than $2k-2500 in it because it's a '97. $3500 cash I'd almost bet would buy it, at least around here it would.
Nah, dealer wouldn't budge from $4500. It seems a fair price for the condition based on others I looked up on Autotrader and craigslist; compared to the prices I was looking XJ's for like I said, I won't complain....

Anyways, truck went through the mechanics with no issues at all. He said that it ran and drove like every ZJ he had ever seen, and there were no weird noises coming from the driveline or any tugs/wheel hopping when he put it through the slow speed driving you guys described. He said all of the fluids looked clean, and the trans looked like it had a fluid change sometime recently.

I am likely going to be taking delivery on Thursday! Managed to negotiate in some new back lift gate struts, which was nice. First plans are going to be poking around for common wear items, as well as changing out fluids, especially in the rear end. One thing it will need in the near future are tires...the ones on it, while evenly worn according to the mechanic, are a bit dry-rotted from age and the vehicle likely not being driven much.

Pretty damn excited
BackRoadSeeker is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 10-14-2013, 07:45 PM   #15
AnotherRedZj
Registered User
1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: fort walton beach, fl
Posts: 1,627
Quote:
Originally Posted by BackRoadSeeker View Post

Nah, dealer wouldn't budge from $4500. It seems a fair price for the condition based on others I looked up on Autotrader and craigslist; compared to the prices I was looking XJ's for like I said, I won't complain....

Anyways, truck went through the mechanics with no issues at all. He said that it ran and drove like every ZJ he had ever seen, and there were no weird noises coming from the driveline or any tugs/wheel hopping when he put it through the slow speed driving you guys described. He said all of the fluids looked clean, and the trans looked like it had a fluid change sometime recently.

I am likely going to be taking delivery on Thursday! Managed to negotiate in some new back lift gate struts, which was nice. First plans are going to be poking around for common wear items, as well as changing out fluids, especially in the rear end. One thing it will need in the near future are tires...the ones on it, while evenly worn according to the mechanic, are a bit dry-rotted from age and the vehicle likely not being driven much.

Pretty damn excited
If you gotta get tires, may as well get a BB too! Unless you can afford a lift of course!
__________________
5.2 crate - fourwheelcustoms 2.25 BB - 31x10.50 BFG at-ko's 249/242 swap - front drive shaft upgrade by driveshaftspecialistincorporated - jcr off-road front bumper - engo 12k lbs winch......
AnotherRedZj is offline   Reply With Quote




Jeep, Wrangler, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and other models are copyrighted and trademarked to Jeep/Chrysler Corporation. JeepForum.com is not in any way associated with Jeep or the Chrysler Corp.