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My 2000 XJ Build... First ever Jeep build

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My 2000 XJ Build... First ever Jeep build

Old 01-29-2013, 09:12 PM
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Default My 2000 XJ Build... First ever Jeep build

I bought my 2000 XJ as a Christmas present to myself. I am 29 and have owned and worked on/modified/built 15 cars and 8 motorcycles since I was 16. None of them however were for off road. Now that my daughter is 8 going on 9, my wife and I's hobbies aren't so child friendly. That being said, I thought about the things I wanted to do when I was a kid, that my parents never did. So I wanted to buy and build a jeep to go out and see the country in... just drive to no-where, see things, camp out, whatever.

That all being said, if this turns out to be like my other cars/bikes, it's going to start picking up really soon, and I don't want to have to back track to remember everything that I have done to this Xj... so I will start NOW.

I can't tell you all the specs, because quite frankly, I don't know all of them yet... I am still learning my way around the jeep scene. But this is what I do know:

2000 Jeep Cherokee Sport 1-owner from Raleigh NC
204,036 miles as of today
4.0L 4x4 automatic (my wife didn't like the 2-door 5-speed I almost bought)
Dana 30 front (I think)/Chrysler 8.25 rear, 231 Transfer case

It has no rust, minus some small chips and surface rust. The cruise control won't stay on for more than a second. The driver's seat has the usual tear on the front bolster. Fog lights don't light up. And it leaks oil, looks like from rear main.

Here is how she looked the day I picked her up and brought it to my parent's house in Waxhaw, NC.



Drove all the way home to SWFL (with no cruise) without a hiccup... and got 21mpg going 70mph the whole way.

First three purchases so far have been:
1) Floor mats/cargo mat from CSE offroad
2) Rage roof rack from a fellow member
3) Rear disc brake conversion from Big David (on it's way)

Here is how she sits in the driveway right now.



SO FAR my plan is:
1) Custom modify/extend the roof rack to fit 31-33" spare tire and add a front wind deflector.
2) Rear Disc brake conversion, do axle bearings, seals, diff fluid, etc at the same time.
3) 3-3.5" lift
4) 31" or 33" tires on new/different rims
5) Custom fab a removable cargo rack that is supported to the side, rather than the legged Mountaineer rack
6) Custom made front winch bumper... found a guy in IL who builds exactly the idea I had in my head
7) Fix small chips/rust on paint... rhino-line the bumpers, and bottom 6" all the way around. Plasti-Dip the rest of the body in an Arctic Camo desing (thought that would be interesting in FL, haha)
8) Skid plates, rock bars, any other armor

At some point I will have to do other maintenance/repairs. Also maybe a fresh rebuild on the motor/tranny/t-case. I will do probably all but the tranny myself.

So far everyone I have come in contact with on CF has been awesome. This won't be a crazy build, but I like to be different, and do my own thing. I have only been a member for a little bit, most of that time I have been reading the archived threads just learning and taking in what I can. Hopefully one day I can give back and you guys do now.

Any helpful input, criticism, or half witted jokes are much appreciated. After all this is the internets... lol

Last edited by OffRoadNewb; 02-03-2013 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:55 PM
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The family will love your Xj! Just a little advice, coming from experience and what I am going thru now. Go bigger then 3 inches. I bought a 3jn complete spring pack from rustys. Sits a little over 3 3/4 from stock, and I slapped some 31x10.50 definity MTs on as well. This was 3 months ago.....not big enough. I shoulda saved my $ and went with a 4.5. I just peiced together 2 in spring spacers, leaf shackles, and lower control arms. I want that extra to fit 35s with cutting.

Go bigger! Trust me! Good luck!
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by bootxj View Post
The family will love your Xj! Just a little advice, coming from experience and what I am going thru now. Go bigger then 3 inches. I bought a 3jn complete spring pack from rustys. Sits a little over 3 3/4 from stock, and I slapped some 31x10.50 definity MTs on as well. This was 3 months ago.....not big enough. I shoulda saved my $ and went with a 4.5. I just peiced together 2 in spring spacers, leaf shackles, and lower control arms. I want that extra to fit 35s with cutting.

Go bigger! Trust me! Good luck!
The only thing that is keeping me from going bigger is highway driving... I go up to NC at least twice a year and I am worried about drive-ability and mpg's dropping like hot rocks, lol. How does yours do on long trips?
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:58 PM
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Ok, so I had some time this weekend to work on the rack... it is not wide enough for a 31"-35" spare tire, and it was not as big overall as I wanted... and it came out better then I had expected for less cost. We were trying to find the same size tubing at a good price so here is what we came up with:

Electrical conduit, 3/4" for the side bars, and 1/2" for the center smaller bars. Using a conduit bender, all from Home Depot. I even took back the bender when we were done





Took us a couple tries to get the bends right but when we did, it was all just cut and weld together...





Here is how it sits now ready to paint... We put a 1/8" plate of steel in the middle with a 1/2" stainless nut welded on the bottom to use with a long 1/2" bolt for the tire/rim holder.



This was all on the fly ideas as we thought of it, and we were really surprised how it turned out. I am going to coat it this week.

In other news my check engine light came on today, I thought it would with the cold morning starts, it took a bit to shift into second... the code was the shift solenoid. Will be tackling that next along with reg fluid/filter change for the tranny.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:54 PM
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Well here she is, got the extra bar for a total of 3 up there, and I have one extra in case I need it. Now this is the size of rack I was wanting, should look good once I get a tire up there and the windscreen finished.

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Old 02-06-2013, 03:31 PM
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That rack looks good. I am just starting a XJ build myself.
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by OffRoadNewb View Post
4) 31" or 33" tires on new/different rims
Originally Posted by OffRoadNewb View Post
... it is not wide enough for a 31"-35" spare tire,
Already thinking about bigger tires? lol

Good luck on your build. I've had my jeep for a year and haven't starting doing anything to it yet. I really want to do a mild lift but I am terrified of the MPG since it's my DD. We have similar needs for our cherokee's, really want to see how things turn out for you.
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Juan Garcia View Post
That rack looks good. I am just starting a XJ build myself.
Thanks... good luck on your build.

Originally Posted by 99purpleXJ View Post
Already thinking about bigger tires? lol

Good luck on your build. I've had my jeep for a year and haven't starting doing anything to it yet. I really want to do a mild lift but I am terrified of the MPG since it's my DD. We have similar needs for our cherokee's, really want to see how things turn out for you.
Lol, yea... well I keep telling myself I'm not going more than 33" tires... but better be safe than sorry. I am concerned about the drive-ability and hwy mpg as well as I will be using this for road trips to NC and anywhere else.

The shift solenoids will be here tomorrow, so hopefully that will be all the tranny needs... and some new fluid.
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:37 PM
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Update: Got the new shift solenoids installed without a hitch... well at least any big hurdles. Found out it had been serviced recently (just fluid and filter), and whatever dingleberry did it didn't tighten the pan all the way, AND stripped 4 of the bolt holes. SO, new solenoids, fluid, filter, and some safety wire shoved into the 4 bolts holes and everything is nice and tidy now. I didn't get to take any pics, not that you all don't know what it looks like with the pan off anyway. Plus one less fluid leak.

In other news, this year we will be PAYING taxes (withholding issue)... looks like I will be getting rid of a car or motorcycle to keep the progress going on the XJ. Tooo many toys at one time, but the Jeep is something we will all enjoy so it is staying.
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:54 AM
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rack looks nice!
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Old 02-16-2013, 12:06 PM
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Like the rack idea, looks great too.
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Old 02-16-2013, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by rossd14 View Post
rack looks nice!
Originally Posted by Dino's 99XJ View Post
Like the rack idea, looks great too.
Thanks guys. We might try to make a rear cargo rack for the back out of the same stuff. I have seen the Mountaineer racks, but I don't want one with legs, I want brackets to the side thru the trim, then the rack sits on them and can attach easily with some pins. The conduit is cheap enough to play around with making the rack out of, then make the brackets out of some steel laying around. Not sure when we will do this, I need to take the trim panels out, and see what it is like behind them.
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:46 PM
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So it's been a bit since I updated. Just been doing some general maintenance stuff... have an issue with the cruise control not staying on. At first I thought clock spring, but the horn works fine. I am still looking into it.

Meanwhile last weekend after a trip to Orlando to drive an F430 and a Gallardo (my wife got me track time for my birthday), I stopped and picked up these in Tampa for a decent price.



Some Pacer Outlaws on 31" Coopers... was a good deal for a set of five and the tires have a good amount of tread left as well.

Next is ordering a lift. I'm also going to do any/all axle service/repair while I am at it. I figure while I have it apart I mine as well get all the worn stuff replaced... and get my rear disc brake conversion put on.
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:01 PM
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The cruise control is dependent on vacuum.. Make sure you don't have any leaks!
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Old 03-30-2013, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by NewJerseyXJ609 View Post
The cruise control is dependent on vacuum.. Make sure you don't have any leaks!
Will do. The light comes on, but does not stay on... it will not even engage
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