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Newbie looking at 1989 xj laredo


NAXJA Forum User
Tucson, AZ
'ello all,
I am in southern Arizona thinking of buying a used xj. I found used cherokee laredo. Its a 1989 with 234k on the odometer. It has the 4.0 I6 coupled with the 5 spd tranny (i am assuming its the ax15). It appears to be well taken care of. The owner said the dealer he bought it from had the engine rebuilt about 6.5 years and 70k miles ago. He has replaced the clutch and all the fuel injectors, and said he kept up on all the usual mantenaince (did I mispell that). He has all the records for the repair while he has had it. The only thing I cant verify is the engine rebuild. The guy said he did some light towing (1000lbs) and no real 4x4ing, just on occasion to get through some mud. He is asking 2400 for it.
From what I have heard xjs run forever if they are taken care of. I am looking to use it as a daily driver as well as fun on the weekends. When I took it for a test drive it ran great, but then again I am not too familiar with jeeps. I normally wouldnt worry to much but I have a son and dont want be stranded in the AZ heat with him. If I could get some info and/or opinions that would be great.
Thanks all
The price seems high, in my book.

Too bad there is no paperwork on the engine re-build.

See if you can get a compression test done.

True that the 4.0 has a good reputation. But prepare yourself for a lot of maintenance to set a baseline if you get this one or any other. Things like all fluid changes, tune-up, lube, cooling flush, sensors, exhaust, etc.

That year XJ (up to '91, I believe) has a closed cooling system. Be prepared for high maintenance, not because it is inadequate, but because the coolant bottle, at the fire wall is prone to cracking, regularly. Same with the pressure cap on the bottle. It might be a consideration for AZ heat.

Spend a few hours (could be days) on this forum and you will quickly form your opinion of the longevity, reliability, and regular maintenanc items on the XJ.

I understand having kids along and truck reliability. Perhaps you should look for a newer model with fewer miles, if that option is within your budget.

Good luck ... Maz
'89 could be either the BA-10/5 Peugeot tranny, or the later ones got the AX-15. Hopefully it's the latter, but the price does seem pretty high for a nearly 17-year old vehicle..
Thanks for the replies all. I am not too worried about the maintenance and tune up aspect of it, I can handle most preventative care and minor repair needs. I would need to find out more about the closed cooling system. I also wonder what are the pros and cons of looking for a newer model with the HO 4.0, and what are the odds of finding a 4.0 with a 5 spd. As silly as it sounds I really miss driving a stick.
I was also curious as to see what everyone thinks about the 2.5 4 cylinder. I did come across a 1990 cherokee with only 90k miles, but it is the 2.5 4 coupled with the 5 spd. I have read from yj owners that this is an under powered engine. Any comments would be great.
Thanks all,
xjtr0gg said:
I would need to find out more about the closed cooling system. I also wonder what are the pros and cons of looking for a newer model with the HO 4.0
Use the search feature and put in key search words like "closed cooling" "overheating", "cooling conversion", "open cooling system", "RENIX", "RENIX head", etc.. It will give you hours worth of thread reads. I'll leave your other questions to "experts".
I have an '88 with the Peugeot 5-speed. I'm at 247,000 miles and the tranny is holding up fine, but I grew up on stick shifts and I don't beat it -- I downshift when it "feels" like the drive train is struggling, and I double-clutch all downshifts to protect the tranny. The Peugeot gets a bad rap, but if it isn't flogged it should be reliable.

I agree that $2400 for an '89 with that mileage is too high. To me that's about a $1000 vehicle.

Don't be afraid of the 2.5L. It isn't a powerhouse, so a lot depends on how you plan to use it. If you drive in mountains a lot it'll take awhile to get up the hills, but for most purposes it's a fine engine and delivers good mileage. It's the same basic design as the 4.0L and should last a good, long time. I have an '88 MJ in the yard with 220,000 original miles. I bought it from a small used car dealer in Rhode Island and drove it home to Connecticut (losing the clutch slave cylinder en route, but I can't blame that on the engine).

I think if I were in your situation I'd take a hard look at that 4-cyl.
$2400 is way high. if your looking to spend that I would look at a 93-96' ish. with the milage you can find deals on them. Most people dont think a vehicle with 200K is worth anything.
In retrospect, i bought my 89 w/ 234K for $800, then put another $500 in it to pass inspection.. so I would say if its inspected and ready to go, $1500 or so. the newer it is the easier things will be to maintain (everything wont be rusted as mine is).. If i had it to do over, i would have looked for a new one, and i dont DD mine.. $.02