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Unread 08-20-2015, 03:53 PM   #1
Grand98
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Help and insight into buying an XJ

I'm looking at few XJs to buy. The few that I'm looking at range from 98 to 01. Eventually, whichever one I buy, I'm going to lift it 6-6.5". What are some things about those years that I need to look out for? Which years are better than others on things such as transmissions, t/cases, and rears? This will be my start into the XJ game. Thanks.

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Unread 08-20-2015, 09:55 PM   #2
chris87xj
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Not a whole lot of differences in the span of those years. I'll let someone else explain about 01 heads.
Here's some good info to help you in getting to know XJs. Cherokee stock specs.
Welcome aboard!
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Unread 08-21-2015, 06:01 AM   #3
75SV1
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Basically, the body from 97-01 is the same. The motor from 97-98 is the same. 99 some had the 'improved' intake manifold. 00-01 revised head, crankshaft bearing and distibutorless ignition. Some of the 0331 heads had problems cracking between the 3&4 exhaust ports.
Driveline between those years about the same. Some came with Chry 8.25 rear ends. A bit better than the Dana 35. I think some of the latter ones had low pinion Dana 30s in the front. Not as good for wheeling. Also, if you want a manual trans, then the 01 had the NV3550. Its a bit better than the AX-15, but not by much.
A lot of parts cross swap. So, say you buy an '01, not much problem swapping on a '96-99' head or even a '91-95' head. People made adapters to mount the DIS coil.
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Unread 08-21-2015, 07:48 AM   #4
S8NNG8
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Just save yourself a lot of regret and avoid the '00-'01. The nicest '98-'99 will be a much more trouble free rig, and thus, more enjoyed.
As far as lifting 6-6.5", you may wanna do some research. Driveline angles, steering angles, and drivability will all be in the crapper, with little you can do about it. Being able to engineer and fabricate a solution is ultimately what you're up against.
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Unread 08-21-2015, 08:35 AM   #5
bluejunior
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I'll echo the others. There are minor benefits in economy and power in a '00-'01 and the lack of distributor maintenance, which is nice. They also do have the 0331 head, which can crack and let oil and coolant mix in the block if over heated. I've been through 3 '01 XJ's myself in a close maintenance sense, and never had the issue. I've also never seen one with it IRL. But it does happen and requires good maintenance of the cooling system as a preventative. I wouldn't let it stop you from buying a '00-'01 that is right in every other way, just look carefully at the coolant for any sludge in it beyond normal.

97-99 don't have that issue. It's also worth noting that 99.5 and earlier XJ's have the more desirable high-pinion front axle. There are pros and cons during off-road stress to a high-pinion, but it gets your driveshaft farther up out of the rocks which is definitely a good thing.

A second point on axles: Unless you're planning swaps, you want to find an XJ with the MUCH stronger chrysler 8.25 rear end as opposed to the wimpy dana 35. An 8.25 will have a flat rather than rounded bottom to the housing, a rolled lip around the different cover and will not have ABS. The 35 will have a rounded bottom where the diff cover follows the housing completely, will have flat edges on the diff cover and may or may not have ABS. You can take a look at the first post in this thread for a picture of an 8.25: http://www.cherokeetalk.com/forum/f8...-8-25-a-17409/


As to a planned 6.5" lift, it can certainly be done. 6-8" is popular in trucks and other offroad vehicles, but keep in mind that usually that's mixing body and suspension lift and on larger-wheelbase trucks that need a lot more lift to get a decent breakover angle. As a unibody, all lift on an XJ has to be suspension lift, and at 6.5" you're looking at new steering, significantly overhauled suspension including shackle relocation and going to long arms or relocated short arms. Most guys that go that high are building a bogger, which trucks are honestly a better platform for. For trail/rock duty, 3-4.5" of lift and good armor/traction are often a better performing option that involves a lot less trouble. I'll let you keep a lower center of gravity, fit plenty big enough tires with trimming and scramble over way more than you'd think. Just something to ponder.

If you want a good idea of what goes into a 6.5" lift on an XJ, look at this iron rock kit and remember that it doesn't include the SYE, driveshafts, and steering upgrades necessary for that height. Nor does it include any armor or traction help. Not to mention the potential axle upgrades that may well be needed for the tire sizes that much lift can clear. www.ironrockoffroad.com/10447.html
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Unread 08-21-2015, 11:46 AM   #6
Grand98
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Thanks for that guys. I'll probably just go with a 3-4.5" lift and just trim if need be. So basically, stay away from the 00-01 because of the head. I had read about the 4.0 having head issues but I couldn't remember what years it was.
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Unread 08-21-2015, 12:17 PM   #7
S8NNG8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grand98 View Post
Thanks for that guys. I'll probably just go with a 3-4.5" lift and just trim if need be. So basically, stay away from the 00-01 because of the head. I had read about the 4.0 having head issues but I couldn't remember what years it was.
And the low pinion axle on the '00-'01. You really don't want that if you're going to lift it to the brink.
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Unread 08-21-2015, 12:26 PM   #8
bluejunior
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grand98 View Post
So basically, stay away from the 00-01 because of the head.
I prefer to think of my 0331 as a stroker waiting to happen.

But yeah, generally speaking 98-99.5 are the most preferable years, with allowances made for mileage and condition of the ones you're looking at.
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Unread 08-21-2015, 12:34 PM   #9
Grand98
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Yea, most of the ones I'm seeing near me have anywhere from 190k to 230K miles on them. Some are real clean and some are beat to hell. Now that I know what years to look out for, I can start weeding through them.
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