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Unread 07-08-2013, 11:46 AM   #1
fish_jeep
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1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Gainesville, Florida
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Preparations for a long drive in a ZJ

Hey all,

Jeep newbie here. I am looking for some recommended repairs and maintenance to look for before I make a big move/drive across country in my ZJ.

I have a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (4.0L original engine, automatic transmission, 252,000k miles, 4x4). I am preparing to move from Florida to Alberta, CA, estimated total distance is 2,800+ miles. The Jeep is old with a lot of personality (and maybe problems?) and I purchased it in December 2012. I've put in about $1,500 in repairs (most of it to fix problems I inherited) on it including a used PCM, new CPS, new radiator, new ignition coil, new thermostat, new struts. Gas mileage is around 18-20 mpg despite some problems with the exhaust system.

Given the history of the '97 ZJ's problems with electronics (e.g., CPS, PCM, computers, and the exhaust system) I am wondering if you all recommend particular maintenance/repairs/new parts before I make this big move from the US to Canada.

The car's recent history is:

stalling/dying while engaged which was fixed by addressing problems with the exhaust system, cat converter, and O2 sensors (O2 sensors were sending a false rich or lean signal to the PCM and messing with the signal to the engine). Haven't had an issue with this in 4,000+ miles.

Found out the radiator was cracked and I drove ~20 miles (trying to drive from Florida to Louisiana last week) at high temperatures before replacing the lost coolant with water. Drove to my mechanic and had radiator and coolant replaced. Drove to Louisiana later that day.

On the way back from Louisiana (5 days after the cracked radiator), the car lost power/acceleration and then died on the I-10 Eastbound freeway. Towed to a mechanic who threw some parts at it (at no cost to me) and eventually found the ignition coil and CPS were both broken (they had thought it was a PCM problem and ordered a refurbished one from Birmingham but the new PCM didn't change any signals compared with the old one). Thoughts on my end were the high temperatures of the cracked radiator the week before made these older parts go bad real fast.

So at the end of July I am gearing up to drive across North America to move to my new job in Alberta, Canada. And I want to give my ZJ attention and care before I make this move. Plan on getting new tires on her shortly.

Are there any thoughts or common problems people have on these long drives that I can try to focus on before I need to leave town?

Thank you all so much for the help and advice!

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Unread 07-08-2013, 12:22 PM   #2
PolkaPower
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Triple A
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Unread 07-08-2013, 12:23 PM   #3
fish_jeep
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Originally Posted by PolkaPower View Post
Triple A
Will do, I definitely need to prioritize getting a membership before the move.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 12:49 PM   #4
xcaliber81
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What are you planning on doing to it to make it legal to insure in canada? Here we require daytime running lights and not to boot it will have to pass inspection before its legal to insure in canada.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 01:47 PM   #5
fish_jeep
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Originally Posted by xcaliber81 View Post
What are you planning on doing to it to make it legal to insure in canada? Here we require daytime running lights and not to boot it will have to pass inspection before its legal to insure in canada.
I have it registered to Florida (US) until 2015 and my insurance allows for the out of country insurance (I believe, I should look more into this). I am coming in on a study permit for a PhD program and I have heard that this shouldn't be an issue for international students.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 02:00 PM   #6
zjosh93
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2800 miles at an average speed of around 60 mph, so about 47 hours of drive time. How long is your daily commute? An hour? So your trip is the equivalent of maybe 8 - 10 weeks of normal driving. Look around at anything that looks like it might fail in the next 3 months. Loose pulleys, cracked belts, swollen hoses, that kind of thing. Replace any that are suspect. Change your fluids and go. Maybe consider a fresh set of plugs and wires, a new air filter, and new fuel filter.

If you drive it everyday and you don't notice any issues then anything beyond the basic maintenance stuff I mentioned above is probably not worth much. If a part is going to go bad on your trip it was going to go bad in the next couple months anyway. Sometimes you can tell when a part is going out but some just break, no way around it. Bring tools and fluids.

Highway miles are not as rough on your Jeep as everyday start and stop driving. In fact a good long drive can help. We once took my grandmother's old car from Las Cruces to Austin and the mileage went from 15 mpg at the start to more than 20 mpg at the end.

My family used to drive 1350 miles to Ohio and back almost every summer and we've only had one bad starter, one bad battery, and one broken computer ground wire. Not really the kind of trouble you can spot ahead of time.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 02:01 PM   #7
dnuccio
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dont drive it
make sure all fluids are good and topped off/at the level they should be. bring a spare serp belt, some tools, and a towel/blanket to lay on just in case. make sure your spare tire has the proper pressure in it.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 03:02 PM   #8
Uniblurb
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You may want to have your manifold/header checked for cracks at the welds where the pipes come together because this is a common problem on 4.0 engines.

I can relate to prepping for your long haul since my son's moving 2,600 miles away to S.Cal in a few weeks. On his 96 4.0 XJ I'm doing a complete tune-up with new plugs, wires, cap and rotor. Also changing the serpentine belt, air filter, oil w/filter, fluid changes in the transmission, transfer case, both axles/differentials, etc.. I'm also installing a B&M oil cooler in front of the AC condenser since he'll be hauling a U-haul trailer and don't need any trans overheating problems.

I'll also be buying him a AAA membership and probably one of the higher-end ones because they ream you for towing any distance on the cheaper AAA packages.

Take a small pillow to put behind your back along with lots of coffee, refreshments & snacks!

Have a safe trip and good luck!
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96 4.0 ZJ Laredo, 2004 4.7L WJ Limited, 93 4.0 XJ (spare), 96 4.0 XJ (son's)

-Stalling ZJ? 12 things to check before replacing a sensor; the Dirty Dozen
-Crankshaft position sensor multimeter test. & video of testing.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 03:51 PM   #9
fish_jeep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uniblurb View Post
You may want to have your manifold/header checked for cracks at the welds where the pipes come together because this is a common problem on 4.0 engines.

I can relate to prepping for your long haul since my son's moving 2,600 miles away to S.Cal in a few weeks. On his 96 4.0 XJ I'm doing a complete tune-up with new plugs, wires, cap and rotor. Also changing the serpentine belt, air filter, oil w/filter, fluid changes in the transmission, transfer case, both axles/differentials, etc.. I'm also installing a B&M oil cooler in front of the AC condenser since he'll be hauling a U-haul trailer and don't need any trans overheating problems.

I'll also be buying him a AAA membership and probably one of the higher-end ones because they ream you for towing any distance on the cheaper AAA packages.

Take a small pillow to put behind your back along with lots of coffee, refreshments & snacks!

Have a safe trip and good luck!
Thanks for the tips Uniblurb. I am going to look into these components ASAP. Figured I'd just do the full tune-up before I go. Going to get in the AAA membership as well.

I am aware of the problems on the 4.0L exhaust manifolds. Any thoughts that a manifold problem could lead to safety issues on such a lengthy drive (e.g., breakdowns, overheating)? So far, I haven't picked up on any issues with gas mileage yet.

Honestly, I just need to get to Canada in this old babe in one piece. If something is likely to cause safety issues, I want to look at it. If its general mileage, or efficiency problems I am less concerned at the moment because I'll probably transition out of this ZJ into a smaller car for daily commutes. Maybe keep her around for the rugged work.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 03:52 PM   #10
fish_jeep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zjosh93 View Post
2800 miles at an average speed of around 60 mph, so about 47 hours of drive time. How long is your daily commute? An hour? So your trip is the equivalent of maybe 8 - 10 weeks of normal driving. Look around at anything that looks like it might fail in the next 3 months. Loose pulleys, cracked belts, swollen hoses, that kind of thing. Replace any that are suspect. Change your fluids and go. Maybe consider a fresh set of plugs and wires, a new air filter, and new fuel filter.

If you drive it everyday and you don't notice any issues then anything beyond the basic maintenance stuff I mentioned above is probably not worth much. If a part is going to go bad on your trip it was going to go bad in the next couple months anyway. Sometimes you can tell when a part is going out but some just break, no way around it. Bring tools and fluids.

Highway miles are not as rough on your Jeep as everyday start and stop driving. In fact a good long drive can help. We once took my grandmother's old car from Las Cruces to Austin and the mileage went from 15 mpg at the start to more than 20 mpg at the end.

My family used to drive 1350 miles to Ohio and back almost every summer and we've only had one bad starter, one bad battery, and one broken computer ground wire. Not really the kind of trouble you can spot ahead of time.

Thanks for the tips zjosh, appreciate any advice. Just wanting to get there safely; time isn't a huge issue on the drive (if I need to do 55mph on a highway I will).
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Unread 07-08-2013, 06:38 PM   #11
Uniblurb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fish_jeep View Post
Thanks for the tips Uniblurb. I am going to look into these components ASAP. Figured I'd just do the full tune-up before I go. Going to get in the AAA membership as well.

I am aware of the problems on the 4.0L exhaust manifolds. Any thoughts that a manifold problem could lead to safety issues on such a lengthy drive (e.g., breakdowns, overheating)? So far, I haven't picked up on any issues with gas mileage yet.

Honestly, I just need to get to Canada in this old babe in one piece. If something is likely to cause safety issues, I want to look at it. If its general mileage, or efficiency problems I am less concerned at the moment because I'll probably transition out of this ZJ into a smaller car for daily commutes. Maybe keep her around for the rugged work.
You're welcome fish. Sometimes a cracked manifold can cause some strange reading on the upstream o2 sensor with the introduction of outside air/oxygen which can result in the PCM adding more fuel for a lean condition. With a rich fuel mixture some may end up with a clogged cat. But I'm sure some drive with a cracked manifold for years and may not have these problems. It's easy enough to check for cracks/leaks by listening closely to the manifold side when 1st starting up and also checking where the tubes are welded together with a mirror while cool.

Sounds like you have some real good fuel mileage. Do you know if anybody has cleaned the IAC or throttle body on yours? That's one of the things I'm going to do on my son's before he leaves but he gets real bad fuel mileage the way it is now.

Here's a link to AAA where you can compare the different plans for your area. Probably need to call them about transferring to CA but supposed to be for N. America or even international.

http://autoclubsouth.aaa.com/members...hip_plans.aspx

Even if you buy a smaller car for daily commutes you best keep your ZJ for the Canadian winters!
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96 4.0 ZJ Laredo, 2004 4.7L WJ Limited, 93 4.0 XJ (spare), 96 4.0 XJ (son's)

-Stalling ZJ? 12 things to check before replacing a sensor; the Dirty Dozen
-Crankshaft position sensor multimeter test. & video of testing.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 07:16 PM   #12
zjosh93
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fish_jeep View Post
Thanks for the tips zjosh, appreciate any advice. Just wanting to get there safely; time isn't a huge issue on the drive (if I need to do 55mph on a highway I will).
Cool beans.

I was really more talking about the time of the drive as it relates to your average driving. As in if your trip is equivalent to 3 months of normal driving and your Jeep is fairly reliable then you shouldn't worry. If you have trouble on the trip you would have had trouble pretty soon anyway. Driving long distances doesn't make cars break down.

Good luck on your trip!
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Unread 07-08-2013, 07:54 PM   #13
Kevinyj95
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Check the tcase and diff fluids. There the most forgotten. the t case takes atf+4 and the diffs are 80w90 conventional or 75w140 syn for towing. Good luck. If it starts to run hot turn on the heat it helps and never let it overheat or you will risk the engine. I live 30 mins from Canada and never been. Is it hard to get in? I don't like people going through my car and asking questions. Do you require a visa? Im a paranoid kina guy.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 09:08 PM   #14
fish_jeep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevinyj95 View Post
Check the tcase and diff fluids. There the most forgotten. the t case takes atf+4 and the diffs are 80w90 conventional or 75w140 syn for towing. Good luck. If it starts to run hot turn on the heat it helps and never let it overheat or you will risk the engine. I live 30 mins from Canada and never been. Is it hard to get in? I don't like people going through my car and asking questions. Do you require a visa? Im a paranoid kina guy.
From my understanding I don't require the Canadians to rummage around too much in the car because 1) I have it registered legally to a US State, 2) I don't intend to register/legalize the Jeep to a Canadian province, and 3) I have the student visa/permits. If I were becoming a legal resident then I would have to let the Canadian's probe it for their efficiency/pollutant standards.

Thanks for the advice and I will have a look at the transfer case too. Especially so since I'll be moving from a warm area to a snowy-winter and may need to use the 4x4 much more frequently.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 10:51 PM   #15
xcaliber81
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we dont have crazy emissions standards no worries there but some inspectors will be anal about rust.
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