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Mild Grand Cherokee WJ build

10215 Views 36 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Jeep_XJ

It's a dark purple (kinda rare color... I think) 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ 4.0 4X4.
I purchased this WJ about a month ago with the intention to build a mild, weekend warrior / overland rig.

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Overall the jeep is bone stock, no rust, good shape. It needs some cleaning, paint correction, general tune-up, fluids change, stuff like that.

The plan for this one is:

- small lift, maybe 4.5"
- 33" tires
- front steel bumper
- roof rack
- some offroad lights
- Raptor liner paint job on the lower parts of the vehicle
- general maintenance and cleaning

I started by taking the whole front suspension and axle out. I need to clean everything, and prep it for all new parts. The jeep is rust free, but of course, since it's a WJ it had both front springs perches rusted out. I have a fix for that, so no big deal.

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After I got the axle out, I cleaned all the wheel wells and undercarriage and painted it nicely with some anti-corrosion paint. Also, when I was there, I made a list of parts needed, such as sway bar bushings, new bump stops, etc.

For the wheels and tires, I went with some brand new, straight out of the dealership Wrangler JL Rubicon wheels and tires. JL wranglers and JT gladiators have an option for A/T or M/T tires. I went with the M/Ts. Also, I really like the Falken wild peak tires. I think they're going to look really good on the WJ :smile2:

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Axles are getting cleaned up, serviced and painted. After that, they're going back under the jeep, along with some new lift.


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So I got some stuff done today.
I welded new spring perches to the axle, removed old rubber bushings from the upper control arm mounts and replaced them with new polyurethane bushings.
Then I cleaned the axle, painted it and replaced worn out axle shafts and hubs.
It's ready to put it back under the jeep and start on the rear.

I forgot to take the picture of the ready axle, so that's coming tomorrow...

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Since it's a side project, it's going a little bit slower than it normally would, but I'm trying to overhaul/rebuild all the part I take off the jeep before I put them back on. And it takes time. A lot of time.

During the last few days, I've been working on the front suspension and everything around it.

The axle is now painted, got all new axle shafts, hubs, ball joints, seals and bushings. I'm just waiting on the differential cover, and the axle will be 100% ready.

I installed the front portion of the lift kit. All new control arms, bushings, shocks, springs, rubber on top and on the bottom of the springs, new adjustable trackbar, sway bar bushings, etc.
The only two things left to do in the front suspension is a one-ton steering and sway bar disconnects. Also when I had the driveshaft out, I changed all u-joints.

Rebuilt and painted the calipers, installed all new brake hardware, pads along with drilled and slotted rotors.

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I put the wheels and tires on to see how it would look like, and I must say, I really like it. Of course, the suspension needs to be adjusted.

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Today I started on the rear suspension.

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Today, I finished the rear part of the lift.
Of course, I took my time and while I was there, I changed everything that was worn out.
I replaced all the bushings in the rear suspension, installed a whole new upper control arm, along with the ball joint and spacer.
Now I'm just waiting on some small parts, such as sway bar disconnects, rear sway bar links, bump stops, etc.

Also installed all new rotors, pads and rebuilt the calipers.

In the meantime, I have to adjust the suspension and make new 1-ton steering. After that, the suspension will be done, and the jeep should drive like new or maybe even better :)

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During the last week or so I was bringing this poor jeep back to life.

The interior was just NASTY!
The carpets and seats were saturated with all kinds of smelly fluids lol
It pretty much smelled like someone died in that jeep :gunfight:

Anyway, I got all the interior ripped out! I will be replacing it with an Overland edition interior, with some new leather on top of that :)
It's gonna be better than new!

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Also, the paint on this Grand was TRASHED!
I wet sanded, compounded and polished it. Now it looks like a show car haha

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I decided to upgrade the suspension. Yeah, I know... I just put a brand new lift kit on it haha
It's getting a Clayton Off Road brackets and cross member and some custom long arms :D
Also, I upgraded to 6" springs instead of 4.5". Clayton now has double rate springs, so that's what I went with.

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Front bumper for the WJ is already in powder coating. I'm finishing the rear bumper with tire carrier and rotopax mounts. After I finish the rear bumper, I will be making a roof rack as well!
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Holy ****! I'm in!
A lot of progress on the WJ build.*

The Overland interior swap continues!
I got 70% done. I still need to clean the seats, put a new headliner on, install a new stereo, an finish the carpet in the trunk area.*

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I got some new pioneer speakers wired up and looking nice. They are not super high end, but they will do the job. I'm not a sound freak either, so as soon as they sound nicer than stock, I am good*haha*

The front bumper is back from powder coating, waiting to be installed. Finished up the rear bumper with tire carrier this week, as well as the rock sliders ( I forgot to take the picture )*
Tire carrier has our bombproof spindle, brackets for two roto pax and bracket for a hi-lift jack ( the bumper is already available on the website if you are interested in purchasing one ;) )*

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Also, some stuff for the axles came in, such as this badass Yukon diff cover and other little stuff.*

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Much needed update on the build. A lot changed since the last post.


I decided to go Long arms, instead of the short arms. For 6" lift, long arms just were a must.
The first order of operation was to cut the existing control arm brackets from the body.
Thankfully the brackets on the WJ are pretty easy to cut off, and that didn't take long.

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I also decided to change the axles, for the set from 2004 WJ overland with better 3.73 gears and quadra-drive limited-slip, in both front and rear. Dana 30 and Dana 44a.
The front upper control arm mount was bent, so cut it off and replaced it with the new unit from Barnes4wd.

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Also, I purchased two oil coolers. Small Derale cooler for power steering fluid, and bigger B&M super cooler for the transmission fluid.
So far I installed the power steering one. I'm really OCD, and I really pay attention to detail, and with a lot of sharp edges in the WJ's engine bay, I made sure that nothing is gonna cut my new cooler lines haha.
I also bought a new power steering pump and reservoir, because the factory one was cracked and leaking.

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As you probably know from the earlier posts, I ordered a bunch of stuff from Clayton Off Road.
I know there is a LOT of suspension stuff for WJ on the market, but I really like the Clayton kits. The design is awesome. Clean, simple an effective.
In the shop, we install Clayton stuff on pretty much every build we do, so I know it's good and it works.
I think it's a perfect fit for my WJ as well.
I got 6" dual-rate springs, all new braided brake lines, front cross member, frame rails, rear 4 link brackets, and axle 4 link bracket.
Decided to make my own links.

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I also made new steering with heim joints. All suspension parts are powder coated in the "primer grey" color.

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A final ingredient for the suspension came in the mail as well. New 5100 Bilstein shocks.

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I welded all the suspension brackets, cross members, etc. Painted everything.
Long arms came back from powder coating, so we installed everything.
Also installed the rest of the suspension: springs, shocks, sway bar disconnects, brake lines.
Everything needs to be alined, but we are gonna do that after the new set of wheels and tires get here.

*Axles has all the new parts. The front has all new ball joints, axle shafts, hubs, brakes, diff cover, seals. The rear Dana 44a has all new seals, brakes and diff cover.

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With the suspension in place, we began putting all the freshly powder coated armor on the jeep.
First were the rock sliders. I made them, so they have a little step that will allow me to access the roof rack.

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Then the new wheel / tire combo came in, so I and my brother installed them. Now the jeep is resting on its own weight, instead of the jack stands. Much more stable.

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Before we could install the rear bumper with the tire carrier, we had one more thing to do on the back of the jeep. And that was the tank tuck. This is one of the mods that should be done as one of the first modifications while building the WJ. The factory tank just hangs too low...
As you can see, I tucked it just enough so it's not really sticking past the bumper edge, while I still have some storage space inside, for a tow strap or something like that.
Then we installed the new bumper and LED tail lights.

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We installed the front bumper and roof rack on the jeep.

Some more parts came in the mail as well.

On the new front bumper, we installed a 9500lb Smittybilt winch with a synthetic line, Warn premium fairlead (The one that came with the winch was chrome and ugly. Just didn't fit there. ), Warn epic hook, and a 10" Rigid Industries Radiance edition light bar. I think it looks slick!

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Installed the roof rack / platform. On top of that, we mounted a new Smittybilt overlander rooftop tent, along with ARB 2500 awning on the side. I forgot to take some more pics of the roof rack before we installed all that stuff on it...
It's really neat. The roof rack was specially designed for that tent and awning, that's why everything sits nice and tide up there.

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With all the armor installed, we started doing some interior stuff.

Finally installed and finished the new steering wheel, reupholstered the headliner (we use fleece for headliners. They look good, an are much easier to work with than the headliner material), put the Rigid Industries LED light switches in one of the plastic trim on the dash. That was a perfect spot for it since the WJ Laredo never had heated seats (higher version, like limited or overland, have the heated seats switch in that spot)

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This is how the WJ sits now. We are still working on a few little pieces. We still need driveshafts, light wired, interior finished and suspension aligned, but other than that, it's almost done.
Check out that tent! :smile2:
Oh... did I mention we raptor lined the lower portion and the hood of the jeep? haha

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ALSO, we (my brother and I) were selected to participate in the 1st annual Four Wheeler Magazine Overland Adventure East 2019. The WJ will be one of the twenty rigs selected from the whole East Coast.
We are super stoked about that, and we can't wait to hit the road!
The event will start in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania (Raush Creek Off Road Park) and will conclude in Arrington, Virginia at Overland Expo East, where we will be VIP participants.

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This build is awesome. I can't think of anything I would differently. If you weren't so far away from me if you ever decided to sell it i'd be interested.
Great build! Can’t wait to see some action shots. :)
sub'd!! this thing is looking great!
This build is awesome. I can't think of anything I would differently. If you weren't so far away from me if you ever decided to sell it i'd be interested.
I don't think I will be selling this one soon, but I will keep you in mind ;)
Great build! Can't wait to see some action shots. :)
Thank you!
There will be a lot of pictures from our trip. I'm gonna post them here, so stay tuned ;)
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