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Unread 07-13-2014, 09:55 PM   #1
Workman13
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Gardner, KS
Posts: 164
My first Jeep: 1997 Cherokee Sport build

(Sorry for the long first post)

I recently purchased my first Jeep about 3 weeks ago. Bought a 1997 Jeep Cherokee Sport with 86000 on the odometer for $3000. After getting home with it and crawling under it again I noticed the engine appeared to be one out of a different Jeep (96 Jeep was wrote on the bottom of engine). Body is in pretty good shape with a couple minor dents. When purchased it I knew it needed new windshield and a ujoint in the near future. I drove it home 250, it started idling a little weird at a couple stop signs but not too bad. Once home I replaced the passengers side Ujoint which seemed to get way worse on the drive home (going to do the drivers eventually).

After about two days of driving it started getting worse and had soot coming out of the tailpipe . After searching lots of threads on here I decided to change plugs, wires and distributor cap. The plugs were covered in soot and looked pretty old. After replacing those it did not help at all in the idling issue. After more searching I decided to take off the throttle body and clean it and the IAC and TPS. This also did not fix the problem and it continued to get worse. I purchased a new TPS and IAC to try but neither seemed to fix the issue. I returned the IAC but kept the TPS because it looked pretty rough.

I decided to take it to a mechanic in town who did free diagnostic checks. His computer was not advance enough to read it fully but he said it was losing connection around the crankshaft position sensor. I decided to just try that ( since i read they are known to go out) as well as the 02 sensor. For about 2 minutes of driving it ran better but not perfect. It started getting worse and would barely run, it was acting like it did not get fuel when giving it gas it would sputter and almost die. I once again took it in to get checked out since I had changed the CPS. They said it was showing high voltage around the MAP and rear 02 sensor but once again the system the used was not good enough to tell for sure. I finally decided to take it to a mechanic they recommended with a better system. They came to the conclusion that it was the MAP after they did an override and it ran perfect. So MAP was replaced and now it runs good!

It still has a few minor things that need fixed, plan on replacing front brake pads and other ujoint this weekend as well as change the oil. Checked the antifreeze and its looking pretty dirty so plan on draining that and replacing in the next week or two and plan on changing transmission and diff fluid in the near future. I have noticed that when in drive there is a vibration on the floor board that sounds like metal to metal. It mainly does this when accelerating and when at a stop in gear. Of course I try to get it to do it when I am actually at home so I can crawl under and figure it out but it won't do it then.

Other future things to do is remove seats and clean the carpet (its a little dirty), need to check CEL light because it is not working, replace headliner that is sagging and tint windows with tint i already purchased. I also am in search of a lift kit in the next few months to purchase. I have 5 crager wheels on BFG Mud Terrain KM2's 31 10.5 15's I bought for $225 from a family member, 3 tires are almost brand new so have to purchase 2 new ones. Also plan on purchasing a Tcase skid plate soon to do some off road parks around here while its stock to see how it does.

It is a work in progress and will probably be done a little at a time. I am really excited to finally be part of the Jeep community though!
Thanks for looking at my thread and sorry its so long!

"Flexing" the stock suspension


The day i purchased it before the drive home


The wheels and tires that will go on after lift


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Unread 07-14-2014, 08:43 PM   #2
Workman13
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Gardner, KS
Posts: 164
http://www.allensoffroad.com/mm5/mer...ry_Code=ZONCHR

This is the current lift i am looking at. After much review i decided to go with a new leaf spring kit instead of aal. This one has the option of upgraded shocks also, would it be better to upgrade those with the option they provide or get the basics and upgrade to somethign different?

I am up for opinions on lifts also, I want a 3" lift in the $400-500 price range.

Thanks
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Unread 07-14-2014, 11:41 PM   #3
Workman13
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Location: Gardner, KS
Posts: 164
http://www.rustysoffroad.com/rustys-...-pack-kit.html

What about this one?
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Unread 07-15-2014, 07:00 PM   #4
Workman13
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Gardner, KS
Posts: 164
Replacing brake pads and driver side ujoint. (did the passengers a couple weeks ago)



Since i bought it i noticed this plug is not plugged into anything.. Anyone know what its for? I can't find any thing unplugged that it would go into but there is a matching one just like it plugged in right by it.



I noticed this awhile back but now that it is lifted up i have a chance to look better, has the frame been bent or broke and someone rewelded it?????





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Unread 07-15-2014, 07:05 PM   #5
Workman13
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Gardner, KS
Posts: 164
Also the hose coming out of the water pump has a hose rubbing it pretty good. It is the second one from the top of the pic. I haven't looked too much but may need to move one of them to fix this before it rubs a hole!

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Unread 07-15-2014, 07:52 PM   #6
vx1kxj
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2000 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: RI/New Bedford Ma
Posts: 744
that plug goes to the Neutral saftey switch. It looks like they bypassed it using that suitcase circuit that it on the wires because the truck would not start without it.
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Unread 11-11-2014, 10:42 PM   #7
Workman13
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Gardner, KS
Posts: 164


Not too many mods yet. Tinted the windows and finally got my hella 500 lights installed on the bumper.
I plan on replacing some ball joints and the thermostat/coolant this weekend.

My new plan for now is to get a 2" budget lift until I am able to save up the money for a 3" lift. I am able to get the spacers from someone so only have to buy the shackles.
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Unread 01-20-2015, 10:20 PM   #8
Workman13
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Gardner, KS
Posts: 164
Little update on the Jeep build. I haven't done too much but had the weird downshifting come back and then a couple months ago began having a issue with the jeep cutting out too. I did a lot of test on things and on a whim decided to just warranty the TPS that i had replaced back in july. Upgraded to the better one just becuase it was only $7 difference. Put it in and the jeep ran good as new!
I also had the muffler blow out and replaced it with dynomax super turbo muffler. It is pretty quiet inside the jeep and has a deeper sounds outside.

My recent plans are to buy a 3" lift once i get tax return back. I am leaning towards possibly the ZONE 3" full leaf kit.
I have been considering the RE 3.5 inch lift in the $600 price range. The reason i have kind of decided against that as of now is because i read it actually gives you closer to 4.5" lift (which I wouldn't mind) but that means more money on SYE and other stuff that i can't really afford right now. Also i have heard the ride on it can be kind of rough.

I am also considering the RC 3" lift. It has pretty good reviews and i hear the customer service is one of the best.

I have been doing a lot of research on what to get and would like to stay under $700 on a full lift. If anyone knows of any other good lifts in the 500$700 range let me know.
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Unread 02-11-2015, 07:45 PM   #9
Workman13
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Gardner, KS
Posts: 164
Finally got my lift done! Zone 3" lift full leaf with nitro shocks and IRO double shear track bar. The lift was a pain in the ***. I decided to go with the rear first because its suppose to be easier. The bolts were all rusted even after being sprayed with PB blast for a week. I ended up cutting off the rear two and found out it doesn't come with new bolts. It was the weekend so had to wait until monday to get new ones. Finally got that done and flew through the front. I had replaced leaf springs before on another vehicle so had more experience with that. The front was a piece of cake compared to the back. Was told i would have to redrill the holes for the track bar too but that wasn't the case. Everything came off very easy. I will probably have to trim the bumpers due to rubbing at flex.

Here are a few pics, my goal next is to get some rock sliders this summer.







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Unread 02-11-2015, 07:46 PM   #10
Workman13
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Gardner, KS
Posts: 164
I was also really surprised with not having to adjust the track bar. I put it in at the exact length it was sitting and the wheels are maybe 1/4 inch or less off center.
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Unread 03-04-2015, 02:34 AM   #11
Workman13
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Gardner, KS
Posts: 164
Finally did some offroading this weekend. The weather got pretty nasty and made it slick but had a blast!









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Unread 03-04-2015, 05:44 AM   #12
CherokeePpl
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2000 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Taylorsville, KY
Posts: 39
So how much rust fell in your eyes while you were trying to, bust something loose with a sawzall? First Jeep builds are a learning experience but it looks like you did an awesome job, man!
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Unread 03-04-2015, 07:36 AM   #13
AntiHeroXJ
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Out on a trail, Ca
Posts: 76
Looks good. Yeah, the xj is a unibody vehicle and it looks like the rails have cracked and been welded. There are companies out there that sell unibody reinforcement rails but they mostly need to be welded on. As far as bumper trimming for larger tires that's very common. I'll post a couple pictures (when I'm back home in a few minutes) of what I did with mine before I bought aftermarket bumpers. It's easy, all you need is a razor knife, a propane or map gas torch and a marker.

Welcome and I'm looking forward to seeing your progress.
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Unread 03-04-2015, 07:44 AM   #14
AntiHeroXJ
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Out on a trail, Ca
Posts: 76
Ok. Nevermind, I seem to have deleted the folder with the bumper trimming pictures. You can Google it and should find it. Basically what you do is heat up a razor knife and cut the extra plastic "air dam" looking pieces off of the bumper caps. The hot razor will go through like butter and give you good control over the cuts. Then just remove the center air dam hanging below the center of the front bumper. You'll end up having a bumper that looks like a pre 97 and that should take care of the rubbing. It did for me anyway.
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Unread 03-04-2015, 07:55 AM   #15
AntiHeroXJ
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Out on a trail, Ca
Posts: 76
Here you go, this thread shows how I did mine. Not my Jeep but he did it the exact same way.

http://www.cherokeeforum.com/f51/xj-...im-mod-102841/

I also did some trimming on the plastic on the inside of the wheel well up front because I was rubbing bad while turning at full flex. Here's a picture of mine. I made sure to not trim past the bottom plastic clip (you can't see it but it's bottom left of the picture) so the lining wouldn't be flapping around while driving.

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