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My first XJ build 2001


NAXJA Forum User
Waukesha, Wi
Hi, my name is Matt and this if my first Jeep. I bought it for $2100 and some may say I got robbed because this thing was neglected to say the least. It's a 2001 Sport with a Chrysler rear end and no ABS. I really picked this one because the rust on it wasn't that bad for a Wisconsin Cherokee. The P/S door is the worst but the rockers are solid. I bought it to replace my DD Trailblazer that wouldn't pass emissions. I will tell you right now, I did not blaze any trails with my Trailblazer, but I will be with this thing! I have done some work to it so far and would like to share my Cherokee woes with others planning on lifting their XJ. Here's a pic when I first got it.

When I test drove it, it had some vibrations. I figured the vibs were due to U-joints or wheel bearings. Before I put the lift on it, I replaced all U-joints, front hubs with SKF, and rear axle bearings with SKF. I still have the same vibes/noise. I then figured that it may be the tires or out of balance wheel, so I ordered my lift kit and wheels. The wheels I got are the American Racing Baja AR172 with a 4.75 offset. Tires are general grabber 31x10.5. Yes, they rub. Plan on some trimming. I decided to go with the Rough Country NX2 3" lift. If you do this kit, or any kit, here are some tips. Get the extended brake lines. You WILL need them. Also, if you live in a frozen tundra area like Wisconsin, plan on replacing your rear brake line. Yes, the one that goes all the way to the front. Heat up your rear shock nuts before trying to remove them. I broke my lower studs off and had to weld new ones on even with heat. I also broke the top ones and had to fish new bolts through. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. For the transfer case drop I used some thick suspension shims from a Saturn L-Series that I had from my shop days. You can really use any type of spacer in there, but let me suggest what many others on here have suggested: If its a later model XJ, don't bother with a T.C. drop. Save some time and worry and just get the SYE and new driveshaft. I still have rear driveline vibs and need to do an SYE and shaft. Here are some pis with the lift installed.

Other things I have done are typical XJ repairs. The water pump was replaced the first night I had it. Have fun with that if you have to do one. The petcock for the radiator is in the most ridiculous spot. Take you P/S headlight out, it may help. I also replaced the extension pipe and muffler. I installed a class 3 Curt trailer hitch. Very nice hitch. I found another post that showed some great pics of tweeters in the doors so I did the same. There is not a lot of room behind the door panels.

I used a 2" hole saw for the tweeters. Tip: cut the vinyl in the panel with a razor blade before you run the whole saw through. You will tear it to $h!t if you dont. The front speakers are Polk DB 6.5" They fit with no cutting or fab, but beware, these speakers are not actually 6.5" they are more like 6. I have a set of Polk MOMO 6.5" that would not fit in the front. So those went in the rear, and not easily. The rears sound like crap due to the headliner mount. I am going to fab some boxes out of concrete form tube. I will post detailed pics of that project as I have not seen anyone do anything custom for the rears. So that is it so far. Next in line is to figure out where my vibe from the front is coming from. If anyone has some ideas I would greatly appreciate some input. Here's whats going on: If I remove my front drive shaft, the noise is still there. If I remove my axle shafts, the noise in the front goes away. U-joints are new, bearings are new. I inspected the front diff and there was no shavings in the lube. Gears looked good. The only thing I found was very little play in the pinion at the yoke. Not nearly as bad as some of the videos I've seen where there bearing is completely destroyed. It sounds like the faint sound of a hand wood saw cutting through a piece of wood. Its a back and forth kind of rotational noise more than a vibe. Brakes are good, new calipers and rotors, but kind of sounds like a rubbing warped rotor. Any ideas??? would that little of play in the pinion cause that noise??? Thanks.
Nice jeep.


Thanks! Here's a pic of the rocker height BEFORE the lift.

Keep in mind that this rig had 130K on it, factory suspension, and the rear leafs were negative. It measured 17" at the bottom of the rocker. It now measures 22". I gained 5" of body height with the 3" lift and tire combo. My wife hates it as she is 5'2" and has trouble getting in and out of it!
next time you need to drain coolant just pop the lower radiator hose.
it's easier and drains faster.

and trust me, the water pump in a cherokee is a glorious thing to replace.
there are much, much worse things. I did the last one in under an hour.
Hell, I've got radiator replacements down to 45 minutes.
and trust me, the water pump in a cherokee is a glorious thing to replace.
there are much, much worse things. I did the last one in under an hour.
Hell, I've got radiator replacements down to 45 minutes.

you and your damn skinny arms...you would laugh if you saw the position i have to twist my arm into to get the bottom bolt in an xj waterpump threaded in...other than that easy peasy
Good looking rig,

I think the "my first..." Is copywriten by Fischer Price Toy Co. though. Sort of like "Fischer price, My first scooter" except it's a Jeep. Lol.

Looks good, enjoy the fun and sickness.
Looks good, I'm getting ready to buy a 99 Cherokee Sport here around the beginning of April. Good thing to have a shop like that to do the work indoors.