Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ 2002 ~ Cars and Bikes
Cars and Bikes

Monday, 8 October 2007

Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ 2002

Car Review : Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ 2002

I bough this second hand ZJ Jeep at late 2005 with 16.000km in odo reading. This is the first generation Grand Cherokee, the latest product was 2002 for export market, in US itself the latest product was 1998, than starting from 1999 the model changed to WJ type. This Grand Cherokee basically have a distinctive different with the predecessor Cherokee (XJ) Jeep. The body is bigger and longer than XJ. This ZJ already used coil spring in all wheel instead of leaf spring in XJ rear axle. The front facia is still have strong jeep image with 7 holes grill, however the rear body become more rounded edge compare to the XJ.
This is a`brief specification of my Grand Cherokee ZJ:

engine 4000 cc, petrol
power 197 hp
torque approx. 300 Nm
type laredo with plastic side panel and bumper
automatic transmission
full time 4WD with Quadra Trac type transfer case.

Several reasons for choosing this Jeep:
  1. I'm looking for mid size SUV
  2. Should have 4WD option for light off road and dirty road
  3. Though and simple engine (the jeep 4.0 i engine has proved it)
  4. Comfortable and big enough for loading a camping gear
  5. Automatic Transmission
  6. ABS and airbag

This Grand Cherokee equipped with very comfortable leather seat, OEM tape and radio (Mopar product), generally is ready for long distance rolling with my small family. Immediately after bought this Jeep, I'd recognized some problems like: noisy sound from front final gear and damage front drive shaft boot. I'd replaced the front ring and pinion and also installed a new drive shaft boot. The ring and pinion its quite expensive, its cost me around Rp 7M (approx US$ 800) for parts and labour. I'd also changed the stabilizer link and break pads.

Three weeks later I brought this ZJ to light off road track, I also bring my family with me. The location is around Tangkuban Prahu in West Java. In totally dark condition (we drove in midnight), the stock tire (29" size) lost its grip, the Jeep running zig-zag in muddy road, and oftenly stuck in deeper mud or stuck by big rock. Fortunately there is another full modified 4WD vehicles (suzuki jimny SJ40) accompanied and helped us. In very narrow road, my jeep rolling to the driver side, and the suzuki helped us again. Lot of scratches in the body paint, however after several washes, the scratch were disappeared.

First upgrade was the sound system, I'd changed the head unit with Alpine product, replaced the OEM infinity power amp with higher power (rockford), added a CD changer and sub woofer, also change all OEM speakers (infinity) with better quality speakers (Quad product).

Then the suspension, the original shock feel to soft, the body roll while cornering was obvious. Changed the shock complete with the coil spring with Old Man Emu (OME) product, this new shock and coil spring have longer lenght than the original, the jeep will taller 1-1/4", I also add 3/4" coil spacer, so the jeep high increase 2" totally. This high body is meaningless if not followed by changed the stock tire for better ground clearance. I choose 31"x10.5 R15 Dunlop Grantrek All Terrain, this is the biggest tire can fit with current suspension condition, can't fit bigger, otherwise the tire will scratch the fender. With those modification, the ZJ jeep looks better and nicer. The changed of original suspension with added longer coil & shock plus budget boost spacer caused a significantly changed in wheel alignment. My Jeep has several times "death wobble" experienced, its scary, after hit a small bump or hole the whole steering wheel and body shaking violently in normal driving speed (70-120 km/h). Wheel alignment is needed to cure the death wobble, we should explain clearly to the alignment operator what actually happen with the Jeep. I installed one additional steering shock for better handling.

A pair of Warn driving light installed in front and one additional light in the back. New towing bar made in thailand was installed. I changed the damage muffler with local product (made in Brewok), the muffler manufacture claimed that his muffler is better than the famous Borla product.

The additional ground clearance has proved its effectiveness during big flood in Jakarta. The ZJ Jeep can crossed 1 m high flooding water easily with out any problem. High ground clearance also help in dirty and off road track, my rig can passed the road obstacles. The OME shock and spring reduced car body roll significantly.

The are some notes for my ZJ Grand:

  1. Bullet proof engine, bit old but easy to maintain.
  2. Strong solid axle, good suspension.
  3. Poor AC condition, small evaporator (made by Sanden) and difficult location, not easy to maintain. I've change my evaporator due to leaking in some places. Small compressor (Denso), broken after 4 year, installed a new one. Noisy blower in cabin, don't know how to reduce it.
  4. The electric fan was easy to broken.
  5. Useful Plastic body panel during off road, reduce paint scratch in body, easy to clean up.
  6. Good dashboard information gauge, including the important battery charge meter and oil pressure gauge.
  7. Spare tire located inside the cabin, reduce the luggage area volume.

Currently I use this ZJ Jeep as daily car, no complain and no problem for the engine. The OME shock start to weaken after one year. I've plan to continue upgrading the jeep in near future, as follow:

  1. Install nerf bar and side step, local made.
  2. Change the rear plastic bumper with custom made bumper with tire hanger.
  3. Change the front bumper with ARB style bumper plus winch.

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