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Another 2000 XJ head issue? Stuck on what to do next.

Old 09-08-2015, 10:49 PM
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Location: Finleyville, PA
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Year: 1996
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0 HO
Unhappy Another 2000 XJ head issue? Stuck on what to do next.

2000 RWD XJ, the no rust one that we got this spring. Backstory: on the way to the York All Breeds show this year, the motor spun a bearing, developed a nasty knock (and simultaneously seized a water pump and broke a AC compressor bearing. It was a BAD day). 2 weeks later, we picked up a 98 ZJ donor motor, swapped in the lower block. Since I was tight on time, in a borrowed garage, had to be home for work etc, we used the 2K head so we could use the 2K exhaust and manifolds without modification. 250 miles of driving with open headers would not have been fun.

With the swap came almost new everything, we only re-used the head components, and the power steering pump, and starter from the XJ. ZJ gave the full lower block. Both had about 140K on them. Inside of the new ZJ block looked great, compression seemed fine, cylinders looked good. Used a new felpro head gasket. Head was dipped in parts cleaner overnight to get the plugged up gunk out of it. Oh, and of note, I used patterns and torque specs for the head bolts (new) from the haynes manual. Which, could of been stupid.

Coupleweeks later, starts running rough. Starts getting hot (on a pretty hot day in traffic) and I check the coolant, its low in the tank. Wait for it to cool, and check the rad cap. Gunky, but not horrible. We never flushed the block past a quick rinse, and probably should have for the heater core.

I drained the oil (to make sure we got out any old sludge) and did a new filter. Oil had no coolant that I could tell. Coupled chunks of sludge came out the bottom, which I expected.

I can see oil is getting to the head through the cap hole. Just replaced the PCV valve, as there was a bit of smoke coming out of the dip stick the other day (Ive been checking oil regularly to make sure there were no issues, was waiting for 500 miles for the first change) and the new valve stopped that.

Have not checked compression. Cannot see a crack in the head, when it was off, or now through the cover fill hole. It is an 0331 head. The block is wet back near cyl 5-6 on the passenger side, below the gasket.

Im limited on the amount of work I can do because of an injury, anything I do right now will probably put me down for an evening of ice and resentment towards my dayjob.

Short of dropping it off somewhere (not in the budget) what would be the next step? More test? Throw money at a new head / gasket / bottle of rum?

All the funds heading into this jeep were supposed to fix up the other one. And those are pretty low. Its really making me sour on XJs. For those counting, this is #5.
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