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Looking for ZJ/WJ/Wk recommendations.

Old 12-01-2015, 10:54 AM
  #1  
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Default Looking for ZJ/WJ/Wk recommendations.

So I've been out of the Jeep ownership game for far too long and I'm really picky, currently hoping to find a 5spd XJ near-ish to me for less than $6k. In the meantime I've been looking into the Grand Cherokee's and have found some with the trusty 4.0l 6. I realize it's going to be difficult to find another motor as good as this, but I'm looking for input into the other motors available and any input on transmissions available in them, I know literally nothing about the V8's these had and the only Jeep I've owned with a V8 said 'AMC' on it and was made in '73.

Experiences, good and bad are appreciated. This will be a DD/ occasional wheeler with nothing too crazy like no more than 4" of lift. But the reliability or issues with the motors are my main concern.
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Old 12-01-2015, 02:24 PM
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Okay, V8s in the ZJ are the Dodge 5.2 and 5.9 (318/360), proven engines and far better than your AMC. The most common problem with them is a leaking plenum gasket on the bottom of the intake manifold. The V8 in the WJ and WK is the 4.7 next generation engine that started in the 99 WJ. It's a cast iron block/aluminum head OHC with coil-on-plug ignition. Some people love them and some hate them. They do have their own set of problems based on improper maintenance, like blown head gaskets and warped heads after an overheat. The 4.0 was discontinued in 05 and replaced by the 3.7 V6 which is a 4.7 minus 2 cylinders.

The 4.0 has it's own story. In 99, in order to balance the 4.7, they moved the motor mount locations in the WJ, resulting in moving the mounts on the 4.0 block and moving the oil filter location. They also changed the cam profile to produce max torque at 4000 instead of 3000, enlarged the valve ports, replaced the distributor with a coil pack on the plugs and installed a better flowing intake manifold. The valve port change resulted in head cracking problems (0331 head) and a better head in 02. The major result of all this is the older 4.0 will not mount in a 99 and up WJ.

AFAIK, manual transmissions are non-existant in the WJ and rare as hen's teeth in ZJs. The automatics some people say are weak, but with proper maintenance and no abuse, will last a long time. My WJ 4.0 has 183K miles on it and the trans is still perfect. I use mine delivering newspapers with heavy loads and lots of driveway turn-arounds and hills so it gets used a lot.

ZJs that haven't been pounded on are getting hard to find. There are a ton of WJs on the market and most of them are V8s. Good luck in your search.

Last edited by dave1123; 12-01-2015 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 12-01-2015, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by dave1123 View Post
Okay, V8s in the ZJ are the Dodge 5.2 and 5.9 (318/360), proven engines and far better than your AMC. The most common problem with them is a leaking plenum gasket on the bottom of the intake manifold. The V8 in the WJ and WK is the 4.7 next generation engine that started in the 99 WJ. It's a cast iron block/aluminum head OHC with coil-on-plug ignition. Some people love them and some hate them. They do have their own set of problems based on improper maintenance, like blown head gaskets and warped heads after an overheat. The 4.0 was discontinued in 05 and replaced by the 3.7 V6 which is a 4.7 minus 2 cylinders.

The 4.0 has it's own story. In 99, in order to balance the 4.7, they moved the motor mount locations in the WJ, resulting in moving the mounts on the 4.0 block and moving the oil filter location. They also changed the cam profile to produce max torque at 4000 instead of 3000, enlarged the valve ports, replaced the distributor with a coil pack on the plugs and installed a better flowing intake manifold. The valve port change resulted in head cracking problems (0331 head) and a better head in 02. The major result of all this is the older 4.0 will not mount in a 99 and up WJ.

AFAIK, manual transmissions are non-existant in the WJ and rare as hen's teeth in ZJs. The automatics some people say are weak, but with proper maintenance and no abuse, will last a long time. My WJ 4.0 has 183K miles on it and the trans is still perfect. I use mine delivering newspapers with heavy loads and lots of driveway turn-arounds and hills so it gets used a lot.

ZJs that haven't been pounded on are getting hard to find. There are a ton of WJs on the market and most of them are V8s. Good luck in your search.
You're a gentleman and a scholar and I thank you for the rundown.
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Old 12-02-2015, 08:49 AM
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I just had to pass this on. My WJ is a base model Laredo with a 4.0 and 242 t/case, 245/70R16's and a trailer hitch. No other mods. My son is learning to drive and is a little intimidated by traffic and never driven a jeep. I used to hunt a local wildlife management area so decided to let him drive the well maintained dirt roads there. Well...I hadn't been there in 20 years and the roads had NOT been kept up as well as I thought, but were still pretty good. He handled the potholes, rocks and water-logged areas well and after he'd done his thing, I went exploring. I found a trail marked "Kasoag Groomed Trail System" and took it. This nicely prepared trail got steadily worse as I continued and without any place to turn around, I forged ahead, shifting to 4pt. Pretty soon we were plowing thru wet areas with flowing water over them and huge puddles, both filled in with rocks. I got a little concerned because I'd hadn't prepared for this and had never taken my jeep over terrain like this before. My compass showed I was headed in the right direction to intersect a major highway, so I kept going.

The jeep performed perfectly as we bounced and flogged thru this crap which, again, got worse. I could feel the floor slide over rocks and roots and I just hoped it would not get stuck. We emerged on the highway dripping mud and debris, breathed a sigh of relief, and laughed about it. The muffler sounded a bit louder and there was a rattling underneath so after getting home and hitting the carwash, I took it to my buddy's shop to put it up on the lift. There was a broken muffler clamp and a crack in the pipe at the sharp bend just before the transmission, so he welded it for me and replaced the clamp.

The moral of this story is a stock WJ is pretty good off-road and just needs more ground clearance. I was impressed! This was nothing like MOAB, but my first experience off-road when not expecting to. We were alone without backup and only a cell phone without a good signal, in the woods where finding us from the air would be hard. Stupid, I know.
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:04 PM
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I've owned both a ZJ and a WJ, and I recommend either, but get a WJ if you can afford it, and definitely go for the 4.0 and NOT the 4.7. If you go with a ZJ, the 5.2 is ok. Do NOT go with a WK (the WK2 is ok)... my dad has an '05 WK and it's had so many problems with the 4.7 (front drive shaft, radio, radiator, water pump, A/C compressor, heater core, keyless entry remotes, etc.).

-Vince
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Old 12-07-2015, 05:58 AM
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Man I've missed the cherokeeforum since I made the poor choice to dis-Jeep myself. Thanks guys, I appreciate the input. Hopefully will be re-Jeeped by the end of the day today.
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