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The Unique Jeep YJ, and the Wrangler produced from 1987 to 1995

I’m Saul Reisman here at Saul’s Autotek and today we’re going to talk to you a little bit about the Jeep YJ, the Wrangler produced from 1987 to 1995. Now there’s a couple of things that bring me to this specific YJ.

One we’re going to talk about that I personally like is under the hood, but we’ll get there and just a moment. The reason this vehicle came into our shop was somebody saw our video about death wobble and thought they had a similar experience going on with their vehicle.

Now the front end design of this vehicle is a little different from the ones you see us make videos about with death wobble. While most solid axle coil-sprung front suspensions are prone to getting a harmonic frequency or oscillatory shake in that front end, these guys were equipped with a leaf-sprung front end with two large stable, solid metal leafs holding the front end together. There’s no trackbar across the front in many of these that have been modified. Several owners have simply removed theirs when they went back and seen who have found no ill effects.

Now knock on wood removing factory components and just leaving them off the vehicle is usually not a good plan. However, due to the stiffness and the stability of the front end, truly not a major concern with most of these Wranglers. Now the owner’s complaint is that the vehicles wandering, got a wobble to the front end and we did replace a few steering components that we’ll show you here underneath. But then we’re going to show you a few things about what really makes this Wrangler special. If we come down to the ground, you can see the new components that we’ve installed.

Going wheel to wheel, we’ve installed new tie rod ends across. We also replaced the tie rod end at the Pitman arm and we recommended resealing the steering gearbox that you can see leaking down here. Now the owner has already gone ahead and replaced the leaf spring bushings with a red hard durometer polyurethane to try and stiffen this front end to prevent lateral motion. So he’s in a pretty good spot. So from a steering standpoint, the vehicle should be good to go. We just had to connect a few tie rod ends to get them happy and it’s going to steer straight down the road.

Now let’s take a quick look under the hood this Denver Jeep YJ.

Now from the factory, this vehicle could have been equipped with several different things. One thing that made Jeep so famous was their ability to essentially build a vehicle to fit in almost any country that it needed to be shipped to. That’s why they were originally built for wartime use. In the case of this vehicle, one thing that many Jeep diehards will realize is, well, it is eight straight-six under the hood. This vehicle was factory equipped with an American Motors Corporation 4.2 liter 258 cubic inch straight-six engine.

That engine was carbureted, had some interesting power issues in the low end. While it made plenty of torque, it really wasn’t designed for high RPM, high horsepower use. Maybe a great tractor engine, not so great for driving vehicles 70 miles an hour down the highway. As a result, the owner of this vehicle has opted to swap in a four-liter straight-six from a newer Wrangler, Cherokee or Grand Cherokee. Some of you that know a little bit about the Jeeps will immediately recognize the different valve cover, the different intake manifold and a few of the different external components.

One thing that we’re going to highlight for you though is some of the adaptations that were necessary to make this conversion work. Because here it Saul’s Autotek, we want you to get the best result every time with your vehicle. And if that means that we need to adapt or retrofit or fabricate a component for your older vehicle to fit modern horsepower into your older truck, we’re going to do it so we can take care of you. If you’ve got the old Jeep or an old truck, an old SUV, or maybe just the old Ford Mustang out back and you want to make sure that it drives like a modern car today and you really don’t want to go buy a new $50,000 2020 vehicle, you don’t have to.

Autotek is happy to get your retrofitted, updated and converted so that you can keep it running, but have technology in it as if it was new. If we look straight down at the belt drive on this vehicle, one of the things that we’ll see is that the belt drive componentry still has individual belts. We have one individual belt going out here that’s running our AC compressor and then a belt coming off of it running our alternator. On the other side of the belt drive, the power steering pump is being directly operated off a single belt running off the water pump and the harmonic damper from the front of the engine.

Now, this style of belt is called a V belt and literally has a V if you were to cut it and look at the cross-section of it. Most modern automotive belts are a serpentine style belt where you have the multiple rib, typically six straight flat belt that lays across. Now while a serpentine style belt offers more surface area contact, therefore allowing more friction to be transferred and more forced to be put on the belt without slippage, this vehicle simply wasn’t equipped with that from the factory. As a result, we were able to work with their adaptations to get the original external accessories, power steering, AC water pump, alternator, all operating on the new engine.

So you’ve got concerns about yours, if you want to get your updated retrofitted or maybe you just want to put some new higher horsepower into your old car, give us a shout here at Autotek. We want to make sure that you’re going to get the best solution every time and that you can keep your car on the road no matter what year it is, and no matter how long it’s been.

Come and see us. We’re here for you seven days a week to serve you in Denver.

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About the Author

Picture of Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman has been helping the residents of the Centennial State with their automotive needs for over ten years now. He finished his Associate Degree in Physics at the Community College of Denver. Saul is an active member of the Specialty Equipment Market Association and a board member of the Young Executives Network. He undergoes constant educational training through GMC, MOPAR, Ford, Snap-On, Borg-Warner, and Ozark Automotive, with an emphasis on diagnosis, repair, and improvement.

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