Remember the Ride™ - ’98 Jeep Cherokee XJ: Keeping it Alive!

98 XJ

The receipt folder for my 98 XJ is officially too fat to fit in the file box, now. Six years ago we bought it from the original owner, an engineer and hotrod gearhead who kept it in exceptional condition, and we’ve definitely spent a lot more money on it than I had thought would’ve been possible. Fact is, I’d stopped adding things up a couple of years ago to save my sanity. The good news is it all wasn’t on repairs!

But there was one issue that was nearly impossible to track down that – with some expert help and a bunch of luck – was finally put to rest after, literally, three years of fiddling around. The XJ developed a hard-start problem that morphed into a dead-car problem, and not at the most opportune moments. All the under-hood sensors were replaced, the battery, the starter, just about all the ignition parts, tested and replaced injectors, etc., etc. We even disconnected the Viper car alarm thinking it was telling an immobilizer to jump into action. And NONE of that was the problem, though the new parts contributed to a better running, more reliable car.

After dismissing everything – EVERYTHING – under the hood, there were three parts we narrowed it down to after running several voltage and connection checks: The ignition key switch, the ignition switch module, and the switch actuator. I figured it would be a good idea to get them all, since the rig is 25 years old. As we dismantled the parts, a small metal part fell onto the floor. The culprit! A simple little metal part in the actuator had finally broken off.

Ignition-lock side. Actuator is attached to the key lock on the other end.

The culprit! The actuator assembly.

Notice the metal outer tube is broken off. The small rod in the middle is plastic, but it survived.

The point of this blog entry is to emphasize that these old, charming, fun-to-drive cars can be a bit of a pain, and you have to have infinite patience. This fix was about three years long and cost me quite a bit, even while it didn’t actually solve the problem, which was all of $70 and an hour’s worth of work. With all the new parts, though, it does indeed run quite well, and I think I’m pretty set for the next few years.

98 XJ

Another 25 years to go.

1 Comment
  1. - Eternal Garage 10 months ago

    […] 98 Jeep Cherokee XJ: Keeping it Alive! […]

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