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Stroker vs options


NAXJA Forum User
Back in October I purchased my first ever Jeep a stock 4 door 96 XJ with the 4.0HO/aw4. Awesome machine. Me and my brother have decided to make it our vacation rig. Over the summer it will get a new roof rack, 4-4.5 inch lift 31s maybe 33s, and upgraded suspension parts as its a bit wore out.

Now its time I need help on engine decision. I need power and reliabilty. It will be going over 1000+ miles one way at a time from past Toronto to California. Itll normally be just us 2, quite a bit of gear, and time to time will be hauling a boat weighing around 1800-2000 wet lbs. (Tracker 170 if that helps)

I had no previous experience with the 4.0 before I bought this Jeep. Overall never once had a issue with it not wanting to run but it seems very underpowered even with no load.

Ive seen were guys have stroked the engines but I seem concered of reliabilty issues with doing that. Ive also seen other engine swaps weither it be v8 or smaller displacement diesels. I do have a pretty large amount of experience with diesels in trucks and volkswagens and experience with 350 sbc and ls engines although not great experiences with them (2 Ive owned both failed). Would like to know if you guys have any imput from past experience of what would suit my needs better. Obv a truck could do the job better but I love the Jeep and need to give it a purpose to keep it around.
A stroker is as reliable as the build you put into it. Mine puts out 325hp/400 lbs torque and drives like it came off the showroom floor that way but it wasn't cheap to build!
Well you're going to need to regear if you want to move up tire sizes. I'd suggest 4.56 at 33's 4.10s for 31's. That will "help" but it's not called a 4 slow for nothing, don't expect it to be a hotrod. If you want to look at swaps and don't have emissions TDI swaps are getting popular but once you start messing with stuff it messes with the key word you had reliability. LS swaps are nice but a lot of work and cooling them is a B. Personally if it was me I'd keep the 4.0, take care of basic maintenance and refresh it. I'd stick with 31's, regear to 4.10s. Put a 3" lift with either adjustable CA or control arms drop brackets. Do some basic bolt on's for performance, new exhaust, bored TB and intake. If your budget allows to do a stroker do it, but as RCP said aren't cheap to do them right.
A good (good! not K&N) cold air intake and header/catback can be worth 25 horsepower.

From there your next step is to go stroker. Cost will be $1800 to $8000 depending how far you want to go with it and how much of the work you want to do yourself. I have daily driven on and raced with several strokers and found them to be incredibly reliable.
A stroker is as reliable as the build you put into it. Mine puts out 325hp/400 lbs torque and drives like it came off the showroom floor that way but it wasn't cheap to build!

Did you have it built or did you buy a built engine and have it installed?

How much of the old engine's accessories have to be moved over to the new stroker? And of those, how many should you really look at replacing?
I build everything and have for 50yrs, it was my original motor with all new internals.
I did have Russ do the head for his big valve and full port work.
I had a Stroker built by the best and didn't get 5k miles on it and it imploded. Trying to find out what I'm going to do next.

Who built it?
A well known SoCal 4.0 builder. I took it back to him and he said he'd redo it. That was 6 months ago... Hopefully he'll stand behind his work.