*The 92-2001 Cherokee as a BOV: Proís, Cons*
Jeep Cherokees can make good bug out vehicles for a number of reasons. They are plentiful, parts are cheap and readily available, and they are very reliable (with some exceptions listed below). All in all: a decent rig for a small amount of money.
1:Many are available with shift on the fly 4-wheel drive (CommandTrac) with a real transfer case handling it.
2:Light weight/decent horsepower. Most 4x4 Cherokees have about 190 horsepower, and weigh around 3000 lbs. This makes for surprisingly sprightly acceleration, and decent mileage (my 92 averages about 20mpg combined city/highway)
3:Very simple to work on: Idiot simple pushrod straight six motor, fuel injection is extremely straightforward (as those things go).
4:Parts availability. Most OEM replacement parts are readily available, and remanufactured parts are inexpensive in comparison to Japanese/German/Some other American built vehicles. The family joke is that "Anything that breaks on it is about $75 bucks"
5:Drivetrain: The 4.0HO six and automatic transmission on these vehicles is largely bulletproof, 200,000+ miles with only standard maintenance work is a relatively common story.
6: Custom work: There is a large aftermarket following for these trucks, expect that if you can imagine it, someone is building it to bolt onto the Cherokee.
7:Capability: Even bone stock Cherokees are surprisingly capable trail rigs. Donít be fooled by the roof height. Cherokee axles articulate *down* into holes, remaining surprisingly flexible while providing a lower hood/roof height than is common.
8: Cheap! Cheap! Cheap!: A pre 1998 Cherokee with decent low miles and in good condition will only cost you between $2000-$4000 dollars. Any year is fine, they are all pretty much the same, with only incremental changes along the way.
9: Anti-Camoflage/Invisibility: Many forestry services/utility services/roadwork crews, hell you name it, drive Cherokees. Try to find a white one, and you find something out quickly. No one pays attention to it. Back during Hurricane Jeanne (2004) Orange and Seminole county were under a mandatory curfew. My fiancé and I drove from south Orlando to Sanford, past numerous police checkpoints (stopped in the middle of intersections). Not a blink from the Law enforcement officers, in fact, we were waved through twice.
1:Size: Cherokeeís are more station-wagons with hormonal problems than trucks. They, while not being cramped, arenít as big as a lot of sport-utes, so make sure you and your stuff fits.
2: Unibody construction: The body is an integral part of the chassis, so watch out for rust (especially on those rear shock mounts).
3: Known failure items.
A: Front hubs: Cherokeeís will need front wheel bearing replacement every 100,000 miles or so with heavy use. Expect it, and buy them ahead of time. Wheel bearings up front are very easy to replace, which lessens the issue. About $100 bucks a side.
B: Neutral Safety Switch: These have been known to get dirty, causing a failure to crank when turning the key. They run about $300 dollars to replace with a new one. However, most simply need cleaning. Download the "how to do" from a Jeep forum, and keep it around. Also, if it *does* fail to crank, you can normally get it to start by moving the shift lever around a bit in the gates. Drive it home, pull the switch, and clean it.
C: Crank angle sensors. Every 100,000 miles these seem to fail. Replacements run 75 dollars, and can be replaced in the driveway. Symptoms: No spark/fuel when cranking. Buy Ďem now, carry them in the truck to replace when needed.
D: Rear shock mounts-Seem to always strip/twist off when corroded, leaving you with the oh-so-fun job of drilling out the old bolt, retapping, and reinstalling, when all you set out to do was replace the shocks. I just said forget it, and welded the shocks to the mounts.
E: Oil leaks. Rear main seal, oil filter mount, and valve cover are areas to watch for oil weeping. Not a big deal, unless you have a spotless garage floor. No rhyme or reason to why they do this, really, and not all Cherokees have this problem.
F: Cooling: 84-91 Cherokees have a closed-loop system. Avoid this system altogether. While it works itís great, but a major PITA to refill/repair without getting airlocks. 92+ have a re-engineered open loop cooling system which is much easier to work with. Identification: Surge tank and no radiator cap=Closed loop. Retrofitting is possible, but why bother when post 92ís are so cheap?
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