How-To: ZJ Skid on 97+ XJ

Old 11-10-2009, 02:01 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Shenandoah Valley, VA
Posts: 164
Year: 1997
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0L
Default How-To: ZJ Skid on 97+ XJ

ZJ Fuel Tank Skid to 97+ XJ

Disclaimer – Performing this or any modification to your vehicle is done at your own risk. There is no warranty expressed or implied, this information is provided as-is and free of charge. The author will not be held liable should you damage your vehicle or should any adverse affects occur from the information or methods provided in this document.

Before you begin...

Tank skid should cost about $20-50 at your local yard. Look for ZJ’s with tow hooks, these usually have the skid. The bolts from the factory are 18mm. Take a large breaker bar or a cordless impact with you. Some sort of cutting tool might be useful if the bolts begin to turn on you. Lucky for me there were many to choose from at my yard, I didn’t have a cutting tool and on the first one the captive nut failed and began to turn inside the frame. Once you get it home the first step is to grind down most of the rust and hit it with rust preventative paint.

Once it is prepped you need to remove your trailer hitch if you have one. This makes the job easy because you can use it as a template for the skid. If not you need to get nut strips from the dealer or a junk yard XJ. The nut strips go in the frame and receive the bolts for the hitch and skid. Most 97+ XJs will have at least one on the right side to hold up the exhaust hanger. This one will be rusted and you might need to chase the threads. If you don't have a hitch (now is the time to get one) simply install the strips and make yourself some cardboard templates off your frame. The nuts holding up the hitch will be 18mm. Here is a shot of the exhaust hanger, make sure it goes back in facing correctly, you will need to take these out with a wrench.

Also notice this heat shield. Unless you got the one off the ZJ you will need to re-use this. DO NOT LEAVE THIS OUT. Just leave it in place and put the skid in over top of it. It will bend a little on the bottom where the skid hits it but it will be ok. Doing it this way is easier then crawling way up under the ZJ to take out the 10mm bolts.

Ok, now you have the hitch down, compare them with the holes on the skid.

As you can see the holes are very different. You need to drill or line up almost every hole on the hitch with the skid to make it fit correctly. The only two you don’t have to cut are the two on the outer edge of the right side toward the front of the vehicle. You will notice the same holes on the opposite side coincide with the bolts that hold the fuel filler neck shield on, they allow clearance for the bolt heads. As you might imagine if you XJ is RHD then this will be reversed…hence the reason for the holes being predrilled on both sides of the hitch.

I used a step drill bit and a carbide cutting bit to enlarge the existing holes and create the new ones.

Simply place the hitch over the skid, mark the holes with a marker, then cut them out slightly larger than your marked points. Always make them larger than needed if you have a hitch…it makes it easier to get the bolts started. Now if you do not have a hitch your holes need to be smaller and more precise, but who the heck needs a skid if they don’t have a hitch?

Notice the two holes on the outside edge, these are the two for the fuel neck shield bolts.

Once you get all the holes cut out its time to test fit. This is best done with two people or a jack. Once you get it fitted correctly and all the hole line up, toss up the hitch and bolt it all in.

Notice here the heat shield mentioned earlier.

I had a slight problem come up with the exhaust hitting the skid. Just take the exhaust loose behind the muffler and turn it out a bit. Once everything is in and adjusted this is what you will have…now GO HIT THE TRAIL!

Last edited by VAXJCOUNTRY; 11-10-2009 at 02:04 PM. Reason: Forgot Disclaimer
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