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'96 Urban Overlander

Old 10-07-2016, 06:14 PM
  #1  
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Year: 1996
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0L
Default '96 Urban Overlander

Hey everyone,

Iíve been reading this forum and getting advice from you all for months and Iím finally ready to share the progress Iíve made on my 96 Jeep Cherokee Sport. Iíve been working on it for 3 years, but I finally have the time, energy, and funds to do this job right. First the basic vitals:

Year: 1996
Model: Cherokee Sport
Engine: 4.0 6 cylinder
Differentials: Dana 35 and Dana 30
Transmission: AX-15 manual 5 speed
Miles: Current at about 133k

Hereís how it looked when I first got it:



















Iím going to call this build the Urban Overlander, until I can think of a better name. The concept is pretty simple. I live in a city. I donít drive very much (about 5-6k per year), but being able to handle city driving is important to me. On pavement maneuvering, fuel efficiency, and ride comfort matter to me with this build. Many of my trips are long distance - itís usually for road trips or camping trips. I live in the southeast, and I like to go to Uwharrie, GWNF, and other areas nearby that have forest roads and offroading to explore. I like to load up my Jeep with my camping gear, mountain bike, and sometime a canoe. Even as a stock vehicle my Jeep has done a nice job handling all of the off-roading Iíve thrown at it so far. The other thing is, when it snows heavily where Iím from, we have no snow plows or salt trucks. So I want this jeep to be able to handle any bad conditions on pavement. Most importantly, I want this car to be reliable and I donít want to worry about breaking down on a long road trip.

The general idea is that this has high on-pavement drivability mixed with maximizing off road capability, without sacrificing ride quality or fuel efficiency. I want to bring the classic XJ look into the 21st century. The interior should have all of the comforts and conveniences of a modern vehicle, without adding too much electrical complexity, because reliability and being easy to work on are very important to me. For example, even though I have manual windows and locksÖ I probably wonít upgrade to automatic because I donít want to risk electrical or wiring issues. I want to keep it simple. Looks wise, Iím going for a clean, and updated stock look that doesnít have a bunch of stuff hanging out outside of the vehicle. I live in an urban environment with crime, I donít want spare tires, hi lift jacks, or roof racks stolen from my vehicle.

So hereís a quick recap of what Iíve done so far:

-First thing was a new sound system. This included a nice Pioneer receiver with blue tooth and a mic. I can take calls while Iím driving and play music wirelessly on my phone. Great sound quality because I replaced all of the speakers too.

-Next, the vehicle would not pass inspection because the exhaust system was completely rusted out. It was also really loud. So I replaced it with a brand new flowmaster system. It sounds great and I saw a boost in fuel efficiency of about 1-2mpg. It currently averages about 18-20 mpg.

-Replaced the sagging ceiling liner and the broken interior dome lights on the ceiling. I kept the stock look. I put a matching stock-looking steering wheel cover on too. Iíll try to get some interior pics up on my next post

-Replaced my bald 215 tires with 225 toyo road tires.

-Brake job. New calipers, rotors, and pads.

-New parking brake covering cup holders. I need to tighten my parking brake because I cant fully engage with the cupholders at the moment.

-Total tune up: spark plugs and cables, cap, rotor, air filter replacement, fuel filter replacement.

-Changed all of the fluids: Transfer case, both differentials, Red line MT 90 in the ax 15 transmission, Iíve also stayed on top of oil changes every 3k miles.

-Added a can of sea foam to my gas tank.

-Cleaned the engine bay and under carriage. Gave the exterior a good wash and wax.

-Replaced the starter once it died at 131k miles

-The fan only had two settings Ė full blast and off. So I replaced the blower motor and blower motor resistor. Works great now.

-Replaced the serpentine belt, thermostat, water pump, radiator hoses, temperature sending unit, and did a prestone coolant flush and replaced with fresh coolant.

-Flushed and refilled the power steering pump reservoir several times and then added a lucas mix to it.

-Replaced the battery with a Duralast gold from Autozone.

For the next post, Iíll cover my latest modifications which include replacing the rusted out floor pans, a tint, frame stiffening, bed lining, lizard skin interior, and bumper painting with some pics of how it currently looks. In the meantime, please post your suggestions for my build. Iíd appreciate the input.

Hereís what Iím planning at the moment:
-replace transmission mount
-upgrade fuel injectors
-replacing weather stripping. I have a small leak on the driver side door.
-dpgoffroad 2.5 inch OME suspension kit with thick JKS lower control arms
-30 inch all terrain tires (size TBD once I see how the lift looks on the 225s).
-new interior carpet liner and insulating padding
-locker.. deciding between auto or air locker
-painting the exhaust system and tail pipe with silver high heat rustoleum
-LED headlights with harness upgrade
-front hitch and rear hitch with d ring recovery points.
-interior mounts for hi-lift jack, mag light, fire extinguisher, shovel, and hatchet
-cargo net
-small subwoofer under front passenger seat + dynamat the entire interior for sound deadening
-Repaint the exterior to a silver or blue. Havenít quite decided.
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Old 10-08-2016, 02:22 PM
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Year: 1993
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Welcome to the forum, sounds like you have a pretty nice build planned out, you should check out this build https://www.cherokeeforum.com/f58/ex...ld-out-175034/ he has a lot of cool modifications that sound like something you were planning.
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Old 10-08-2016, 03:18 PM
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Welcome, I'll be following your build. I'm currently working on rust repair on my 98 and will hopefully be homebrewing my lift over the winter.\
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Old 10-09-2016, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by kyle96xj View Post
Welcome to the forum, sounds like you have a pretty nice build planned out, you should check out this build https://www.cherokeeforum.com/f58/ex...ld-out-175034/ he has a lot of cool modifications that sound like something you were planning.
Originally Posted by kc1ble View Post
Welcome, I'll be following your build. I'm currently working on rust repair on my 98 and will hopefully be homebrewing my lift over the winter.\
Thank you both. That overlanding build is one of the coolest builds I've ever seen. Can't wait to see what comes next. His creativity is giving me some good ideas for my build.

Stay tuned for my rust repair experience.

Last edited by cddrake; 10-09-2016 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 10-09-2016, 04:03 PM
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More recent work on the urban overlander xj addresses the rust situation in a permanent way. The rusted through exhaust system had been replaced, so I needed to deal with the surface rust on the frame and my totally rusted through floor pans. Hereís a pic of the big rust hole on the passenger side:





I opted for a long term solution, which meant welding in new floor pans and bedlining the interior and exterior sides. On the interior side, lizard skin sound deadening and insulator were used.












The whole frame was stiffened using front, rear, and center stiffeners from HD offroad. These were some beefy stiffeners that easily added 50-75 pounds of steel reinforcement to the frame after surface rust had been removed.











The result is a quieter, cooler, and safer ride. The stiffeners improved on road handling and cornering. It made the whole jeep feel more solid with a lower center of gravity that helped it really grip the road. I highly recommend stiffening the frame, itís not a sexy mod but it means that I have a solid foundation to build from. The frame had the stiffeners attached and then was bedlined so that there wonít be any issues with rust for a long long time. Check it out:







Weíre not quite to the present state of the build. Next post I'll show you my repainted bumpers, new tint, and the state of the interior.
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Old 10-13-2016, 07:59 PM
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Next up: A fresh new tint and repainted the bumpers. First the tint. This is a llumar tint 5% all around with 35% up front to keep it street legal in NC.








I also wanted to freshen up the bumpers. They had these rust patches and big scratches all over them. So I sanded them and repainted using the rustoleum bumper and trim spray paint to give it a fresh OEM appearance.








I think they look good and I'm happy with how it came out. This weekend I'm planning to upgrade my fuel injectors and replace my transmission mount.
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Old 11-06-2016, 08:16 AM
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Quick update: I finally got around to installing my new 4-hole fuel injectors. Not noticing a big difference yet, but the old ones were super old and nasty. Below are some more pics of my engine bay and the interior.

First a couple of pics of the new installed injectors. I need to get into a habit of taking photos while I do these things.







My fuel rail is starting to look pretty rusty - may have to replace that at some point.




Next we have some photos of the whole engine bay... including the fan shroud that has been taped back together and spray painted.








Finally, take a look at my interior. this is pre LED light upgrade. Those come in this week and I plan to install them next weekend.













So next weekend I will be installing all new cluster gauge LED lights and interior LED lights. Within the next month, my 2.5 inch DPG OME lift will go in with new lower control arms. I'll also be putting on transfer case and gas tank skid plates and AJ rock sliders.
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Old 11-06-2016, 01:14 PM
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Looking good. Come up to Stokesdale and Ill set you up with one of my TBs to help you haul all that extra steel around.....
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Old 11-26-2016, 02:50 PM
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Today I installed the one way light LED light upgrade for the interior and gauges. I highly recommend this quick and easy upgrade. I used the white LED and they are much brighter and I think they look so much better than the dim and yellow stock bulbs.









Next, xjfiles sold me on one of his upgrade throttle bodies. It shipped quickly and was in perfect condition. Thanks, Dennis! I already notice a little better pick up. I highly recommend messaging xjfiles for one of his bored TBs. It's a nice and easy upgrade. It's also a good opportunity to clean up your IAC. Here are a few photos from the install:







Old next to new



New TB installed.


I recently pulled the trigger on some almost brand new Hankook Dynapro All terrain tires 30x9.5x15. I want to put these on my stock wheels when I go through with the lift. I'm a little bit worried how my stock gears are going to handle these bigger wheels (currently running 225s). I have a manual ax-15 transmission, which means it's 3.07 gears. Does anyone have any experience running 30s on 3.07 gears?

I'm holding off on the lift for now. Next steps are to:
-replace my e-brake. It's frozen and I can't tighten it so that it can used with my cup holders
-add a transfer case skid plate that I found at a junkyard. It connects right to the crossmember
-replace transmission mount. Bolts are really rusted on there. This is going to be a pain.
-New seat covers. I went back and forth on replacing my seats or just getting really nice seat covers. I've decided to go with Wet Okole: http://www.wetokole.com/JEEPCHERF-.html
-I want to add a small subwoofer to go under my passenger seat. Anyone have any recommendations?
-Add a rear hitch as a tow point.

Thanks for following my build!
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Old 11-26-2016, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by cddrake View Post
Today I installed the one way light LED light upgrade for the interior and gauges. I highly recommend this quick and easy upgrade. I used the white LED and they are much brighter and I think they look so much better than the dim and yellow stock bulbs.

Next, xjfiles sold me on one of his upgrade throttle bodies. It shipped quickly and was in perfect condition. Thanks, Dennis! I already notice a little better pick up. I highly recommend messaging xjfiles for one of his bored TBs. It's a nice and easy upgrade. It's also a good opportunity to clean up your IAC. Here are a few photos from the install:

Old next to new

New TB installed.

I recently pulled the trigger on some almost brand new Hankook Dynapro All terrain tires 30x9.5x15. I want to put these on my stock wheels when I go through with the lift. I'm a little bit worried how my stock gears are going to handle these bigger wheels (currently running 225s). I have a manual ax-15 transmission, which means it's 3.07 gears. Does anyone have any experience running 30s on 3.07 gears?

I'm holding off on the lift for now. Next steps are to:
-replace my e-brake. It's frozen and I can't tighten it so that it can used with my cup holders
-add a transfer case skid plate that I found at a junkyard. It connects right to the crossmember
-replace transmission mount. Bolts are really rusted on there. This is going to be a pain.
-New seat covers. I went back and forth on replacing my seats or just getting really nice seat covers. I've decided to go with Wet Okole: http://www.wetokole.com/JEEPCHERF-.html
-I want to add a small subwoofer to go under my passenger seat. Anyone have any recommendations?
-Add a rear hitch as a tow point.

Thanks for following my build!
You probably won't have too much trouble with those tires and gears, but if you want to upgrade you could pick up a high pinion 30 and 29 spline Chrysler 8.25 out of an auto trans with 3.55 gears, would also be a good opportunity to add lockers, diff covers steering or any other axle upgrades. BTW I run 33s on 3.55s with an auto and its manageable you shouldnt have any trouble with 30s on 3.07,especially since it's a stick.
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Old 02-05-2017, 01:53 PM
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I have a few updates. I've been dealing with some really annoying starter issues. The problem was damaged battery cables, so took the opportunity to replace and upgrade. Turns over so quickly and cleanly... well most of the time... I've also been having some issues ever since I upgraded my fuel injectors. One seems to be leaking a little bit, and I'll have to crank extra and have a rough start at first every once in a while. I'll have to send them back and get new ones sent to me. Check out the new cables though:




Next, I finally found the correct e-brake adjuster at a junkyard. Mine was completely rusted and I couldn't tighten the hand brake.





I can finally fully engage the hand brake with my cup holder in place! For all of you with this cup holder, you know what a pain this can be.





That's it for now. Next up: 3.5 RE Super Flex w/ monotube shocks on 30x95x15 tires, adjustable front track bar (RE1600), transfer skid plate, Brown Dog motor mounts, transmission mount, and a Curt hitch. All the parts are in. I'll try to get pics of the install up soon.
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Old 02-05-2017, 03:00 PM
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Nice build. Why not go with 235/75r15 tires if you only want 30s? Same size basically but cheaper and more options. Also, when I read Urban over lander, it kind of sounds like a nicer way to say mall crawler haha!! I know that's not what you are doing I just thought it was a tad funny.
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Old 02-05-2017, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Martlor13 View Post
Nice build. Why not go with 235/75r15 tires if you only want 30s? Same size basically but cheaper and more options. Also, when I read Urban over lander, it kind of sounds like a nicer way to say mall crawler haha!! I know that's not what you are doing I just thought it was a tad funny.
Busted! haha you're not totally wrong, this is mostly a daily driver... but I'm close to some good off-roading at Uwharrie, so it's going to get pretty beat up for a mall crawler.

I'm going with the 30x9.5x15s for now since I think they'll look good with the 3.5 RE lift and cause I found 4 barely used dynapro a/t tires for less than $200 on CL. We'll see, I may go up to 31s at some point, but probably not much bigger than that.
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Old 02-05-2017, 08:26 PM
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I'm subscribing to watch your progress.
You're building a solid foundation to work off of and...
I like to see other 5 speed builds.

My '91 with 3.07's and 235's did well for me.
Wasn't my daily driver so Idk how well city driving will be.
I actually ran those gears with 33x13.50's at one point,
Not so good there lol.

The smaller tires with a lift doesn't look terrible with the flares still on.
I'm in beginning build/desicion stage with my 94 which is currently lifted 4" with 235/75 tires.

Last edited by Constantine; 02-05-2017 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 02-06-2017, 04:50 AM
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Nice looking Jeep. I'm just north of you in Va Beach. I have a white 90. Where are you going in the GWNF? I am going to stay in a cabin in Shenandoah in the spring, would like to do some wheeling in the GWNF while we are out that way.
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