Most of our vacations revolve around taking one of the Jeep Wranglers, but with this years Easter Jeep Safari vendor show cancelled, I decided to make a change. A quote from Jeremy Clarkson has always stuck in my head, "the most unreliable vehicle in the world is the most reliable." So my 1998 Jeep Cherokee has always been my least reliable vehicle, although to be fair it has twice the mileage of the other two Wranglers. So with my better half wanting a "normal" vacation, I compromised and thought to myself, what if we took the old Cherokee to give myself a little mechanical challenge, something I will call the #leastreliableadventure .
Ive owned the Cherokee for about 7 years and it has just under 247,000 miles on the original motor and transmission. I was given a steal when I purchased it because the previous owner had been told the transmission needed replacement, which in reality the trusty AW4 only needed new solenoids. So that along with a couple of fluid changes is the only thing that has ever been done to the transmission. The motor being the cast iron straight 6 went through a year of constant overheating, enough to seize more than once, but I would put fluid back in and it would keep on going. I eventually diagnosed the issue as being scientific. Living at 9,000 feet above sea level, the boiling point changes, and after replacing every part of the coolant system, ultimately, increasing the pressure of the radiator cap was the cure because pressure raises the boiling point and brought the cherokee back into oem parameters.
So with 6 weeks to plan for the unknown, I have done the following:
-Replaced the harmonic balancer (which was walking away)
-Replaced front main seal
-Replaced serpentine belt
-Resealed thermostat housing
-Replace water pump
-Replaced all steering joints from pitman arm down, while upgrading to ZJ steering parts
-added a Tom Woods Driveshaft
-Replaced Transmission Mount
-Replaced blown Motor Mount
-Tightened Jam nuts on control arms
-Added soundproofing in back hatch
-Adjusted Hatch latch
-Welded rear quarter panels
-Welded a small roof rack basket to the rack
-Sewed an armrest for the center consol
-Extended the rear cargo net
-Made custom window coverings for the dogs
We also opted to not take the camp trailer, so as much gear as possible needed to go in the "trunk". With the rear cargo net this seems to be pretty near possible with our action packers making a good spot to stack our Oztent cots, nightstand, and maybe chairs. The Oztent RV4 will go on the rack, along with either our scepter water jugs or the aforementioned chairs.
Our trip plan is to head to the Hill Country of Texas and camp for the week. With google maps telling us it should be a 1500-2000 mile trip, so we will still be just short of the Quarter Million Mile club unless we take the long way home. The last time we took this Cherokee out of the state, I had to replace the alternator on the side of a residential street in Amarillo. So it makes the vacation a little more exciting when you never know what to expect, but the good news is we are going away from the snow!