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XJ as Daily Driver?

Old 05-09-2019, 11:06 AM
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Default XJ as Daily Driver?

Hi all,
I'm new to all of this; I'm an E36 guy. While I'm not new to automobiles (or even Jeeps, at that), I'm new to the XJ enthusiast scene. I've put a bunch of work into friends' XJs, and, in fact, my friend just got one too.

I'm a graduating senior in high school and committed to a university which is tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, about 200 miles away from me. Snowfall is usually 2 to 3 feet from November-April. I'm looking for a deat-reliable, dirt-cheap daily driver that I can bring down to college and whip around all their mountain passes and trails, all while getting good gas mileage. I was originally just gonna get a Suburban, but 10mpg wasn't too enticing for me (I'm on a tight budget but won't cheap out, if that makes sense).

So far, I've boiled down my options to:
1. Ford Ranger 4.0 4x4
2. XJ 4.0 4x4
3. 4Runner(if price allows)

My budget is around 2 grand tops, and I'm not afraid to do a little wrenching myself. XJs in this area are dime a dozen all year long, but Rangers and 4Runners are very difficult to find in 4wd and not in horrible condition for under 2 grand. So here's my question: Who here dailies an XJ, and so far, how many miles, how many issues, what size tires, and what gas mileage do you get? And most of all, would you recommend one for my college daily? I'm also gonna ask my friend who's now gonna daily his on his thoughts. My XJ build will be a cheap reliable build, so I'll probably put 31x10.5r15 *aggressive* highway terrains, such as Cooper discoverers, or honestly whatever I can get my hands on. I'm aiming for at least 18mpg, which I've heard is pretty easy. Automatic or manual, doesn't really matter. I would *prefer* a manual because that's one less thing to go wrong, and I'd like to replace the clutch.

Thoughts?

Thanks a lot!
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Old 05-09-2019, 11:32 AM
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A maintained XJ makes for a great daily driver that will last a long time, and they simple and cheap to work on compared to other vehicles. MPG wise don't expect 18 MPG out of a 4.0 XJ or Ranger, I have had both and they average around 12-15.

Last edited by 00t444e; 05-09-2019 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 05-09-2019, 11:35 AM
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As an owner of both an XJ and a Ford Ranger FX4, i'm kind of split.

The newest XJ you can possibly get is a 2001, making it already 18 years old, where the Ranger was made up until 2011.

I have a 2009 that gets about 13 city and 18 highway. It's got front and rear Torsen Diff's with 4.10 gears and 265/70R16 General Grabber AT2's. In the snow, it's a beast. Point the nose in the direction you want to go and apply throttle, you'll get there. The truck rides pretty good on the highway for a truck, but even with the extended cab it can get a little cramped if you ever want to carry more than 2 people. It has proved to be pretty reliable, needing only basic maintenance.

I also have my 1992 XJ, which is only 2wd, so it will do good on gas, but a no go in the snow. They also can be converted to 4wd, so you may be able to find a 2wd that is in better shape, for less than a 4wd. Then you can just have your friends give you a hand to convert it and you'll be set. It seems that an XJ with the 4.0, an automatic, 3.55 gears and 235/75r15's can probably get you about 20 on the highway, which isn't too bad.

The main thing the XJ can do that the Ranger can't is carry 4 people relatively comfortable. Granted, the Ranger has the pickup bed, but you have you weigh what you really want the truck to be able to do, what capabilities you value more.

Before you buy anything, get a Carfax or some kind of report, and go through it with a fine tooth comb, look for rust and other problems. There are plenty of threads on what to look for when buying and XJ, or similar threads for Ford Rangers.
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Old 05-09-2019, 12:11 PM
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1996 XJ daily driver here. 80 miles daily (minimum). Started about 4 years ago.

It is also used for camping trips, fishing, ligh off-roading, and pulling a 2,000 lbs. pop-up camper 4-5 times per summer.

30x9.5/r15 tires. About 1.5" lift. (basically up-country suspension clone)

Get about 18mpg on average.

Only serious mechanical necessity in 60,000 miles was a water pump - that was still working (not leaking) but bearings were starting to go bad.

I've done a lot of work on it, but most of it was done at my choosing (not out of emergency or necessity).

After all this time, I'll still get excited to drive it - every day.
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Old 05-09-2019, 01:24 PM
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I went from an E30 to an XJ.
They're more similar than you might think. The BMW electrics are far more durable but otherwise they're both simple to work on and have that lego-like parts swapping ability from similar vehicles. You'll need to get used to drum brakes if you don't swap in ZJ rear disks.
I run 235/75/15 Grabber AT2 on a 4WD with a 242 Transfer case which spends most of the time in 4FT. I don't get anything like 20 US mpg but I rarely get any highway miles.
The good news for me is that the XJ will eat washboard surfaces and potholes without any issues. My wife put a rear shock through into the cabin of her E46 touring on the same roads. Until the road smooths out, an XJ is faster than most cars driven with any mechanical sympathy.
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Old 05-09-2019, 02:53 PM
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I daily drive my 2000 XJ, 30 to 60 miles a day, 5 to 7 days a week. Stock suspension, 235/75/15 tires. 15-16 mpg. 125k on it so far. No issues.
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Old 05-09-2019, 03:02 PM
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99 xj and i average 100 miles round trip to work and back. I average 20 mpg but then again i also did the 12 hole injector swap and its a night and day difference. 230k miles. In terms of reliability being an older vehicle now things will need attention but if maintained they will last.
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Old 05-09-2019, 03:26 PM
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I bought a 2000 XJ 4x4 in August of last year for $800 with 125K miles on it. The body has been neglected, but the drivetrain is cherry. I put $2000 into new wheels and tires, all new brakes, and welding the frame in 2 places to make it roadworthy. I had some wiring to fix because of water getting into the rear cargo area thru rusted wheelwells, but no engine or transmission problems. It was to be my back-up vehicle because I deliver newspapers and my 2000 Grand Cherokee was going into the shop for a new engine. So far I've put about 10K on the XJ and love driving it. I've used it for about a month as a daily. It gets around 13 mpg doing newspapers and 16-18 on the highway. I've got 235/75R15 Cooper Discoverer AT3 tires on it and it's never gotten stuck in the snow. I slid into a ditch once, but put it in low range and drove it out! It's got the 231 t/case so I've only got Part Time 4wd and my Grand has the 242 t/case which I like much better because of the Full Time 4wd option. However, XJ's with the 242 are much harder to find than ones with the 231, although it's an easy swap if you want one.

The General Grabbers are good tires, but I've found the Cooper AT3's give me better tread wear. I've used up 3 sets on my Grand, that's how much I like them.

One word of caution. The 00 and 01 XJ's have the 0331 head on them that tends to crack. They don't all crack, but the chances are good it will. If you catch it quickly before the coolant destroys the bearings, you can fix it pretty easily. Other than that, the 4.0 is pretty rugged.
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Old 05-09-2019, 04:00 PM
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I have a 2010 Corolla and a 95 XJ. The 2010 Corolla is a meticulously maintained vehicle previously owned by my Mom (my brother convinced her she needed a 4wd Rav4) with 128k miles on it. The Jeep I bought for $800 off a young guy (no older than 22) 2 hours drive away who implied it was destined as a "beater". I put a couple grand into the Jeep (new exhaust, new clutch, new brakes, new leaf springs). It's not much to look at (or in.. ), but today I pretty much daily drive the Jeep with the only exception being when I have to drive kids around -- and only because I don't want to move car seats or cargo. I'd trust my Jeep to get me anywhere I'd trust my Toyota to get me and then some (like out of my dirt driveway when there's 6" or more of snow).

Given the list of options, I'd go with the XJ hands down. I'm biased though, my Dad got 400k original on his 94 and it ran great when he retired due to rust and I went to the dealer intending to buy a new XJ in 2000 but they couldn't find me a 6cyl manual so I bought a Wrangler and always wished I'd been able to hold out for the XJ.

My XJ is a 5-spd manual (hence having to drive 2 hours+ when shopping for it) and in the summertime I get roughly 19-20mpg combined. In the winter, with extra idling and poor quality gas, I get no worse than 15 unless I'm idling extremely excessively. The manual gets a bit better MPG than the auto due to the gear ratio (3.07 for the manual IIRC), a slightly lower weight, and the extra gear.

For reference, my Dad's 2016 Tacoma gets an average of 20mpg when I'm driving it like a little old lady.
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Old 05-09-2019, 04:19 PM
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I'm not daily driving my 96 yet but it has 140k and the only things I've HAD to replace are the catalytic converter and the CPS. My tires are 235/75/15 on stock suspension. It all really comes down to how well it has been maintained, especially oil changes. One thing I will say is that compared to my buddies 91 4.0 ranger, my xj is a heck of a lot easier to work on in terms of space in the engine bay.
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Old 05-09-2019, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dave1123 View Post
I bought a 2000 XJ 4x4 in August of last year for $800 with 125K miles on it. The body has been neglected, but the drivetrain is cherry. I put $2000 into new wheels and tires, all new brakes, and welding the frame in 2 places to make it roadworthy. I had some wiring to fix because of water getting into the rear cargo area thru rusted wheelwells, but no engine or transmission problems. It was to be my back-up vehicle because I deliver newspapers and my 2000 Grand Cherokee was going into the shop for a new engine. So far I've put about 10K on the XJ and love driving it. I've used it for about a month as a daily. It gets around 13 mpg doing newspapers and 16-18 on the highway. I've got 235/75R15 Cooper Discoverer AT3 tires on it and it's never gotten stuck in the snow. I slid into a ditch once, but put it in low range and drove it out! It's got the 231 t/case so I've only got Part Time 4wd and my Grand has the 242 t/case which I like much better because of the Full Time 4wd option. However, XJ's with the 242 are much harder to find than ones with the 231, although it's an easy swap if you want one.

The General Grabbers are good tires, but I've found the Cooper AT3's give me better tread wear. I've used up 3 sets on my Grand, that's how much I like them.

One word of caution. The 00 and 01 XJ's have the 0331 head on them that tends to crack. They don't all crack, but the chances are good it will. If you catch it quickly before the coolant destroys the bearings, you can fix it pretty easily. Other than that, the 4.0 is pretty rugged.

Good advice!

I'm interested in your tyre wear. I'm about to replace a set of 4 Grabber AT2 which have done smack on 50k miles with no rotations. They've actually worn more at the front maybe because I have a 242 and generally drive in 4FT. How many miles do you get from the Coopers? If it's more than 50k (road miles) I'm very interested!
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Old 05-09-2019, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by 00t444e View Post
A maintained XJ makes for a great daily driver that will last a long time, and they simple and cheap to work on compared to other vehicles. MPG wise don't expect 18 MPG out of a 4.0 XJ or Ranger, I have had both and they average around 12-15.

A stock XJ should get 18 all day and all night. If yours is stock and it doesn't, something is wrong. Lead foot? Out of tune? Dunno, but something isn't right.


mpost3r, a Cherokee has been my DD for quite a few years now. A 94 until it had a computer problem that nobody could solve, then a 97 until a Suburban pulled out in front of me @ 55 mph. That had me not driving for about 8 months (fractured right kneecap) so I haven't yet got another one on the road. I bought a 98 with a blown engine and plan to put my 97s engine into it as my DD. I also just bought a 96 to have as an extra, as I have some boy coming into driving age.

So, yes, I think it's a very capable DD.

That Ranger? In 2 feet of snow? I'll take the XJ any day, without hesitation, unless I need to haul cargo.


I also happen to know a great forum where your questions are welcome and there's a whole lot of experience available to you.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueRidgeMark View Post
A stock XJ should get 18 all day and all night. If yours is stock and it doesn't, something is wrong. Lead foot? Out of tune? Dunno, but something isn't right.

My XJ with a 3" lift on 31s I would average 13-14 mpg hand calculated, I also used to have a 4.0 WJ on stock size tires it averaged 15-16, it may have gotten 18 all highway. I had a 01 4.0 4x4 Ranger automatic that would average 13-14 mpg, and my current 3.9 Dakota 4x4 5 speed on 31s averages 13 mpg. All of those vehicles were well maintained and I hand calculate my mileage on every fill up. I am currently putting 4.56 gears in my XJ along with 35s so I am wondering how much that will affect my mileage, I am guessing it will average 10-12 mpg with that setup.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:55 PM
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Morat,

I work at a tire shop and I can confirm, as well, that these Coopers are insanely good tires. Obviously, the Michelin Defender LTX M/S are gonna be much better highway-terrain tires, but if you want a little more of a rugged tire on top of still being a highway terrain, those discoverer HTPs go quite hard, and I know a regular here at my shop gets them all the time (he has two brand new duramaxes with over 300,000 miles combined on them. they're both 2016s, and he swears by those tires.)
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Old 05-10-2019, 05:22 AM
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While I don't drive daily like you guys do I have taken longer trips in my '00. I find it comfortable as long as I don't keep my wallet in my back pocket. LOL.
I did replace the manual one piece buckets with power removable headrest seats.
As far as gas mileage goes to do what I could I run synthetic gear oil in both diffs.
I have replaced all 4 O2 sensors, CA emissions XJ, and it has a newer exhaust. Dual mini cat back.
Aligned running 225 75 15 Cooper HT Discoveries. Which I really like.
Check my plugs yearly. Put new shocks on her.
Stock suspension.
Did do the 4 hole injector upgrade.
Around town my mileage sucks. About 13 MPG. I am OK with that. Short trips, few stops, etc.
Longer highway trips just shy of 22 MPG. Which is what I really care about.
Also just being older it is easier to get in and out of the Jeep compared to other cars I have driven or owned.
Plus I just like being higher when driving and with all the windows have a better view of what is going on around me.
Plus I have to be OK with it cause it is the only vehicle I own. MLOL.
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