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Old 04-16-2014, 10:32 PM   #1
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First time owner of a 97 TJ Sport 4.0 Auto

I decided I wanted a little more adventure in my life and so I just purchased a used 1997 Wrangler Sport TJ 4.0L with Automatic Transmission. I picked it up for 11,000. It is in pristine condition with only 89,000 miles, a 4-inch lift with 35-inch tires and a swing-out tire rack on the back. It is really immaculate and the engine sounds smooth as silk. The only issue that I have noticed is that it is leaking tranny fluid but I cannot tell from where because the skid plate is blocking my view. I am debating whether or not I should attempt to locate the leak by taking of the skid plate and inspecting myself or if I should just take it in to be looked at. I have the tools and knowledge to remove the skid plate but if there is an issue with the trans I would not want to attempt to fix it myself. Does anyone know of common issues with this model that might cause tranny leaks? Does anyone know of any good Jeep Service locations near Orange, Ca that they would recommend? Glad to finally be a Jeep owner but am hoping that it doesn't become a nightmare.

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Old 04-16-2014, 10:48 PM   #2
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Westminster Transmission in Westminster is an extremely well thought of shop that really knows Jeep transmissions, and they are 100% trustworthy. The right man to talk to there is Joe... a really good helpful nice guy. He has helped me several times just on the phone, I can't recommend that shop any more strongly. 714-898-0089

But first, clean up the ATF that has leaked out so you stand a better chance of isolating where the leak is coming from. Likely it's from its rear seal which is easily replaced but it could also be leaking from the transfer case which is also filled with ATF. Having an idea where the leak is probably coming from first will help.

Good luck with it.

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Old 04-16-2014, 11:18 PM   #3
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I also have a 1997 Wrangler Sport 4.0L with Automatic Transmission. Mine is completely stock. I can tell you from first hand knowledge that transmission leaks are very serious. Once, it is clearly leaking that way, you probably have many more leaks. There are many seals that go out. If you don't fix them all, you will burn up your transmission. If the transmission is not slipping yet, it is probably not too late. Don't wait to take it in, and get it fixed.
I did wait, and I just kept replacing the fluids. By the time, I finally had it looked at, it was too late. The mechanic told me to just save my money and have the transmission rebuilt. Then, I had every leak fixed. My advice is to take it in and make sure that every leak is fixed. Then, monitor it, and put a piece of cardboard under the Jeep, to make sure it is fixed properly. Check the fluid regularly too. Good Luck. They are great, fun vehicles, if you take care of them.

Please note, and I don't mean any thing bad, but it is not in pristine condition is the transmission is leaking that badly. I would also be concerned that the Jeep was lifted properly. You may not have the proper gears for 35" tires, and you may need a SYE.

I'm sure other more knowledgeable Off-Road enthusiasts here, can give you better information on what you need for the 35" tires.

The best thing you can do when getting a used Jeep is to get one that is stock.
This way you know that nothing has been improperly modified.
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
Westminster Transmission in Westminster is an extremely well thought of shop that really knows Jeep transmissions, and they are 100% trustworthy. The right man to talk to there is Joe... a really good helpful nice guy. He has helped me several times just on the phone, I can't recommend that shop any more strongly. 714-898-0089

But first, clean up the ATF that has leaked out so you stand a better chance of isolating where the leak is coming from. Likely it's from its rear seal which is easily replaced but it could also be leaking from the transfer case which is also filled with ATF. Having an idea where the leak is probably coming from first will help.

Good luck with it.
What about the 35" tires? Aren't there other things that need to be modified for those large tires? Like the gears, and the drive train alignment?
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:28 PM   #5
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One concern at a time. Whether or not it is geared and set up properly for 35" tires has nothing to do with the leak he asked about and described as his "only issue".
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Old 04-17-2014, 01:12 AM   #6
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Thanks for all of the advice from all of you. I will definitely get this checked out ASAP! I'll report back in a few weeks on what the issue was and how it was resolved. Time to get some money together.
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Old 05-09-2014, 06:26 PM   #7
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Okay, so just to give everyone an update. My TJ should be all done on Monday afternoon. I took it in and a nice tune-up done on it. Valve cover gasket, Cap & Rotor, Plugs & Wires, Oil & Filter change. Next I had Oil pan gasket, rear main seal, harmonic balancer seal, axle seals, transfer case seals, rear brakes, added 8 adjustable control arms to support the SYE and CV driveshaft that goes with my 4" spring lift, new upgraded axles, regeared to 4.56, Detroit Truetrac differential, and Tranny service & Filter. I think it should be good to go after that. So far I've got $20,000 invested in this baby but who's counting!
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Old 05-09-2014, 07:49 PM   #8
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while they are doing all this work on it. have them check the gearing on your axels also.
to have 35" tires under the 97 req's a lift and also if they didn't gear it you will notice it when your trying to get it to move. they look good under them but if you ever want better millage get them down to a smaller rolling mass.
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Old 05-09-2014, 07:56 PM   #9
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while they are doing all this work on it. have them check the gearing on your axels also. to have 35" tires under the 97 req's a lift and also if they didn't gear it you will notice it when your trying to get it to move. they look good under them but if you ever want better millage get them down to a smaller rolling mass.
They are regearing it to 4.56 and it already has a 4" lift with SYE, CV driveshafts, and adjustable control arms.
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Old 05-09-2014, 08:00 PM   #10
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did I mention its Friday! lol
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Old 05-09-2014, 08:10 PM   #11
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did I mention its Friday! lol
it's Friday, and I ain't got no job! Lol! Seriously, I don't have a job! Lmfao, it's California...to be expected! Luckily for taxpayers like myself I'm not entitled to unemployment!
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Old 05-09-2014, 08:50 PM   #12
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While the gearbox is off, it would pay to relocate the breather.
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Old 05-09-2014, 08:55 PM   #13
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There aren't many areas in SOCAL like where the OP lives where the current vent location would be a problem. Deep water isn't a significant issue for us SOCAL wheelers.
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Old 05-10-2014, 12:36 AM   #14
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98% of the time, it's dry as a bone where I go wheeling too but I'm sure there will be 'that day' when I'm glad the vent was relocated.

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