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Anyone Done a Novak 5.3 LS V-8 to XJ Cherokee Swap Package?

Jeep Cherokee XJ Cherokee Jeep Comanche Jeep SUV Jeep how-to 4.0L Jeep

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#1 sparky1

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 03:59 PM

Has anyone used the Novak conversion kit to install a 5.3 LS into an XJ Cherokee? They have the whole package including updating the wiring harness and GM computer along with the XJ computer. 



#2 Moses Ludel

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 04:13 PM

I am very curious about this LS V-8 swap and any responses here...Great question, Sparky1! 

 

I'd still like to do a 50-State emissions legal diesel swap into our '99 XJ Cherokee...Haven't found an affordable prototype with any real torque yet...Not a VW TDI fan.  The 2.8L VM is spendy...Volvo, BMW and Mercedes are spendy.  The new 3.0L VM V-6 in the Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 would cost a fortune...Isuzu's 3.9L four would be great but not legal, it's a "medium-duty" truck engine, not acceptable for use in a passenger/light truck chassis. 

 

Is this Novak 5.3L Chevrolet LS gasoline V-8 package 50-State legal if done properly?  How easy is the "kit", what more is needed?  Please furnish details...

 

Moses



#3 sparky1

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 04:38 PM

50 state legal and all necessary parts are avaible and they reprogram the GM computer to work with the jeep computer and wiring.

Looks to be very complete with lots of information.

 

Sparky



#4 Moses Ludel

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 12:39 PM

Very exciting!  Lots of power here, the 5.3L is plenty!  The XJ Cherokee is fairly stout and likely up for this task.  Do you have the Chrysler 8.25" rear axle or the Dana 35?

 

Are you going down this path, Sparky1?

 

Moses



#5 Rocket Doctor

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 03:58 AM

I followed a couple of the swaps over on the NAXJA forums for awhile. I think that there's probably easier swap platform/engine combinations, but the rewards of the GM LS engine in an XJ is intriguing. Several years back, when I was driving my '88 4.0/AW4, and was having problems with it, I contacted the good folks at Novak and inquired about the GM install kit after reading about it in an issue of "JP Magazine". Back then, they offered to do it as part of a "Beta Test", as they hadn't quite figured out all of the electronics interface. I understand that the bugs have been worked out, and other than finishing out the exhaust system, everything else was available, including headers, and an appropriate radiator. All it takes is cubic money.
I believe that this is the route I'll take eventually with my 98. Just waiting for the 4.0 to give me problems....still waiting for that.........

#6 Moses Ludel

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 06:01 AM

A well maintained 4.0L is good for 200-250K miles, so that does take a while.  I like the idea of the LS V-8, it's light in weight.  Is this adapted to the AW4 or a manual AX15 or NV3550 transmission?  How does the rest of the swap go?  Engine mounts, radiator, hoses, wiring interface, etc.  Do you need custom headers to clear the steering and chassis?  What is the cost breakout?  Presumably, you're on your own for the exhaust system...

 

I'm very curious about your proposed swap.  You would have an incredible power source and likely as good mileage as the 4.0L, which frankly, is not that great.  We're in the 17-19 mpg range at best, and with overdrive and a 3,500 pound vehicle (ours is more like 3,800 with the lift and accessories), a smaller 4.8L Vortec or 5.3L LS V-8 XJ Cherokee should deliver decent mileage, maybe 20-21 mpg?

 

Does the Novak kit work with any LS or Vortec V-8?  Lots of potential here...

 

Moses



#7 Rocket Doctor

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 04:38 PM

Here's the link to Novak's "knowledge" page for the XJ swap.  The information there seems to indicate that they can accommodate anything from a carbureted 283 to an LS1.

The 88 went away several years back, leaving me with the 98.  My 98 XJ has the 8.25 Chrysler rear, so that will likely stay.  I also don't have the front axle disconnect on this one, and in my mind, simplifies things greatly.  My choice of transmission would be a tossup between a TH350, a TH400, or a 700R4.  The 700R4 gives a bit 'deeper' first gear.  It's also fairly easy to adapt the NP231 T case to it, or just about anything, just so it has a driver's side drop for the front shaft. 

If I remember correctly, the parts to do it are available direct, but it also seems that some of the "hot rod shops" online carry their line, as well.  The price they quoted me at least 8 or 9 years ago has surely escalated, and, they hadn't developed the exhaust or cooling system yet.  If you had the engine, tranny, and t case on hand, I think a conservative number for the rest of the parts would likely be $2K to $2500, but it could all be cleared up with a phone call.

 

I just really wish that they had also developed mounts and systems to install an injected 5.0 Ford. 

 

http://www.novak-ada...dge/xj_swap.htm



#8 Moses Ludel

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 07:13 PM

Thanks for the link, Rocket Doctor!  The information is valuable to forum members contemplating this swap.  I believe a 700R4 transmission would be best, you really can benefit from the overdrive.  Your transmission core needs to be late 'eighties for maximum factory improvements.  The 700R4 underwent a variety of upgrades through the '80s, each gain is essential.

 

I'm on board with your 5.0L Ford idea despite my appreciation for Chevrolet V-8 engines.  The distributor at the front, a low profile and light weight, an EFI/MPI 5.0L is appealing.  Compact and potent, the H.O. 5.0L/302 Ford V-8 would be a good option for the unibody, lightweight Jeep XJ Cherokee.  (For a heavier truck, however, I would pass on the 302 in favor of the 351W MPI V-8 with larger crankshaft journals.)  The 302/5.0L has a following among hot rodders, and there are readily available wiring harnesses for swapping this engine into another chassis.

 

The Ford 302 V-8 would fit the engine bay readily and look at "home" there.  Either the GM or Ford swap material could mate up easily with the common splines and adapter input flange pattern of the NP231.  Either swap could be done without a lot of fanfare.  For 50-State emission legality, you would need to use a 1998 or newer engine and emission package.  The options would be the LS for GM V-8s and either the Ford Mustang or Explorer for the 5.0L Ford V-8.  The Explorer V-8 would be more accessible yet lower in horsepower and torque, a mild V-8 engine that could deliver decent fuel efficiency in an XJ.

 

Your 8.25" rear axle is a good item, I have that in the '99 and set mine up with 4.10 gearing for the 33" tires.  This axle is nice to work with and found in non-ABS XJs.  Non-ABS seems to be the determinant over the Dana 35 rear axle.  (Is yours non-ABS?)  The Chrysler 8.25" rear axle should readily handle 250-275 horsepower in a light Jeep XJ Cherokee.  Since the front axle only operates in 4WD, a Dana 30 could survive if the beam strength is up for the V-8 weight and torque. 

 

For the front axle, I would at least consider upgrade axle shafts and a 30-spline front differential.  (Click on these two links to see my step-by-step articles on the Dana 30 rebuild and an 8.25" axle buildup for a Jeep XJ Cherokee.)  Again, a light weight engine would be advised, focusing on aluminum heads and a "small-block" engine design.  The GM Vortec 4.8L, a 5.3L LS or an HO Ford 302/5.0L each would be close to the weight of a 4.0L inline six with its iron block and cylinder head.

 

Moses



#9 Rocket Doctor

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 04:03 AM

I'm on board with the 700R4. The one I have that is immediately available (and no further cash outlay to acquire) is sitting in an '86 Chevy half ton 4X4 behind a carbureted 305, and NP208 behind it.

#10 Moses Ludel

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 07:30 PM

In my Chevrolet & GMC Light Truck Owner's Bible (Bentley Publishers), I devoted a short section to the upgrades needed when rebuilding a 700R4.  1986 has several improvements over the earlier design, there were others to come by 1989.  If you do rebuild the '86 unit, check with a shop that knows the ins and outs of the 700R4 and can add the upgrade features during the build-up.  This upgrading is well understood these days, as the unit has been around for 30 years now.  A 1986 unit might hold up well if in good condition.

 

Also, there is a torque converter lockup kit available from Painless for the 700R4 as a retrofit.  You'll want to explore this further unless the Novak system employs a transmission controller for the 700R4.  Street rodders often use the 700R4 with this simple aftermarket solution for the 4th gear lockup of the torque converter:  http://www.amazon.co...p/dp/B00062Z5OS.

 

Please keep us informed if this becomes a plan.  I'm interested in the outcome and driver satisfaction, fuel efficiency and such...

 

Moses



#11 rockosocko

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 08:20 AM

YES.. I have two 5.3's that need a complete rebuild and looking into using the 4" bore LS6 pistons in the 5.3 since it's going to need a over-bore anyway.

 

BUT, what about a 4.8? I've got friends that have them in their trucks and they tow fine.. i wonder if there is a MPG difference between the two @ ___ rpm's with ____ tow weight.

 

If the tuners can get a large jump of HP and TQ from a 5.3, I wonder what can be extracted from the little 4.8?

Plus, they're a few hundred $$$ cheaper as the demand for the 5.3/6.0 rises.

 

AND the Dodge 5.7 SRT8/HEMI's are making the jump to the after-market swap arena too! 

(that would be neat also having a 70's cherokee with a srt8-10 doing sub 10 quarters..)

 

E



#12 Moses Ludel

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 01:15 PM

Interesting comments about the 4.8L GM V-8, rockosocko.  This would make a good package for an XJ Cherokee or Jeep Wrangler swap.  I like your point about the cost difference, the 4.8L being an ignored gem.

 

Though Dodge/Chrysler is late to the game at encouraging V-8 swaps for Wranglers (JK) and other uses, Mopar has arrived!  The 5.7L is readily available now, new or used, and it has potential.  Light enough for a Jeep swap, with a quick wiring harness interface and the usual exhaust, cooling system and motor mount solutions, this can be a wise choice—and "all Chrysler".  When the Grand Cherokee got the LA pushrod 5.2L and 5.9L MPI engines, Mopar Performance should have taken the charge with an engine package swap into the Jeep YJ and TJ Wranglers.  Oh, well, better late than never, GM got the edge here!

 

Moses 





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