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I recently purchased a ’98 XJ Classic 4.0L, AW4, NP231 166K for my daughters who will be driving soon (in about 6 months). Pic below from the Facebook ad. The truck lived its life about 2 miles from me...oddly enough, had never seen it.










Clean little XJ but going through it with a fine-tooth comb (not a crazy and fine a tooth comb as I typically do) and upgrading/ repairing. Oddly enough it was used as a tow vehicle for a salt water boat – I know that because he told me… and the rear axle and leafs were rusty for a CA vehicle. In fact, one of the passenger side leafs had split in half. The truck originally didn’t have a tow package, though he added a DrawTite hitch and Hayden trans cooler.


Adding/ rebuilding the suspension entirely – all new -- will be a factory Up Country build complete with skids, hooks, etc. Rear axle and drive shaft are now new and installed. If you’ve seen my red ’97 XJ build, this Jeep will be getting a lot of the same treatment…heavy duty Addcco sway bars front and rear, KYB shocks, cross-drilled rotors, u-style manifold – this time a complete header to tailpipe Banks stainless steel exhaust (as Borla no longer makes a header for the 4.0L XJ… I like to keep the manufacturer components brand similar). Additional detail on the engine will be new pulleys/ balancer, sensors, alternator, starter, water pump, thermostat, battery/ cables, steering pump/ hoses, factory Jeep trans cooler, fuel injectors/ pump, K&N intake, motor/ trans mounts, etc. Head to toe AC/ heater core refresh...and I forget all what else.












Tire/ rim combo I’ll be running on this truck will be NOS TJ ravines on BFG AT KO 30x9.50’s. Exterior-wise, I’ll be removing ‘Classic’ elements and adding ‘Sport’ trim/bumper details… I prefer the textured/ blacked out exterior flares and trim. ARB wiring loom will brighten the road at night and an starter kill/ alarm will (hopefully) keep this XJ out of harms way.



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clean!:drool: although I will say bone stock 97+ xjs aren't my favorite (well neither do I like the look of lifted ones) I guess I am just and old body guy. Seems like a great dd for your daughter though

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Chipping away at things...Previous owner flexed front end to maximum contacting and bending oil pan lip and trans lines; also bashing/ smashing oxygen sensor bracket/ connector (that somehow was still functional without terminals touching). So next up engine side is replacing the oil pan, trans lines, and oxygen sensor bracket/ sensor. After that on to 100% re-do/ build of the front end -- control arms, coils, shocks, brakes, bushings, and upgrading to the heavy-duty ZJ steering set up. You name it, it's getting replaced.




In between time exterior work and misc other prep/ install work gets accomplished by up-and-coming Jeep enthusiast/ daughter, Bella. Currently removing some dried out cargo strips on the XJ's roof (to be replaced with NOS soon enough). Hard core.




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From a cleaned up bare block to majority of the accessories bolted up. Banks header was a fun install – they didn’t take into account with their bends ease of lower bolt installation. 1.5 hours just trying to get the lower, middle/right bolt in. Insane. Never had that challenge with the Borla headers. That lower pipe sits so low I actually needed to remove the motor mount shield to get that header on. (It's not as close as it looks in the photo below.) But it’s a stout unit with no doubt half a million solid miles ahead of it. Upgraded to the newer style intake and as many of you know only mild modifications to get things plugged in right – upgraded to the ’00 XJ vacuum tubing (extensions would work), IAT wiring extension (there is a company that makes these plug and play but the shortest is about 12” too long for this, so thank to ConnectionExperts.com Jeep terminals are available to shorten the wires properly), and finally trimming the wings of the ’98 XJ fuel line retaining bracket/ drilling a hole in the center allows for the line to be secured to the new style intake. Then to top things off a 62mm TB.








Still waiting on the new alternator and next up is the rear main seal/ oil pan gasket replacement. After that on to the entirety of the front suspension, then HVAC re-do. Getting there…

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Overhauling the HVAC box is a good time no doubt. I can’t repair something without cleaning it. And this box was a container of thick dust. Took about 6 hours to get it looking factory fresh. Also had the issue of the cable pin-connect that is key to adjusting the temperature/ blend door snap. The PO assumed the heater core was bad and by-passed it. Not the issue. The older XJ/MJ’s as most of you know have this attached to a metal rod on the HVAC box blend door. The plastic arm itself is beefy…Just the pin wasn’t. Decided the best thing to do was drill it out and attach some stainless hardware loaded with grease. Fortunately a new cable was available so that repair is complete. Next up is getting the new heater core and AC components installed inside and out.









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It’s been a learning experience with this XJ’s cowl insert (I believe these first came into use in 1996 on the XJ as I pulled one in a yard 20+ years ago for my ’89 MJ to see if it would work). We all know this area leaks and this tall-ish insert was a good way for Jeep to try and address this, but they used a flimsy foam seal around it (between the metal cowl and this plastic). Mine was completely flat and showed signs of leaking…so while I had the HVAC box out I wanted to get this right.






I read a few through write up’s where guys used 3M windshield seal (rope tape) – made sense as the windshield sees plenty of water. I cleaned everything up and applied mine double-wide. It was firm and somewhat tacky. Not at all easy to get stuck on flat. I tried using my back, a jack with wood I teetered for leverage in sticking. No luck getting flat…and as a result, I could easily pull it down in the leak-prone corners. It just didn't stick well.




Should have trusted my gut and gone with butyl tape…which I ended up using. Laid perfectly flat and stuck everywhere I put it. I’ve seen concerns about butyl drying out and my only experience with it is around the transmission tunnel plates and my 92 MJ’s CRL slider the original owner put in back in 1998 that was still sticking like hell when I removed it end of last year when I painted that truck. Hoping it does as well in the cowl area – high hopes.




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And the box is together... Also learned something new for all those with 97+ XJ's that may prove helpful -- The HVAC under dash box is 100% identical to that of the TJ. I knew the heater core and evaporator core were the same, but the plastic housing (box) is the same also. Good news!







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Still need to get the dash and all that goes with it back into place, but HVAC is in. Denso compressor requires PAG46 so I kept that oil consistent up to the 8oz required throughout. It's a nice unit made in USA. Once I get the XJ going (which will be a month or so from now), I’ll run it by an AC shop to get a full charge of R134a.






Also managed to get a lot of the other accessories mounted up…It’s starting to look like a real engine. New brake booster, master cylinder, and proportioning valve is up next. Then on to the rest.



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Agreed -- that Saddle interior and Moss Green paint look great together. Just something about driving around being surrounded by that interior color that is toooo much. Overwhelming. For my eyes, it just becomes hideous. Know that sounds crazy. Mist gray is far more pleasant/ calming and interior color to me. 

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'97 and very early '98 XJ’s had a glove box light. My '98 doesn't...so adding it by dual wiring a factory connector with new terminals and running it over to a '97 XJ specific connector for the glove box light. I guess anything can be drilled out, but there's a specific '97 XJ specific glove box/ passenger side frame that would to replace the existing. It's an odd shape switch, square on one side and round on the other). I also did this mod on my '01 XJ long ago -- and now it's Mossy Green's turn.






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RMS/ new oil pan/ gasket and clean-up of that area – done.  I have always seen on forums that the underside ‘girdle’ for the 4.0L arrived in ‘00/’01. My hunch has always been ’96 (when then lightened/ though ribbed the block). Seems like I’m getting closer to finding out the reality on this…the ’98 XJ has it. I didn’t need to do the RMS/ oil pan on my ’97 as the PO did it a year prior. Many moons ago when I had my ’95 XJ it did not have this piece. Anyone know for curiosities sake? And when I say ‘know’, I mean have seen first-hand?






Now to get the new starter and transmission lines up, down-pipe and exhaust on. And then on to getting the dash back in place.


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I never broke down my 96 4.0 enough to check (just pulled the head and saw the damage and stopped).  dang.

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Had just a couple hours today to tinker, so I got the transmission line and o2 sensor brackets cleaned up and mounted to the oil pan.




I also started to line up a NOS '97+ XJ tow hook bracket set I was lucky enough to find...but couldn't get things mounted up because the front cross member inboard support bracket holes needed to be fixed. The cross member is an over lay of 2 pieces of sheet metal... not at all -- no where near -- lined up properly before spot welded together. Easy fix to carve things out, but I lost my narrow window of time to get these mounted up. Next time...  (As I side note, I didn't run into this issue with either MJ or past XJ's.) 







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The dashboard is no longer hanging by a ziptie off the passenger side upper grab handle... back in place and buttoning up any displaced junction blocks/ wires.




And with the dashboard back up, I was able to swap out some of the stopping essentials -- new brake booster/ master/ combo valve. While I was at it I bled the system several times to get the never changed fluid out (it was black in color). 




The entirety of the engine bay is shaping up too -- installed the K&N FIPK...and just waiting on a NOS efan to arrive. Trans lines will also be new and adding a first gen XJ style cooler to this XJ. Top side panels of the interior are being removed since the headliner, overhead console, and visors are soon to be recovered a near identical material to Jeep's 'mist gray' of the '97/'98 XJ's.




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