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Going To Look At An 88


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So I'm still searching for a short box 4.0 Comanche locally. I'm going to look at one that isn't advertised (guy replied to my want ad). It's an '88 short box 4.0. It's silver on the outside (not original paint), and blue on the inside (ugh). 5-speed manual 4x4 with 234K km (145K miles). Pretty much original, not lifted or anything. It's not in the same town but the weather right now is preventing me from going so I thought I'd read up and ask some questions before going to see it.

 

It passed a full safety inspection 3 years ago, front to back. Rust-wise it's not bad, seems to be 4 small patches started, all on the box. It all looks repairable. Cab looks good from the pic. Glass is perfect.

 

He talked for nearly a half hour on the phone telling me the whole story on it, everything he's done in the last 3 years he's had it. It was sideswiped while sitting on the street so was written off. He bought it from the insurance company. It was quite minor, bashed in fender, broken mirror, broken fender flare, box maybe tweaked just a bit (look where the tailgate closes on the driver side). But like I said it needed a full safety and mechanical inspection which it passed so the little things and important big things were fixed up.

 

He said there is a squeak from the engine but when it warms up he was going to take it to a friends shop and see about replacing the idler pulley, he thinks that's what it is. He put on a new fuel filter and had the oil changed a week ago. He has a replacement left front fender (wrong color) already.

 

The only thing that kind of bugs me is he said it takes 5-6 tries for it to start, whether it's hot or cold. He was going to listen to see if the fuel pump was making noise, he suspected that. I think it could be simply a bad wiring connection or CPS. I've done some reading and the 88 is a bad year for various electrical bugs especially when the current owner knows nothing about them!

 

The truck runs great once it's going but takes some tries to get going. Does that sound like a deal killer? (it doesn't to me, it sounds like it needs a little TLC).

 

We didn't talk price, he said he wasn't sure how much it's worth. I have an idea but what do you think the truck is worth?

 

If he doesn't sell it, he plans on putting on bigger tires and a lift kit in the spring (his garage is unheated).

 

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My '88 has never let me down, knock on wood, electrical wise.  I think you're correct in assuming it just needs some TLC.  I wouldn't think twice about owning that truck, provided the floor boards are solid.  I'd be curious what the original paint was before.   Whats it worth?  Depends on where you live and availability of MJs in your region.  Here in the Midwest they can be had for relatively little money since they're somewhat common.  Don't know what they go for north of the border.  It just comes down to what you're willing to pay.

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He said there is a squeak from the engine but when it warms up he was going to take it to a friends shop and see about replacing the idler pulley, he thinks that's what it is.

 

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Not gonna address everything, let some others share, also but I'll start.

Idler pulley or WP possible, but don't forget to check the harmonic balancer for separation, sometimes when they start coming apart the rubber hits the timing cover causing a squeaking sound to be heard coming from the front of the engine.

Don't forget to look under the floors, check for rot through which is very common. Could help you with your buying price because most people wouldn't readily know to look for it and use it for bargaining power.

One more thing, from the pics, the drivers door, what happened to the fender? Sometimes the door hinge takes a beating and can need substantial work. Repairable yes, easy or hard depends on your skill level.

Nice looking truck, I wouldn't be afraid to start about 1700 2000.

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Had a '87 That was hard to start. Took a half a dozen tries to get it going. Ran great after it started. Was the main reason the PO let it go so cheap. $200 and get it out of his yard. New set of plugs fixed it right up. Haven't had a problem with it since.

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You say the bed is "tweaked" a little, how does the bed get tweaked without getting dented? It may just be that the taikgate is not latched on one side but if it is tweaked you should look the frame over very well to besure it was not damaged in the collision. I know these trucks are not worth alot to insurance company's but is it not strange to total one in this good of shape for a fender?

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The only thing that kind of bugs me is he said it takes 5-6 tries for it to start, whether it's hot or cold. He was going to listen to see if the fuel pump was making noise, he suspected that. I think it could be simply a bad wiring connection or CPS. I've done some reading and the 88 is a bad year for various electrical bugs especially when the current owner knows nothing about them!

 

The truck runs great once it's going but takes some tries to get going. Does that sound like a deal killer? (it doesn't to me, it sounds like it needs a little TLC).

As the owner of both an '88 XJ (bought new) and an '88 MJ (bought used) I have to take issue with the statement that 88 is a bad year for electrical bugs. It's no worse than '87 or '89 or '90 -- you just have to understand the Renix system. And you have to remember that a 1988 anything is now a 26-year old vehicle. You have to expect that there will be some corrosion-related problems and simply be prepared to deal with them.

 

The other thing is that he may think it needs five or six tries to start, but he may not be cranking it long enough. It's a characteristic of the Renix system that it has to crank over several times for the various components to synch. Even new, they never started with a touch of the key, like some older and some newer vehicles do. It's even worse if the driver doesn't wait for the fuel pump to build pressure before trying to start it. Just jump in and turn they key? It's NOT going to fire right up.

 

No, I would not say it's a deal breaker. If it starts and runs, anything causing long starts can be addressed. Looks like a nice truck -- if you want a shortbed, grab it. (If the price is right.)

 

How did he get a tow mirror on the driver's door only? Those came in pairs.

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The floor boards should be fairly solid because it passed a safety inspection 3 years ago. I'm sure they're rusted some, that's common to all up here.

 

The fender was caved in when it was sideswiped before he bought it. He pulled it as best he could and it passed inspection as it is today. He has a replacement fender that will be included (wrong color though).

 

The drivers' side mirror was busted off when it was sideswiped, so he took the mirror from the passenger side and moved it to the drivers side. Legally you only need that outside mirror so he didn't bother putting one back on the pass side.

 

If I was to buy and keep the truck, I would weld up all the mirror holes and put the smaller folding mirrors on instead. And fix the rust issues and repaint. Oh, and put in a grey interior. And put on 10-hole Eliminator wheels. That's about it for starters LOL

 

When I said the 88's are a bad year for elec bugs, I know it's all Renix' 87-90, not just 88.

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You say the bed is "tweaked" a little, how does the bed get tweaked without getting dented? It may just be that the taikgate is not latched on one side but if it is tweaked you should look the frame over very well to besure it was not damaged in the collision. I know these trucks are not worth alot to insurance company's but is it not strange to total one in this good of shape for a fender?

I only say tweaked because the tailgate isn't quite closed on the drivers side. So it just may not latch properly or maybe the bed is tweaked, I don't really know. The bed doesn't look dented but that black fender flare was put on because the original was damaged.

 

Around here it doesn't take much to total an older vehicle. The one body shop I usually deal with only charges $69/hr that's an independent place so others may be higher. - Factor a fender, fender flare, mirror, and labor it's hard to say what the total damage estimate was. There is also a dent below the window on the drivers door, so that was probably part of the claim, whereas this guy just pulled the dent instead of replacing the door. It's the labor here that really adds up.

 

This thing had a provincial body & mechanical inspection prior to being licensed again so I really doubt the frame would be damaged and passed. Other minor things that needed to be fixed during the inspection process was the shift knob was replaced, the wiper motor worked slowly so that was lubricated, the horn contacts were corroded so it didn't work, all that minor stuff was fixed.

 

Honestly the fact that it had a full inspection 3 years ago make me more interested in the truck. Sure it was "totalled" but on older vehicles it takes very little to total them. I saw an XJ Cherokee (93) last week in the junkyard and all I remember seeing is it had was a dented drivers door (it still opened and closed) and the mirror on the door was hanging.

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The Renix stuff has its little bugs and strange characteristics (they all take several seconds to catch as has been stated) but the body looks pretty good and all of the stuff you mention isn't a big deal to fix. I agree that the harmonic balancer should be checked. Mine scraped against the timing cover and made a chattering/squeaking type sound. The idler is also a definite possibility. Aside from all of that, check all of the usual things. Make sure the body lines up decently (if the entire bed is "tweaked" that's a very bad sign, not really a big deal if it's partially bent) and that it runs and drives well (tracks straight, shifts correctly, etc.). Assuming those two things, it's a very good specimen.

 

As for price, I don't know how things are in Canada but down here anything from $1700 up wouldn't be out of the ballpark as long as the body is straight. Considering the damage and rust, start low. The fact that minor body damage got the truck totaled should give you a clue. Regardless, it's worth having. :thumbsup:

 

As a side note, that color looks so much better with black fender flares.

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If it is the harmonic balancer, how big of a job is that to fix? DIY job?

 

Yup, easy job, just take the belt off, pull the HB with a puller, bolt new HB on.

Make sure to get a longer bolt to get  the balancer started on the shaft , then finish up and tighten with the correct bolt.

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I know there are quite a few potential causes of a no start condition on the Renix trucks, however I'm wondering is there one most common cause that I could check out? From my reading it looks like the CPS crank sensor may be the most likely cause, sound correct? It needs to be clean, and in worst case new wires run from the PCM to the CPS (Mopar has/had a kit for that).

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Yeah I don't mind sharing the guys' contact info if I don't buy it.

Here's how to test it:

 

Renix CPS Testing and Adjusting
 
 
 
Renix CPSs have to put out a strong enough signal to the ECU so that it will provide spark. 
 
Most tests for the CPS suggest checking it for an ohms value. This is unreliable and can cause some wasted time and aggravation in your diagnosis of a no-start issue as the CPS will test good when in fact it is bad.
 
The problem with the ohms test is you can have the correct amount of resistance through the CPS but it isn’t generating enough voltage to trigger the ECU to provide spark. 
 
Unplug the harness connector from the CPS. Using your voltmeter set on AC volts and probing both wires in the connector going to the CPS, crank the engine over. It won’t start with the CPS disconnected. 
 
You should get a reading of  .5 AC volts. 
 
If you are down in the .35 AC volts range or lower on your meter reading, you can have intermittent crank/no-start conditions from your Renix Jeep. Some NEW CPSs  (from the big box parts stores) have registered only .2 AC volts while reading the proper resistance!!  That’s a definite no-start condition. Best to buy your CPS from Napa or the dealer.
 
Sometimes on a manual transmission equipped Renix Jeep there is an accumulation of debris on the tip of the CPS. It’s worn off clutch material and since the CPS is a magnet, the metal sticks to the tip of the CPS causing a reduced voltage signal. You MAY get by with cleaning the tip of the CPS off. 
 
A little trick for increasing the output of your CPS is to drill out the upper mounting hole to 3/8” from the stock 5/16”, or slot it so the CPS bracket rests on the bell housing when pushed down. Then, when mounting it, hold the CPS down as close to the flywheel as you can while tightening the bolts.
 
 
 
 
Revised 01-26-2013
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Yeah I don't mind sharing the guys' contact info if I don't buy it.

Here's how to test it:

 

Renix CPS Testing and Adjusting

 

 

 

Renix CPSs have to put out a strong enough signal to the ECU so that it will provide spark. 

 

Most tests for the CPS suggest checking it for an ohms value. This is unreliable and can cause some wasted time and aggravation in your diagnosis of a no-start issue as the CPS will test good when in fact it is bad.

 

The problem with the ohms test is you can have the correct amount of resistance through the CPS but it isn’t generating enough voltage to trigger the ECU to provide spark. 

 

Unplug the harness connector from the CPS. Using your voltmeter set on AC volts and probing both wires in the connector going to the CPS, crank the engine over. It won’t start with the CPS disconnected. 

 

You should get a reading of  .5 AC volts. 

 

If you are down in the .35 AC volts range or lower on your meter reading, you can have intermittent crank/no-start conditions from your Renix Jeep. Some NEW CPSs  (from the big box parts stores) have registered only .2 AC volts while reading the proper resistance!!  That’s a definite no-start condition. Best to buy your CPS from Napa or the dealer.

 

Sometimes on a manual transmission equipped Renix Jeep there is an accumulation of debris on the tip of the CPS. It’s worn off clutch material and since the CPS is a magnet, the metal sticks to the tip of the CPS causing a reduced voltage signal. You MAY get by with cleaning the tip of the CPS off. 

 

A little trick for increasing the output of your CPS is to drill out the upper mounting hole to 3/8” from the stock 5/16”, or slot it so the CPS bracket rests on the bell housing when pushed down. Then, when mounting it, hold the CPS down as close to the flywheel as you can while tightening the bolts.

 

Revised 01-26-2013

 

The problem with the ohms test (which is what the FSM calls for) is that you're supposed to check the resistance "at normal operating temperature." How are we supposed to get the engine (or the CPS) up to normal operating temperature if it won't start? And heat affects resistance, so it's not like we can pretend it doesn't matter.

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Yeah I don't mind sharing the guys' contact info if I don't buy it.

Here's how to test it:

 

Renix CPS Testing and Adjusting

 

 

 

Renix CPSs have to put out a strong enough signal to the ECU so that it will provide spark. 

 

Most tests for the CPS suggest checking it for an ohms value. This is unreliable and can cause some wasted time and aggravation in your diagnosis of a no-start issue as the CPS will test good when in fact it is bad.

 

The problem with the ohms test is you can have the correct amount of resistance through the CPS but it isn’t generating enough voltage to trigger the ECU to provide spark. 

 

Unplug the harness connector from the CPS. Using your voltmeter set on AC volts and probing both wires in the connector going to the CPS, crank the engine over. It won’t start with the CPS disconnected. 

 

You should get a reading of  .5 AC volts. 

 

If you are down in the .35 AC volts range or lower on your meter reading, you can have intermittent crank/no-start conditions from your Renix Jeep. Some NEW CPSs  (from the big box parts stores) have registered only .2 AC volts while reading the proper resistance!!  That’s a definite no-start condition. Best to buy your CPS from Napa or the dealer.

 

Sometimes on a manual transmission equipped Renix Jeep there is an accumulation of debris on the tip of the CPS. It’s worn off clutch material and since the CPS is a magnet, the metal sticks to the tip of the CPS causing a reduced voltage signal. You MAY get by with cleaning the tip of the CPS off. 

 

A little trick for increasing the output of your CPS is to drill out the upper mounting hole to 3/8” from the stock 5/16”, or slot it so the CPS bracket rests on the bell housing when pushed down. Then, when mounting it, hold the CPS down as close to the flywheel as you can while tightening the bolts.

 

Revised 01-26-2013

 

The problem with the ohms test (which is what the FSM calls for) is that you're supposed to check the resistance "at normal operating temperature." How are we supposed to get the engine (or the CPS) up to normal operating temperature if it won't start? And heat affects resistance, so it's not like we can pretend it doesn't matter.

 

Aside from being an unreliable test, it's quite a catch-22.

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