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The Magazine's XJ Cherokee Could Use Some Attention!


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The magazine's 1999 Jeep XJ Cherokee 4x4 is typical. Having minimal trail strain, the Jeep 4.0L Sport runs reliably and quite happily at 140K plus miles...Some would say the Jeep is just broken-in now...


In fact, 4.0L Jeep Wrangler, XJ Cherokee/MJ Comanche and Grand Cherokee models do benefit from preventive care, just like any other vehicle. Regular service can make the difference between a 150K-160K lifespan and the legendary 300K mile XJ Cherokees.


So, what's in need of attention on our XJ Cherokee?  What will I be doing soon?  Well, the right front door's window and door lock switch is defunct.  I found the switch online:  Mopar #56009451AC for 1999 XJ Cherokee, 4WD left hand drive, 4-door, the right front/passenger door.  Cost is just under $75, including S&H.  Expect an update, I'll likely do a how-to video for the magazine, covering the switch installation along with a tour of the door's inner mechanisms and the power window regulator!


Then, there's the dashboard gauge quirk, sudden "zero" of the gauges, especially if the Cherokee sets for more than a bit in the sun...There's a factory TSB on this one, and I have the Mopar service kit (very inexpensive) waiting on my work bench for installation.  Since the dash and gauge panel require removal, I'm saving that 'how-to' for when the weather is balmy and time is on my side.


The twin Spal fans have worked flawlessly since installation with the Griffin upgrade radiator.  I set the fans to run after ignition shutoff, dropping coolant temp to 185-degrees F before restart.  After replacing the battery, I'm more conscious about the two-minute or so drain following engine shutoff in hot weather.  I'll take the time to rewire the fan trigger relays for Key-On only operation.


Not surprising for a 4.0L AMC inline six, the Cherokee's engine could benefit from a new rear main seal, but I would rather do that major chore during a 4.6L stroker motor buildup—if/when the time comes...Simply changing to 10W-40 in the summer has staved off the mild drip or two after parking.  There's no measurable oil consumption, so this is more a nuisance and strain on the driveway cement over time.  I use a drip pan when parked in the carport.


Shocks, 6-inch long arm suspension and steering damper are doing well for the moment.  BFG tires are new and balanced, I do rotate regularly, so the wheels are good.  I will do a rear brake shoe service 'how-to' for the benefit of Jeep owners, the rear brakes are original and could use replacement lining and wheel cylinder attention.  I always vacuum purge the hydraulic system of old brake fluid during this service and may consider a D.O.T. 4 replacement brake fluid after confirming its compatibility.  You'll like the 'how-to', probably in HD video, when I do this job... 


Caution: You cannot use D.O.T. 5 silicone-based fluid in a system that has any remnant of D.O.T. 3 or 4 fluid. D.O.T. 5.1 has a lower silicone content and is sometimes tolerated by non-silicone brake systems.  My rule of thumb: Don't get "creative" here.  The safe bet for an XJ Cherokee is D.O.T. 3 when specified, D.O.T. 4 if compatible.  Read the owner's manual or the fluid reservoir cap.  Use the specified brake fluid...If you're concerned about the 'hygroscopic' (water bonding) nature of D.O.T. 3, 4 and 5.1 brake fluids, flush or vacuum the fluid through the system with fresh brake fluid—periodically.  Still have questions? Post them, and I'll reply!


The air conditioning works but could use a recharge.  That's another how-to for the magazine.  I'd like to share how doing this chore properly can save a bundle in repairs and also make your A/C like new.  Stay tuned, it's summer, and I'm motivated!


Overall, the Jeep XJ Cherokee has been the least expensive to keep utility 4x4 we've ever owned.  No point in taking advantage of such a vehicle, it does deserve better!



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