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Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 11/16/2014, 11:16 pm

Got a few small things done this weekend ahead of the club run next Saturday. The Cherokee hasn't had a resonator or rear-most exhaust hanger on it since before I bought it and that obviously needed to be addressed. So we went to AutoZone and grabbed some 2.25" straight pipe, clamps, and a cheapie universal hanger, and got down to business.

There was a good chunk of straight pipe left out back to clamp to, but the previous resonator had rotted away/broken right at the welded flange of it and the pipe and needed to be addressed. It took some massaging with a blade-type screwdriver and a hammer, and then about 10 minutes with a grinder to smooth out the weld beads and remaining bits. From there things were pretty straightforward as you might imagine, and the final result turned out pretty good. Obviously this fix was nothing special but the exhaust definitely has a better tone to it, and more importantly it isn't bouncing around after every bump. I plan on putting a full exhaust on it in the future so this $20 fix was really all I was looking to do at this point.



Also got a chance to try out my new 38 WXST handheld CB. I tested out the range with the help of my father and the CB in the YJ. The range wasn't anything special; I'd estimate only about half a mile, but that's with iffy weather coming in and lots of obstacles in a suburban setting. Hopefully it will be a little bit better on the open road, and even if not the half-mile range will do just fine when wheeling. Very clear audio from it and a lot of good functions that I plan on using moving forward. For what it is and what I paid for it I'm happy with it so far.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 11/30/2014, 3:02 pm

Took care of two items of business this weekend: a failing TPS sensor which cropped up after last week's run and my non-functional windshield defroster. The TPS was plug and play, while the defrost issue was easy once I figured out the cause. And after taking my life in my hands Thanksgiving night and driving back in a snow/sleet/rain without any windshield defrost I was determined to get to the bottom of the problem.

I've had properly working heat and A/C on every function except for defrost, which would only come out strong on the window vents and produce basically nothing on the windshield vent. The first place I started looking weeks ago was the vacuum system, but having found nothing I then moved on to checking actuators. When all of the actuators checked out functional yet the system still wouldn't switch to defrost, I immediately began thinking that the defrost door itself might be the issue.

Fast forward to yesterday. I took the necessary dash panels off, removed the radio, and began getting to the bottom of what was going on. You could tell the defrost function itself was fine, because as soon as you switched the controls to defrost you could hear a door somewhere close followed by the sound of a tremendous amount of flowing air and a high whistle, except you only felt a small amount of air coming out of just the left side of the windshield vent. Driveway deduction: defrost door isn't opening fully if at all.

The defrost vent itself is easy to access and see from inside and on top of the dash, so that's where I focused my efforts. I could see the defrost actuator turning the arm for the defrost door, but again there was nothing actually happening during this process. The defrost vent was just wide enough for me to get my hand and arm down into, and doing this proved my hypothesis correct: the door was completely closed. My arm wasn't quite skinny enough to get the job of opening the door done so I enlisted the assistance of my smaller-armed girlfriend, and wouldn't you know she was able to push the door fully open and for the first time since owning the thing I had fully functional, high-speed windshield defrost.

Once the fix was established, I went about trying to figure out what exactly was going on. It seems that for whatever reason the door closes properly when you switch the settings from defrost to any setting but defrost, but the door will not re-open once you try to switch it back to defrost and must be done by hand. I'm guessing a rod is either unhooked or broken that attaches to the door and that's the root of the issue. The strange part is that the door stays open on its own once its pushed down, but as soon as you switch the setting it immediately comes back up (as it should) but will not switch back down.

Now, the proper solution for this is to tear the dash apart, replace whatever part is broken on the defrost door, and have a permanently fixed HVAC system. But because I don't have any plans to use the A/C in the winter, I have zero ambition to rip the dash part in the cold, and because defrost is so important this time of year, I'm opting to just keep the defrost permanently on. To try and ensure the door doesn't close after hitting a big bump or for any other reason, I jerry-rigged a coat hanger into the the defrost vent propped up against the defrost door that is getting the job done.

It's a total hack move but I'm so out of this world happy that I'll finally be able to see out of more than 15 percent of my windshield that I really couldn't care less. The only real downside is that the A/C compressor and clutch will be cycling non-stop all winter, but both of those have been (supposedly) recently replaced so they should hold up.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  dongalonga on 11/30/2014, 8:10 pm

This time of year no one will blame you for temporarily rigging something up.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  CrawlingForward on 12/11/2014, 11:09 pm

Hot damn you've been busy.

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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 1/18/2015, 3:29 pm

So it's been quiet on the Jeep front lately, but I do have a few things to report. I began to notice a heavy burnt coolant smell coming from the engine bay probably around the beginning of December, so as any reasonable person would do I began to hunt for a leak. I was unable to track anything down, but the smell was an itch I couldn't scratch so I made sure to keep an eye on levels. I was seeing small puddles of bright green fluid here and there, but I attributed those to my A/C compressor still possibly being overfilled.

I got a bit lazy following the club's 'final' run around the second week of December, and didn't really keep an eye on all the fluid levels like I normally do following an outing. Well on Christmas Eve my shitbox senses were tingling and I decided to take a peak under the hood. What I found was a completely empty overflow bottle, which of course caught my attention. Luckily the radiator was still full and I always keep an eye on the temp gauge and never had any scares there, so I filled the bottle and set out to track down the source.

By Christmas night the level in the overflow bottle had once again dropped, so I knew I had to get on this pronto. I feared a head gasket or worse (it is a junkyard motor after all), and was prepared for a nightmare scenario. After crawling around underneath the thing with my flashlight and following the trail of green, I found the source was the freeze plug closest to the front of the block. Crisis averted.

Following the discovery I had all the freeze plugs on the side of the block replaced with new metal ones (no rubber quick-fixes). All was good for the last week and a half until last night when I checked the level in the overflow bottle and it is once again down a little. After poking around a little today it seems the culprit is the upper house from the thermostat to the radiator. I could see a bit of pooling on top of the water pump itself, and some vaporized (dried white) trails of coolant on the thermostat housing, so it's again a relief that it's probably just a loose clamp.

I didn't have any sockets on me at the time that I discovered this, but tomorrow (as long as it's dry) I'll re-position and tighten the clamp (it's been changed from the factory style already) and see how things hold. My hypothesis as of now is that the clamp on the hose has actually been loose for quite some time, but because of the leaky freeze plug the pressure in the system was escaping from there and not the hose. Hopefully the worst case scenario is I have to replace the hose. I'm hoping this finally solves the mystery of my disappearing coolant, which has now spanned six months and two motors.

Aside from that saga, the only other Jeep-related stuff I've been up to is planning my budgets for the two Jeeps for 2015. It will ultimately be determined by my tax return, so everything is preliminary as of now. Originally I was going to sink money into skid plates and suspension components, but after further thought I've decided that the money I'm sinking into the Cherokee is to improve its street driving, gas mileage, and to equip it for mild off-roading (i.e. tow points and lighting) for trails like Henniker and Hooksett, and maybe the bypass trails at MaBell. I bought this to be my everyday driver and need to approach it as such  I do think the driver's side front axle bearing is cooked and thus the hub will need to be replaced, and I will address that once the weather gets warmer. Here's the list so far for the Cherokee:

-Skyjacker Hydro 7000 shocks
-Bosch 5277739 fuel injectors (four-hole vs. factory one-hole)
-Replacement steering box
-Trailer hitch
-Frame nutstrips (for hitch)
-Hella 500 driving light kit
-LED flood lights
-Rocker guards
-Rear wiper motor
-Axle and F/R driveshaft U-joints
-Timken hub assembly
-Solid front diff cover
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  dongalonga on 1/18/2015, 4:24 pm

Look into some LED driving lights. You can skip the fogs all together then. Find a light that has removable Amber covers like Andrew's rigids. After seeing his on the highway, I wish I had just gone that route.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 1/18/2015, 5:32 pm

dongalonga wrote:Look into some LED driving lights. You can skip the fogs all together then. Find a light that has removable Amber covers like Andrew's rigids. After seeing his on the highway, I wish I had just gone that route.

Actually I want the floods for my roof bar for situations like our night run a few weeks ago. The driving lights are going to be for everyday use as the factory ones do a decent job of lighting the sides of roads but light very poor down-road. The floods will most likely just be an Amazon special similar to yours.

I'm going with Hella driving lights for a few reasons. Their customer service was phenomenal a few years ago when, like an idiot, I dropped a light of the box and smashed it in my driveway. Casey at Hella's operation in South Carolina sent me a complete replacement light at zero charge when I explained to him what happened, going as far as to separate a pair they had in stock to send me the replacement (their fog lights are only sold in pairs). Add to that that Hella lights have proven to be friggin' tough as nails. My father got into a fender bender with the YJ a few days ago (some moron cut across four lanes going the same direction as him to pull into a Dunks) and the Hella light on the bumper is what took the impact. It's the same light that I thought was obliterated in my accident a few summers ago. As was the case then there is zero damage to the light/housing/bulb despite it being knocked back into the fender. As long as I need driving/fog lights Hella has my business.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 2/17/2015, 11:13 am

Some of you may have seen my post on the NSJ Facebook page about my oil pressure sending unit, if not I'll sum things up here.

The oil pressure gauge hasn't worked right since the motor was swapped out back in September. Occasionally it wouldn't register anything on start up, and while driving it would constantly bounce from like 40 to 10 and 10 to 40 or just sit at 10 (which I knew was not correct). Apparently these things going bad is a common problem and I planned to change the sending unit when the weather turned warmer. Fast forward now to about two weekends ago.

After noticing a bit louder "normal" noise from the motor two weekends ago, I checked the oil level and discovered that I was down a quart. I had been noticing more oil on the ground leading up to this, but let's face it's a Jeep so this didn't really alarm me. I filled it back up and would make sure to keep an eye on it going forward. Well around Thursday last week I noticed a heavy burnt smell from the engine bay after it ran for a little while, so I popped the hood and checked the level again. It was down 1/4 of a quart in just four days, so now I knew I had an issue on my hands. I didn't have to look far before I noticed all the gunked and semi-fresh oil on the right side of the block near the sending unit and filter, so I knew I was looking for something in that area.

At some point it seems the unit sprung a leak and began oozing oil all over the right side of the block, starter, bellhousing, etc. So I cheaped out and went the AutoZone route and grabbed a replacement. My guess is this is not the first cheapie replacement unit the Cherokee has seen. You may be asking yourself, "Why do you say that T.J.?" Well I'm glad you asked. Here's the answer to your question.



Yes, that is the old sender split in two pieces. No it is not supposed to do that. That is the end result of my old man and I trying to get the electrical clip off the end. That sucker was on there good. It was comforting to see that my hunch of it being the sending unit was spot on. As you can see from the photo the worst part of the whole thing was trying to get the damn clip off the old unit, but once that was done the job was a piece of cake. It's nice to have a gauge that isn't constantly floating and shows that I actually have a pretty healthy motor.

So far so good, but as always I'll be keeping an eye on things for any additional developments. Tax season is upon us so I'll be putting my list of future goodies together accordingly.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  Tonellin on 2/18/2015, 10:48 am

Glad you got it fixed...did you end up going with a '97 or '98 sensor?

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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 2/18/2015, 11:20 am

I went with the '98 because the electrical connection would only work with that year sensor. I looked at the '97 and '98 side by side at AutoZone and they are definitely different. The '98 thread in without issue and there's no play in it so for now I'm calling it good.

I plan on stopping by Lawless Jeep in Woburn at some point and speaking with the Parts Department to see if the part on the block that the sending unit threads into is interchangeable between '97s and '98s. If it is I'm going to swap it out once the weather turns warmer. I imagine that it must be, but then again I wouldn't have thought that the threads on the sending unit would be different year to year so who knows. The mysteries of Jeep.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 3/4/2015, 12:17 pm

So I'm happy to report that it's been almost three weeks since the sending unit was replaced and I am not down one drop of oil in that time. I'm also happy to report the same about my coolant level, not a drop out of place since the freeze plugs were replaced and the loose clamps were tightened. It is so ridiculously satisfying to be able to say that after more than eight months I've finally got all of the major issues taken care of (which now means I'll probably get in an accident on the way home from work today). All things considered I'd say my old man and I are doing a decent job of resurrecting mistreated and neglected Jeeps (translation: shitboxes).

I think the first 'upgrade' to be taken care of this year is going to be a replacement steering box. One of my best buddies is getting married mid-April in New Jersey and I'd like to take the Cherokee, but the steering has really gotten downright scary in terms of wandering all over the place on the highway. Luckily it doesn't have bump-steer or death wobble issues because if it did I would honestly never take it up on the highway, even just for short trips.

I'm debating whether or not to do the Durango steering box upgrade or just stick with a stock reman unit. I'm leaning towards stock because I'm really not planning on going larger than 32" tires on the Cherokee because it's mostly a street machine, and most people on JeepForum and the like recommend doing the swap if you plan on stepping up to 33"+ meats. Plus it would be much easier just to stick with stock because then I don't need a new pitman arm or to swap the drag link from the current arm to the Durango one. Much to consider, that's for sure. I'm hoping I can get this done in the next few weeks, but if not it looks like the girlfriend's Corolla will have to suffice as wedding transportation.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  Mark on 3/4/2015, 1:24 pm

TJ, great news on the oil leak.
i have the durango box in my TJ and i can tell you that it went right in and it works well.
it is beefier compared to the stock box, you can compare side by side and notice the difference .
While you are there you might as well go with the durango box.


Last edited by Mark on 3/4/2015, 1:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 3/4/2015, 1:28 pm

Where did you get yours Mark? I'm concerned that I might get caught trying to pull the old switcharoo if I return the stock box off the Cherokee as if it came off a Durango. And if that's the case the core charges are outrageous. I was thinking maybe junkyard but then there's a chance I might be swapping in a box that's just as sloppy as the one that's in there now.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  Mark on 3/4/2015, 1:44 pm

I got it at advance.
Pay the core charge


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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 3/4/2015, 1:47 pm

Any problem returning the one off your TJ or did you eat the core charge?
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  Mark on 3/4/2015, 1:49 pm

They took it back no problem,, they don't know .
They wont say anything as long as you give them back a steering box.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 3/4/2015, 2:13 pm

Hmmm, this may be the way to go then. I guess I misinterpreted the write-ups online and thought that the pitman arms don't swap over, which as it turns out is incorrect. So you're right Mark it really is just plug and play. I assume you went with either the '98 or '99 non-snow plow package setup?
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  Mark on 3/4/2015, 7:06 pm

I went w/o plow pkg and i think it was for 98.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 3/11/2015, 2:31 pm

Tax returns are officially in, and as such so begins the part-buying frenzy.

First purchase is the Rough Country Dana 30 HP diff guard. I decided against going with a full-on replacement cover because I've seen on various forums that some people have issues with drag link and track bar clearance. The RC guard really eliminates any concern over that while still offering good protection, at a decent price to boot.

Next order of business will be to take measurements for new shocks, which I'll be doing this weekend for both the Cherokee and the YJ. I'll be going with Skyjacker Hydro 7000s more than likely for both vehicles, the only question at this point will be what length to go with to maximize droop. Always best to have the boots on the ground.

I'll be starting at a new job March 30, but took a week off in between leaving the old one and starting the new one and am hoping to get the Cherokee into the shop to have new axle and drive shaft u-joints installed, a new tranny mount installed, and possibly the replacement steering box, though I'm still considering making the steering box a driveway job. I'll get an opinion on the condition of the hubs too to see if they need replacing.

I'm trying to be conservative with my money regarding the Cherokee because the YJ will also be getting spoiled in the coming months with a bunch of upgrades. I'm going to try to keep my total parts budget for the two to around $2500 this year. Luckily upgrades for the YJ will be split 50/50 with my old man and because it's not my daily driver anymore there's no need to get things done fast, so we can likely avoid shop costs as a result. I don't know how realistic that budget will be, and I may end up sacrificing 'luxury' items to accomplish it, but that's all part of the fun I suppose.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 3/12/2015, 9:05 pm

Just ordered a Curt trailer hitch and a Hella 500 driving light kit. Both of those and the new diff guard should be here early next week. I'm hoping to order the new shocks and extended bump stops next week, and if they can get here by the week of 3/23 I'll do them all together in one shot.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  dongalonga on 3/13/2015, 5:43 pm

No LED lighting?
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 3/13/2015, 7:08 pm

The LEDs will probably come later this year. Since I'm planning on running those on my roof bar there's a little more planning involved with them than the Hellas, which will just be drill holes in bumper, tighten bolts, run wires, call it a day.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 3/26/2015, 10:38 pm

Got the Cherokee back from the shop yesterday. Reman Durango steering box, reman power steering pump, new tranny mount, new u-joints, and new hubs. I tried to do the steering box myself but everything was on so tight from 17 years of grime that I couldn't get anything to budge, even after drenching all the bolts and lines in PB Blaster for almost two weeks and using an impact gun. As soon as I started rounding out edges on the hose couplings I knew it was time to call it quits. Hell even the shop couldn't get one of the lines off the steering box even with the thing in a vice. It's money I wish I could have saved but in the end it was the only way to go unfortunately.

I wasn't planning on putting a replacement power steering pump in just yet but unfortunately the old one was damaged during the steering box install. In all honestly the old one was ticking and grinding away anyway so best that it was all done at the same time really, and because it wasn't planned the shop is eating the labor cost. It's eerie how quiet and easy it is taking turns now.

Today I swapped out the old battery terminals for some marine terminals in anticipation of installing the Hella driving lights I ordered. I picked up all the ring terminals, connectors, etc. that I need to get that done, and having already done this previously on the YJ I'm expecting the install to be pretty straightforward tomorrow (I just need the weather to cooperate). Other than installing my rear hitch, the only pressing items left on the to-do list are shocks and front brakes. Now that the steering has been taken care of I can really feel just how bad the brakes are.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 4/6/2015, 10:34 am

So I forgot to post this when I happened a few weeks back. Granted it's not on the original motor anymore, but I'd say the thing's in pretty good shape all things considered.



I finished up installing my Hellas a few weeks back, and I'm quite pleased with the amount of light they throw. Unfortunately the beam patterns between the two are slightly different, but I've got them aimed accordingly and it's night and day using them in conjunction with the factory headlights. Install was straightforward, but nonetheless sucked because I did it in the snow and rain. Why make things easy when you can be completely miserable instead?

In other news, I got the tires balanced and an alignment done this past weekend and the thing rides like a whole new vehicle. It's very smooth basically through all speeds (0-70) with the exception of around 15 mph. I'm not sure what the deal is but from literally 14-17 mph the steering wheel has a pretty decent shake, but once you get up to 20 mph it's completely gone.

The shake is worse the slower you're moving, and by that I mean if I'm really on the gas you barely notice it, but if I'm granny driving (like I normally do) the shake is very pronounced. The shake used to be much worse and present at more speeds before I had the u-joints and the hubs replaced, but I was obviously hoping it would be gone completely after all this front end work.

I am unwilling to call this 'death wobble' because from my understanding that usually occurs at much higher speeds. My current thinking is a combination of:

-blown shocks (I already know it needs shocks and am ordering them in the next few weeks)

-loose hardware in front suspension (at face value everything seems fine but I'm sure things could use a crank or two)

-unbalanced driveshafts (not something I've ever dealt with with the YJ but it's possible and easy to test and have remedied)

-improperly-sized track bar (the previous owner took the el cheapo route when the lift was installed and instead of buying an adjustable one he had the axle bracket drilled out and the factory bar relocated over an inch or two)

Regardless of this shimmy, the thing is running great and will be ready for my trip to Jersey which is now in less than two weeks. I'll be doing the brakes later this week, and after that the last things on the list of 'must-do' items are new shocks and installing the rear hitch. I've even seen an improvement of 3+ mpg after having the 02 sensors replaced, but I'm not sure exactly how much of that is the sensors and how much is that my commute is now 95 percent highway driving (granted 128 at 8 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon isn't exactly the Autobahn). At this point I'll probably address the fuel injectors later this summer, which should also improve my fuel efficiency. I know a lot of you will give me the "It's a lifted Jeep what do you expect?" line, but if your daily driver was getting 11 mpg it wouldn't be your daily driver.

One new project I'll be doing will be wiring the factory auxiliary fan to a switch so I can control it manually. Even in 30 degree temperatures the aux fan has kicked on in bumper-to-bumper traffic because of the under-hood temps and the lack of fresh air. I've researched threads on CherokeeForum about this and it will be pretty straightforward, just need to find the time and gather all the materials together.
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THOOPY3
Moab Dessert

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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  Mark on 4/6/2015, 11:39 am

Welcome to the high mileage club!
I have barely got you beat with about 287k on mine but i don't use it much so you will blow past me soon.
Try rotating the tires, that's a very low speed to notice the wheel wobbling,,
You might want to do one side at a time front to rear and note what happens if anything. Or it just might be the nature of the beast.

It may be a simple fix.
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Mark
Rubicon Trail

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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

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