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Unread 12-22-2014, 10:32 AM   #1
wizardPC
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Nolensville, Tennessee
Posts: 1,165
wizardpc's 98 Rolling Rebuild

I guess I might as well start a build thread. So here's the story:

This is my third XJ. My first one was a 93 Police Package which developed an electrical problem that I spent way to much time and money on and never figured out. It had the NP242 on it and I completely fell in love. My next one was a 99 and it took me 4 months to find one with the NP242.

It, too, developed a (much smaller) electrical problem that I spent way too much time and money on and never figured out.

I lost my way for a couple of years and drove an 02 Excursion (too big to park) and an 04 WRX (too fast and furious to be taken seriously by other drivers). I spent about 8 months looking for another 99 with the NP242, but of the THREE XJs of any year with the np242 that came up for sale within 150 miles of me, none was fit to be a driver.

Getting discouraged, I finally accepted that I was probably going to have to buy one with a 231 and do a swap. About a week later I sold the WRX after getting fed up with getting yelled at by soccer moms yelling that I was going too fast while sitting still. The couple that bought it called me on Sunday night and said that they'd buy it (they had test-driven it earlier in the day), and the next morning on my way to work, I chased down an XJ that I'd been admiring in traffic for about a year. I offered to buy it from the guy, we went back and forth on price for a bit, and by Wednesday it was sitting in my driveway:



You can see why I admired it. Fun fact: a few days later someone followed me in traffic and offered to buy it.

The PO had made several upgrades, none of which I wouldn't have done, except for maybe the lift brand (it's a rough country). It had a new exhaust header to replace the old cracked one, Dodge Neon injectors, factory fog conversion, factory tow hooks installed, front skid, and these neat fake leather seat covers:


He also had receipts from a recent engine rebuild done by a local shop, and a complete A/C system replacement, and some other stuff. The roof rack was custom made by his father, and the lift was professionally installed. He did very little work himself, opting to pay professionals to do it for him. It also came with an alarm instead of the factory keyless entry.

It looked like exactly what I needed. I knew it was a reliable DD since I saw it in traffic at least a few times a week. It looked very well cared for, and it's very, very pretty. But, it's 16 years old (older than when I bought my 93...and I considered that one old but not this one) so there were bound to be things wrong.

And there have been some things that I've found. Some were wear items. Some were misdiagnosed things that weren't properly fixed. And some repairs by the pros he paid.....well, let's just say I won't be recommending those people to anyone any time soon. I discovered within a couple of weeks that a lot of the stuff was for show. That roof rack looks really nice, but there are only two crossbars on it, and one of them actually rests on the roof. It's not actually usable.

The tow hooks were held onto the bracket with ONE bolt each. The brackets themselves used ungraded bolts to attach to the unibody. The skid plate was held on with one bolt on each side. The factory fogs were wired--with speaker wire--directly to the 12V ACC wire in the ignition harness with no fuse (but at least the switch was on a relay). The shock sensor for the alarm wasn't mounted to anything (and thus would never be triggered). There was a USB power supply connected to the power wire for the stereo, thusly:



I've also had a couple of things go bad, like my coolant temperature sensor, the power door lock solenoids for both driver side doors, and a hilarious wiring problem that caused my rear wiper/washer to activate every time I hit the brakes.

I'm going to spend the next little while trying to document the stuff I've done over the last 6 months. I figure now's as good a time as any.

As it sits today:


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Unread 12-22-2014, 02:38 PM   #2
wizardPC
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So I think the first thing I fixed was the rear hatch wiring for the door lock solenoid.


That blue wire the PO's electrical guy used to fix the 3rd brake light becomes part of a funny story later
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Unread 12-22-2014, 02:53 PM   #3
wizardPC
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Next up was repairing the driver side window regulator that failed very shortly after I bought it.



The white plastic hose is supposed to still be connected to the regulator. So that's why it wasn't working. That piece can't be repaired so I got this replacement part. It's a pretty straightforward operation to replace it. I had to do it on my 93 and I'm not even sure I tried to look up how to do it--I just did it. I'm sure theres a good youtube vid out there somewhere.

At this time, I also discovered the, um, unique way the side mirror controls were wired:



Also note the salvage yard markings in the above picture.



I haven't had a chance to properly fix that yet, but moving side mirrors is not something I commonly do.
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Unread 12-22-2014, 03:13 PM   #4
wizardPC
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One of the things that was slightly annoying was that the speedometer was off by quite a bit. This is a really, really easy thing to change. Takes about 5 minutes to do if you've never done it before.

The jeep is sitting on 265/65/R18s. That's a 31.6" tire diameter. So, using this handy chart:


...and my build sheet that says I have 3.55 gears, I bought a 31 tooth speedo gear. Like I said, it was about a 5 minute install because I'd never done it before.

While I was down there, I decided to check out some other stuff, that's when I discovered this:


Do you see it?

Here's another angle:


Well, at least I know not to use THAT now, right?

Also while I was down there, I saw that the skid plate was not properly secured.



The top of that picture is the front of the jeep. Those holes you see are for securing the skid plate to the front crossmember. That wire you see, I found out later, is for the driver side fog light. The way that was set up, the skid plate was slowly rubbing away the insulation. Did I mention it was connected directly to the 12V ACC wire in the ignition harness with no fuse?
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Unread 12-22-2014, 03:42 PM   #5
wizardPC
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One of the things I didn't notice until after I bought the jeep was that the stereo 1) had bluetooth and 2) had a mic.



Unfortunately, the first time I tried to use it, the person on the other end of the phone couldn't hear me. This was the first excuse I had to tear into the dash.



This is when I discovered the crazy USB thing from the original post. Here are some more pics of that:




That USB cable was run under the center console. There was a hole in the armrest console that I assume the cable was originally run to, but it wasn't through the hole anymore.

Eventually I discovered that the mic was not plugged in at all, and that the cord was neatly wrapped up under the knee guard. Had it ever worked?


I also was able to see more handiwork of the PO's "electrical guy." Here is the alarm, just sitting there not secured to anything under the dash.


This model has an integral shock sensor. Not being secured rendered that inoperable. Also note the valet switch was just "hanging out" as well.
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Unread 12-22-2014, 03:52 PM   #6
wizardPC
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Next up was a new front bumper. It's the Smittybilt XRC 76810. I wrote a huge post over on my blog that goes into great detail on how I installed it. Tons of pictures. Here's the TL;DR version:

Before:


After:


BTW, now that I've had a second kid, I don't really have time to do those epic writeups anymore so that site is just almost stagnant.

I drove it around like this for a couple of months, with some serious Jay Leno going on

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Unread 12-23-2014, 10:56 AM   #7
wizardPC
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While I had the dash open, I ran the cable for my Scangauge II. This thing is really neat and I've had it since 2006 (I think). I use some velcro to make it stay just at the bottom of the gauge cluster:



Night shot:


What I'm displaying here is Average MPG this trip (14.3Avg), Instant MPG (0.00MPG---im not moving), Intake Air Temp (87*FIA), and Engine Coolant Temp (198*FWT). Lots of info available with this little bugger. Reads and clears DTCs, too. I have an "X-Gauge" set up that will tell me how much an individual trip has cost me, based on the amount of fuel ive used and what I paid for gas on the last fillup. That was helpful/depressing when gas was $4/gal.
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Unread 12-23-2014, 11:03 AM   #8
wizardPC
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Next up was the rear bumper. Smittybilt XRC 76851 Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier.

I have been working on a review of this for months. 300+ pictures, videos, over 3,000 words so far....but we had a baby so its kind of at a standstill.

Short version is I'm glad I have it, but I never, ever want to install another one of these again.







As she sat the day I finished that bumper:
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Unread 12-23-2014, 11:09 AM   #9
wizardPC
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Relocating the license plate, with a light.

I posted this over in tech, but I want to repost it here as part of my build thread:

Step 1: Gather the materials
The Bracket
Spray paint
Quick Splice Connector
Self-tapping sheet metal screws
Silicone Sealant
Heat shrink tubing

Step 2: (optional) Paint the grey light housing black. I used flat black Rustoleum because that's what I had on hand.


Step 3: Reassemble


Step 4: Use a sharpie to color the screw


Step 5: Remove the trim piece on the hatch


This is the connector we'll be tying in to. The Black/Yellow wire is positive:


Step 6: The pigtail on the bracket isn't long enough to make it to the connector, so we have to extend it. Slip some heatshrink tubing over the wire:


Step 7: Solder the pigtail and the extension together



Step 8: Slip the heatshrink over the exposed wire and heat it up. This makes the connection waterproof


Step 9: Using some self-tapping sheetmetal screws, attach the bracket to the hatch. You might want to use a level. I didn't and the half degree its off level is going to bug me for the rest of my life.

Step 10: Remove the bracket. Fill the holes with silicone.


Step 11: Attach your license plate. This makes step 12 easier.

Step 12: Reattach the bracket. Run the wire behind the bracket so that it comes out the right side. I didn't get a good picture of this, but if you're holding the bracket in your hand it will totally make sense.


Step 13: Run the wire along the edge of the piece that holds the trim all the way past the connector for the stock light.


Step 14: Cut the wire, leaving yourself some room.


Step 15: Splice the wire from the license plate bracket into the black/yellow wire. I used a quick splice connector.


Step 16: Go turn on your lights and verify that your new light works


Step 17: Put your trim piece back on and you're done!


(AZ_Jeff points out in the tech thread that you need to put something between the license plate bracket and the hatch to prevent the paint from being rubbed off and rust developing)
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Unread 12-23-2014, 11:23 AM   #10
wizardPC
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Next up, I went ahead and got the Smittybilt Bull Bar for the front bumper. Still no winch.

Before:




The bar:


Lining it up:


Post-install:






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Unread 12-23-2014, 11:43 AM   #11
wizardPC
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
 
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So at some point all with all the extra weight front and rear, I really started noticing body roll. I thought it might have been that the PO didn't replace the original shocks when he had the lift put on, but I asked him about it and he sent me receipts for the Rough Country shocks he had installed.

Around the same time, someone mentioned a clunking sound they were hearing while going over bumps, and how it was because of their sway bar bushings. I had the same sound, so I checked, and...





Replaced them with these sway bar bushings and end links.

HOLY CORNERING BATMAN!

Those end links are the stock length, but I should've gotten longer ones due to the lift. I'll be getting disconnects instead, but in a little while.
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Unread 12-23-2014, 11:59 AM   #12
wizardPC
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
 
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Location: Nolensville, Tennessee
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Next thing I had to deal with was my door locks.

See, the thing is, this jeep has 3 DIFFERENT keys. One for the ignition and glove box, one for the passenger door and rear hatch, and one for the drivers door. Incidentally, I don't have the one for the drivers door. No, I don't know why this is the case. I do have my suspicions, though.

Anyway so within a couple of months of me buying it, the rear driver-side door stopped reliably unlocking with the electric lock. Not a big deal, but with kids in the back I have to be able to get in there, you know?

The first thing I tried to do was clean the actuator and check for binding, btu when I pulled it out I could tell it was toast. I searched and searched and searched for a replacement but couldn't find one. The door lock actuator and the bearclaw are one piece. I *was* able to find a front passenger assembly...for $110.

I ended up putting it on my "salvage yard" list of things to pick up if I went.

Then, a couple of weeks later, my driver front door did the same that. That was when I discovered I didn't have a key for that door, and had to go through the passenger door to unlock the driver side.

Eff. That.

That was on like a Tuesday so i started prepping for a trip to pull a part. Come to find out that the door lock actuator mechanism for 97+ XJs are interchangeable with ZJs, which was good since the local yard had exactly one 97+ XJ but plenty of ZJs.

Good to know, since when I got there the XJ was missing its front doors entirely. I pulled door lock actuators for all four doors. Total cost: $16. It took about an hour to replace the front and rear driver side ones, and the passenger side ones are sitting in my garage for the day when those fail.

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Unread 12-23-2014, 12:08 PM   #13
wizardPC
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
 
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My first XJ (93) suffered a burnt out light switch on the Interstate a hundred miles from home at 9pm on a Sunday night and I had to be at work the next morning. In a feat of redneck ingenuity, I was able to get to a walmart and buy some "off road" lights, mount them on the bumper, and wire them directly to the battery so I could make it home.

My second XJ (99) developed a short in the light switch, which then caused a secondary short in the dash lighting.

So the first time I drove this one at night and noticed the headlights flickering....I bought a Putco. Like, that day. Might have even been at a stoplight on the way home.

Installed it the day after it came, and added fuses to each line. Last thing I need is for the things to short and catch fire.

I still have sealed beams for now, but the Putco is running great.
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Unread 12-23-2014, 12:34 PM   #14
wizardPC
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I'm pretty sure that brings us to "and then we had a baby and I was home for a month."

Now, I only got to work on the jeep for 2-3 hours every other day, so I didn't get a whole lot of time in (but ask the wife and she'll tell you I did NOTHING BUT work on the jeep....the other 16 hours a day didn't count), but here is what I did get done:

NP242 Tcase Swap, including shift gate.

Upgraded the alarm (which started having issues with the remotes not working) to remote start. I have all my notes from the install so if you guys want me to post them here I can.

Fixed a completely unrelated, but coincidentally timed wiring problem that saw my rear wiper/washer activate every time I hit the brakes. Remember that third brake light fix the PO's electrical guy did? Well, that caused my other issue. FYI, this is what the washer reservoir looks like:


I had to unhook the pump because it's on the same fuse as the front wipers, so removing that fuse would have meant not being able to drive in the rain. I got it fixed quickly enough, though, so there's that.

Oh, and that NP242 swap? Turns out that the front output bearing in that guy is toast. I'm not confident enough in my mechanical abilities to rebuild it myself, so it looks like I'll be buying a reman unit. The np242 was a pretty rare option down here...I got the ONLY 97+ xj NP242 within 100 miles of me last time.
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Unread 12-29-2014, 09:23 AM   #15
indeepwithajeep
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Portland, Or
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Great work soo far
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