Yet another Cherokee question

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Yet another Cherokee question

Post by nyarlotep » Mon May 11, 2015 2:33 pm

I am playing with the idea of replacing my old Jimmy with something similar that's easier to work on and more reliable, and the Cherokee seems like a good fit. I like the style of the older ones more than the new, and don't have much of a budget to work with so older is good.
My main question for all the Jeepers here is, What particular years/features/etc should one look for, and more importantly which ones should be avoided? I know basically nothing about Jeeps, so any input is welcome.
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Re: Yet another Cherokee question

Post by JeeperCreeper » Mon May 11, 2015 8:00 pm

Try to avoid the '00 and '01 Cherokee (also known as the Jeep "XJ"). '84 to '96 has a similar body style and parts. Then they updated the style (barely noticeable) in '97 through '01. But in '00 and '01 they changed some engine stuff that causes problems such as cracking heads (known as the infamous 0331 castings).

Try to find one with the Chrysler 8.25 rear end as opposed to the Dana 35. It's just a bonus.

So most Cherokees are great. But I have an '01 and I've been fighting gremlins for the past few weeks where I actually might sell it.

Rust is also a huge issue with Jeeps. Look for rust.
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Re: Yet another Cherokee question

Post by pir8p3t3 » Tue May 12, 2015 10:01 am

Also from 84-86 the Cherokee used a GKN front drive shaft that utilized a CV joint in the front drive shaft. these will bind during steep angles.
Also watch the 84-91 to make sure it does not have the vacuum-disconnect front axle. Pre-96 Cherokees came with an extension housing on the transfer case that adds support to the slip yoke and tend to have less vibration when lifted, then models that came out after that year.Additionally to add to the argument of staying away from the 2000 and 2001s, They switched to a low pinion front axle those years which can also lead to driveline binding when the Jeep is lifted or during extreme angles.

Your best bets are 92-95 if you can find one in decent shape, and stay away from the V6.

A good resource book on this would be "The Jeep Cherokee Builder's Guide". I have built several and this book has a lot of good information in it.

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Re: Yet another Cherokee question

Post by ZombieSoldier01 » Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:05 am

I bought a 95 Sport, and I love the little thing. I have put bout 5,000 miles on it since i bought it. It now has 252,000 miles and still going strong. I developed an exhaust leak from the factory style muffler, so i got a bug up my butt and put the jeep on the lift at work, cut off the cat and replaced the cat and muffler with a thrush welded muffler... I am still having mixed emotions about that though. Anyways in stock form they are still very capable.

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Re: Yet another Cherokee question

Post by RonnyRonin » Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:39 pm

If you want a 5-speed get a '95.5 or newer. older tranny was known to be quite weak.

always get the straight 6.

lifting it more then 2" gets expensive (lets you use 31" tires)
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Re: Yet another Cherokee question

Post by ZombieSoldier01 » Mon Jul 13, 2015 8:53 am

lifting a cherokee more than 2" is easy and cheap. here is the complete junk yard upgrades list!

Suspension & Lift:
1. ZJ V8 Upcountry Coils = 1-1.5" lift
2. F-150/Bronco Coils ('70s-ish) = 4-4.5" lift
3. S10 (P/U or Blazer) leaf packs (cut eyes off S10 main and bolt pack under XJ main) = 3-4" lift (may require use of degree shims)
4. Dakota Bastard Pack (do same as with S10 pack) = ~4" lift
5. JK shocks = slight mod to fit 2-4" lift (some dispute)
6. MJ Shackles = 1/2" lift
7. Camaro Spring Isolators = 1.5" lift
8. Full size Blazer Bastard Pack (do same as S10 pack) = 4-4.5" lift (may require use of shims) may be stiffer than S10 leafs
9. ZJ spring isolators = stronger, metal core, can be stacked
10. GM fullsize pickup shackles ('95-99) = 1.5" lift, better shackle angle
11. Thunderbird Front Coils ('83-97) = 3-4" lift (varies in lift and softness by year and trim package), will need top plate from strut too
12. Any 2.5" wide leaf spring can be used between to make a bastard pack (they may differ in stiffness and lift)
13. S10 Shocks (Rear only) = good for the lift you will get when you do a bastard pack
14. TJ Lift Coils (front only) = provide 1" less lift on an XJ than on a TJ

1. WJ brake booster
2. WJ Master Cylinder
3. YJ Brake Lines = 3-4" longer
4. Dodge Ram Van Brake Lines = 10-12" longer (for big lifts)
5. WJ Rotors/Calipers = bigger brakes and more stopping power (will fit 15" rims)
6. ZJ brake booster, master cylinder, proportioning valve = may need for disc conversion
7. XJ '95+ brake booster and master cylinder = dual diaphragm
8. Dakota Rear Softlines ('95-00) = 6" longer
9. GM C/K1500 Front Softlines ('90-95) = 6" longer
10. KJ disc brake set-ups can be used for a conversion on your XJ axle

1. Ford 8.8 inch ('97+) = need spring & shock mounts (3.55, 3.73, or 4.10, maybe LSD, Disc Brakes)
2. XJ I-4 & some V6 = may have 3.73, 4.10, or 4.56 gears may have vacuum discos
3. XJ C8.25 ('97+) = bolt in and upgrades to 29 spline (strength comparable to D44)
4. XJ D44 = found in some but not all '87-'89 XJ's with Towing Package
5. Lincoln Lockers = welded spider gears, operates like a spool, must be a GOOD welder
6. MJ D44 = need new spring perches and shock mounts
7. XJ D30 = ('95-'99) non-disconnect, larger u-joints, high pinion, bolt in
8. Homebrew posi-locks for '84-90 vacuum disconnect D30s, eliminates vacuum actuation (use search function)

Front End & Steering:
1. ZJ V8 Tierods = beefier & bolt in
2. WJ Knuckles/Tierods/Draglinks = beefier and crossover steering
3. Durango Steering Box = beefier
4. 350 or 351 Power Steering Pump = helps with oversize tires (requires welding)
5. WJ LCA's = more tire clearance (some grinding required)
6. ZJ pitman arm = 1 inch drop over stock
7. WJ rear LCA's = replace XJ front LCA's, 2" longer to accommodate a lift, some grinding required
8. WJ power steering pump (fits '96+, plug return hole, and use XJ pulley)
9. V8 ZJ front sway-bar
10. JK rear UCA = use as XJ LCA, its about 1-2" longer

1. Newer XJ intakes (may require some modification)
2. Mustang 5.0 Injectors = near bolt in (have 4 holes instead of 1, more fuel, better spray)
3. ZJ V8 alternator = more power to run accessories (some grinding required) 136A
4. Ford Electric Fan ('90-95 3.8L Taurus, '87-93 5.0L Mustang) = replaces mechanical fan, more cooling (8C607)
5. 2.5L Dakota Alternator = bolt in, upgrades to 117A
6. Dodge Neon Injectors = better throttle response
7. '94+ V6 Dakota AX-15 = bolt in (but must use XJ bellhousing)
8. ZJ and WJ stock tranny coolers with stacked plates (even an upgrade for us with the stock fin style)

9. 5spd crossmembers give 3/4 inch t-case drop on autos with no loss in ground clearance BS I had both side by side no difference!!!

10. Hoodvents (i.e. Lebaron, Laser, Turbo Thunderbird etc.) = help keep ur 4.0 cool at low speeds
11. You can convert the closed system to open without replacing your radiator by using the fill cap from a 4.7 durango or dakota, cutting it into your upper hose, and replace your bottle with an MJ overflow tank or any that fit. Then cap off or eliminate the T'ed lines in the heater core.
12. Homebrew Slip Yoke Eliminator (use search function)

1. 97+ mirrors are direct bolt in to older XJ's and allow you to fold them in on tight trails.
2. MJ/2 Door XJ Bucket seats = tilt forward, bolt in
3. ZJ gas tank skid = can be modified to fit 97+
4. GM power antennas replace your broken XJ's with little modification
5. XJ '97+ doors onto older cherokees = one piece windows and better mirrors
6. XJ overhead console = most commonly found in '00-01 or higher trim level, provides space for switches etc.
7. '97+ center console = can be made to fit '96 and older, gives you cupholders!
8.'96-00 Ford Explorer hatch shocks = lift your hatch about 3" lower but are beef (ever see one that doesn't work?) need modification for '97+
9. OEM skid plates (Front, Tranny, T-case, gas tank, found on "up-country" package XJ's)
10. OEM swing-out tire carriers, get the bumper with it, found mainly on '84-'90 XJ's

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Re: Yet another Cherokee question

Post by rklessdriver » Thu Jul 23, 2015 11:06 pm

I have owned a few XJs. 89, 95, 97. Did the Explorer 8.8 rear end swap under all them. Best thing you can do IMO. All of mine were over 250K miles and still running strong when I sold them.

Only the 89 had a lift. 2" and trimmed fenders to fit 34 X 9.50 TSL Swampers. Only bad thing about the 89 was the archaic Rennix EFI. Those narrow Swampers dig great and with a 3.73 LSD out back, I did some serious off roading and never got in over my head. Won a lot of money in my class at the local mud bogg races with it as well.

The 95 and 97 were stock height with 30 X 9.50s. The Good Year MTRs were great all around aggressive tires and the wife and I put them to good use many times.

My advice would be to find the nicest lowest mileage one you can afford. Look for manual windows and seats if you can.... had to put Window switch in my 89 and a regulator another time. Never had a problem with the manual windows in the 95 or 97.

As said rust can be a problem so look the under side over good.

The exhaust is small and with the cat runs hot.... it don't help that the factory muffler is directly after the cat.... they will burn mufflers and tail pipes up. On mine I stepped up the exhaust to 2.5 right after the cat and used an all welded muffler (Jones).

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Re: Yet another Cherokee question

Post by Tommy Tinker » Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:04 pm

1995-99 are probably the best years. The first design of the 0331 heads are more prone to cracking, but that doesn't mean they're all guaranteed to crack.

The most cost-effective upgrades to a stock cherokee are Truetrac LSDs (or selectable lockers if you want to spend a little more), good all-terrain or mud tires, and upgraded headlights (wiring harness & H4 housings, or HID projector retrofit).

If you put bigger than 30" tires, you'll want to re-gear, unless the terrain around you is very flat.

The Dana 35 in the rear is fine unless you plan on going to much bigger tires. And if you do that, you can put in a Super 35 kit to make it very beefy. Nothing wrong with the Chryco 8.25, particularly the 29 spline. But it has fewer upgrade options.
ZombieSoldier01 wrote:lifting a cherokee more than 2" is easy and cheap. here is the complete junk yard upgrades list!
There's nothing easy about getting those rusty bolts out! :vmad:

Also, the more those short control arms deviate from parallel with the ground, the worse the ride quality gets. It can get so bad you'll hate driving the thing.
If you go 4.5" or higher, you'll want control arm drop brackets, or a long arm kit. Unless you know how to fab up your own, that's $200 + shipping for the drop brackets; even more for the long arms.

Modifying/replacing the leaf springs and/or installing longer shackles can lead throw off the shackle angle, which will also have a negative impact on ride quality. Fixing that can require relocation mounts for the shackle, meaning more to buy if you can't fab up your own.

Lifting more than 2" will mean either using drop brackets for the transfer case, or installing a SYE kit.
It also means your front axle will be shifted toward the driver side, affecting tracking. This requires an adjustable track bar. You could go cheap and drill a new hole for it on the stock bracket, but then you had better weld up the old whole, or reinforce the whole plate.

A drop pitman arm isn't necessary until you get to at least 5.5". Using one can put your drag link out of alignment with your track bar, leading to bump steer.

I would say doing a good lift job is either cheap, or easy. But probably not both.

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Re: Yet another Cherokee question

Post by Ax-Man » Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:36 am

You don't need SYE till you get over 3.5".
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