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Jonny's 99 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo WJ build - Starting from Scratch

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Here is my situation. I had two Jeep Cherokee’s in high school and love Jeeps and the way they drive. I strayed away and bought a truck and then a car for a short period and caught the bug to go back to a Jeep. I bought a 99 Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 just recently that is great shape but it has 196 thousand miles on it. I am hoping to do some preventive work to keep it going for as long as possible. I also want to upgrade some things to make it my own and unique without busting my budget. I have always wanted to do upgrades and modifications to my vehicle but haven’t until now because I have a little extra money. Understand I don’t have a ton of money to spend but I want good solid products that will do well. My parents have a cabin in Jasper GA so I often go up there to do dick around through trails I know of. Nothing to aggressive but at least not pavement. I’m pretty new to this so I don’t want to spend thousands right off the bat. I figured if I start slow and get good products I can upgrade from there.


What I’m looking for:

• I need new rotors and brakes all around. I need to know what are good economical rotors and pads that can actually make my jeep stop! The jeep is very very slow to stop right now. If I bleed the brakes will that help as well?

• Possibly a Roof Rack Basket / Carriage that is not 500 dollars. I saw one from Rola but not sure how good that is.



What I already have:


• I ordered new BF Goodrich Rugged Terrain tires (255 70 r16). I got them from Discount tires for a good deal at 708 dollars total. They are being shipped her from New Mexico and should arrive tomorrow. Hopefully I can get those put on ASAP.

• I bought new wheel hub/bearing assembly for the front two wheels. I got them from a Detroit company and they are called Enkidu Dearborn. I got them off Amazon for 82 dollars shipped. Not sure how good they are but the reviews were good.

• I bought a 2” inch Budget Boost from Fatbobsgarage.com for 120 dollars shipped to give it more lift without spending 700 on a complete lift kit. I have also purchased Bilstein shocks for 289 dollars from Kolak. We spoke for a while and he has a lot of great information.

• Have K&N air intake I need to put on, junkyard 10 dollars. I need to clean it.

• I Bought all new struts or lift springs for hood, tailgate, and back window. The brand is Armstrong for 70 dollars.

• I Bought new tweeters for front, they were blown. Got them from local car audio shop for 20 bucks. They work great BTW.

• Painted my roof rack with hurculiner bed liner from NAPA auto parts. It actually looks really good. That was 40 dollars for a quart and it has gone a long way. I now want to sand and paint my hitch with that stuff. It’s a little rough but I’m ok with that.

• I Bought a factory Brush Guard for 60 dollars from a junk yard specifically for a WJ. I like it but it is very flimsy and I doubt it can stop anything worth a ****. I painted the Brush Guard with Hurculiner Bed liner as well. It looks good, but it doesn’t really sit on the jeep very well. It leans forward a little and touches the bumper. I don’t know if I’ll keep it on there. I might leave it off and put the tow hooks on.

• I bought tow hooks for the front that are chrome for 30 dollars.

• I bought oil to change the differential fluid in the rear and the front….I think that is the transfer case. Regardless, I think they are both leaking slow so I am going to take off the panel and reseal it after I check that the parts inside are in good enough shape. I got that oil, sealant, oil pan, and suction thing for 120 dollars.

• I bought a alternator for 40 dollars from a junkyard and will be replacing that because mine is making some noise and the “check gauge” light is on. I hope that will fix the problem.

• I bought a seat frame and motors for 40 dollars from a junk yard that works. My seat will not go down so I’m sitting very high in the Jeep. It feel funny sitting up much higher than the passenger.

• I bought two cheap fog lights for 30 dollars to put on bumper or Grill Guard, and will try and splice that into the factory fog lights.

• I bought the little blinking red security light when the doors are locked for 5 dollars at a junkyard.

• I bought a Plastic “Jeep” Trunk carpet protector for 10 dollars. It looks pretty good and is made specifically for the 99-04 WJ.

• I bought a 10 Disc CD player from a junkyard for 20 dollars. I doubt I will use it much but my OCD of having everything work is in full crazy mode right now since I just bought the GC.

• I bought a net for the trunk for 10 dollars that stretches across the back of the Jeep.

• I bought LEDs for the interior of the Jeep at superbirghtlights for the guages, evac, cargo, and dome area. I got cool white and from other threads it looked really clean.


I am just about to start on all of this over the long weekend and would like any advice you might have. Hopefully all of my packages come in on time and I get can get as much done as possible.



Problems that I would like to fix, but not really sure what the problem is:

• The car turns fine but whines quite a bit when doing so. I’m not really sure what the problem is..but hopefully someone will know.

• The steering wheel makes a light crack sound when I turn to my left. I don’t know if that is normal or me putting too much force/weight on the wheel.

• My Jeep makes a loud clunking when I go over bumps from the back. I read that “Many WJs exhibit a rear end clunk over bumps and rough terrain. The rear suspension uses a wishbone, upper control-arm assembly with a ball-joint-type mount to the rear axle. Most often, the clunk is from the ball joints wearing out.” http://www.jpmagazine.com/featuredvehicles/154_0801_1999_2004_wj_jeep_grand_cherokee/#ixzz24Oy6VGXJ I’m not sure if this is the issue or not.

• I remember my old Jeep Cherokees being very quick off the line and much faster than my WJ V6 4.0. Is there something wrong with fuel injector or possibly something else? I know it should be much faster, might just be heavier though.

• The jeep is very stiff and I role around over every pot hole in Atlanta. I live in the city and there is no way to avoid them. Will the shocks help that or is there something else I’m missing like the “sway bar”?

• My coolant is leaking ever so slowly. I have to refill it every 3 weeks or so. It’s not a priority right now for me.

• The light or electroluminescent where my shifter is out, yet I have seen it on sometimes. I think the wire might be loose.


I would love any advise on other parts or services that I should think about!


I realize these might be dumb questions because you cannot see or check my car but never the less I will ask them.

Should I bleed the brakes on all four brakes on the Jeep?

Should I change the transmission fluid?

Should I change the spark plugs?


I'll be posting as many pictures as possible and if you have any questions feel free to ask. Not sure if anyone will reply to this but it's worth a shot. Thanks for any help in Advance!




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Here is what I did this past weekend. My roof rack was looking pretty awful, so I took that off to repaint. I got some herculiner at NAPA to finish it with. I sanded washed and painted my roof rack. It was actually a very easy process and took about 3 hours total (for sanding washing and painting. I applied two coats and might put a third on there. It came out very nice and I was pleasantly surprised. You can’t really tell unless you are close up on it. I also painted the factory / oem grill guard. I put it on and wasn’t thrilled about it. I really didn’t like the way it looked or how it sat on the front. It was very flimsy and rested on the bumper. I think if I hit anything at all, it would bend back and crush my lights. I’m going to leave that off and put some tow hooks instead.



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Sounds like you have a good plan. Change ALL fluids, check brake pads and replace the ignition parts. Also replace the air filter and clean the throttle body. Hope this helps, George:cool:

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Thanks George, it did, I'm going to change the fluids not this weekend but next weekend. I'm looking forward to to hitting the mountain...

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Got my new BF Goodrich Rugged Terrain tires put on today (255 70 r16). They look good and there is no rubbing. It is very close so I’ll need to hit the speed bumps slow until my shocks, isolators, and BB come in. Here is what it looks like.



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Alright, put the tow hooks on the Jeep and mounted the two fog lights to the bumper. I also did an upgrade to the grill using gutter guards. It looks a lot better, now I need to hook up the wiring to the fog lights






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Too many to list on Ebay.

I can't find mine but it had slanted sides that matched the body slant and was $100 shipped. it was perfect for my Blazer. It was very much like BradyWagons. Check his build thread.


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Well I ordered new interior lights for all the speedometer gauges, temperature gauges, dome, and back. It was very straight forward to change all of these. I read up on how to do these from another post. I do need to orders back seat LEDs now, forgot that. I did get a strip for the shift area, but I need to get a small welder. All and all it looks better either the cool white. It came out blue...if you do the same remember the radio and dome will still be green. The cool white does wash out the red, and is darker on the left and right side. Hopefully those pictures will shot that.


Also on a side note, the dome LEDs are Super bright... Looks like to spot lights. I didn't like it at first but I'm getting used to it. It lights up the interior cabin for sure.


One important thing that I did notice when doing the HVAC cluster. Once I took everything apart I noticed that the tube/connection behind the AC buttons that pushes air out to go through the vents you can actually, see was loose. A lot of air was escaping out and not going into the cabin where it should be. I bought some metal tape from the home depot and will be sealing that when I install my strip for the shifter. I did test out the strip to see what it looked like and it’s very bright as well. Hopefully there is some blue film under there to make it bluish.





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Received my 4 Bilstein 5125 shocks at work today. The look really good and can’t wait to get these suckers on. My modivation to work is done and I'm in Jeep mode now. I just have to wait for the Spring Coil Isolators to arrive, hopefully they will be here tomorrow. I plan on trying to put the 2 inch lift with the budget boost, bilstein shocks, and kolak Isolators on this weekend. My Jeep is starting to come together and can’t wait to get some more clearance and do some off roading. I parked next to a Jeep today that was very similar to mine that is stock. I think my baby looks a lot even before the lift. On a side note, I still haven't named my car...I need to figure something out.



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how about "money pit" you have a nice jeep and a lot of gusto. :D

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