> How can I future-proof my old Jeep Cherokee for peace of mind?

How can I future-proof my old Jeep Cherokee for peace of mind?

Posted at: 2015-04-14 
I recently purchased a 1992 Jeep Cherokee. It has 99K miles on it, and for under $2,000 I just couldn't pass it up. I know that given the age of the car, there will be some maintenance necessary and parts will break. For example, I've already replaced the heater valve, a plastic part which had snapped and caused a massive antifreeze leak. If possible, I would like to find and prevent other such issues. What else should I take a close look at that might be ready to give up?

Other points of note:

- the vehicle needs new shocks, I'm pretty certain of that. How urgent are shocks? If they are popping occasionally on turns, do I need to replace them this week, or can I look at some other things first?

- I smell un-burned gasoline often when exiting the vehicle. Fuel mileage is right around 15 mpg so it can't be that serious. I looked at the tank and there seems to be a gap where the bottom and top half of the tank are clamped together. Should I just get a few more clamps?

- Unless something significant/expensive breaks, I'd like to take my Jeep out on the trails this summer. just want to make sure its ready!

- I also need it to be a dependable daily driver. I'm looking for a bit of peace of mind.

1. That's great mileage.

2. The fuel smell is likely coming from the fuel pressure regulator by the fuel rail.

3. The best way to determine whether you need new shocks is if you have a lot if dive when breaking or sqaut when accelerating. If you plan on some light trail work quality monotube shocks are a must. Also, change the fluid in the diffs.

4. Keep it tuned up and fresh fluid in the transmission and differentials, you'll easily see 100k miles.

5. If it is an automatic, I would suggest adding a cooler to the transmission. The AW4 is a solid slushbox, but needs to be kept cool.

6. The "popping" in a turn is likely the u-joints between the inner and outter axles on the front. Google how to test them plenty of videos online.

7. Join a local Jeep Club.

I'd definitely fix that fuel tank ASAP if I were you. Not with clamps. Not by rigging it some other way. By replacing the fuel tank entirely. I'd also get that popping noise figured out very soon - popping noises aren't always caused by bad shocks and it's not wise to just assume it's the shocks because it could be something more dangerous (a bad ball joint, tie rod end etc.,).

Once you've got the known problems addressed, I'd consider maybe changing the water pump if it's not obviously new, maybe test the alternator to make sure it's still in spec and change it out if it's on its last legs because those are 2 things that if they fail, you're going to be stuck (which is especially unfortunate on a trail). Other than that I'd just stick with routine maintenance and fix problems as they arise. You can't predict maintenance surprises, otherwise they wouldn't be surprises. Good luck.

It is over 20years old so it will never be future proof but will always be a money pit as it (as you are finding out) will need constant maintenance and repairs to keep it road worthy. Your $2000 "bargain" is the opposite I am afraid.

Get the car polished, then get it repainted, fix any dents or cracks, get the engine performance tested out.