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Winter Vehicles...good old Jeeps

This is a discussion on Winter Vehicles...good old Jeeps within the General Help forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; How many people out there have winter vehicles? I think I'll be parking the WS6 and I'm looking at Jeeps...it ...

  1. #1
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    Winter Vehicles...good old Jeeps

    How many people out there have winter vehicles? I think I'll be parking the WS6 and I'm looking at Jeeps...it would be nice to have something offroadable for hunting season too.
    Does anyone out there have a Grand Cherokee, just wondering what the public consensus on them is...I'm looking at something like a 2000-2004..though the 2005s with the Hemi are tempting (but I hear not as good offroad)
    I think one would be pretty sweet with a short 2" lift and slightly bigger tires...can't get too extreme, gotta still handle icy highways all winter long :-(
    Last edited by Intrepidman; 10-08-2008 at 07:58 AM.

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    I have a Jeep. I love it.

    It's a 97 Grand Cherokee (ZJ in Jeep-speak). The '99-'04 is known as the WJ.

    Out of the box, the pre-'05 Grands have better offroad potential, as they still have the solid axle front suspension (SFA). The solid axle is MUCH cheaper/easier to lift than the '05 and up independend front (IFS).

    Mine has the 4.0L straight six, which is damn near bulletproof....these engines are legendary for their reliability. 200K is NOTHING for them. Mine has 136k, it's barely broken in. You'll get mixed reviews on the overall reliability of Jeeps, but I have to say that mine has been amazingly trouble free since I got it at 41k back in late '00.

    I've had to do the typical wear items like fluids, brakes, shocks, tires, belt, two tune-ups, front swaybar links, and the only major things I've had to do was the front CV axles at 112k, and the water pump at 124k.

    CV axles cost me around 250 for the pair, and I replaced them myself. Water pump cost 45 for a new one, and wasn't hard to do.

    If you have the straight six, tune-ups are CAKE, since everything is on one side of the motor. Power is adequate, it's 190HP/235TQ, IIRC. If you drive conservatively and keep it mostly stock, mileage isn't bad: with the 3" lift and 245/75/16's (about 30" tall) on stock alloys, I could get about 19.2mpg pretty consistantly. The same drive with the 31's gets me 17.1 now.

    There are a TON of different options for the suspension, from mild to hardcore. The 2" lift you mentioned is actually a very popular modification, there are two ways to go about it: you can get 2" taller coils all around, or you can buy 2" tall spacers the fit between the top of the coil and the upper spring perch. The spacer kit with shocks will run you around 200 or so from many different Jeep parts dealers or ebay, the coils are more expensive.

    I ran the 2" spacers on my ZJ for a few years, they worked great. Gave me a little extra height, and didn't change the ride. With the 245/75/16's I was running, it was the perfect combo. Looked good, made a big difference offroad, and didn't kill my mileage.

    The 2" is nice because it's tall enough to fit a bigger tire and be noticeable, but short enough that you don't get into steering and panhard bar issues.

    Right now I run 3" Rancho springs and 31X10.50 Cooper mud tires on 15x8 steel wheels.



    In action:




    Before I go into the transfer case options, what are you looking for, V8 or I6?

    Whatever you go for, the tow package is a plus. Even if you never tow, the hitch makes a great recovery point, and it comes with other things like HD cooling and better gearing (3.73 instead of the standard 3.55, in my ZJ).

    The skidplate/tow hook package is nice to have too.

    Hope that helps! If you need any more info, feel free to PM me, and check out www.nagca.com and www.jeepsunlimited for a ton of Jeep info.
    Last edited by StuntmanMike; 10-08-2008 at 12:31 PM.

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    Thanks a million for the info and the sites....now to find a cheap jeep thats gonna last me a while (this could be tough)

    Any quick way of identifying the packages you were talking about...visual cues that I can see in autotrader photos or things like whether "sport", "limited" or "larado" trim levels came with them. Obviously if I had one in front of me I could just look it over, but I do my shopping online and then pick which ones to actually travel to.

    Now whats this about transfer case options? I had assumed that there wasn't really a choice. As for I6 or V8...I don't really have any good reasons to have a preference, I've heard good things about both the 4.7 and the 4.0...though I've always prefered the sound of a V8 with nice exhaust.

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    The 4.0L is a great engine, itís really reliable. They have been making them for years and the simplistic of the design is one huge part why they are so reliable. Most of the V8 GC are hard to find, because most people that have them don't want to sell them. If you can find a V8 GC and have the money for it then thatís the one Iíd buy. Otherwise Iíd look at a 4.0L over the 4.7L due to the reliability greatness of the 4.0L.
    1998 Camaro SS Hard Coupe Bright Red #1593
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    Mods: Catback, BFI CAI, Winter daily driver

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    Just a souped up sunfire. Ryans99LS1's Avatar
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    jeeps are great. Now i know your looking at newer ones but ive 3 buddies with CJ7's, a 79, 83, and an 84. Every single one of them TRY to break something everytime we go offroading and nothing snaps. I say whatever one you get will be a good choice although i would shy away from newer ones since it seems like they have gotten away from off roading and more towards DD. thats just my .2 cents though

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    Well I work for a jeep aftermarket parts supplier so Im a little Bias.As a Jeep Afficionado If it were me Id Just find a Cheapo Standard Cherokee from 91-01 with the Bullit Proof 4.0l and call it good. The Wj's an the 05 and newer Xks have alot of electircal bugs and suck off road. If you really want an offroad machine Buy a Wrangler way better offroad than any cherokee! However you can't beat a standard cherokee for a daily fowl weather driver!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin93 View Post
    Well I work for a jeep aftermarket parts supplier so Im a little Bias.As a Jeep Afficionado If it were me Id Just find a Cheapo Standard Cherokee from 91-01 with the Bullit Proof 4.0l and call it good. The Wj's an the 05 and newer Xks have alot of electircal bugs and suck off road. If you really want an offroad machine Buy a Wrangler way better offroad than any cherokee! However you can't beat a standard cherokee for a daily fowl weather driver!
    Exactly, its going to be a daily driver ALL winter long so the Wrangler is out, its just not a great driver, especially in winter (I'd love to have one to play in the mud, but not to DD in winter) Plus they are MEGA expensive, look at a 5 year old Grand Cherokee and a Wrangler with similar miles, it will cost you double....heck, no matter how old or beat a wrangler is always going to cost you. People say hondas have high resale value...No, compare a 20 year old honda to a 20 year old wrangler ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Intrepidman View Post
    Thanks a million for the info and the sites....now to find a cheap jeep thats gonna last me a while (this could be tough)
    Well, one thing working in your favor now is the high gas prices (getting lower, but still high) and the fact that they made MILLIONS of them. The Grand Cherokee was always a great seller for Jeep.

    Quote Originally Posted by Intrepidman View Post
    Any quick way of identifying the packages you were talking about...visual cues that I can see in autotrader photos or things like whether "sport", "limited" or "larado" trim levels came with them. Obviously if I had one in front of me I could just look it over, but I do my shopping online and then pick which ones to actually travel to.)
    All the packages were available with all trim levels, and aren't that hard to spot. Biggest tip-off for the tow package is the factory reciever hitch being there. That's actually the only visual clue on that one.

    The offroad package, called "Up-Country", OR "UC" for short on Jeep boards, is somewhat rare on the Grands actually, so don't be surprised if you don't see them. Easist way to tell if the UC package is there is to see if there are front tow hooks, only UC models came with them. Ditto for the transfer case, gas tank, and radiator skid plates. You can actually see the t-case skid from a distance, it hangs below the bottom of the vehicle. The UC models also sit about 3/4" higher than the regualr ones, they have slightly taller springs and came with bigger tires (245/70/16).

    UC is nice to have, but if you plan on lifting it, you'll replace all the suspension stuff anyway, and you can find hte skids used on alot of the Jeep boards. Probably the hardest thing to find is the towhooks, for a while they were like hens teeth, but now the aftermarket makes sets.

    Quote Originally Posted by Intrepidman View Post
    Now whats this about transfer case options? I had assumed that there wasn't really a choice. As for I6 or V8...I don't really have any good reasons to have a preference, I've heard good things about both the 4.7 and the 4.0...though I've always prefered the sound of a V8 with nice exhaust.
    Jeep has always had a few transfer case options. Now if you go with a V8 ZJ, you have no choice, it's the NP249 Quadra-Trac. Q-Trac is AWD, meaning's always in 4-hi, with the other two option on the t-case being neutral and 4-low. Works kind of like a Subaru - sends most of the power to the rear wheels, but when it detects them slipping, it sends power to the front axle, up to a 50/50 split. Nicething about this is that it's alwasy ready for badweather, great if say your wife or someone who doesn't understand how to shift into 4 wheel drive is using it. Also, no shifting back and forth from 2 to 4 wheel if your on a road with long stretches of dry pavement, as you'd want to do with a regular part time system in 4-hi. This is because 4-hi does not have a center diff lock, (good on-road, bad off-road) so you'll always get a varied power split, while 4-low has a center diff lock, at least on the '96 and up models. Q-Trac is standard with the V8, optional on the I6. Mine has Q-Trac, and it's not horrible, but I'd prefer the next option:

    NP 242 Select-Trac. This is the best of both worlds because it give you a full-time, AWD option, AND a part time, 4-hi option. It also has the neutral and a 2-hi position, for running in 2wd in good weather (or to do donuts). This is my favorite case, because of the options, and the full time option is better in the snow than the Q-Trac (I've driven both). This was standard on the six cylinders.

    Same with the WJ, 242 standard with the 6, and a updated Q-Trac standard on the V8 Laredo. V8 limited had the NP247 Quadra Drive, which is cool because is has hydraulic limited slips at each end, giving true four wheel drive.

    One cool note about Laredo WJ's: For certain years, I think maybe '00-'02, the Select -Trac case was available on the V8 WJ. They're rare, I've actually only seen on in person at a Jeep dealer, but if I were to get a WJ, this would be my pick. I. like you, like the V8 sound, which I miss with my 6.

    You might want to stay away from the LTD's due to the complexity of all the electronic gizmos, I've heard thier electronic climate control systems are troublesome.

    For utmost reliability/ease of maintanence, the 4.0/242 is the way to go, IMO.

    Actually though, even after writing all that, I have to agree with Justin:

    If your looking for just a basic, reliable and capable 4x4, the XJ Cherokee is hard to beat. Tons of parts around for them, and they are cheaper to lift than hte Grands becasue they have rear leaf springs instead of coils. Same coil spring/live axle front suspension though.

    Get one with the 4.0, there are some around with the 2.5L 4 banger.

    Select-Trac was optional on them, standard is the NP231 "Command Trac" which is a traditional system: 2-hi, 4-hi, 4-low, and neutral. No option of 4-hi fulltime, so you have to be carefull when running it on the street in bad weather to shift back to 2wd when you hit dry pavement.

    The newer the better with the XJ's, my pick would be a '97-'01 with the 4.0/242. The '97 got slightly updated styling and a new dash, much better looking than the earlier ones, IMO. They also have the high pinion front axle, which is a good thing, and just to note, the pre-'91 (I believe) models have a vacume operated front axle disconnect, which is a bad thing. (weak spot on the axle, and you can lose 4wd if it malfunctions).
    Last edited by StuntmanMike; 10-11-2008 at 08:02 AM.

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