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Thoughts on suspension and leaf springs on an aging XJ

Old 05-02-2019, 07:10 PM
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Default Thoughts on suspension and leaf springs on an aging XJ

Hello everyone, hoping to get y’alls input on our XJ. We have a 1992 XJ with 162k miles that was gifted to my fiancee by her late stepfather. The leaf springs are quite shot on it and are sagging, and every time I hit a bump, it sounds like it’s going to fall apart. The front suspension feels loose and janky as well. So, I have been considering replacing the leaf springs. But, every time I start looking into it, I get sucked into the black hole of “Well, if I am going to replace them, I might as well put a 2” lift on it. Which means I need to replace the springs as well. And I should replace the shocks since those are six years/20k miles old. And while I am in there I should replace the bushings in the front end that are shot. And the steering stabilizer. And the control arms…” and so on.

I have also struggled with the thought of putting more money into this truck, as it is very much showing it’s age and needs a lot of work. We live in Portland, OR so it has a lot of leaks and rust. I could work on this thing a few days a week and put thousands of dollars into it and it would still take forever to get done. BUT, after years of considering getting rid of it, we recently decided to keep it. It’s a great opportunity for me to learn more and more about wrenching on vehicles, there’s a lot of sentimental value in it, it’s a manual transmission, and it runs strong overall.

So, all that being said, what would your recommendations be on not spending a lot of money but getting the suspension tightened up? Right now I am looking at the following:

Rear
- Crown Automotive Leaf Springs - $170 tota
l- Rough Country Adjustable Shackle
- $60- U-Bolt kit - $40

Front
- Moog Sway Bar Bushing Kit
- $10- Monroe Magnum Steering Damper - $25
- ACDelco Front Suspension Sway Bar Link Kit - $18

Would replacing the shocks likely give me a better ride? The ones on it are 6 years old and 20,000 miles. If so:
- Monroe OESpectrum Truck Shock Absorber - $69
- Monroe OESpectrum Truck Shock Absorber - $67

Should I plan to replace the rear bump stops? What other bushings/parts should I consider replacing? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Last edited by phasenine; 05-02-2019 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 05-02-2019, 07:51 PM
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that sounds like a prudent approach, if you dont need any lift

6yrs and 20k isnt totally excessive for shocks, so you could do that later, if needed., good ones will probably improve the ride though

start soaking all the areas that need undoing, as long as possible beforehand, I use ATF/turps, and re apply weekly

the upper rear shock bolts are particularly important to soak very well, get above them

have not broken a single bolt on 4 x XJ complete suspension swaps
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:14 PM
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  1. Welcome!
  2. Please use paragraphs. It's really hard to deal with that mass of text.

You will do well with the Crown springs. Make sure you get them with the bushings already installed. I didn't last time around, and wound up going to a shop to press them in. I have a press now, but I'd still get them pre-installed.

Yes, definitely replace your shocks! The Monroes are fine for a daily driver.

Bump stops only if they are obviously compromised. Check them. If they are still intact and pliable, don't bother.
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueRidgeMark View Post
  1. Welcome!
  2. Please use paragraphs. It's really hard to deal with that mass of text.

You will do well with the Crown springs. Make sure you get them with the bushings already installed. I didn't last time around, and wound up going to a shop to press them in. I have a press now, but I'd still get them pre-installed.

Yes, definitely replace your shocks! The Monroes are fine for a daily driver.

Bump stops only if they are obviously compromised. Check them. If they are still intact and pliable, don't bother.
Sorry about that. When I pasted my text in here, it looked like it was divided up like I wanted it to be. But apparently not!

Thanks for the tips and input. The leaf springs I am looking at do have the bushings already installed. I recall the bump stops looking pretty haggard when I last was under there.
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Old 05-03-2019, 03:16 AM
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Originally Posted by phasenine View Post
The leaf springs I am looking at do have the bushings already installed.
Which part# are you looking at? You may end up with a little lift anyway and then need new front coils based on how high the back comes up if you want it to be level. What is the distance from ground to the top of the fender well on all 4?

IIWM I'd check the performance of the shock after it was out before I decided to replace them. 20K is almost brand new (although I am "frugal").

You'll probably need sway bar bushings. Different from link kit.

Inspect the front spring perches carefully. They tend to rust out especially around the shock mount.

Your list is largely for cosmetic stuff. Check the important stuff like ball joints, tie rod ends, wheel bearings and universal joints in the driveshafts and axles.

Last edited by Dave51; 05-03-2019 at 03:19 AM.
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Old 05-03-2019, 10:44 AM
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Not sure if this will help too much, but I'm going to install an Upcountry-ish lift (1-2") on my Jeep. Here is the thread if you're interested:

https://www.cherokeeforum.com/f67/i-...stions-250981/

I'm not really into gigantic lifts and tires (yet) and I hope this will give me a feel for what I'm in for
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Old 05-03-2019, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave51 View Post
Check the important stuff like ball joints, tie rod ends, wheel bearings and universal joints in the driveshafts and axles.
This^^^^^^^^^^^^

Also, I agree that 20k on the shocks isn't much. Just check them when you have them out and see.
If you're looking to save money and have a decent set of shocks, you can look on ebay for a set of low mileage JK takeoffs. They are excellent shocks (I'm running the rubicon red ones which are stiffer than the sport black ones) and you can usually get the set for $100 or under. It's more work since you have to press out bushing sleeves, but worth it.

The leaf springs are bolted in with red loctite from the factory. This means you MUST heat the bolts to remove them. Then, considering you have rust - you will almost certainly be dealing with the bolts being seized to the bushing sleeves. I did my leaf springs and it was textbook per the seizing reports and lots of cutting. Don't let this discourage you - it's a lot of work but the ride is really nice afterwards. In my case, having my 24 year old XJ with reliable springs has been a MASSIVE advantage doing some cement and wood work around the house. I could not carry 400+ lbs of cement at a time or 8ft long pieces of lumber practically in my other vehicle, but the XJ handles it no problem.

Also, thumbs up on the manual transmission. I love my 5-spd.
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Old 05-04-2019, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Password12345678 View Post
Not sure if this will help too much, but I'm going to install an Upcountry-ish lift (1-2") on my Jeep. Here is the thread if you're interested:

https://www.cherokeeforum.com/f67/i-...stions-250981/

I'm not really into gigantic lifts and tires (yet) and I hope this will give me a feel for what I'm in for
Ive done the UPCOUNTRY lift using crown leaves and moog coils on 3 different XJs now. Couldnt be happier with it.

If its never been done itll probably be a good idea to give the front suspension a full refresh with all new bushings and trackbar plus any steering linkage or balljoints that seem bad. This will make it drive like a new Jeep.
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:17 AM
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I'd keep it stock, or close to, unless you're seriously into offroading.
Have you done all the fluids yet?
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Old 05-05-2019, 01:09 PM
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Before you jump into actually doing any work or ordering parts, get a notebook and start writing down what the parts will cost. Also, plan out what exactly you want the endgame to be. Do you want it bone stock? Mild offroader?

I know some of the people here like to build them and change them as they go, but for some of us, it's better to do the work once and not worry again.
For example, when I greased my driveshaft splines on my Ford Ranger, I also replaced the U-Joints with new ones that were greasable.

If you have to replace the leaf springs, look into the "upcountry" lift as others have suggested. It will get you between 1 and 2 inches of lift over stock, depending on how sagged your existing setup is. Total cost including shocks will usually come to about 500-600 bucks.

Is this a daily driver? Would it be a problem if it was out of service for a long time while you are fixing it? Also, in this instance, a garage would be really handy.
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Old 05-10-2019, 03:40 PM
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Re1992XJ has good advice. Start creating a list or spreadsheet of all the parts you'll want or need for the rebuild with prices and source next to each. That is how I did my front and rear suspension builds on my 91 Sport. Just completed the whole thing 2 weekends ago and it's awesome. The 235/75R15 tires (Falken Wildpeaks) fill the wheel wells perfectly with room for some mild flex.
I went with "Up Country" setup using the Crown HD front springs and Crown HD leaf springs. I went affordable on the shocks and installed Gabriel ProGuards all around. They are heavier duty than stock but not overly harsh for DDing. I also used Crown front and rear bump stops, and Moog steering components (track bar, tie rod ends, ZJ tie rod, and tie rod couplers. Also installed a Monroe steering stabilizer.

I did a TON of comparison shopping on the web before making purchases. Also, I had to stretch this out over a 6 month period due to finances. During that time period (December 2018 to April 2019), the prices for parts changed constantly. A good example was the rear leaf springs. Some people don't realize that Crown products can be purchased from many sources that you wouldn't expect. I ended up buying mine from JEG's because they beat everyone's price at the time and had free shipping on them. Plus I had about $17.00 discount from a coupon. I think it all came to about $180 delivered. That's just one example. Point is, do your due diligence to find the best pricing and check around before hitting the "checkout" button.

Best of luck on your project!
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:06 PM
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Like mentioned above, several times. Look into the up country style lift/suspension.

im in the process of installing mine now. I started over the weekend but itís hard to get done in a timely manner when I am only able to do spend an hour at a time with work and young kids.

Great advice from above to make a list or spreadsheet.
if youíre not in a rush, wait for sales. I got 90% of my parts off the stores in ebay when ebay did a 20% off. They do 10,15,and 20% fairly regularly it seems.

Once you decide, start blasting with PB Blaster in advance.

If you canít find crown leafs with bushings in them ( I never saw any) , you can use a piece of all thread , floor/ flange ends, nuts and washers to make your own press to get the rubber bushings in. Iíll try to add a picture. I did it today.

From recent experience I can tell you what helped me taking the leafs and shackles off. (This week)
-map torch
-pry bar
-jack stands
-floor jack
-1/2Ē breaker bar
-1/2Ē telescoping ratchet (harbor freight)
-impact wrench
-21 mm impact socket (shackle / leaf bolt heads)
-18 mm impact deep socket (u bolts/shocks)
...thatís all I got off the top of my head, but I know there are more

I broke the upper rear shocks bolts so thatís another thing I still have to tackle




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