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Old 11-08-2016, 05:53 PM
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1990 YJ - Where to Start?

I have a 1990 YJ that has been in the family since '94 or so. The last ten years it has been a 'summer only' vehicle out in Colorado with relatively low use.

It's has a 2.5cyl 4 banger. Otherwise, totally stock. I am bringing it back to Houston so that my son can use it as his daily driver. Since it has been sitting for a while, I would like to spend some money on it getting it ready for daily use.

To be honest, I don't know where to start. Things I would like to do:
-Extensive cleaning
-Make sure it is mechanically sound. Not planning on upgrading the 4 banger.
-Pull all the soft goods (seats, half doors, top, carpet, etc.) and repair/upgrade as needed.
-Upgrade the suspension with a lift (2" or 4") and 31" tires. Wheel upgrade.
-Needs a paint job
-Other cosmetic upgrades. Not a full resto job but I would like it to look nice.

Can you share with me some thoughts on where to start? I'm particularly interested in the sequence. My gut feeling is to do the power plant and transmission first and then go from there.

Any advice is appreciated. I have $0 in this thing other than transport so I have a decent budget to work with. I feel comfortable doing some of the work myself but I'm not ready to rebuild the engine by myself.


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Old 11-08-2016, 06:29 PM   #2

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FIRST....Get a Factory Service Manual. Chiltons or Haynes are a far second best.
MudMagnetYJ has a link to several in his signature, or you can buy your very own at Bishko Books. About $40.00 on CD.
Then get a loose leaf notebook or file folder to keep track of what and when you have done

Then change all the fluids
Oil & Filter
Coolant (drop in a can of radiator flush and let the jeep run until warm prior to dumping the old coolant)
Transmission and transfer case
Front and rear differential
Brake fluid (check rotors & pads and drums & shoes at the same time)
New plugs, wires, cap and rotor.
If it has been sitting for ten years it probably needs tires
Grease all the fittings
Once the above is done you will have a baseline for future service.

Read the posts on this forum. A 2 1/2" lift is usually the max without a SYE (Slip Yoke Eliminator).
31" tires will make the poor 4 banger work hard. You probably won't need a lift if you choose a more moderate tire upgrade. Plus, with a more moderate tire upgrade your son will still be able to use fifth gear.

Sounds like it will be a great father & son project. You will both learn a lot.

Good Luck, L.M.

"Wrangler....It's not just a vehicle, It's a lifestyle".
.................................................. ........................
1987 YJ-4.2L-Standard Shift- Re-manufactured Carter Carb-2" body Lift-31X10.5X15 BFG KOs-190K Miles No back seat.
HEI distributor with computer and all related relays and wiring removed.
12K Badlands winch with dual batteries.
Warn front bumper. Matching imitation Warn bumper on the rear.
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Old 11-08-2016, 06:31 PM   #3
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Welcome!....get it running and stopping well then worry about how it looks. I would change all fluids and filters..power wash inside, outside, underneather, motor bay, everything. Purple Power comes in 5 gallon buckets for a reason...Run it and see what needs addressed 1st. With everything clean and fresh fluids it will give you a good base line also giving it a good cleaning can provide clues to current issues.
Good Luck!
90' YJ 4.2L 5spd, OME 2.5" Lift w/OME shackles, 1" BL, Clifford 6=8 upgrade, Weber 38, HEI, 33 x 12.50 KO2s, slave swap, SWAG tailgate, SYE, sporting a "Woody" DS, 8.8 running 4.10s, Warn Pt 10s, ARB locker up front.
Emissions/Inspection: NO
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Old 11-08-2016, 08:19 PM   #4
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Get your mechanical systems taken care of before dealing with cosmetics.

Don't over tire the 4 squirrels. Staying in the LT235 to 30x9.5 range will maintain the drive-ability and fuel economy.(Did I really say that?) Combined with a 2-2.5 lift and new wheels should net a capable and aesthetically pleasing machine.
91 YJ 4.0-HO/5sp
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Old 11-09-2016, 11:40 AM
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Thank you for the input guys. I will post up as the adventure continues. I pick up the YJ on the 18th to bring it back home.
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Old 11-11-2016, 05:51 PM   #6
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If you are keeping it stock,look at IRQ's posts for inspiration. He's done a real nice job.
"NO! YOU CAN'T BORROW MY JEEP!" 91 YJ, 5.3 Vortec, AX15, Old Man EMU springs, one piece front passenger side axle shaft, 2.5"lift+1.5"BL,33"Tires,8.8axle,4.88 gears,SYE,Detroit TrueTrac locker, magnaflow muffler. https://www.wranglerforum.com/f330/b...y-1303009.html
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Old 11-14-2016, 11:21 PM   #7
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When I bought my 90, I discovered that many of the dash lights were either very dim or burned out. I did an LED upgrade, pretty easy and not very expensive. It made a huge difference in being able to read the gauges at night. There are some threads on this site that tell you the size and number of bulbs you need.
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Old 11-15-2016, 12:22 PM   #8
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Hit me up if you have any specific questions. I dropped about 20k on my 95 over the last two years getting it back from near death to what I like to call 'showroom from a distance' quality.

Ex: You know the brake release knob? If your white lettering has worn off, get a cheapo white paint marker, apply it, wipe off the surface paint and the white will stay down in the recessed lettering.

Doing little stuff like that all over will have things looking good in no time.
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Old 11-21-2016, 04:44 PM
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I didn't have a good photo for my original post. I put the Jeep on a truck back to Houston this weekend. The work begins in earnest as soon as I get home.

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Old 11-21-2016, 05:25 PM   #10
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Looks nice! Welcome, you're in the right place for advice!
I agree with the above -- replace all the fluids, filters, tune-up, belts, hoses.
Clean everything at least to the degree that you can see what you're working on. That process will have you and your son all over the vehicle, learning and observing. Keep notes re: what you've done and what you need/want to do next.
I personally would hold off on tires (and wheels) for a bit until engine, transmission, and transfer case are checked and serviced. Be safe, but you probably want the sequence to be: new springs and shocks, then the tires.
This is a great project for the two of you!
Have Fun!
1989 YJ, 2.5l, AX-5, Zone 2" lift, 31's, Monstaliner in tub, Bestop seats, Tuffy console
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Old 11-21-2016, 06:45 PM   #11
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Looks like you've got a good vehicle to start with, a fairly unmolested virgin. Enjoy it and keep us in the loop as you proceed.
91 YJ 4.0-HO/5sp
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Old 11-21-2016, 07:49 PM   #12
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Looks good, we kept our 90 YJ for 24 years with 120k+ miles. Neighbor bought it and uses it back and forth to the hunt club. He added a hard top when the weather gets colder. Replaced the cracked exhaust manifold and a few other minor repairs with a new set of treads. We ran a 31 inch tire for awhile but the four just didn't have it.

Former Jeeps 69CJ, 73CJ, 42 Ford GPW 90YJ, 05 Grand Cherokee.
Our latest 2016 JK
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