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  #1  
Old December 13th, 2020, 15:20
moparmansfield's Avatar
moparmansfield moparmansfield is offline
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Modernizing the XJ

My goal for this thread is compile ideas and document the upgrades/changes needed for the Jeep XJ platform to compete with more modern 4x4 options.

Here's my "why" - feel free to jump to the good stuff(once it is there):

Long story short - Financially, I can afford a new Jeep JL/Gladiator - and oh man do I want one. But - I already own a 99 XJ with some decent upgrades, and an old Jeepster project. Owning both of these rigs costs me around $55 a month, not including maintenance/gas. A new Gladiator with 10k down will have a ~$700/month payment for 72 months(!) and Insurance cost of $100+/month.

$10k + $800/month vs $55/month.

The opportunity cost here is huge. Instead, if were to invest 10k into both of my rigs, they would be much better drivers and provide a lot of enjoyment, and I wouldn't have to shell out an extra ~$750 a month.

Yes - I could sell the XJ/Jeepster and use that to increase the down payment - but I'd rather keep them at this point for many reasons.

Modern rig positive benefits over the XJ:
Better on-road manners
All the tech (screens/cameras/buttons/electric sway disconnects -etc)
Nice to look at
Power/fuel efficiency
Reliability
Creature Comforts
Ergonomics
Fit/Finish (overall product quality)

The goal here is to figure out what I can do to my XJ with ~$5k to make it feel like a more modern rig.

Already has ~4.5" lift on 33x12.5's with 4.10s/ax-15. Looks decent from 50ft away. Interior is a 6 out of 10. Suspension is decent offroad, not great on-road. Technically it doesn't need anything - everything works - but I would really like for it to have some of those modern rig benefits.

Ideas so far:
Double din radio with new speakers
Back-up/approach cameras
Heated seats/seat upgrade
Heated steering wheel
Better LED headlights
Swap a JK electronic sway bar on-to the XJ (if possible) or go anti-rock.
Frame stiffening
4.56 gear swap (slight power/mpg increase) or drop to 32's.
Swap radius arm long arms for 3-4 link and tune well.
Tunable shocks.
4 link the rear or find a better riding set of leaves.

Doing all this for $5K might be a stretch, but I would wait for sales to pop up or buy used, and install myself. I enjoy working on the Jeep, so I don't count that as a cost. The biggest factor to me is the on-road manners, so I'm comfortable spending more here.

Let me know your thoughts or what you have done to your rig to make it compete with more modern rigs!
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  #2  
Old December 13th, 2020, 15:59
Black1990jeep Black1990jeep is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

The gladiator a friend used wheeling was too long wheel base for some maneuvers, and has a long rear over hang. not a good trail rig.
link... https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GxU7_YWlnx8&t=6s

All them electric whiz bang things wont be reliable nor cheap to repair, beware of the high tech disposable cars of today.

New car loose value the second there are purchased, an used car can be a much better deal.

that gladiator has an all black plastic interior, ugly.

You can dent and beat the old jeep and still be happy, dent and beat a brand new jeep you are making payments on, and you wont be happy.

That is my outlook anyway. but hey, if you got the money, its your choice. My xj I got maybe 10k into it total, and it can far out do the gladiator, and if I tip over and smash the body, oh well, buy another one and move my upgrades to it. tip over a new gladiator, one you still owe payments on, and ouch! your insurance may not even cover it if wheeling.

beware of the lure of that new car smell, it often turns to stink.

I have never owned a new car, I have never owned a car younger than about 18 years ever, my newest is 30 years old, I have owned it for two years. I still own my first car, it is 60 years old now, I have had it for over 40 years.

my cars are old enough to not loose value in purchase price I paid verses resale price today. They actually are going up in value!

I was not impressed with that gladiator, of course it was bone stock,

see the video of it if you leave it stock, it is not impressive wheeling, so you will need to lift it, put on big tires, regear, etc....

I do have 4.1 gears on 33 inch tires, friend has same gears on 31 we get pretty close to identical mileage on same trips.

Some trips involve a lot of hiway. on the level highway, I actually cruise better, less buzzy rpms, but he does do better accelerating or going up hill, but I cruise faster on the flat highway. I also have a 4.1 geared transfer case, atlas II so my diff gears although not ideal for high range, I still have a better off road final ratio verses the stock transfer case he has in low range. Yeah id like to regear, but parts will cost me close to a grand, and it is a lot of work to regear, I have done that before, I have other things to do.

Id stick to adding upgrades to the older vehicle. you can do a lot of upgrades for the same money you will loose in resale value in the first year of ownership of a new car.
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  #3  
Old December 13th, 2020, 16:22
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Tim_MN Tim_MN is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

I prefer the rugged simplicity, durability, low operating costs, and ease of maintenance the XJ Cherokee offers. Almost every modification on my XJ was good used parts I acquired by bartering Jeep work, or by trading other Jeep parts. I designed and built my front bumper and rock rails, and folded and welded together the rear bumper kit

I have no use for electronic gadgets and doodads that will quickly crap out and cost multiple thousands of dollars to replace. I learned to parallel park in a 4 door 1970's Ford Galaxie 500, so no need for any silly cameras or parking assistance. I never use the cellphone while driving so if I look out the windows and mirrors, I can easily keep in my own lane.

You list of improvements looks promising and will make the XJ more comfortable and more capable.
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  #4  
Old December 13th, 2020, 16:23
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Vince Vince is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

The electric sway bar has issues


But there is a pneumatic conversion for it.
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  #5  
Old December 13th, 2020, 16:40
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moparmansfield moparmansfield is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

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Originally Posted by Vince View Post

Good info! Did not know they were having issues with them. It sounds like there is a manual conversion as well. Either sound like good options. I do plan on permanently mounting an air compressor in the jeep, so that would work.
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  #6  
Old December 13th, 2020, 18:33
jk_surgeonfish jk_surgeonfish is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

Go with the XJ. Few things:

1. Go with Anti-Rock for sure. It works so well off-road. Much better with it than not.
2. Sound deaden the entire interior.
3. 4.56 with ARB from and Rear. If any thoughts of going to 35s just do it now and put 4.88s.
4. Chromoly axles.
5. Upgrade the seats

Have fun building it!
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  #7  
Old December 13th, 2020, 20:20
89Mock 89Mock is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

Quote:
Originally Posted by moparmansfield View Post
My goal for this thread is compile ideas and document the upgrades/changes needed for the Jeep XJ platform to compete with more modern 4x4 options.

Here's my "why" - feel free to jump to the good stuff(once it is there):

Long story short - Financially, I can afford a new Jeep JL/Gladiator - and oh man do I want one. But - I already own a 99 XJ with some decent upgrades, and an old Jeepster project. Owning both of these rigs costs me around $55 a month, not including maintenance/gas. A new Gladiator with 10k down will have a ~$700/month payment for 72 months(!) and Insurance cost of $100+/month.

$10k + $800/month vs $55/month.

The opportunity cost here is huge. Instead, if were to invest 10k into both of my rigs, they would be much better drivers and provide a lot of enjoyment, and I wouldn't have to shell out an extra ~$750 a month.

Yes - I could sell the XJ/Jeepster and use that to increase the down payment - but I'd rather keep them at this point for many reasons.

Modern rig positive benefits over the XJ:
Better on-road manners
All the tech (screens/cameras/buttons/electric sway disconnects -etc)
Nice to look at
Power/fuel efficiency
Reliability
Creature Comforts
Ergonomics
Fit/Finish (overall product quality)

The goal here is to figure out what I can do to my XJ with ~$5k to make it feel like a more modern rig.

Already has ~4.5" lift on 33x12.5's with 4.10s/ax-15. Looks decent from 50ft away. Interior is a 6 out of 10. Suspension is decent offroad, not great on-road. Technically it doesn't need anything - everything works - but I would really like for it to have some of those modern rig benefits.

Ideas so far:
Double din radio with new speakers
Back-up/approach cameras
Heated seats/seat upgrade
Heated steering wheel
Better LED headlights
Swap a JK electronic sway bar on-to the XJ (if possible) or go anti-rock.
Frame stiffening
4.56 gear swap (slight power/mpg increase) or drop to 32's.
Swap radius arm long arms for 3-4 link and tune well.
Tunable shocks.
4 link the rear or find a better riding set of leaves.

Doing all this for $5K might be a stretch, but I would wait for sales to pop up or buy used, and install myself. I enjoy working on the Jeep, so I don't count that as a cost. The biggest factor to me is the on-road manners, so I'm comfortable spending more here.

Let me know your thoughts or what you have done to your rig to make it compete with more modern rigs!
Buy the Jeep JL. For $5k you’re going to still be behind the new vehicle. “Not including maintenance” is a big sinkhole of money. 4.56 gears aren’t going to make your Cherokee get better fuel mileage or have more power. Spend $10k on ONE rig, or buy a new one and sell the others for what a buyer will pay. Upgrade the new Jeep because it will be better than your xj.
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Old December 13th, 2020, 21:04
XJ-Mayhem XJ-Mayhem is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

I’m all for the simplicity, price point, and other advantages old vehicles offer. I’ve never purchased a new vehicle (but have had a brand new company vehicle)

With that said, unless you’re talking strictly performance - in my opinion you/we will never compete with a new vehicle the way you’re talking “all around”. If your mindset is to bring an old vehicle up to par with the comfort, features, looks (subjective), etc, the only way you’ll truly satisfy that is by going new. Millions of dollars is spent on the R&D of a vehicle, no matter how good we think we are throwing in a random double din and some license plate cameras is not going to get anywhere near a new vehicles fit and finish.

On the other hand, if you’re targeting specific items because you have a need and that need is bothering you on the vehicle then I say go for it.
Keep backing into walls when reversing? A backup camera would be great.
Find yourself lost on streets all the time? A double din that has maps would be great.
Old and lazy to get out and disconnect sway bar? In cab solution sounds great.

It’s all about mindset.

After having heated seats once in my 02 Suburban, I realized I really liked the feature. Now I’m spending absurd amounts of time reverse engineering the wiring schematics for my 04 Duramax to fit factory heated seats into it. Why? Not because I think it’ll make it on par with a 2020, but because I love to dive into a project and the satisfaction of reverse engineering something and having it work. And I appreciate a factory fit and finish, hence not going aftermarket.

So I say all that to say, I would recommend first checking your viewpoint, in order to manage your own expectations.
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  #9  
Old December 14th, 2020, 00:34
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Greenspan Greenspan is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

Is MPG really an issue? You're going to struggle to compete with a new vehicle just because the XJ is 20 yrs old. But if you really compare the MPG differences and multiply by how much you drive I bet the cost savings/difference is minimal.

You should post this on a Gladiator forum and see what they say. We are just going to say yeah XJ is great you don't need any of that newfangled junk. It'd be interesting to see what they say is worth 10k +750/mo (other than they can't work on cars and are afraid of some basic maintenance)
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  #10  
Old December 14th, 2020, 02:30
Evan03 Evan03 is offline
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Modernizing the XJ

Put 3 of the 10 in a welding machine
Put 7 in heims 2"dom, brackets and fox race series shocks from accutune.

I agree better seats and lights would be nice.


I'd rather have a tj than a gladiator

Don't need or what the modern interior bells and whistles.

I also think 4.88 is the way to go. Nothing wrong with 12-15mpg.

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  #11  
Old December 14th, 2020, 07:24
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Anak Anak is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

The answer to this depends on your own priorities. If modern features are important to you then you are probably better off with the modern vehicle.

I will say that I disagree with one of your points regarding a benefit of a new rig: reliability. The XJs are proven to go 300K miles and 30+ years and still be a good trail rig. I seriously doubt any of the current production vehicles are going to have that kind of track record. There are simply too many integrated features.

If you don't understand that point I would suggest comparing the market value of an XJ vs a ZJ. The two vehicles should be nearly identical in price. If anything the ZJ should command a premium over the XJ as it was built and sold as a step up from the XJ. The reality is the reverse of that. As I am now working on a ZJ that I bought for cheap I am seeing the problem with the ZJ--too much wiring. We got this thing cheap because of a parasitic draw. The parasitic draw is somehow involved with the BCM and has something to do with dome lights. That is because Chrysler thought it would be nice to have a delayed shut-off for the dome lights. That creature comfort comes at the price of reliability. I would much rather be able to start my car than have a dome light delay. And thus the XJ shines in terms of long term reliability. The situation will be more dramatic with newer vehicles with more onboard computers/sensors/switches/relays etc. The manufacturers are happy to support the culture of disposable goods for folks who want something new and shiny every ten years because there is more money to be made going down that path.

Know which path you are choosing and why.
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Old December 14th, 2020, 08:04
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moparmansfield moparmansfield is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

I like both sides popping up here, some good points as well.

A couple more pieces to the puzzle - I rented a JL in desert of socal for a week last year, and was pretty happy with it - largely road manners. Also the girlfriend's car has all of the creature comforts of a modern vehicle, and IMO they do increase the quality of the drive, especially in winter. So that wish list really has all the things I'm looking for specifically.

I am 6k invested into the XJ and I don't have to worry about it at all. A 40k JL/Gladiator would be great, but then I am worrying about damaging it. The reliability argument can go both ways. I've had great luck with the XJ platform over the years. A buddy of mine has one that threw a valve at 140k with mostly street use and being well maintained.

Actual use - I split my daily driver duty between the XJ and an 06 F150, so it sees a good amount of road time to keep the fluids moving/battery charged. I've wheeled with a number of different rigs, and I've never had an issue following the high dollar build rigs. So - able to be the DD, go on some decent trails, and be comfortable enough for long trips. Not as comfortable as a newer rig - that's understood - but I'd like to get it as close as possible with certain key factors. I won't lie that novelty isn't a factor here - having a 22 year old vehicle that has the creature comforts of a new vehicle sounds great to me.
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Old December 14th, 2020, 08:49
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Vince Vince is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

Quote:
Originally Posted by 89Mock View Post
Upgrade the new Jeep because it will be better than your xj.
That is really a matter of opinion based on individual taste. New doesn't necessarily mean better, it just means different.
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Old December 14th, 2020, 09:26
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Vince Vince is offline
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Re: Modernizing the XJ

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Originally Posted by moparmansfield View Post
4 link the rear or find a better riding set of leaves.

Doing all this for $5K might be a stretch, but I would wait for sales to pop up or buy used, and install myself. I enjoy working on the Jeep, so I don't count that as a cost. The biggest factor to me is the on-road manners, so I'm comfortable spending more here.

Let me know your thoughts or what you have done to your rig to make it compete with more modern rigs!

I have a Clayton long arm kit with 4-link rear on my 2001 (8" lift, 35" tires, 4.88 gears ARBs). It rides silky smooth on all types of paved roads but definitely needs a rear anti-rock for curvy mountain roads.


My '93 XJ is on 5" lift with custom made military wrap rear leafs. The ride is a lot harsher than the 2001 but I can drive it like a sportscar. It has a 242 case, 33x12.50 tires, 4.56 gears with TrueTracs front and rear. It rains here a lot and my Jeep is rarely in 2wd. I have not changed that setup for 20 years, it works really well.


If I were you, I would go have a chat with a vehicle upholsterer and a vehicle detailer. Ask the upholsterer what could they do to an XJ interior to make it more modern. Ask the detailer if the upholsterer's idea is practical and how would they change it for off road practicality/surviveability.


$5K wont last long if you have custom interior fabrication like a replacement dash and console in stitched leather or an interior roll cage with upholstered leather padding, but I am sure you will get something that satisfies your requirements for a Jeep that is uniquely you.
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Old December 14th, 2020, 09:29
Evan03 Evan03 is offline
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Modernizing the XJ

Anak is correct.

A new jeep is likely to have a catastrophic failure far before a xj with 150k on it. Its just the world we live in. Warranty is a must


I would love to see a new jeep released with a 4cylinder diesel(offroad version no emissions)no bells and whistles. Something you can open the doors and pressure wash the interior.
Optional trail ready suspension with options on tire size gearing and shock tuning.

And a cookie cutter version for those wanting to keep costs down a few thousand

I've been driving the same cummins pickup for 15 years. Ive done one injection pump and rebuilt the transmission ounce. Were starting to push 400.
Everyone around me is revolving through new pickups that are in and out of shop constantly

Doubtfull but maybe jeeps are better than products in the pickup market.

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