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AMC Eagle guy buys his first XJ

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Old 02-14-2018, 05:35 AM   #1
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Default AMC Eagle guy buys his first XJ

Hi there,

My first three vehicles were Eagles but as they are very hard to come by now that I have moved to the Philadelphia area, I have purchased my first Cherokee. A '96 with a whopping 278K on it, the PO (3rd owner) put a new engine in it 5 years ago around 200k. So far I'm fairly happy with this old girl, I've put almost 400 miles on her since 2/10. This was a budget purchase because I knew that something would go wrong within the first month, that's my experience anyway, so I bought under my budget with the intent of having $ to take care of those initial problems. Keep in mind I'm not a professional, I just end up doing my own minor repairs, all of my knowledge is founded instinct and experience, I have no hard data or legit training. (Not sure how you guys operate here, so if a discussion of the good/bad on my Jeep belongs in another page feel free to move this.) Here's what I know about this ride so far.

The Bad (Immediate Issues):
  1. Today during my regular 8 mile commute the voltmeter was dropping steadily, I gave it a little gas and bounced from 9 to 12 but after that it dropped all the way to a dead stop. Fortunately I was a half mile from my destination when I was forced to park. When I was able to get back to the vehicle the battery had jumped back to 9 and could move around the parking lot. However, it continued to drain even when given a jump. This was the middle of the night so I didn't have much light (sure do miss that Eagle hood lamp) but I took a look at my connections briefly to see if anything jumped out at me. I think I'll have to come at the alternator from below, I say that because everything screams bad alternator as far as I can tell. I'd be interested if anyone disagrees. There's an Advance about a mile away but even something as simple as an alternator would take me a few hours to replace on a vehicle I've never worked on. She might have to sit until Friday or Saturday. It's been a few years since I've been in true shade-tree mechanic shape.
  2. Gas odor when indicated above a half tank. I say indicated because when I fill the tank it only shows 3/4. Sometimes after highway driving it climbs to show a full tank. When the fuel light comes on and the gauge reaches E, it takes 12 gallons to fill. These are 20 gallon tanks, correct? Anyway, I've only been under the Jeep for a few minutes to take a peak but I'm pretty sure I can see where the fuel is soaking through the lines, right behind the driver seat. This follows with the same wet spot pattern that I've noticed at least twice, I just can't get the thing to leak when I'm watching it. I knew about this upon purchase, the PO says he thought the sending unit needed an o-ring as he claims to have replaced the fuel pump a few months ago himself. I didn't do a thorough inspection but everything near the tank and pump looks bone dry.
The Bad (Issues I'll get to eventually):
  1. The PO is certain that this is the original transmission. He's probably right because it shifts fine, just not as strong as you would like. Shifting into 2nd is a little mushy/sticky but it gets there and seems to warm up after extended city driving. The same goes for shifting into 3rd but only very slightly. Once you get to third you're fine and she handles the highway with no issue. However, the fluid is a more brown than red which leads me to believe it's time to change ATF. Believe it or not, I have had two people tell me that this is a BAD idea. I should just wait until I'm ready to rebuild it? Really?? This is kind of blowing my mind and has me rethinking every ATF change in past vehicles. Have I been damaging my transmissions for the past decade? You're supposed to change fluid/filter, right?
  2. When shifting into 4x4, this Jeep doesn't steer at all. It grinds like something is going to snap and fall off so I've just been avoiding 4x4 completely. Luckily it seems Philly is done with snow for the season. I'm thinking this is maybe U-joints (tie-rods, ball-joints?) especially since she rattles a bit over most bumps, a rattle that doesn't quite feel like shocks. PO claims to have done back shocks last year and the shakes seem to come closer to the front than the back. Once again this is all instinct and experience, no hard knowledge. This lack of functioning 4x4 is the only thing I'm really disappointed about because first of all he claimed several times that this Jeep always performed great in 4x4, and secondly I really don't want to have to diagnose suspension/differential parts.
  3. A/C doesn't work. PO didn't care. I don't care, like at all. I might do some roadtripping this summer and at that point I'll check if it just needs a charge, if it's more than that then whatever. All four windows work. I'm from Michigan, A/C is a luxury feature.
  4. Cruise didn't work when PO bought it so he disconnected the whole thing, so he says. That's a bummer but will probably be that one thing that I always say I'm going to do and then never actually do.
  5. I'll probably need tires before the end of summer.
  6. Gotta find a good spot to put in a cup holder.
The Good (Yay, Jeep!):
  1. I love this straight six, this thing drives and handles just like my Eagles did. A little more power, little more ground clearance and fuel injection is a big difference. Other than that this is essentially every car I've ever owned.
  2. Minimal rust. PA people would say that there is some rust underneath but back home in MI this car would be advertised as minimal rust, there is no spot that will need care for at least the next 2 years. That being said we'll see what happens in June when I have to go through my first PA inspection.
  3. She is clean! Inside and out. No tears, scratches, dings, or dents. There's some trim that bubbles a little, I'll deal with that later.
  4. Stock! That's important, I don't want to deal with anyone's project ideas. I'll do my own if I feel the need, which I probably won't.
  5. Good brakes.
  6. Working cassette player, I've been dying to unpack my cassette collection. This is actually some really decent sound for entry level, I'll probably never touch it.
  7. I was really hoping for black or white with sport trim. That was a nice small bonus.
  8. This was probably the best vehicle on the market for pretty much the entire Clinton administration. Honestly I don't trust anything built after '03. Glad to call myself a Jeep guy and have joined the tribe.

Any conversation is greatly appreciated! I'm not quite ready to buy a custom XJ wallet or anything yet but I believe that a vehicle has to speak to you, and this old lady spoke to me the first time I saw her.
2/10/18, A Good Day
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Old 02-14-2018, 03:58 PM   #2
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Welcome. Iím from Philadelphia area as well
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Old 02-14-2018, 04:29 PM   #3
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Hey thats a sweet looking Jeep...Mine is a 95...They have cup holder attachments that hang just off the passenger side of the shifter ..Do a search on Ebay....
FIX that gas leak !!!
Good luck
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Old 02-17-2018, 02:04 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by XJwonders View Post
Welcome. Iím from Philadelphia area as well
Hey, XJwonders. It'd be great to match notes and get further acquainted with my new Jeephood. Love to talk to people who love their vehicles. I'm off 61st, near Upper Darby.
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Old 02-18-2018, 07:49 AM   #5
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I loved the Eagles. I was Service Manager at an AMC/Jeep dealer from 1980 through 1992.

welcome!!
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Old 02-18-2018, 06:15 PM   #6
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Welcome to the family

I too was a fan of the old Eagles. But you're right.. you just rarely see them around anymore.
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Old Yesterday, 11:56 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Flock2Tribe
Hey, XJwonders. It'd be great to match notes and get further acquainted with my new Jeephood. Love to talk to people who love their vehicles. I'm off 61st, near Upper Darby.
I used to live in upper Darby. Moved to west Chester then now in upper Chichester
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Old Yesterday, 09:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Flock2Tribe View Post
Hey, XJwonders. It'd be great to match notes and get further acquainted with my new Jeephood. Love to talk to people who love their vehicles. I'm off 61st, near Upper Darby.
Get ahold of XJWonders and give him an earfull.
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