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$500 Jeep Project

Old 03-20-2017, 01:41 AM
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Year: 1990
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Default $500 Jeep Project

I finally have a Cherokee and it is most definitely a project.
1990 4.0 Auto 4D 4WD

List of known problems:

Cooling system issue. Thinking thermostat because the coolant was boiling and the thermostat read around 210.
Oil is everywhere. All over the engine bay and oil on the underside. Thinking valve cover and rear main seals need to be replaced.
Handbrake doesn't work.
Rig is super slow and hard to move. Have to rev to 3k just to start moving. Handbrake stuck on? Hopefully not a bad trans.

Interior is nice and comfy though

This is my first project so I would greatly appreciate any advice on fixing these issues! Pics coming soon!
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:25 PM
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when it has to get to 3k to move, does it just feel like the tranny isnt 'grabbing' until that high, or its struggling against something? does it do it in all gears (ie reverse?)

is the coolant straight water? 210 is about the temp these run around which would account for boiling water, if its straight water.

i know the feeling of picking up a project for a bit of cash!
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:54 PM
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It feels more like its struggling against something I think. Tried reverse and drive, had to rev high in both.

The coolant was only water when I test drove it, I already bought a thermostat and gasket so I might as well just replace it anyway

Took some pics this morning



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Old 03-21-2017, 12:19 PM
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I'm also working on a $500 jeep light mechanical restoration. I had several issues to sort out, but nothing too bad. The worst part of it has been how dirty the interior was. It had an inch or so of semi dried coke/ soda syrup on the carpets in the foot wells. They removed the sifter indicator plate and used the void as an ashtray.
I also have an 89 that I picked up for $150. still deciding on what to do with it. It is also very dirty.
Good luck.

Last edited by ducrider45; 03-21-2017 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 03-21-2017, 01:17 PM
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Sounds like quite the project. I worked as an auto detailer for a few months so I was totally prepared to clean up a dirty interior but I lucked out and got a clean one!
Sounds like you'll definitely need to treat the carpets or maybe have to take them out.
I imagine it also smells pretty bad, just get a ton of air freshener trees and blast the heat for as long as you can once you remove anything that stinks. Should help a bit.

Also I forgot to add that my Jeep has 298k miles on it no idea if it has been rebuilt at some point, guy I bought it from knew less about it than I did.
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Old 03-24-2017, 03:37 PM
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Finally got around to starting my work on my Jeep, decided to tackle to cooling system first. Took forever to get the damn drain plug off, and then hardly fluid came out 😂

Took out the thermostat, the gasket was totally toast and had been leaking pretty bad. Found some quality gunk inside my block too. Sorry if this post glitches out, I'm writing this on my phone.
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Old 03-26-2017, 11:13 PM
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Project Update:

New problem, cranks but won't start. I can hear the fuel pump turn on, so it's either spark or air. I did tear a hose attached to the air box that looks like it goes down under the intake manifold. No idea what it is called, I'll be looking for a replacement at the scrapyard tomorrow.

Spent far too much time figuring out the power steering/tensioner setup on my 1990, should have never taken that belt off

Pretty sure the trans isn't moving the vehicle until 3k due to a lack of fluid. I'll be replacing the gasket on it and the filter as soon as I can get the Jeep running again to properly check the fluid level.

I'll keep y'all posted on the progress
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:39 PM
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Update 3/27/17

Starts & runs! Sounds good, no knocking or anything. Battery was completely toast. Got a new one, starts right up now.

Transmission had no fluid lol. Gonna crack open the transmission pan tomorrow and look around for any metal fragments. If there are I'm probably going to have to replace the transmission. I did drive it for a block or so with no fluid so I'm expecting the worst.

Flushed out the cooling system a few times, it was pretty gross. Definitely needed it. Replaced the thermostat & gasket.

Serpentine belt squeaks like mad now, gonna have to fix that.

Overall the project is looking good for $500!
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Old 03-28-2017, 06:02 PM
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that gunk sure looks mad nasty! i need to flush mine but the heat works decently, so i dont imagine its quite that bad.

Yeah, thats what i imagined, mine really didnt want to move unless you gave it the gas when i got it, but turns out it was like two quarts low on fluid. runs just fine now. I too need to pull the pan and change te filter, ect. i hope thats the source of the leak and not a rear seal..

We should start a "500 and under" club. or "my mods cost more than the jeep" club
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Old 04-09-2017, 09:50 PM
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Update 4/9/17

Transmission is good! No chunks in the pan. When I took the pan off however I lost the O-ring that connects the dipstick tube to the pan. I cut the tube down a bit and got some heater hose and clamps on it now Unfortunately that means getting the proper tranny fluid level is going to be a real pain since the stick doesn't reach into the pan with the hose on there. Oh well, I'll figure it out

I put a gatorback belt on and no more squealing. 10/10 would recommend.

Next on the list for repairs/maintenance..

Valve cover gasket (very leaky)
Entire brake system
Parking brake
Fuel filter, oil filter (already replaced tranny filter)
Oil change
AC
Fuel Pump (maybe?)
Spark plugs & distributor
Suspension (too low)

I'm sure there's more stuff I'll discover needs attention while I'm going down this list
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Old 04-22-2017, 11:22 PM
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Update 4/22/17

Hey guys I did a compression test today (wet and dry but not at operating temp) here's the numbers

Dry Wet
C1 95 C1 112
C2 85 C2 75
C3 90 C3 100
C4 90 C4 55
C5 65 C5 72
C6 60 C6 60

I may have put a little too much oil into the cylinders during the wet test. Not sure how much that would affect it, first time I've done a compression test.

I'm gonna use Seafoam in both the intake and the gas tank and retest both at operating temp. Also gonna put some engine restorer into the oil. See if anything changes.

This Cherokee does have almost 300k. I bought it for $500 with no title hoping it had been rebuilt. Clearly not lmao.

I do like manuals more than autos so I'm considering dropping an engine with a manual trans in my Jeep. The body and interior on my 4 door is really nice. No dents, no strange smells, may be worth the effort. I do like the 2 door Cherokees though..

I have the space, tools, time, and drive to do a swap. What I may not have is the money I'm somewhat poor, I live with my parents and make about $90 a week at the moment. Could get more hours, but then I'd have no time to work on the Jeep! Will be making considerably more by October, I'll be a certified maritime welder by then.

So what do you guys think,

New engine and tranny
or
New Jeep?

I'd honestly kind of enjoy the learning experience of putting the engine and trans in. Even if its a waste of money in the end, can't put a price on knowledge and experience.

Thanks for the opinions in advance!
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Old 04-22-2017, 11:44 PM
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see about the title then decide by how much of a pain it will be
this may become a $500 parts jeep
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