Jeep Cherokee Power Steering Hose Replacement

Jeep Cherokee Power Steering Hose Replacement

I have replaced several power steering hoses on various Jeep Cherokees. It has gotten to be a pretty straight forward job. See this previous post on how to replace a power steering hose.

Janice’s 1999 Cherokee had been emitting a puff of smoke each time she turned her XJ to full lock. Although there was little sign of a leak on the hose, our experience with the Green Jeep catching fire due to a power steering hose leak made me extra cautious.

I got a new hose and then pulled the electric fan and the air box to make room. I tried using the various 18mm wrenches I had to get the hose loose from the steering box. I have always been successful in the past using an open end wrench. However, this one refused to budge.

I picked up a set of crow foot flare nut wrenches from my local NAPA store. They have a great set of tools in a nice case for around $20. Unfortunately I forgot that the bottom is an 18mm and the top is a 5/8 inch. I bought only the SAE set. The store was closed for the holiday by the time I figured out I also need the metric set.

Jennifer rescued me by searching until she found a set at O’Reilly’s. It is still a nice set for about the same price as the NAPA set but does not have the nice case.

I used the 18 metric crow foot flare nut wrench to break loose the lower line. It took a lot of torque but it eventually broke free. Janice and Jennifer were able to finish taking it out using the 18mm stubby wrench.

I used the 5/8 crow foot to pop loose the upper hose. It was not nearly as tight. I showed them how to put on the O rings on each end of the hose and let them get the lines threaded into place. The lower one always seems to be difficult and takes some patience to get it started.

After the new line was installed, I had them add some fluid and jack up the front of the Jeep. They turned the wheel from lock to lock to bleed the air out of the line. After that, they started the engine and repeated the process.

Once most of the air was out, she turned the wheel to one of the locks and listened for the pressure relief to open. There was a noticeable change in sound as the last of the air purged.

I rechecked the level of fluid in the power steering reservoir and checked for leaks again. Now we all feel much safer driving the Jeep.


Powercraft Power Steering Pressure Hose – 80290

Powercraft Power Steering Pressure Hose - 80290

Iron Gap Road Videos

When we got to the bottom of the hill on Iron Gap Road, we were faced with a creek crossing. Dropping down into the creek was challenging due to the spring that wet the rocks about half way down and by the off camber nature of the drop.

Cat back Exhaust for Jeep Cherokee XJ

Cat Back Exhaust for Jeep Cherokee XJ

My old exhaust was crumbling apart. The tip had fallen off behind the holder and the muffler had a huge crack in the bottom. It rattled and rumbled.

Old Rusty exhaust
Old Rusty exhaust

I ordered the Dynomax system from Summit Racing through their Ebay store. It arrived in just a couple of days after I ordered. I had to laugh at the UPS man struggling with the huge box coming in my office door.

Smash checking out the package
Smash checking out the package

I began by lifting my Jeep and using a reciprocating saw to cut the muffler loose from the catalytic converter. There were a lot of old welds here so it was pretty messy. I cut the muffler to get room to work to clean it up.

Cutting off the old
Cutting off the old

The clamp at the rear hanger broke when I tried to unbolt it. I just twisted it out of the way. With both ends loose I was able to remove the muffler and tail pie as a unit from over the axle.

Old Exhaust out of the way
Old Exhaust out of the way

I used a variety of metal working tools to clean up the end of the cat. I cut off the bulk of the old pipes and weld beads with a torch. Then I used a 7 inch grinder to clean up the slag. I finished with my 4 ½ inch grinder fitted with a flap disk.

Old welds gone
Old welds gone

When I finished the reducer include in the kit slipped smoothly and snugly into place on the cat. There was a small hole in the pipe coming out of the cat so I elected to weld this joint closed rather than use the included clamp.

Reducer in place
Reducer in place

Next I slipped the muffler into place. I supported it on a stand while I fit up the tail pipe. It took some wiggling to get the tip to line up where I wanted it between the spring and the trailer hitch. When I finally got it in place I used a ratchet strap to hold it in position while I put a tack weld between the muffler and the tail pipe.

Muffler in place - Jeep Cherokee
Muffler in place - Jeep Cherokee
Tail pipe in position
Tail pipe in position

To get the rubber donut to connect properly with the hanger welded to the tail pipe, I removed the two bots that hold the hanger to the body. Then I slipped the donut over the hanger on the pipe and then I reattached the hanger using the bolts. This seemed easier than wrestling with the heavy rubber, which was cold and inflexible.

Rubber doughnut hanger
Rubber doughnut hanger

I then tightened the clamp on the rear hanger making sure the pipe was still positioned where I wanted it. I then installed the clamps at each end of the muffler. I rotated them so that the base of the clamp would face to the side. This gives maximum ground clearance and protects the ends of the bolts from damage.

Muffler clamped in palce - Jeep Cherokee
Muffler clamped in palce - Jeep Cherokee

With all the clamps in place, I removed the support and gave it a good shake to make sure it was positioned where I wanted it. I then lowed the Jeep and started the engine. I raised it back up and checked for leaks. Finding none, I was ready for a test drive.

Cat back system complete - Jeep Cherokee
Cat back system complete - Jeep Cherokee

The Dynomax system has a nice throaty rumble without being loud. I am very happy to have my exhaust gasses exiting from behind the Jeep again instead of from underneath.

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Rear Wheel Bearing Replacement

Rear Wheel Bearing Replacement – Jeep Cherokee Dana 35

Janice’s 1999 Jeep Cherokee has had a roar in the rear axel for a while now. I finally got around to checking on last week.

I ordered new bearings and seals from Crown Automotive. Since her rear differential is the Jeep Trac Loc, I had to have the friction modifier compound for the grease. I found that at Advance Auto.

I began by lifting the Jeep and removing the rear wheels and brake drums. These had never been off and still had the little clips from the assembly line on two of the lugs. I cut those off with dikes.

Next I let Janice remove the cover. Janice dropped it in the bucket of grease that made quite a mess.

Next I used a 1/4 inch 12 point box end wrench to remove the bolt from the cross pin. I had been concerned that pulling the axles on a Trac Loc diff would be more difficult but it was exactly the same as any other stock Jeep Carrier. I just removed the pin and slipped in the axle to release the C clip.

I removed the left side axle first as it seemed the noisiest. I had a little trouble getting the seal out because the brake shoes were in the way of getting a chisel in like I wanted to. But using a combination of the chisel, vise grips and a seal puller, I eventually popped it out.

I then used an axle bearing puller attachment on my slide hammer to pull the bearing. It takes quite an impact on the slide hammer to get the bearing to move. I have done this job on other Jeeps so I knew to hit it hard. The bearing came out smoothly once it stated to move.

The new bearing seems a very tight fit. I had trouble getting it to start straight in the axle tube. I did not have a bearing driver quite the right size and in trying different ones I somehow damaged the bearing. I noticed some of the rollers missing when I got it in place. So I had to use the slide hammer and pull the new damaged bearing.

I was more careful with the second bearing and got it in with no problem. I put a small amount of Permatex on the outside of the seal and drove it in place. I put a little gear oil on the seal to prelube it.

As I was wiping down the axle shaft to reinstall it, I noticed that there was checking in the bearing race on the shaft. Shaft will have to be replaced. I checked for spares but the only one I had was from a ZJ and the ABS tone ring was different. I replaced the original shaft temporarily.

I slipped it in place and reattached the C clip. I pulled the other shaft and noticed it had some wear as well. I will have to get two replacement shafts along with another bearing to complete the job. I reinstalled the other axle and C clip and coated the cover flange with Black RTV.

After letting the RTV set up for a minute or two, I reinstalled the cover and tightened the bolts in a crisscross manner. Janice refilled the diff with gear oil and the tube of friction modifier.

I later pulled the ZJ axles and looked at how to remove the tone rings. My bearing puller was not long enough to reach. I knew I could use my Dad’s press but I did not want to make the drive to his house.

I did some research on the internet and found a forum post that suggested that the rings would come off easily if heated. Since it was very cold out, I decided it would be a good time to try. The forum post had indicated that the tone ring was aluminum so I was being very careful not to crack it.

I put the axle shaft in the vise and began heating the ring with my acetylene torch. Soon I was able to pry the ring of the seat. I dropped it on the floor to cool. I noticed that it did not sound like aluminum.

I took a magnet to it and found it was indeed magnetic. That made sense to me since the tone ring is used to generate a magnetic field for the sensor to rear the wheel speed. It had to be steel. I was more aggressive with the heat on the second one and it slid off easily without any prying.

These shafts had no visible wear on the bearing races and look like they will make fine replacements. I just have to get more gear oil and another bearing and then find time to do the job again.

UPDATE: I have the spare axle shafts ready to go in but so far the old axles are running quietly. I will just let them run for a while.

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Lowering the Transfer Case on a Jeep Cherokee

Lowering the Transfer Case on a Jeep Cherokee

One common method to deal with drive shaft vibrations on a Lifted Jeep Cherokee is to lower the transfer case one inch to reduce the drive line angles. The pinion is rotated up slightly by using longer shackles or axle shims.

While there are various transfer case lowering kits available in the after market and even one from the Jeep dealer, they all serve the same function: they space the cross member down one inch from the unibody frame rail.

The spacers can be made in a variety of ways. On simple way is to take a piece of 1 inch square tubing or bar stock and drill two holes in it. Another method is to use a stack of washers or a piece of pipe cut one inch long and wrapped around each mounting bolt.

The original mounting bolts must be replaced with longer bolts and the two mounting studs must be removed from the frame. Normally these are replaced with bolts as well.

Bolting a dropped cross member into place can be a challenge. As the transmission engine unit drops it tends to move to the right. Without the studs to align the cross member, it is necessary to hold the cross member in place while starting the bolt into the threaded part of the frame. Because the bolt is now one inch longer, it is easy to cross thread it.

Also, since the cross member hangs down further below the Jeep it is easily impacted by rocks and other obstacles. It is possible to bend the nutsert in the frame making it even more difficult to get the bolts started once the cross member is removed for any reason.

One solution to the bolt problem is to make a longer stud instead of using four long bolts. This will help align the cross member when it is being installed and reduce the change of cross threading. If the nutserts are damaged, you may have to cut into the floor and install a bolt form the top of the frame. Alternately you can weld in a stud from below.

Another problem with the lowered cross member is the angle of the exhaust. The down pipe from the manifold is bolted to the cross member. As the cross member drops, the catalytic converter and the muffler will move down as well if nothing is done to compensate in the exhaust system. The pressure put on the hanger behind the muffler will exceed the strength of the rubber hanger. Also the increased pressure will cause the muffler to crack where the tail pipe exits over time unless the exhaust system is modified.

Having the transfer case sit lower also puts an extra strain on the transfer case shift linkage. If the transmission mount is worn the linkage can slip out of the body mount during off road flexing. When this occurs, the transfer case will not shift from 4wd to 2wd until the linkage is replaced in the bracket.

To eliminate the need to drop the transfer case, a Slip Yoke Eliminator kit is available for the transfer case and when used with a double cardon drive shaft, the transfer case can be used in its original position. See How to install a SYE for more information.

UPDATE: I noticed that the transmission mount for the five speed is about an inch thinner than the one for the automatic. I have not tried it yet but it looks like you could use a manual mount on an automatic to achieve a 1″ drop without lowering the cross member.

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