Author Topic: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ  (Read 1502 times)

Offline UpSide

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All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« on: January 19, 2020, 08:12:54 PM »
Hi everyone! Apologies in advance for the wall of text but as mentioned in my intro post I'm a new 1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport owner, and I'm looking forward to learning more about the car and doing some work on it. The XJ has been a dream car of mine and will be my first project car, so I have a lot to learn! My goal is to make it my daily driver and mostly keep the clean/OEM look. I'm not planning on doing any serious rock crawling in the near future but could see it eventually turning into a overland-lite rig, so any upgrades/modifications will likely be made with that in mind. So far I've mostly been doing a lot of reading and looking for XJ knowledge repositories, so I'd love to hear if you have any suggestions for what I should check out!

The car was a pretty cheap find but had some major fixes right out of the gate due to sitting in a garage for the last few years and some enterprising mice: heater core, condenser, wheels, blower motor, etc. Not an ideal way to start off our relationship but maybe it was just setting expectations early :lol Everything seems to be in working order now though and I was able to get the inspections done. The previous (and sole) owner was an elderly man who drove it around town and up to Canada once a year for a fishing trip, so it has about 147K miles but otherwise looks to be in fairly good shape and is completely stock as far as I can tell. It's from New Jersey so I'm not sure how much that will impact the car from a rust standpoint - any suggestions on specific things to watch out for? The exterior is in pretty good shape, except for some tiny scrapes and one dent on the tailgate that has exposed a little metal.

The interior looked a little rough, but after some elbow grease I was blown away by how nice it cleaned up! I will have to replace the headliner at some point since it's sagging, but everything else basically looks like it came right off the line. Crazy what a little spit and sweat can do! I had to replace a rear tail light and the tailgate struts, but I think we're now at the point where we can start looking at the more fun stuff :D I really like the original look so I'm going to try and keep the mods fairly minimalist.

Here's a quick brain dump of some initial goals/thoughts on where I'd like this project to go:
  • Lift/Suspension - maybe 3.5" lift? I guess it depends on the below...
  • Tires/Wheels - probably somewhere between 31-33"s, ideally I'd love to avoid cutting anything
  • Exhaust/Muffler - worth it?
  • Interior - headliner, maybe seat reupholstering (currently cloth), weatherproof flooring?, maybe some additional fab projects?
  • Stereo - since it's a daily driver I'll probably update the head unit/speakers, though I love the look of the classic unit
  • Body - headlights, roof rack?, bumpers?, fenders/body trim? I'm not in love with the paint job but that will probably be the last thing I look at since it's growing on me
  • Performance Mods - I read very different advice, are any of these even worth it? Not trying to do any drag racing but I'm sure an extra 10-15hp would be nice

Anyway, this is long enough. I may start to add a running total of how much this all costs at some point but I'm excited to get started and hopefully will meet some folks at one of the next events or wrenching parties! Here's a quick look at the car so people have an idea of what I'm working with. Appreciate any thoughts/suggestions you might have!




Offline unl1mtd

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All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2020, 08:22:50 PM »
Love the late model XJ platform. You got to keep those color matched wheels. So cool.

As far as mod advice, if you plan to wheel at all, add tow hooks up front and a hitch out back for recovery points. And consider hitting the junkyard or elsewhere for at least the stock skid plates or more.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2020, 08:25:22 PM by unl1mtd »
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Offline Jeep Freak

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2020, 10:10:46 PM »
 :hi

first, stop referring to it as a car, it's a Jeep.  :mrgreen

Second, 3-3.5" should provide the clearance necessary for 31s with no cutting. Probably will need a wheel with a little less backspacing than the stock rims on it now. Exhaust is only really worth it if you're looking for a more aggressive sound. It won't make any noticeable difference in performance. Form a solid plan of what the end goal is, and that will help what mods to get fall into place.   :wrench
'93 YJ SOA on 36s
'13 JKUR

Offline unl1mtd

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2020, 10:36:31 AM »

first, stop referring to it as a car, it's a Jeep.  :mrgreen



I knew that would trigger someone
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Offline Jeepin_Donnie

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2020, 10:51:09 AM »
Sweet XJ!  I miss mine.  It had 175k miles on it when I sold it and it was still running perfectly!  I didn't mod it, but wish I still had it so I could.  Looking forward to see what you do to yours.

I did replace the stereo with an Alpine with a good internal amp and replaced the speakers with Polk speakers and it sounded good.  Make sure the radio has some sort of "boost" or "bass boost" button.  It made a huge difference in sound, more than just playing with the bass, treble, and mids.  That was my experience back in the early 2000s LOL  :?
Mods, they never end.  My rig needs a sponsor!  :)

Offline cram501

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2020, 04:21:36 PM »
I purchased a new manual 92 XJ as my first Jeep.    I didn't mod it either and at that time I probably couldn't have afforded to....  Riding it in beltway traffic was always a hazard on wet roads since it was easy to lock up.


2019 Mojito! JLUS MOAB

Offline R3

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2020, 08:17:55 AM »
Hi everyone! Apologies in advance for the wall of text but as mentioned in my intro post I'm a new 1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport owner, and I'm looking forward to learning more about the car and doing some work on it. The XJ has been a dream car of mine and will be my first project car, so I have a lot to learn! My goal is to make it my daily driver and mostly keep the clean/OEM look. I'm not planning on doing any serious rock crawling in the near future but could see it eventually turning into a overland-lite rig, so any upgrades/modifications will likely be made with that in mind. So far I've mostly been doing a lot of reading and looking for XJ knowledge repositories, so I'd love to hear if you have any suggestions for what I should check out!

The car was a pretty cheap find but had some major fixes right out of the gate due to sitting in a garage for the last few years and some enterprising mice: heater core, condenser, wheels, blower motor, etc. Not an ideal way to start off our relationship but maybe it was just setting expectations early :lol Everything seems to be in working order now though and I was able to get the inspections done. The previous (and sole) owner was an elderly man who drove it around town and up to Canada once a year for a fishing trip, so it has about 147K miles but otherwise looks to be in fairly good shape and is completely stock as far as I can tell. It's from New Jersey so I'm not sure how much that will impact the car from a rust standpoint - any suggestions on specific things to watch out for? The exterior is in pretty good shape, except for some tiny scrapes and one dent on the tailgate that has exposed a little metal.

The interior looked a little rough, but after some elbow grease I was blown away by how nice it cleaned up! I will have to replace the headliner at some point since it's sagging, but everything else basically looks like it came right off the line. Crazy what a little spit and sweat can do! I had to replace a rear tail light and the tailgate struts, but I think we're now at the point where we can start looking at the more fun stuff :D I really like the original look so I'm going to try and keep the mods fairly minimalist.

Here's a quick brain dump of some initial goals/thoughts on where I'd like this project to go:
  • Lift/Suspension - maybe 3.5" lift? I guess it depends on the below...
  • Tires/Wheels - probably somewhere between 31-33"s, ideally I'd love to avoid cutting anything
  • Exhaust/Muffler - worth it?
  • Interior - headliner, maybe seat reupholstering (currently cloth), weatherproof flooring?, maybe some additional fab projects?
  • Stereo - since it's a daily driver I'll probably update the head unit/speakers, though I love the look of the classic unit
  • Body - headlights, roof rack?, bumpers?, fenders/body trim? I'm not in love with the paint job but that will probably be the last thing I look at since it's growing on me
  • Performance Mods - I read very different advice, are any of these even worth it? Not trying to do any drag racing but I'm sure an extra 10-15hp would be nice

Anyway, this is long enough. I may start to add a running total of how much this all costs at some point but I'm excited to get started and hopefully will meet some folks at one of the next events or wrenching parties! Here's a quick look at the car so people have an idea of what I'm working with. Appreciate any thoughts/suggestions you might have!





Congrats on the Jeep "Car". I see a great many of these animals on the trails in all sorts of configurations.  As many have already go down this route a couple  thoughts.  Establish  build goal.  This is what you would ultimately  want to achieve. Some are looking for a all out Rock crawler trail rig others a daily driver with trail capability.  Set a budget Sound  silly but  modification after modification get  pretty expensive in a hurry. There is a tendancy to go cheap because that is what fits in the  "I want it now" budget, it is far cheaper to   build it  once with  good parts than  rebuild it  a time or two.
 Drive it on the trail see what works and what needs improvement. While big tires and lift kits look cool they come with their own issues.  When looking at modification, do some real research not just public forum  searching. Yes you can find some great information here and in other forums but 80% will be just useless information. i.e if the goal is to ride forest service roads then buying "Armor and skids" is not a worthwhile investment.  Same with  lifts and tires, if it is a daily driver  suspension geometry and driveability might need to be the  focus and that can get expensive.  Modifications  lead to modifications. You can't just change one thing, because  most changes affect or are tied to  other things.

People on this forum and in this club are willing to lean a hand in knowledge and expertese  to assist you in  the modifications you chose. Consider a wrenching party or a garage night in the mod process. It will give you hands on expirence with your rig and a better understanding of the machine  if or when somethign breaks on the trail. There is also that satisfaction of  standing back and saying  "I did that".  Wrenching parties are also a great way to keep build costs undercontrol, I am thinking a round of Pizzas and soda is got to be cheaper than $100-$150/hr shop rates. Check out the thread "thoughts on mods"  while it was written to the expirence  I had with the JKUR the process  applies to any rig in general and give you some food for thought.

I am thinking that you have inadvertantly named your  XJ    "JeepCar"  Welcome to the Jeep world mr JeepCar.
Cheers

17 JKURR
2013 Victory XCT hot rod.

Offline UpSide

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2020, 08:33:29 PM »
first, stop referring to it as a car, it's a Jeep.  :mrgreen

I knew that would trigger someone

Congrats on the Jeep "Car".
...
I am thinking that you have inadvertantly named your  XJ    "JeepCar"  Welcome to the Jeep world mr JeepCar.

Oh man, I just went ahead and stepped right in it huh! I guess I have a few things to learn about this whole "being a Jeep owner" thing  :lol

Appreciate all the advice from everyone so far, sounds like I need to set a well defined build goal first and then work from there. I'd definitely prefer to go the "measure twice, cut once" route so I'll have to make sure to really think through the mods I'm considering. That said, I fully expect to miss stuff and run into things I've never even thought about. I guess that's part of the fun (or so I'm told)...

Offline RFH_98TJ

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2020, 02:14:10 PM »
Whatever you do, don't put an angry eyes grill or light bar on before you add a locker.  Otherwise, you will be thrashed (and probably trigger a few more people)!  Hahaha!
98 TJ 4.0 Sport 5-speed - 4" lift on 35s, 4.56 on D30 with Lock Right and Ford 8.8 LS, Lots of welding

- Frank

Offline UpSide

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2020, 03:33:19 PM »
Ok, after a few days of thinking through build goals/etc I have sufficiently confused myself to the point where I need a reality check.

Build goal: An XJ that I will really enjoy driving every day, even on longer road trips. This also will include the occasional hiking/camping/trail that is off the beaten path. Basically I just want it to be awesome at everything, totally reasonable right?  :duh

So here's where I enter the modification rabbit hole - 90% daily driver means it's all about geometry right? I will have to compromise a little bit to make it trail capable, but here are some initial thoughts:

Lift/Suspension: Goal is to keep it to ~3/3.5" to accommodate larger tires without drastic fender modification, reduce impact to geometry, and maybe even improve the ride... I'm not aiming to add much weight with bumper/winch/rack modifications so I'm assuming the stock spring rates will stay about the same but I know this will get pricey if I want to do it well.
  • New leaf/coil springs, U-joints, shocks, brakelines, bumpstops, etc
  • Adjustable lower control arms/trackbar to maintain some geometry. Maybe it's possible to reposition/lower the control arm mounting brackets to reduce angle?
  • I'm assuming the increased angles will require a slip yoke eliminator + driveshaft, or do I just wait to see if there are any resulting vibrations before opting for one?

Wheels/Steering: Here is where I probably get in a little over my head. Or maybe I'm just overestimating how significantly these things will affect the ride? Since the goal is to make this as comfortable a daily driver as possible I'm trying to minimize the impact of larger tires + lift to the steering/handling of the vehicle. This means taking into account reduce scrub radius, SAI, camber, caster, toe angle, wheel backspacing, etc. I know there's probably no perfect answer here, so I'm probably overthinking most of this.
  • Tire size is probably what is going to end up impacting this build the most right off the bat (or so I believe) but thinking about tire width and placement just ends up making my brain hurt. Wider tires (section width or less backspacing) equals a higher scrub radius, right? More backspacing means they can hit control arms at maximum turn but less could also mean setting bumpstops to keep them from rubbing on fenders, or just giving in and trimming some fender. I think keeping scrub radius to a minimum here is probably the goal - does that mean I look at 30x9.5 tires to keep backspacing/section width low while avoiding rubbing any frame elements, or is that negligible when compared to 31x10.5? Thinner tires will keep geometry closer to stock but can't find a 31x9.5 for the life of me. Haven't even started considering tire weight...
  • Steering Axis Inclination/Caster/Camber/Toe Angle - These all seem to somewhat affect each other, so it might just require some adjustment once I see how the Jeep settles to make sure nothing is out of whack. Every time I start thinking through this without any actual measurements my eyes glaze over ;( Might just be better off picking a tire size/width based off the SAI.
  • Maybe I'm just overthinking this and I'd be better served by worrying about other steering/suspension components to improve ride/handling.

Thoughts? Found an interesting read about some SUV/Scrub Radius testing if anyone is interested - http://www.aerospacestandards.com/automag/scrubradius/. TLDR; Reducing scrub radius to a small positive number is helpful for vehicle-handling dynamics.

**EDIT** Maybe I should have thrown this in the Jeep Tech Talk section?
« Last Edit: January 25, 2020, 04:09:40 PM by UpSide »

Offline SLS TJ

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2020, 08:49:08 PM »

 If you haven't already, you should go here. https://www.naxja.org/forum/ If it's been done to an XJ, you'll find it there.

Offline unl1mtd

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2020, 09:54:12 AM »
I think if your main priority is commuter/long trips you definitely are on the right track of keeping the tire size reasonable. Also smart to replace springs/leafs instead of using budget boost/AALs.  I think if you stick to 30"s and ~3" of lift you might be ok with stock driveline, but the guys on naxja will know for sure.

I had a MJ back in the day, which is similar and what I found out when doing research is that 31s is about the limit for XJs with stock fender well openings without cutting. Even then there is some contact when turning (control arms, sway bar, and at flex fender wells)/ What you will also find out is that with all the Jks on the trails is that most are running 33s or 35s. So its incredibly easy to get caught up in the measuring contest. You just got to rise above and embrace the small tires and great driving skill!   :mrgreen And also invest in skid plates (you will be closer to the ground).  There is an incredible chain reaction to making modifications, you are ahead of the game realizing that from the get go.
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Offline Runner

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2020, 10:50:16 AM »
Two things:

First, you have the best year for the XJ, in my opinion, so congrats on that! A HP Dana 30 up front, simpler exhaust (Only one Cat), and no faulty head.

Second, I've built a few of these and trust me on this one. If you're going to daily drive this, stick with a 31" maximum tire. As Sean said, focus on skids and driving skills. The combination of those three (i.e. 31" tire, skids and skills) will get you more places than you think off-road. Plus, you will enjoy driving it every day.  Out of three tire combinations I built (31", 32" and 33"), the 31" tire XJ was my favorite driver.
2004 LJ - Built to wheel, but hides in the garage :(

Offline UpSide

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2020, 06:45:31 PM »
Hey all, thanks for the input! The more I think about it the better I feel about aiming for a 30" tire and seeing if that will avoid any control arm or fender rubbing on a ~3" lift (maybe with a little less backspacing if needed). That should be a solid daily driver compromise while being plenty of tire for any initial trails I'll run into. If I end up getting serious about wheeling down the road I can look at trimming some fender and maybe moving to a bigger tire.

As much fun as the theoretical part of the build has been I think I'm getting a little ahead of myself. I really haven't gotten a good look at the underside of the Jeep. First things first - basic maintenance!

As time (and temperature, since I don't have a garage) allows over the next week or two I'm going to go through fluid checks and a little tune up. Oil, radiator, transmission, transfer case, differentials, etc. Might change some spark plugs and a fuel filter while I"m at it. Hopefully that'll be pretty quick and will give me some time to get some eyes on the various suspension/drivetrain parts I'll be working on down the road. Anything specific I should be looking out for while I'm down there?

Offline R3

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Re: All About The Upside - 1999 XJ
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2020, 02:41:13 PM »
I love the  thought process and the amount of thought into the suspension.  You are on the right track for many road miles.  With the off road stuff. Drive it a bit and see what it does well and what it  could use some help on. You may find out that you have the perfect rig right now.  Scrub radius is important to a well behaved machine  with the  axle upgrade coming on my rig we are paying very close attention to achieving a zero or slightly positive  scrub radius and well as  the host of  other geometry specs. 
\
Bravo sir you are  going down the right path.

Cheers
Cheers

17 JKURR
2013 Victory XCT hot rod.

 

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