sanchagrins builds and XJ -

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post #1 of 12 Old 03-28-2013, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: NC
Posts: 694
sanchagrins builds and XJ

Hey guys! It's been awhile since I've been on the site and glad to be back! JF was an amazing resource while building my 2002 TJ (see sig for link to build thread). Long story short the wife got preggos and I ended up selling the Jeep to get a more "family friendly" vehicle. The Jeep was my daily driver and I figured the added ground clearance and two doors would make getting a carseat into the back a PITA. Not to mention my back seat bracket was broken, and I've read horror stories of Wrangler rears seats being ejected from the vehicle during crashes with two functional brackets.

So I've been without a Jeep for about a year and half at this point and it was killing me. So the wife and I went out and bought a 1998 Cherokee. It is bone stock right now, with waaay to many miles (230k), but was dirt cheap ($1800). The good news is the engine seems to run great, everything seems to be fairly well taken care of and it has the 8.25 in the rear, which I've read is comparable to a D44.

Here is a photo of the new Jeep as she sits now:

Right now I'm working on all the small mechanical issues and maintenance, but I'd like to start modding it ASAP. I should have most of that done soon. I figured I'd start a thread so I can document the process and ask questions relating to any mechanical or modding issues I encounter.I'm no mechanic, but I'm not an idiot either, and with each project I've done, I've been getting more an more comfortable doing the work myself. The Jeep wasn't too expensive either, so I'm not too worried about messing it up while I continue to learn.

My goals for the vehicle are to get a mechanically safe and sound vehicle that is capable offroad, while maintaining streetability. Until I can save up the money and buy a tow rig/trailer, I'm going to have to drive this back and forth from the trail. All extra money at this time are going to mods, tow rigs and trailers will have to wait.

Here is the short list for mods that I'd like to get done ASAP:
  • 4.5" RC Suspension lift w/replacement leafs
  • 33x12.50 15r tires
  • Upgrade Tie rod
  • Bumpers
  • Differential protection
  • Rocker protection

Obviously the modding wont stop there, but the rest will come when they come. I figure this thread will die down at times and stall due to lack of money and time issues. I'll update it whenever I get something new done.

Hopefully I will have it ready for the trails sometime this summer/fall and if so, I'll be sure to post lots of pictures!


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post #2 of 12 Old 03-28-2013, 09:21 AM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: NC
Posts: 694
Mechanical/Maintenance Update:

Well so far I've spent the last few days working in my garage on the XJ. Most of the work I've done so far has been minor, and has gone smoothly aside from some busted knuckles and scraped hands here and there. Here's what I've done:
  • Replaced spark plugs
  • Replaced air filter
  • Cleaned throttle body
  • Replaced thermostat
  • Replaced radiator hoses
  • Replaced heater hoses
  • Replaced battery cables/ground strap
  • Replaced battery terminals w/marine grade brass terminals

I have the supplies to change the transmission fluid and plan on doing that in the next few days. I've also been having some issues with my oil gauge with fluctuating pressure. I'm hoping its just the sending unit and not the oil pump. It sound like dropping the pan is a PITA. I went ahead and bought an oil pressure test kit from HF. The shop wanted $80 to diagnose it, and I figured at $24 for the kit I might as well learn to do it myself and get a tool out of it (a current theme here). I'll also be changing the transfer case and differential fluid, and changing my fuel filter within the next week or so. The distributor looks to be new, so I haven't messed with it.

I also cleaned up the engine compartment so I can note and monitor any leaks. This is the cleanest you will ever see this engine btw... I'm sure it will have a nice layer of baked on mud on it in no time! Air box out (getting cleaned), electric fan removed, new thermostat installed, new battery cables. Gotta put the hoses back on still, add fluid, etc...

I do have a few questions for anyone that might be reading this:
  • When I replaced the thermostat and and hoses, should I have actually done a flush too? I saw a thread somewhere where a guy bought a radiator flush kit from HF. I haven't added the new fluid yet so I could still possibly do this. Also, when I drained the radiator I noticed the fluid was the orange kind. The manual calls for green. Is that going to cause any problems? I bought green.
  • Is there anything else I should do maintenance wise?

I'm also waiting for the NCDMV to send me the title, registration and tag. Hopefully I should have that sometime soon!
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post #3 of 12 Old 04-01-2013, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: NC
Posts: 694
Well I did a coolant flush (although I had to take out my newly replaced thermostat and get a new housing gasket, a $1.99 mistake), and replaced the fluids with standard green coolant. I also went ahead and hooked up my mechanical oil pressure gauge and checked my oil pressure. On a cold start I had an idle pressure of about 55psi. Once the engine warmed up to operating temperature it started to slowly drop, and after about 30 mins it settled at 25psi. When I gave the engine gas it brought the pressure back up to the 45psi range. So at this point I'm assuming the problem was either with the sending unit (which looks to have been replaced fairly recently, maybe with cheap Chinese crap) or some sort of electrical problem in the gauge. I'll head down to NAPA and pick up a new sending unit and replace it.

I put the jeep on jack stands, and I'll start changing the transmission/t-case oil tonight. The only thing left is checking the fuel pump filter and sock, and changing the differential fluids.

Also, just for fun, I went ahead and got a build sheet for my XJ:

According to our records, your vehicle was equipped from the factory
with the following:

Sales Code     Description
*DL Prem Leather Trimmed Bucket Seats
-T6 Saddle
ADAP Light Group
ADLP Skid Plate Group
AHT Trailer Tow Group
APAS Monotone Paint
ARTP Classic Decor Group
ASTP Limited Group
AWE Up Country Suspension Group
AWHP Power Equipment Group
A20P 4.0L Engine(ERH)/4Sp Auto Trans(DGS
BAUS 117 Amp Alternator
BCDS 500 Amp Maintenance Free Battery
BGAS Power Front Disc/Rear Drum Brakes
CACP Low Back Bucket Seats
CBZP Prem Vinyl Door Trim w/Map Pocket
CDBS Reclining Front Seats
CFMS Rear Folding Seat
CGGS Traveling Inboard Seat Belt Buckle
CGWS Next Generation Front Air Bags**
CKAS Carpets - Floor and Cargo Area
CKNS Cargo Compartment Carpet
CKTS Cargo Tie Down Loops
CKXS Midgate Box Access
CLEP Front & Rear Floor Mats
CSAP Spare Tire Cover
CSCP Cargo Compartment Cover
CSRS Passenger Assist Handles
CSSS Illuminated Rear Assist Handles
CUFS Full Length Floor Console
CUNP Overhead Console
DGB All 4-Speed Automatic Transmissions
DGSS 4-Speed Automatic AW4 Transmission
DHAP Lock-Up Torque Converter
DHPP Selec-Trac Full Time 4WD System
DHSP Floor Mount Automatic Shift Lever
DJHS 230MM Front Axle
DMDP 3.55 Rear Axle Ratio
DRAS Corporate 8.25 Rear Axle
DSAP Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle
EAAC All Engines
ERH 4.0L I6 Power Tech Engine
GALP Deep Tint Sunscreen Glass
GBBS Tinted Windshield Glass
GCBS Front Door Tinted Glass
GEEP Deep Tint Sunscreen Liftgate Glass
GFAP Rear Window Defroster
GNAS Rear View Day/Night Mirror
GNCP Sun Visors w/Illum Vanity Mirrors
GTZP Manual Remote Mirrors
GVBC All Vehicles W/Power Mirrors
GXMP Remote Keyless Entry
HAAP Air Conditioning
HGDS Deluxe Insulation Group
JAYP Instrument Cluster w/Tach
JBGP Instrument Panel Woodgrain Bezel
JCDS 100 MPH Primary Speedometer
JHAS Var Intermittent Windshield Wipers
JHBP Rear Window Wiper/Washer
JJAS Cigar Lighter
JJBS Dual Note Electric Horns
JJJS 12V Auxiliary Power Outlet
JPAP Power Windows
JPBP Power Locks
JPSP Power 6-Way Driver Seat
LAJS Headlamps On Warning Chimes
LBBP Courtesy Lamps
LBCS Glove Box Lamp
LDAP Underhood Lamp
LHDP Headlamp Off Time Delay
LMAS Halogen Headlamps
LNJ Fog Lamps
MBPP Body Color Front Bumper
MBQP Body Color Rear Bumper w/Step Pads
MCAS Rear Body Color Applique
MDAP Front License Plate Bracket
MFKP Body Color Grille
MHAS Black Windshield Moldings
MMCS Rear Qtr Solid Window Insert
MMGS Belt Moldings
MMKS Hi Black Gloss/Black Mirror Molding
MNAS Black Door Handles
MWGP Roof Rack
NAA Federal Emissions
NBKS EVAP Control System
NFAS 20 Gallon Fuel Tank
NHBP Auxiliary Transmission Oil Cooler
NHMP Speed Control
NMCP Heavy Duty Engine Cooling
PR4 Flame Red Clear Coat
QR4S Flame Red Clear Coat
RAAC All Radio Equipped Vehicles
RAZ AM/FM Cassette Compact Disc Radio
RCG 6 Speakers
RDDP Fixed Long Mast Antenna
SBAS Power Rack and Pinion Steering
SCGP Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel
SDUP Heavy Duty Suspension w/Gas Shocks
SHAS Front Stabilizer Bar
SH8P Delete Rear Stabilizer Bar
SUAP Tilt Steering Column
TBBP Full Size Spare Tire
TBLS Inside Mounted Spare Tire
TRLP P225/75R15 Wrangler RT/S AT Tires
TZAP Goodyear Brand Tires
WJ7P 15X7.0 Luxury Aluminum Wheels
WKBP Matching Spare Wheel
WLZC All Aluminum Wheels
XCYS Delete Remote Start System
XEAP Tow Hooks
XEEP Fuel Tank Skid Plate Shield
XEFP Transfer Case Skid Plate Shield
XEUP Front Suspension Skid Plate
XJFS Tethered Fuel Filler Cap
YAAS Build To U.S. Mkt. Specifications
I'm also in the market for some Jeep FSMs. I've been pricing lifts and tires too, and will hopefully pick some up soon. Still waiting for my tag/tittle, so for now the Jeep sits parked.
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-31-2013, 05:50 PM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: NC
Posts: 694
It's been awhile since the last update, so I figured I better get to it! Things slowed down a bit on Jeep, then I developed an exhaust manifold leak. The classic signs and symptoms were there, plus I could see a crack in the manifold. I ordered a replacement manifold and started the install yesterday. I ended up going with an APN manifold from

Here is a picture of the new manifold. It's a lot beefier than the stock manifold, so hopefully it will hold up:

As of tonight I have everything thing removed and out of the way (air box, electric fan, power steering pump, intake manifold, old exhaust manifold), and I'm about ready to install the new one. While I had a nice clear view of the driver side motor mount I noticed how worn out it was. So I went ahead and picked up some replacement mounts. I'd like to get some Brown Dog mounts, but my current budget, and the fact that the current mounts looked like the might disintegrate if I stared at them too long I opted for some Chinese crap from the local parts store. I hope I don't end up regretting that later, and will eventually pony up the bucks for some quality mounts. All these small expenses keep eating into my lift/tires fund.

Here are some pictures of the cracks in the manifold:

Tonight/tomorrow I'll get the motor mounts replaced, the new exhaust manifold back on and everything else put back together. Hopefully this will be the last mechanical issue that will come up before I get the lift.
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post #5 of 12 Old 06-03-2013, 07:13 AM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: NC
Posts: 694
Well the motor mount install went rather smoothly. I had to do a some minimal grinding to get the new mounts to fit into the engine brackets. It was one of the easiest projects I've done on either of my jeeps. The driver side mount was pretty much shot. The passenger side looked pretty good.

The new APN exhaust manifold bolted up great, but I'm having some issues getting the intake manifold to mount properly. I've read some complaints about the the 99 intake manifold needing some grinding to fit, but everyone swears up and down that the pre-99 (and post renix) intake manifolds should fit. I'm going to go back out there this morning and give it a few more tries before grinding.

New motor mounts and new APN manifold:
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post #6 of 12 Old 06-03-2013, 11:48 AM Thread Starter
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
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Location: NC
Posts: 694
Well after a good nights rest and a full cup of coffee this morning I was able to get the intake manifold back on without any grinding. I just didn't have the patience or energy last night. I took it for a test drive and everything seemed fine! I guess that's it for now. Hopefully the next project will be the lift. I've started spraying down all the suspension components with PB blaster so hopefully it should go off without a hitch.
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post #7 of 12 Old 06-07-2013, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: NC
Posts: 694
Next up on the list of mechanical issues is trying to iron out I'm a problem with starting my XJ. The truck never starts on the first try but always the second. After some research it could either be a leaky injector, a battery voltage problem, or the check valve on the fuel pump assembly. I'm going to get the battery checked out and replace the single hole injectors with 4-hole (703). I went ahead and ordered the injector service kit today, and I've got a list of vehicles that have the 703s on them and I plan on hitting the junkyard soon. I figured I wanted to replace the injectors anyways, and hopefully it will fix my starting issues. If it doesn't looks like I'll be dropping the tank and replacing the fuel pump assembly.

Once I get the injectors rebuilt and installed I'll report back on the starting issue.

On another note, now that I have the APN headers hooked up, I've noticed some rattling coming from the inside of my cat on start up. Once everything gets warmed up it goes away. I assume it's the original cat some I'm figuring after 230k miles it might be time to replace it. My muffler is also looking pretty rough these days. I don't think it's completely rusted through yet, but I have lots of large rust flakes that I can poke through and tare off. Looks like once I get the injectors/starting issue resolved I'll be getting a cat-back and high-flow cat for the XJ. The only problem with that is I'll have a mean sounding XJ on stock suspension and tires. Maybe that will motivate me to get the lift put on even sooner...
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post #8 of 12 Old 06-18-2013, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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Well I finally got the 703s in! I had to go to two different pick-and-pulls to find enough injectors. The first yard only had one set of four. The second yard had a better selection and I was able to find six more. I picked out the best six and started the rebuild. I had previously ordered a service kit from Mr. Injector. If anyone is looking to do this upgrade I highly recommend ordering from him. I placed my order on Friday morning and had the kit by Monday afternoon (ID to VA). He also threw in two extra o-rings, one extra pintle cap, and one extra filter. That was really nice considering I forgot to heat up the first pintle cap before trying to put it on the injector and broke it.

703s before rebuild...

Other than that the whole project was really easy. The only thing I wish I had done differently was replace the injectors when I had the intake manifold off. It would have made cleaning the injector ports much easier. After I pulled out my stock injectors there was a bunch of crap in the port that needed to be cleaned out before attempting to re-seat the new injectors. This part of the project took the longest. I painstaking cleaned each port, making sure not to knock any of the black sludgy stuff into the intake manifold. I went ahead testes the new injectors for leaks, and reset the computer. I'm hoping that this might solve my starting issues. I can't believe that with all that sludge in the injector ports that there could have been a good seal, and ultimately the starting problem is due to a leaky injector. If not, looks like my next project will be dropping the tank and replacing the fuel module. Other than that there isn't much else but lift it and start with the mods!

Thumbs up for new injectors!
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post #9 of 12 Old 06-26-2013, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Posts: 694
The starting problems seems to have improved a little, but hasn't gone away completely... So I'm going to go buy a fuel pressure test kit from HF and try and see if it's an injector problem or a check valve problem. Once I get the test gauge I guess I'll go from there...

On another note I had the classic bowling ball sounding thud in the jeep, so I went ahead and greased the output shaft on the transfer case/drive shaft. That cleared it up right away, and other than that the jeep has been driving great. I'm thinking I might go ahead and upgrade the rest of the exhaust next prior to lifting. I've also been on the hunt on CL for some cheap 33's for the jeep once it's lifted.
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post #10 of 12 Old 03-21-2014, 10:09 AM
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Florida
Posts: 2,716
Jeeps coming out nice :-) .. I thought the same as you, to go through the motor first. It took me a long time, I had so many problems but I'm so glad I did. Your work looks really clean :-)

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post #11 of 12 Old 03-21-2014, 04:08 PM
In like Flynn.
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2008 JK Wrangler 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Little Lamplight
Posts: 2,278
I do love me a classic Cherokee. Looks good so far, and reminds me of my Dads except 40k less. Lolz

2008 JK Rubicon
-255/80/17 BFG KM2s, 16/59 JKU springs, 2013 Rubi rims, RC stubby hybrid front bumper, XRC8 winch with synthetic line, RR evap skid, and more to come

1959 Willys Wagon
-Going to be restored and painted Plantation White and Presidential Red

"I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth."
-Steve McQueen
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post #12 of 12 Old 03-21-2014, 06:35 PM
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Florida
Posts: 2,716
I regret not warping my headers while I had everything out ... If you still can, I think it's worth it.

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