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Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

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

Post  THOOPY3 on 8/20/2014, 10:01 pm

Alright, more moves have been made. The Cherokee is officially registered and insured, and for the first time since owning it I got a chance to take it for a few joy rides. As was easy to tell from driving up and down the road, the steering definitely needs some work. The tie rods ends on the passenger side knuckle and the pitman arm are totally cooked, and it's pretty easy to tell they're the culprit behind the steering slop (as well as worn out u-joints). That being said, she shifts nice, accelerates decent for a vehicle with a major exhaust leak, and for being so jacked up and improperly lifted actually drives quite well. The brakes are a bit hairy, but at no point did I get over 40 mph and don't have plans to do so until they're replaced so it's manageable.

In other news, it will be heading to the shop on Tuesday for the manifold replacement, motor mount replacement, and swapping of shackles. I could probably do the shackles myself, but I'm just gonna let someone else deal with it so I don't have to sweat it out and spend the whole time worrying about something happening. I may end up doing the front brakes this weekend, along with the plugs and wires, and replacing the interior panels. Baby steps.

My project for the day today was installing a new radio. And per usual, something that should have taken an hour took more like six. I already knew that the previous wiring was an absolute joke, so I was prepared for a battle, but this was far worse than I expected. It seems the PO hacked up the factory wiring harness, so the front speakers are wired separately from everything else -- for what reason I have no idea (more on this farce later in the post).

I got the radio wired up relatively quick, but as soon as I went to install it in the dash it grounded out somewhere and refused to work. At first I thought the fuse on the back of the radio had blown, but it was fine, and even replacing it did nothing. Turns out that unknown to me I had blown the IOD fuse (under the hood) and the radio fuse (in the kick panel). What led me to the IOD fuse was the fact that after the radio grounded out none of the gauges or the odometer worked on the dash (thank Cherokee Forum for that info). So I replaced the blown IOD fuse, rechecked all the wiring on the radio, went to install it, and the bastard grounded out again and re-blew the IOD fuse. At this point I was in full on raging bull mode.

After picking up some more fuses, I jumped in head first and made sure nothing could ground out and that everything was attached securely, determined to get this damn thing to work. Just to make sure I hadn't cooked the radio, I placed the power leads on the positive end of the battery and the ground to the negative, and to my pleasure it was still working so I knew whatever it was was something on the vehicle. After making sure EVERYTHING was wired and secured properly, I hooked the battery back up, turned the key to ACC, and...still no goddamn radio. Now ready to burn the thing where it lay, just for shits I rechecked the owner's manual that came with it and lo and behold I somehow missed that there is a radio fuse in there, and of course it was blown.

So after replacing that fuse, I turned the key to ACC and...voila, musical bliss. Good god. But of course, for every step forward there's at least one back, and the one back in this case is that only two of the speakers actually kinda sorta work: the one in the driver's door (only when the door is open and not closed though, because who wants to listen to the radio with the door closed?) and the driver's side rear. So I took the radio out once again just to make sure it wasn't me in my stupor who wired things wrong, and as I feared it wasn't. So now I need todecide if I want to spend the time and money to replace the speakers and the wiring, or if I just want to deal with it for awhile and worry about it farther down the road.

Here's some photos of the install from hell (I apologize as like the day they turned out kinda shitty):

Before:





During:



After:

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

Post  Andrew Miller on 8/20/2014, 11:18 pm

Grabbing the bull by the horns, nice work TJ! I hate wiring, sometimes it just has a mind of its own.

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

Post  THOOPY3 on 8/21/2014, 11:41 am

Andrew Miller wrote:Grabbing the bull by the horns, nice work TJ! I hate wiring, sometimes it just has a mind of its own.

Yeah it was an absolute bear. I had similar issues when wiring up the one in the YJ which is also why I wasn't looking forward to this, but the issue with the one in the YJ was that the radio I bought had been previously returned and didn't work...so really nothing I did.

Also this is a follow-up to my last post, it's not the tie rod ends that are shot in the steering department it's the drag link ends. Need to brush up on my steering term vocabulary.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 8/22/2014, 1:20 pm

New drag link and drop pitman arm should be arriving today, and the plan is to throw those on tomorrow. I plan on renting a pitman arm puller and hopefully a pickle fork from AutoZone to make it happen. I also plan on giving the front brakes a thorough look-over to figure out what exactly needs replacing. My guess is everything but calipers, but it may need those too so who knows. I may also attempt to install the rear interior panels if I'm not beat from trying to get the pitman arm off.

Another thing I forgot to mention the other day is (now that I don't have four tires constantly sitting in the back of the thing) that I finally set up the rear seat in the factory position only to discover that the dumbass PO removed the seat belt hardware for the bench's middle passenger. So now I need to meander back to the junkyard at some point and spend like $5 on something I shouldn't have to. It's an insignificant amount of money and not a huge deal, but it's the fact that I have to waste time on something so mundane that irks me most. $20 to anyone who can provide me with a sound reason for why someone removes just that belt assembly and leaves everything else in tact.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  CrawlingForward on 8/22/2014, 5:27 pm

Ha ha ha, I really shouldn't be laughing as hard as I am. Sorry, man. Just think how attached you'll be to this thing when you get past all this ridiculousness.

So glad no one ever messed with wiring on any of my vehicles. If it's your daily driver, it might be worth it to invest the time and money for proper wiring and speakers. I know for me that's important.

Good luck with the pitman arm. I hear that's a royal PITA. I think many people just cut a wedge in it and pop it off that way. Seems much easier than the alternative.

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

Post  dongalonga on 8/23/2014, 4:22 pm

Little by little TJ and it will be a nice DD.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 8/24/2014, 7:05 pm

So the drag link and pitman arm did show up, however I was not able to get them on. For starers, it turns out it already has a drop pitman arm on it, so I'll have to return that to Crown at some point. I decided after some banging and prying and nothing happening that this is all something that I'm going to let the shop I'm taking it to on Tuesday deal with. So to make it a productive day I decided to deal with another area of electrical trouble: the rear hatch.

For starters, the only way to get the rear hatch open was to push it on it, pull the handle, release at the magical time, and hope it opened. A quick Google search pointed me in the direction of simply adjusting the rod on the latch inside the door as a fix. And wouldn't you know it, that was the culprit. It actually took me longer to get the panel off the door than it did to solve the problem. It's glorious having a normal working door.

Next order of business was addressing the visible frayed wires that were sticking out of a grommet leading from the headliner into the rear hatch. I'm not sure if I had mentioned this in an earlier post, but the power lock in the rear hatch didn't work, the rear overhead light didn't work, the rear wiper didn't work, and the defroster did not work. Well of course deductive reasoning points to the ratty wiring. Here's what it looked like in the grommet:



And here's what the wiring looked like disconnected and out of the grommet:



I said the same thing: yikes. There were seven severed wires in that loom spread between three different connectors, so it's no wonder nothing worked in the hatch. Someone had clearly tried to fix it before because everything was wrapped in electrical tape and some of the wires hat shrink wrap on them, but like most things I'm finding on this thing it was not done properly. So (me not being a hack) I went out and bought some various butt connectors and rewired everything properly.

I hooked the connectors back up and immediately the overhead light came on. A good sign. Hit the door lock button on the remote: actuator moved. Defrost: check. Unfortunately it seems that the wiper motor is cooked though. You can hear it clicking and trying to work but I'm going to assume that from inactivity (for who knows how long) and old age that it's just in need of replacing. The power lock actuator is also going to need to be looked at as well, because it will unlock the door if it's locked but unfortunately doesn't seem to have enough juice to lock the door. I'm gonna give it a good cleaning and lubrication and hope that that solves the issue, which I'm confident it will. I forgot to take a photo of the rewiring but here's everything cleanly installed back in the grommet:



The last order of business was replacing the rear interior panels, some of which conveniently had to be taken off anyway to access the hatch wiring. This was a piece of cake process so there's not really much to write about here. Just remove like four screws, pry a little bit with a flat edge screwdriver, notch a small slit to remove the panels (and notch the same slit in the replacement ones), and reverse the process for installation. Here's some old versus 'new' shots:









All in all, a very successful, productive day. I also checked the rear speaker wiring, and as it turns out the speakers are actually factory originals, and the right rear is blown but the wiring is good (checked it with the working left rear). I also got the front right speaker to work as well, and it seems the problem there like everything else so far is shoddy wiring. I'll probably replace the rears simply because they're so old, and do what I can with the front wiring to get them to work right. Come this time tomorrow she should be at the shop ready to become a road-ready machine again.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  CrawlingForward on 8/25/2014, 12:41 pm

Nice work on the panels! Looks great.

I swear, I think you currently take the title of most productive guy on NSJ. It's coming along nicely!

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

Post  THOOPY3 on 8/25/2014, 1:29 pm

CrawlingForward wrote:Nice work on the panels!  Looks great.

I swear, I think you currently take the title of most productive guy on NSJ.  It's coming along nicely!

Well I certainly appreciate the sentiment. I just made the call to the shop about 20 minutes ago to confirm we're still a go, and we are, so she gets dropped off tonight and the repairs begin tomorrow. Hopefully come Wednesday all she'll need is to pass inspection (which once all this work is done shouldn't be a problem) and she'll be ready to roll. I've got my fingers crossed that the next time I hear the thing it's current clack will be a thing of the past. I'm not expecting it to be as quiet as the day it pulled off the lot, but if this even knocks the noise down by half I'll be one happy camper. Either way the manifold needs changing because just running the thing for a short period of time turns that engine bay into a goddamn 600* pizza oven.

I am going to have to hunt down a CEL code for a small evap leak that's now showed up twice, but because it's not a 1999 or newer model the CEL being on won't affect it passing inspection (no emissions test, just safety). Plus, all I have to do is unhook the battery and let it sit for a few minutes to clear the light before it comes back on after about 5-10 miles, and the inspection shop I take it to is no more than a quarter mile from my parents' house where the Jeep is currently parked so that won't be an issue.

Next order of business will be plugs and wires, as she's starting to show signs of running rough when she's just idling. It doesn't help that there are visibly two different color plug wires on the thing, so as any proper driveway mechanic would do everything will be replaced at once to ensure it's all on a level playing field. I also priced out some replacement speakers, and I think for about $100 total (front and rear) I could have it sounding pretty nice again. For now my plan is to just grab a pair of rears (they're cake to replace) and simply try and salvage the fronts.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  Andrew Miller on 8/25/2014, 4:02 pm

Nice work TJ!

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

Post  Jake on 8/25/2014, 4:48 pm

Looks like you're making good progress! I think I spy some relief cuts to get those trim panels on..? I did the same thing when I took mine out to install the sub.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 8/25/2014, 4:58 pm

Jake wrote:Looks like you're making good progress! I think I spy some relief cuts to get those trim panels on..? I did the same thing when I took mine out to install the sub.

Correct. I had no desire to undo all the seat belts and that nonsense so the easy way was to just cut a slit up where the belts go through. My Leatherman's saw blade made quick work of that process. Doesn't bother me because only people like you and I (and others on here) will even notice, and the old ones were so beat up they were an embarrassment. It was used as a work 'truck' though so I get why they looked the way they did.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  dongalonga on 8/26/2014, 12:33 pm

Keep up the good work TJ. Btw you couldn't vacuum the cargo area while you had the panels out tongue
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 8/26/2014, 1:33 pm

Believe me I planned to, but by the time I got the panels back on it was 9:30 at night and I didn't want to bug my parents' neighbors, especially after how many times the alarm went off while I was trying to figure out the hatch electronics. That and I was ready to be done and feeling lazy. I did brush them to get the crap out from under them (of which there was a lot), and luckily my eyes found the three rusty razor blades that were hiding there before my hands did. All the crap you see in the photos is actually saw dust, and it's in every crevice everywhere.

I vacuumed the whole thing once already but another round is in the plans for this weekend, along with removing the ratty looking tint from the rear windows (possibly from the fronts as well but I'm undecided on that). The PO added additional tint to the already existing tint so the thing looks like a limo in direct light (it was in California for a few years supposedly). I've also got some Color Back and Back to Black that I plan on hitting the exterior with so she should shine up nice.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 8/29/2014, 2:50 pm

Well, the Cherokee returned from the shop last night and the results were mixed.

The good:

-Replacing the drag link made a world of difference in the steering. The wheel comes back to center nice and the steering doesn't buck at all around corners. It does still drift a bit, but it most definitely needs an alignment and I think that will help the cause there. The new manifold did quiet it down a bit, but unfortunately the loud atrocious 'engine' knock has not changed. I was really hoping that all the holes in the manifold were the culprit, but it seems not to be the case

The good and bad:

-The new manifold did quiet it down a bit, but unfortunately the loud atrocious 'engine' knock has not changed. I was really hoping that all the holes in the manifold were the culprit, but it seems not to be the case. More on this below.

-Replacing the lift shackles with stock ones has definitely helped change the look, however as feared the shackle angle is now awful. It doesn't ride terrible (anything rides better than the YJ), but it's definitely not where it should be. I'm going to leave it for now and deal with more pressing issues.

Addressing the 'engine' knock

After hearing it run with the new manifold, the mechanic I took it to and my old man are of the belief that it's a rod knock, and that the motor's days are numbered. I've got one more trick up my sleeve because I'm not 100 percent convinced it's a rod though. The noise gets quieter as the revs go higher (at least in park/neutral) and I would think that a rod getting ready to let go would be just as loud throughout the RPM range. At about 1700-1800 rpm the noise is all but gone, but does reappear as you get off the gas and the revs drop. The oil pressure is good and consistent hot or cold, and the thing feels like it has plenty of power and grunt (it just sounds like junk while beating its chest). No smoke or strange smelling exhaust to suggest any sort of internal issues either.

After quite a bit of Googling knocking 4.0s in Cherokees a lot of forum threads point to loose torque converter bolts or possibly similar issues with the flexplate. I've watched a few videos online of the noises these loose bolts make and it very well could be the culprit. Of course, I said the same thing about the exhaust manifold, so take all this with a grain of salt. But, tightening the bolts/checking the flexplate for cracks is free and easily accomplished, and it would be great if that solved the problem. Hopefully the flexplate isn't cracked because that's a decent job to either do or have done.

If this doesn't solve things, I consider myself playing with house money at this point because for a rough total of $1300 (including buying price) the thing is back on the road and aside from a few minor things (and a very annoying knock) is completely drive-able. And if the motor lets go I have another vehicle to drive and 4.0s are abundant on Craig's List, so it means we either attempt our first motor swap or go back to the guy who just did the work, as he quoted me $500-700 to do the complete swap (minus the cost of the replacement motor) which is a damn good price. I plan on having this Cherokee for awhile, so honestly my thinking (if the motor is in fact junk) is to buy a complete, cheap donor and take as much from it as I can and scrap it. Preferably this doesn't happen before next year, but with a Jeep you just never know.

It goes for an inspection this afternoon, which I'm hopeful it should pass. There are a few questionable areas, but if the YJ passes looking the Flintstone's car my guess is it'll be OK. If not at least with the 'R' on there I don't have to worry about scoping out/dodging cops all over the place like I've been doing. I'm picking up a set of speakers tonight (that'll help the knock for sure!) and will be throwing those in as mentioned previously, and will be tearing into the gauge cluster as well because the whole losing-all-the-gauges thing is happening more and more frequently now.

Lastly, does anyone know if there's a fuse for the windshield washer motor? I tried it last night for the first time and nothing sprays and it doesn't sound like the pump/motor is doing anything. I know the fluid reservoir is mounted inside the driver wheel well because I added some fluid before giving it a try, but I'm hoping I won't have to take that all apart to get it to work. My owner's manual doesn't show any fuse for it, and the PDC under the hood has a bunch of unlabeled small fuses that could be the one.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  dongalonga on 8/29/2014, 3:16 pm

That stinks about the knock. If the engine is bad you are looking at some money but nothing crazy.

Remember to have some dielectric grease on hand for the gauge cluster connector. Clean and pack it.

I would imagine the washer motor has a specific fuse. Not sure though.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 8/29/2014, 3:24 pm

Yeah it's a downer for sure, but like I said, if it's not the loose bolts then I drive it until it blows up. Normally I'd be worried but because I have the YJ as back up I'm shockingly calm about the whole thing. A complete crate motor runs about $1700 from ATK, a lot of coin but something I'd consider since I'd like to have this thing for many years to come. Craig's List is considerably cheaper, and I've seen some with 150k or less for not too much money. Much to think about pending the results of my work this weekend.

What would be the best thing to use to clean the gauge cluster contacts with? I know the dielectric grease for when I put it back together, but not sure what to use to clean it while I have it apart.

And as far as the wiper motor goes, the wipers themselves are working but I can't get any fluid to spray. I was able to locate the rear wiper motor fuse in the kick panel (replace that last weekend), but nothing that indicates the front one. Probably yet another electrical bug to track down.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  Mark on 8/29/2014, 4:22 pm

Sorry to hear of your misfortune TJ, there is a way you can try to isolate the issue.

Run engine at a speed that makes the noise and then disconnect / connect the plug wires One at a time for just a few seconds and note if noise goes away on any particular cylinder that you have disconnected.

I had a ford Taurus that i could have sworn was making bearing noise, so i did crank and rod bearings and the noise was still there.  It ended up being the Water pump,,I couldn't believe it.
If you remove the accessory belt and noise is gone then it's not the engine. cheers


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

Post  THOOPY3 on 8/29/2014, 4:28 pm

Wow, that's a tough break Mark. I should have mentioned that that procedure you mentioned is also part of the reason why I don't believe it's a rod. The mechanic mentioned to my father (who was kind enough to pick it up from the shop for me) that he pulled spark plugs to try to isolate it but couldn't really get it to go away, but my father said the two of them didn't elaborate much further on that point, and the mechanic also mentioned that it could in fact be the flexplate that's bad as well.

I'm planning on changing out plugs and wires tomorrow anyway (most likely after the work on the torque converter) so if it's still making the noise after that then the individual plug trick should point me in the right direction.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  Mark on 8/29/2014, 4:34 pm

It's very easy to see if the converter bolts are loose, remove the torque converter cover and try turning the flexplate back and forth,  if it makes a knock noise then bolts are most likely loose.
Sometimes the flex plate cracks also.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 8/29/2014, 5:37 pm

Yeah that's what I've read. It should be very straightforward.

BREAKING NEWS: She passed her inspection.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  dongalonga on 8/29/2014, 6:29 pm

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

Post  Mark on 8/30/2014, 10:01 am

At least there is some good news here, Passing Inspection is always a plus!
Hope the noise is nothing major.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  Jake on 8/30/2014, 10:53 am

Good to hear it passed inspection! Hopefully just the flexplate. Definitely confirming sources of noises before swapping parts is the smart way to go lol. Here I am swapping in an axle I picked up because I thought my pinion bearing was going out, 95% sure it was just whine from my leaking exhaust.
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

Post  THOOPY3 on 9/2/2014, 2:52 pm

Well, the bad news is the torque converter bolts were not loose (at least not to the point of causing the clack), so looks like I'm back to square one. I couldn't really see any cracks in the flexplate; doesn't mean they aren't there, it just means I couldn't see them. So at this point I'm unsure of where to go next. I did drive it all weekend and to work this morning and she hasn't detonated yet, but I also haven't driven above 45 mph and I've only gotten the tach to rise above two grand on two occasions, so needless to say I'm babying her pretty good. I just smile and wave as the assholes in there $80,000 BMWs cut me off like I'm supposed to be impressed.

I used my mechanic's stethoscope to try and pinpoint where the noise is coming from, but I honestly can't tell. It can be heard in the bellhousing and the back of the oil pan about the same, and they're in such close proximity to each other that it may be impossible to tell the difference since parts are moving in unison there. I did not get a chance to try the spark plug trick, will probably do that this coming weekend.

There are certain aspects that lead me to believe the flexplate could be the culprit or a rod could be the culprit. If it were a rod, I'd think the motor would be physically bucking all over the place, that there would be some noticeable power loss, that the oil pressure would be down some, and that the noise wouldn't get less noticeable like it does when driving (believe me it's still there but when coasting around 1200 rpm it's barely audible), none of which are the case leading me to believe it could be the flexplate. At the same time it's sucking gas like it's no one's business, and when you rev the motor in park the noise is worst during deceleration (I'd describe it almost as a hesitation in the motor as the revs are coming down), both of which point to a bad rod.

There are an abundance of 4.0s available on car-part.com and on Craig's List, and for the $500-700 I was quoted for the swap it seems like a decent road to go down. Rebuilding the current one is not an option. I've actually got a line on a 1997 four door with a supposedly rebuilt 4.0 and a bunch of other goodies that someone wants short money for. I've been in touch with the contact person (who's selling it for someone else I guess) and if the owner can produce the paperwork for the rebuild I may jump on it and make it a donor car. God knows there's plenty of parts I could use from it.

Other things accomplished this weekend included wiring up the rear speakers; replacing the plugs, wires, distributor cap, and rotor; fixing the hatch power lock; getting the A/C working once again; and removing the front window tint. Don't have many photos unfortunately, but I will get one up soon of how she looks now post-lift shackle removal. I also picked up a cheapie front washer fluid motor from AutoZone to hopefully solve that problem, and priced out a rear wiper motor for $84, which isn't bad at all. With the new plugs/wires/cap/rotor she's running like a champ, quite a difference from just last week.

I should also mention that the new drag link has made a world of difference in the steering department. The box still needs some adjustment, but it also needs an alignment BADLY so I'll take care of that in short order. It is amazing how different the ride is from the YJ. In fact, I'm now able to run the tires at ~33 psi as opposed to 24-26, and I can't tell any difference in the ride quality. I didn't think a lifted solid axle Jeep with worn out shocks could possibly ride as well as this thing does, but I was wrong. Not sure if it's the longer wheelbase or the front coils or a combination of things, but damn is it a good ride. A slow, loud ride, but a very good one.

I did buy a new oil filter and oil and plan on changing those this weekend. I'll be paying close attention to what comes out of the pan, and may even cut open the old filter to see what surprises may be in there. One bit of irritating news: the "small EVAP leak" has now turned into a "major EVAP leak" (code P0455) so I'm going to have to mess around with the fuel system as well. I'm hoping it's a line somewhere that needs replacing, but something easy like that is asking too much...I know how this works.

So for now the battle continues. But as I promised (mostly to myself more than anyone else), she was inspected and drive-able before September. I may not accomplish much this month as I'll be traveling for work a couple of weekends, but she's come a long way from what she was when I bought her.
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THOOPY3
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Re: Little Red (T.J.'s XJ)

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