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97 DD/Fun Wagon XJ

Old 12-23-2017, 10:36 AM
  #1  
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Year: 1998
Model: Grand Cherokee (ZJ)
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Default 97 DD/Fun Wagon XJ

Picked up this XJ a few weeks back after looking at a few different choices and possible trades. Nothing was really standing out or in good enough condition for me. I was finding locally and outside the City that the XJs in this province were going for stupid amounts for junk. I had just came home from taking the dog to the park and seen the ad for $1000 for a 1997 Cherokee Sport and called and found I was the 2nd person to call and someone was coming to look. Fast forward 30 minutes I was on my way to go look at it because the guy wasn't happy a jeep with 440,202km on it had a small oil leak.

First order of business was getting the oil leak fixed and that was simply fixing and changing the o-rings on the oil filter adapter which cleared up the oil leak. Then it was moving onto seeing what was happening with the heat/ac and discovered that the heater core will need to be replaced and the AC condenser need replacement. Then I went for a drive and the roar was so loud that I knew wheel bearings would need to be done and then I was in a parking lot and did a slow turn with a catching telling me axle ujoints were shot.

Being that I found this as a AW4 automatic my plans will include swapping to an AX15 and then hoping to find some factory tinted glass. It will then be moving on to disc brakes in the rear, getting the engine running great then looking at a lift.

This build is going to be a very slow build as I am not working and money is super tight! I have also discovered a few quirks which I will be posting about and getting some advice.

Day 1 - Brought Home


Current - 99% debaged and demoulded with new wheel hubs and axle ujoints
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Old 12-23-2017, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by firebane View Post
Picked up this XJ a few weeks back after looking at a few different choices and possible trades. Nothing was really standing out or in good enough condition for me. I was finding locally and outside the City that the XJs in this province were going for stupid amounts for junk. I had just came home from taking the dog to the park and seen the ad for $1000 for a 1997 Cherokee Sport and called and found I was the 2nd person to call and someone was coming to look. Fast forward 30 minutes I was on my way to go look at it because the guy wasn't happy a jeep with 440,202km on it had a small oil leak.

First order of business was getting the oil leak fixed and that was simply fixing and changing the o-rings on the oil filter adapter which cleared up the oil leak. Then it was moving onto seeing what was happening with the heat/ac and discovered that the heater core will need to be replaced and the AC condenser need replacement. Then I went for a drive and the roar was so loud that I knew wheel bearings would need to be done and then I was in a parking lot and did a slow turn with a catching telling me axle ujoints were shot.

Being that I found this as a AW4 automatic my plans will include swapping to an AX15 and then hoping to find some factory tinted glass. It will then be moving on to disc brakes in the rear, getting the engine running great then looking at a lift.

This build is going to be a very slow build as I am not working and money is super tight! I have also discovered a few quirks which I will be posting about and getting some advice.

Day 1 - Brought Home


Current - 99% debaged and demoulded with new wheel hubs and axle ujoints
Nice score and even though money is tight like many of us it is very nice to see you take what could have been scrapped or beat the crap out of what life is left of it instead bring it back from the possible dead.

Keep up the good work and look forward to watching this grow.

What size lift you going with? What part of the country you from I see snow and looks great there.
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Old 12-23-2017, 05:48 PM
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I am up in Calgary Canada. I plan to put a 3.5-4" lift. I don't plan to run larger than a 32 or 33 tire as I'm not doing anything hardcore. I just want something I can do some trails with.

I can't complain about what I paid for especially as it has very minimal rust on it.
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Old 12-23-2017, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by firebane View Post
I am up in Calgary Canada. I plan to put a 3.5-4" lift. I don't plan to run larger than a 32 or 33 tire as I'm not doing anything hardcore. I just want something I can do some trails with.

I can't complain about what I paid for especially as it has very minimal rust on it.
Do you guys use salt on your roads up there? If so I would say keep it washed then . And I also like your ideas and plans so far.
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Old 12-23-2017, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by XJIrish4x4 View Post
Do you guys use salt on your roads up there? If so I would say keep it washed then . And I also like your ideas and plans so far.
Yeah we do. I have been keeping it in the shop till I get some of the minor rust spots fixed. Before I put it in the shop I brush all the old snow and when it warms up a bit it will go to the car wash and cleaned well again.

I have a couple of holes I need to fill on the doors as the boneheads screwed the trim down
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Old 12-26-2017, 01:13 PM
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RIP Fun Wagon

Well might be a bit over exaggerating at this moment as its sitting on the side of the road dead.

I recently picked up a 1997 Jeep XJ and had the world ahead of it to have some fun. I was struggling with it getting heat to the cabin and was doing work on it to try to remedy this today.Went out today in the Jeep when it was -30 Celsius or so and about 15 minutes into the drive a loud "DING" with a "Check Gauges" came on and uh oh... temp in the red.

So I stopped and shut it off for a minute and I could hear the gurgling so I opened the hood and fluid was pouring out of the overflow. I felt t he radiator and it was *bone cold except the very edges of it.I turned around to bring the Jeep home and then it start to steam, smoke and a bit of a knock/tick/clack. Got to a stop light and it dies.

Being that I discovered the radiator was only hot at the very edges and the center was stone cold I'm thinking the radiator may have played a role in all of this now and may not actually have been my heater core. You could hear massive pops/burps through the system like something was horribly plugged.

So waiting to get it back to the house so I do some basic investigation but this poor little Jeep maybe up for adoption.
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Old 12-26-2017, 04:38 PM
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So I had a brief look at the Jeep.

Coolant still seems "greenish"
Oil pan doesn't look contaminated and oil looks fine
There is signs of coolant under the valve cover
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Old 12-26-2017, 08:43 PM
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Man that stinks but what I would do is conduct compression test. Worse case your looking at tearing it down and replace head gasket. I know you said no signs of coolant in oil but is it smoking out exhaust or smell sweet?

​​​​​​I hope for your sake its nothing serious but defiantly sounds like it needed some maintenance done on coolant system. Since you said radiator wasn't hot except around edges.
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Old 12-26-2017, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by XJIrish4x4 View Post
Man that stinks but what I would do is conduct compression test. Worse case your looking at tearing it down and replace head gasket. I know you said no signs of coolant in oil but is it smoking out exhaust or smell sweet?

​​​​​​I hope for your sake its nothing serious but defiantly sounds like it needed some maintenance done on coolant system. Since you said radiator wasn't hot except around edges.
The only time I saw smoke was from under the hood. I popped the reservoir from the power steering and it was so full it was puking out so not sure if it came from that or else.

I'm trying to scrounge some bodies to get the Jeep in the shop. 3 of us couldn't do it so hoping for a few more.
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Old 12-26-2017, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by firebane View Post
The only time I saw smoke was from under the hood. I popped the reservoir from the power steering and it was so full it was puking out so not sure if it came from that or else.

I'm trying to scrounge some bodies to get the Jeep in the shop. 3 of us couldn't do it so hoping for a few more.
Assuming you meant coolant overflow not power steering?

Let us know what you make of it once in the shop. I would not start it anymore until your source the problem that way you dont run into more issues.
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Old 12-26-2017, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by XJIrish4x4 View Post
Assuming you meant coolant overflow not power steering?

Let us know what you make of it once in the shop. I would not start it anymore until your source the problem that way you dont run into more issues.
Yeah not touching it. No it was blue smoke. It was like a bad movie as I was driving smoke was coming out the sides of the hood lol.
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Old 12-27-2017, 12:17 PM
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Intresting then blue smoke out of the hood. You did say it overheated right? Perhaps you have a clog in the coolant system and or thermostat is bad. Obivously something is causing the overheating though so keep us posted.
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Old 12-27-2017, 04:49 PM
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So I had a thought and a durr moment today.

Thought was... If both heater hoses are hot should that not mean heat should be in the cabin? And if not then plugged heater core?

Durr moment? I flushed my system but when I checked my rad I only put water through the fill hole and saw it was clean out the bottom hose. At no time did I go through the upper hose...
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Old 01-01-2018, 03:54 PM
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So against better judgement I started the Jeep and got it moved into the shop as I could find nobody to help.

Everything is frozen due to the coolant that soaked it. I checked the overflow and it was frozen solid so that leads me to believe there was water in the block. Also checked the oil again and definitely oil is mixed with coolant which I expected.

So as we are heading into warmer temps I will be buying some thermals and start tearing into it.

At this point I'm expecting a top end with gaskets and a oil and coolant change.
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Old 01-01-2018, 05:03 PM
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Well good luck and if you run into any road blocks please stop back and let us know so we can help. Plus progress updates as you go along are always pleasant especially to those who are just learning and never took on such project.

Hopefully with your situation it is just top end redo and new gaskets and back at it. I'm not sure how the heads are on these 4.0's but hopefully yours is not warped and you will know that once you send your head into a shop or mechanic who can clean it up and check.

I look forward to hearing about your situation. I know it must kill you to not be driving it. Even with my XJ all tore down I still managed to toss my front seat into it yesterday just to take it down the road because I love driving it. I'm probably going to toss front seat back into mine again tomorrow and drive it around town I can do that now lol it is finally registered, one more item down to hitting the trails!
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