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Unread 05-26-2013, 05:50 AM   #1
straight67
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How to test drive 1999 Cherokee xj

My wife hit a deer with our 03 Ford Escape, instead of letting Geico fix it for $4,700, i decided it was foolish to fix it with 185,00 on the odometer. Taking the Insurance money and buying a 1999 Cherokee Xj. I've read that you need to check that the head casting is not stamped "0331" because of potentially cracked heads. What other things should I look out for? Best tranny and how to tell and test it? Axles, which one? When I test drive an xj what is the best way to check out the 4x4 system and run it through its paces. What should I look out for? How bad does the rust get on the rocker panels? I am new to this whole thing, but my wife has always wanted a Jeep and this model makes the most sense to me. Looking at 2 of them now, what do you think?
http://newjersey.craigslist.org/cto/3799025610.html
http://cnj.craigslist.org/cto/3780908190.html

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Unread 05-26-2013, 06:45 AM   #2
rebelbowtie
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neither of those will have the 0331 heads and they both have AW4 transmissions which are very reliable and used in many Toyota trucks. Do a search on here for axle ID and you can easily spot what axles are under the Jeep by the shape of it. Everything else is common sense (assuming you have own a 4x4 vehicle previously)
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Unread 05-26-2013, 08:02 AM   #3
mschi772
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Instead of re-typing a bunch of this for you, here's a quote that contains all that I'd have to say to you and more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mschi772 View Post
Guys whose only advice to you is "buy a 99" aren't really helping you much. Some of them just blindly regurgitate that because they read it somewhere when researching Jeeps, and they don't even know why. There are some reasons that 99 is a particularly favored year, but it might be that NONE of them matter to YOU. I mean, what do you want to do with your Cherokee? Is it just going to be a daily driver? Will you wheel it? If so, how often? How hard? What kind (mud, sand, rocks)? Are there any particular modifications/upgrades you'd want to do to it?

I think some people's obsession with 99 is a bit disrespectful to how great all the other XJ's are. Even the 00 and 01 XJ's are worthy of respect that is often denied to them by many. You really can't lose. Many minor and some major changes were made between 84 and 01. I'm sure you can find a list of all the changes out there somewhere; I know I found that info myself once upon a time.

Aside from the normal stuff to look out for with ANY used car, be aware that 84-86 XJ's had GM engines that pale in comparison to the 4.0 of 87-01 (I'm just ignoring the 4 cyl engines that some XJ's had). The pre-91 Renix systems are a bit ... "special" and simply something to be aware of and ready to work with if you're looking at one. 00-01 4.0's have a head with a casting flaw that may or may not crack between cyl 3 and 4. Many of them never crack (or at least haven't after hundreds of thousands of miles), but many do. It's something to watch-out for but not something that should keep you away completely, and you should be aware that identical heads without the casting flaw are out there should you have a crack. The manual trannies are solid as are the autos. The two possible transfer cases are both great. There are a variety of rear ends each with their own advantages and disadvantages, and unless you're planning on doing lots of wheeling, even the weakest of the bunch (D35) will be just peachy. The floor pans are easily the most susceptible to rust on all years. Because of the limited space for a radiator, XJ's are just barely able to maintain their operating temperature, so you have very little room to slack on maintaining the cooling system; luckily the cooling system is a reliable as any other part of the 4.0, so it's not likely to require much work (and any work will be relatively cheap). The stock exhaust manifold cracks easily which can impact the performance and efficiency of your engine negatively. APN makes a replacement header that is a very affordable replacement should you ever need/want one (there are other header options out there as well).

It is my opinion that if you get an XJ with a 4.0 from 91-99, you have virtually nothing but cheap regular maintenance to worry about. If you get an 00 or 01, you just have to make sure to never overheat it (as if you'd ever be OK with overheating any engine), and to pay closer attention to the oil and coolant "health."
All I'll add is that if you look at one with a 4 cyl engine, it's the same engine as the 4.0 minus two cylinders, so it's just as reliable. No, a 4 cyl won't really get much better gas mileage because its reduced demand for gas is canceled-out by how much harder it has to work--maybe slightly better mileage, but nothing big.
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Unread 05-26-2013, 08:12 AM   #4
rebelbowtie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mschi772 View Post
Instead of re-typing a bunch of this for you, here's a quote that contains all that I'd have to say to you and more.



All I'll add is that if you look at one with a 4 cyl engine, it's the same engine as the 4.0 minus two cylinders, so it's just as reliable. No, a 4 cyl won't really get much better gas mileage because its reduced demand for gas is canceled-out by how much harder it has to work--maybe slightly better mileage, but nothing big.
I enjoy my 2.5 it makes my Heep unique and keeps me from getting speeding tickets because it is almost impossible to go over the speed limit
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He's an angel dressed in oilskins; he's a saint in the "Sou'wester,"
He's a pluck as they come, or ever can;
He's a hero born and bred, but it hasn't swelled his head,
For he's just the U.S. Government's hired man.
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Unread 05-26-2013, 08:19 AM   #5
straight67
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Wow, what can I say you guys know your ****. Thanks a million. This vehicle will be a daily driver for my wife. I am going with the straight 6, Honestly despite the ford escape being a 4x4, I have no experience testing the system out. I have been told that as long as you keep it under 35 mph you can switch into 4x4 on the fly, but it is always better to stop fully, true? Someone posted that half way into 1999 they started using the "0331" heads, I will look out for that as I really don't want to replace the head if possible. Any advice on funky noises to listen for when in 4x4 that might be telling? Before this she was gung ho for a 2001-2004 laredo, test drove a couple that were making funky sounds when in 4x4. I just don't have the experience to tell. Any more advice on the 2 I posted above?
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Unread 05-26-2013, 09:41 AM   #6
mschi772
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If a 0331 head is being used, it has to be using coil packs instead of a distributor as well. 99s use a distributor and a 0630 head.

There are two 4wd transfer cases an XJ can have, and either one can be shifted to 4hi up to 55 mph just fine. To shift into 4lo, you must be stopped and in neutral. One transfer case is the 242--it has 2wd, full-time 4, 4hi, N, and 4lo. The full-time 4 can be used on dry pavement. The 231 only has 2wd, 4hi, N, and 4lo. Never use part-time 4wd on dry pavement.

XJs make a lot of sounds--they're not the most quiet vehicles--but you'll know an important sound if you hear it: loud rattles, knocking, or grinding (this is in regards to the whole vehicle--not just the xfer case), and we can always be reached here if you have questions about something you hear

If/when you buy one, regardless of what the seller tells you, just change every fluid in the whole Jeep including a coolant flush. So many people neglect their vehicles, and starting fresh with your maintenance will really bring some great peace of mind. I recommend just doing a pan drop and filter change instead of a flush on the transmission--safer for the tranny; it won't change all the fluid, but it will change a lot of it, and afterwards you can just do a few periodic drain-and-fills much like an engine oil change in order to freshen the fluid up a bit more.

These things can go for a LONG time. Hitting 300k miles or more isn't uncommon. If you want to keep it long-term, try to get rust repaired because it can and will get out of control if you just leave it be.
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Unread 05-26-2013, 11:13 AM   #7
straight67
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Thanks a billion, great advice, I will post pics when I buy one, thanks again, great forum.
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Unread 05-26-2013, 11:32 AM   #8
Teeka
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Just passed 400k on mine. Repairs done so far in the last 3 years are: new seal on the front diff, new chip for fuel injection and today a water pump. I am happy to say that this has been its only repairs on it besides breaks and maintenance. Oh I forgot I have replaced a relay switch twice for the tuning signals. Best vehicle I've ever owned. To bad my jk was built like this one.
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Unread 05-28-2013, 12:20 PM   #9
Tony_SS
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Hi, I jumped right in and bought an 00 XJ 4.0 sport. How can I tell if I have the 0331 head?

When I did the oil change, I did notice just a very tiny bit of sludge under the cap. No other sign of coolant in the existing oil though.

I should have done a little more homework, but too late. The temp is always under 210 and oil pressure does not go below 11-12psi so I'm hoping that is a good sign at least.
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Unread 05-28-2013, 04:52 PM   #10
dmill89
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony_SS View Post
Hi, I jumped right in and bought an 00 XJ 4.0 sport. How can I tell if I have the 0331 head?

When I did the oil change, I did notice just a very tiny bit of sludge under the cap. No other sign of coolant in the existing oil though.

I should have done a little more homework, but too late. The temp is always under 210 and oil pressure does not go below 11-12psi so I'm hoping that is a good sign at least.
If you have a 00 you have a 0331 head unless it was previously replaced, that was the only head used from 00-01. Keep an eye out for unexplained coolant loss or signs of coolant in the oil, if you want to be sure pull the valve cover and look for a crack between cyl 3 and 4. 11-12 psi is ok (spec calls for a min of 13psi at hot idle but the gauge isn't super accurate so anything above 10 should be ok. Again not all 0331 heads crack and the vast majority that do are as a result of overheating, just keep an eye on it. If it does crack as long as you catch it before coolant contamination of the oil damages the bearings a new (corrected casting) replacement head runs around $500, you can likely get a used "TUPY" (corrected casting) head from an 02-04 Grand Cherokee (WJ) or 02-06 Wrangler (TJ) for about $150-300.
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Unread 05-29-2013, 08:50 AM   #11
Tony_SS
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Thanks for the response dmill89.

I will keep an eye out for sure. I might start searching now for a used head from what you mentioned.
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Unread 06-01-2013, 06:15 AM   #12
straight67
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Buying one today

I am going to buy an xj today, a 1999 champagne colored sport 4x4,4.0 automatic 106,000 on the odometer (Carfax confirmed), no accidents, minor dings, needs tires. I was quoted $450 cash for a set of Nexen Rodian ht 225 75r 15. Test drove it during 90 degree heat, cold air, after market radio. 2 quarter sized surface rust spots. one at roof rack connection other by rocker panel. Clean interior. Emergency brake not working. Owner says bracket broken, claims it can be welded or replaced. Are these tires any good? got good reviews online. I did notice a slight vibration in front left wheel nothing serious, may be tires. Advice anyone ? Good deal ? E brake fix? wheel vibration? Also when I put it in 4l it seemed to slip a little before engaging. My mechanic says not to worry they do that some time. Pretty psyched especially about the low miles. Price $3,500. Pick it up at 6:30 pm.

Would love to post pic, How?
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Unread 06-01-2013, 07:07 AM   #13
mschi772
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Sounds like a great deal. If you can manage it, do something about that rust right away. There's always more rust than what you can see, and it only get worse the longer you wait. Virtually any price a body shop could charge you to repair them would still put your initial purchase cost on this XJ in the "good deal" category. There's nothing complicated about the E-brake, so even if the guy is lying about the true cause, it can't possibly be hard to fix; if it is indeed of simply needing a re-weld for the bracket, I betcha you could just have the body shop guys do that if you or anyone you know can't weld.

I'm a bit "meh" on the Nexen Rodians. For the about the same price, you could get a brand new set of Firestone Destination LE2 mounted and balanced ($350 for a set of 4 from Tirerack). They're the best highway tire imo. Kumho RoadVenture SAT KL61 are a little more aggressive (a very mild AT tire) and also excellent tires.

I only listed milder tires because I figure that if you're looking at Rodian HTs, you're planning to stick to the road. If you want more info than that, let me know.
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Unread 06-03-2013, 08:06 PM   #14
straight67
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Ok got the 1999 Cherokee pretty excited. Everything runs great except a little sputtering. Let our mechanic have it overnight. Seems to happen only when cold. He thinks its the Crank position sensor, iv'e heard it's common. Question: Oil filters, read some where that you can use a larger fram filter than what is called for to increase capacity by .5 quarts for better capacity and cleaning. I think its a Fram ph16 for a fram ph8a, anybody? Also I need to replace the parking brake equalizer bolt and brackets that attach to the cables they have rusted away. Trouble is I have heard that the bolt is no longer made. True? Anybody know where to score one of these things? How do I post a picture on this forum? Wants a url to get the pic, it's on my computer not on the web.
Again thanks a billion you have all be great!
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Unread 06-03-2013, 08:20 PM   #15
dmill89
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Quote:
Originally Posted by straight67 View Post
Question: Oil filters, read some where that you can use a larger fram filter than what is called for to increase capacity by .5 quarts for better capacity and cleaning. I think its a Fram ph16 for a fram ph8a, anybody?
Purolator L30001/PL30001 (PureOne) or MotorCraft FL-1A. It is the filter for an "old" Ford 302 (not the new "coyote"). If you go some place with a filter book just look up a mid-90s F150 or E-series van with a 302 (5.0L) V8 for all the cross-references.

As a side note don't use Fram oil filters there are allot better filters out there for the money (Purolator, WIX, MotorCraft, Napa Gold [made by WIX], etc.).
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