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1988 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 6cyl
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is my first XJ, my first post, and I need some help. I'll try to keep the post as short as I can.

I saw this on Facebook Marketplace being sold for $3,200. "Everything works" is what the description said. Kid eventually sold it to me for $2,300.
Has about 227,000 miles on it.
I drove almost 2 hours to buy it. Once I drove it off, the coolant resovoir busted. Had to get it towed back to the guy who sold it to me (his grandfather owned a car paint shop). I waited for 3 weeks for them to "fix" it for me. I went back, tried to drive it home and it stalled out and started smoking. This time, I didn't get the car back for almost 3 months. At this point I'm dealing with the kids grandfather. He said they put a new exhaust manifold, new radiator, new temp gauge (I eventually unplugged it because whoever installed it didn't know what they were doing), and I want to say a new fuel pump (they put over $1,000 of their own money into it for me). So 3rd time I go and get the car (they met me half way) the car is driving even worse.

Now I know I should have gotten my money back.
He said the car would need a new battery and some other things.
Next day I try to drive it to work, and it stalls out on me and won't start.

I get a mobile mechanic to come out (amazing service). We installed a new battery, new ignition switch, and a new valve cover gasket (mechanic said whoever had the car before didn't do enough oil changes because there was gunk everywhere). Nothing worked until we saw a fusible link on the starter relay basically broken. I went to get a new one and the car started!
An amazing feeling.

So then... Take it to Express Oil Change. I got an oil change and an alignment. Apparently the wheel was upside down? They said when they put it back right, the horn was going off. So they unplugged the horn.
They also said I had some major coolant and oil leaks.

I did my own coolant flush because I heard it could mess up the car. I didn't fully get out all of the particles out so I'll need to do another one.

Ok guys almost done. I went and got gas, only to find it leaking out of the back a few minutes later. So now I'm scared to keep a good amount of gas in.
Everytime I drive the car it smells like exhaust and gasoline. Gives me horrible headaches. So I installed a new O2 sensor myself. I want to say it helps with the exhaust smell but I still smell gasoline.
Yesterday I took the car to Express Oil. They said my fuel rail is leaking, I have rust somewhere on the bottom, and something about 2 springs in the back about to fall apart? Now I'm not sure why they didn't tell me any of this when they did the alignment and everything the first time?

Anyways, I've heard good things about XJs. I've heard they're reliable. I just need to know if these are common things that can be fixed. I have a family and I feel like I made a horrible mistake with buying this car (yes I should have probably gotten my money back). I just fell in love with it. It's a beautiful Jeep and I want this to be worth it. Now I'm worried about this rust situation. I'll take some pictures underneath when I get home.

Any help will be appreciated!!

Side note:
The gas gauge goes up and down constantly. The speedometer needle is shaky. The turn lights get stuck? They don't blink normal. Sometimes my drive door gets stuck and won't unlock. My AC also is inconsistent. When I accelerate it's like it stops working for a second.
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Hi and welcome to the forums! This is your first post so I hate to sound like the bad guy, but you made several bad choices along the way in your purchase. Congratulations on joining the Jeeplife though! You dove in head-first.

First thing that comes to mind for me is that you bought a 25 (or more) year old vehicle basically sight unseen it sounds like. When I buy a vehicle, esp an old one, I don't pay until I have crawled around underneath it, driven it on a decent test drive to shake out any immediate issues, and when something breaks, I will never ever go back to the seller. Its not a dealer, its a person just trying to get rid of it. They aren't truly going to help you 99% of the time. I'd say you got lucky they even took it back and worked on it for you. Maybe I have trust issues, but unless you have paperwork, anything someone tells you is working or fixed is basically a lie until proven otherwise. Especially when you don't know them or their mechanical abilities/qualifications.

You didn't mention what part of the world you live in, but it doesn't seem like you live in the rustbelt because that XJ is CLEAN! Wow the body looks good. However, its old, I have no doubt there's a little rust under there somewhere. We can't help you until you crawl under there and see for yourself, and take pics to show us. Sorry.

Again with the believing people speech........this applies to dealers and shops, with an emphasis on quick lube-stop places like you went to. They will do anything they can to bring you back to spend more money. Don't let them get you. Maintenance on a vehicle that old is going to add up, you might want to start working on it yourself rather than rely on shops like that. (I'm sorry if this is coming across harshly, I'm just advising on what I would do based on what you've said.)

I think its safe to say that anything those clowns told you can get thrown out the window. Time to start from scratch.
The battery isn't bad until it actually dies and the vehicle won't start and the battery won't take or hold a charge. I don't care if its 1 day old or 10 years old. If it works, it works.....until it doesn't. If the jeep is having trouble starting, and is cranking over slowly, then a battery replacement would be a good idea.

There are cleaners and oils that will help clean up your engine. Seafoam is a widely disputed option worth trying, and synthetic oils tend to wash a lot of crap out of the engine after you switch to them. Don't do it forever though because it WILL find and reveal all the leaky spots on an old vehicle. Trust me on that. Coolant and oil leaks are expected on an old jeep. The trick is determining how bad they are and keeping fluids topped off. Either find and fix the leaks, or get used to carrying spare fluids with you.

If you have gas leaking on the vehicle, QUIT DRIVING IT. Im a little surprised I feel the need to say that. Gas leaking out of the back means you have a bad fuel line, or your jeep is old enough to have a metal gastank that happens to be rusting out and leaking. That needs replaced if its the case. Gas leaking up front at the fuel rail is usually pretty easy to see on these engines. Its right on top. New injector o-rings will help if its leaking at an injector. Replacing an o2 sensor won't fix the gas leaks that make it smell. But, it might make the jeep run better. Never really a bad idea to replace those.

If the leaf springs are original, they might be in rough shape. Make sure they are all intact and not broken or split. New leaf packs are available at part stores if you have to replace them. That'll probably be a battle you are going to need to prepare yourself for. FYI.

I'm thinking you have some electrical issues since your horn is going off and your gauges are wonky. Can't offer a lot of help there, but checking connections and grounds is a good start. Someone here has schematics that may help with that.



Ok, Im done preaching, I promise. Again, welcome to the Jeeplife! We love our old rusty brick-shaped XJs, ZJs, and bubble shaped WJs here. Plenty of helpful members with years of experience on these. Where are you located?

Standing by for more pics as well. Im curious what the underside of the jeep looks like.
 

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1988 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 6cyl
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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you thank you thank you! You didn't sound rude at all. And honestly, I'm expecting to hear crap lol.
I'm more embarrassed about this whole situation, but my faith in this XJ has been keeping me going. I will post a few more pictures once I get home!
 

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Hello and welcome to the forum. We have dealt with all your issues. One should buy with their head and not their heart, but being that is an XJ, well, we understand. You don't say where you are from, but I'm guessing the rust belt. I'm in Pennsylvania and we salt our roads in the winter. Great for melting snow and steel in vehicles. Causes everything to rust. I hate to bring your anymore bad news, but I would bet your floors are rusted pretty good to. It also sounds like you have issues with your rear springs. They didn't mention it at the oil change place is because is not really part of a front end alignment. A leaky fuel rail or anything leaking fuel is dangerous.
We have to break this down into small chunks.
The fuel rail is probably an o ring. The leak in the back is the fuel tank. Probably somewhere around the pinch weld, or the filler neck. You may be lucky and have the fuel pump attached at the front. This could also be leaky. Or the fuel line. Rust is gonna bee your biggest issue. Grounds on the electrical system will cause all kinds of issues. Make sure your grounds are clean. Remove them and clean the wire ends and mounts.
 

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1988 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 6cyl
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Discussion Starter #5
Forgot to mention I also got a tune up. Here are some pictures from under the car and engine bay.
I live right outside of Atlanta but I'm not sure if the previous owner lived here with the Jeep. I think he mentioned it sitting at his uncle's house for awhile and they didn't use it much. Not sure.
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Yup, dirty, crusty, grimy. Looks like a jeep. Usual oil leaks, and that thermostat housing appears to be leaking. Idk how you uploaded those pics, but its very difficult to see on my phone. The wiring under the hood is very sketchy looking. The injectors for sure. That doesn't look factory and the loom has been butchered and ziptied again. All of those connections bother me. You'll want to look at them and check that they are sealed from the elements and also crimped tightly. The battery terminals and cables have seen better days, but if its working, then you certainly have a list if higher priorities to consider.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have a feeling about the wiring as well. Looks super sketchy.

The gas tank is metal (answering for the previous post).

I'm taking it in the morning to have the fuel rail and the injectors looked at. I was hoping this would just be an O Ring issue but I'm assuming not.

Ok so, maybe a gas tank replacement and fuel rail/fuel injector replacement seems to be in order? Thermostat as well.
 

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Thermostat housing just unbolts. You scrape the residue off and bolt it back on with a new gasket. Finding a hole in the gastank would be the first step, I dont think they are cheap. But a plastic one from a junkyard might be. While the jeep is running, do you see any fuel leaking at the fuel rail? Check all 6 injectors
 

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1988 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 6cyl
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Discussion Starter #9
There's a few junkyards near me with XJs. I figured with the thermostat, that could be something I do at home.
As far as the leaking while running... I'm not sure. I want to say no. I also pressed into the valve and nothing came out (there's also not a cap on it I noticed).

Another thing too, I replaced the gas cap and the coolant cap.
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If the fuel pump isn't on, you might only get some pressure in the rail, and ifnyou have a leak, and the jeep is off....then you won't get anything out. Has to be at least keyed on or running to get fuel pressure.
 

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1988 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 6cyl
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Discussion Starter #11
Ok so I did what you said and you're right, there's some leaking going on around the fuel injectors after I had turned the car on. My car is at the shop now. They're going to give me a call tomorrow so I'll report back with an update!
 

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1988 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 6cyl
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Discussion Starter #12
I'm finally picking up the Jeep tonight. I had a horrible experience at Midas that I'm not even going to get into. I swear the luck lately lol.
Anyway, looks like Fuel Injector #4 and #6 was completely leaking. Mechanic fixed that, then noticed the.. I want to say Fuel Pressure Regulator or something was leaking. He had to replace the whole rail.
Muffler is leaking some water as well.
He also replaced the passenger side Engine Mount, I figured I could replace the driver side mount since that one is easier to get to.
 

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A couple observations.

Mufflers leak moisture through a weep hole. You know that steam you see on cold days, well that is always there, you just can't see it when it's warm out. But it's normal. The weep hole let's the moisture drain so it doesn't rust out your muffler in a month. That's why short trips are so hard on your exhaust. Not enough hot exhaust through the pipes to dry up the moisture.

The fuel pressure regulator is serviceable separate from the fuel rail. It attaches to the end and is sealed with an oring. Unless your problem was the actual fuel rail, it shouldn't have needed replacing.

I would think they passenger side motor mount would be easier, since you have more room.
Drivers side has the exhaust manifold, intake manifold and the steering column. Plus the brake lines

Sorry. Don't mean to be a downer. I just don't like people being taken advantage of.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Ok so it looks like he didn't replace the whole rail.
I was driving it home, using the AC, and the car stalled. It's not starting now. It's trying but it's not catching 🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️
 

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Ugh I really feel for you. Turn the AC off. Open the hood and look to see if it's leaking gas.
 

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Doesn't seem to be leaking. As I'm trying to start it, it's cranking but it sounds like it's trying to "catch" and it's struggling. It's been sitting now for about 3 hours. I thought maybe I overheated the engine from using the AC. But I'm not sure that I did.
 

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I don't think you overheated the engine. Both fans should be on with the AC.
Are you pressing the gas pedal as you try to start it? These engines are fuel injected and don't require it. Though sometimes it's what is needed to get it to start. I had a fuel injector leaking on mine and it made it hard to start. Pressing the gas pedal helped. I replaced the fuel injector and it fixed the issue. I know you just had 2 replaced and maybe 1 or both are leaking.

Can you hear the fuel pump when you turn the key on. It should run for 2 seconds then stop.
Pull the vacuum line off the pressure regulator and see if it starts.
I'm trying to brainstorm here, but you have done so much work to it, is a real head scratcher.
 

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1988 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 6cyl
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Discussion Starter #18
Yes I tried the gas pedal and nothing.
When I turn the key on (not start) it does that winding noise then it stops. That's usually the fuel in the lines right? But now it's doing it longer than normal.

What about the Crankshaft Position Sensor?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Or the Camshaft? I'm not entirely sure what the difference is between the 2. I tried to google it but didn't get an entirely clear answer.

I saw a few videos on YouTube of people disconnecting their Crankshaft for a few minutes then plugging it back in. I'm going to try that when I get home from work.
 

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You have 2 sensors that the ECM ( Engine control module) use to determine engine timing. The crank shaft position sensor and the cam shaft position sensor.
The crankshaft position sensor is usually the one that causes a no start. The engine will get fuel and crank but won't start because the ECM doesn't know where the pistons are and can't fire the spark plugs. The cam sensor is used for fuel timing when the piston is approaching TDC (top dead center), on the compression stroke and the spark plug is firing. Sorry to go technical.
So if the plugs are firing, it's probably the cam sensor. If the plugs are not firing, then it's probably the crank sensor. Some ECM have a limp mode when of these crap out, and can use factory defaults to keep the engine running, but only to about 2000 rpm. I'm not sure if yours will do that.
Hopefully someone else can chime in and give a suggestion or just to tell me I'm a idiot. Either way, at least we are trying to help. :oops:
 
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