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Old 05-11-2019, 01:56 PM
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1991 Red YJ Revival

For the past couple of years I've been casually looking for an older Jeep. My wife always wanted a YJ since she was in high school, and I've always thought it would be fun to own one (probably thanks to MacGyver). After a few years in two different JKs (first a 2 door, then a four door when our first kiddo arrived), my wife finally gave me the go ahead to find a YJ.

I spent a few of weeks looking on eBay, local classifieds and CraigsList. Most of the YJs that I could find were either total rust pits, didn't run or "sort of" ran, or were so modified and wheeled so hard that they were barely recognizable. I finally found one at the right price about 4 hours away from my house and just picked it up yesterday. The "4 hour" drive back home ending up taking 6 hours at 60 mph, getting a whopping 9 mpg in my 2016 Tacoma (V6.............), but we made it.

It's a 1991 YJ with a 4.0L and the 5-speed AX-15, half doors and a soft top. The color was originally Radiant Fire, but it has been painted since to another red color that is close but not exactly the same. Overall the Jeep is very solid, very little rust except the common trouble spot around the windshield. I have become pretty handy at welding and repairing rust since I bought a 67 Pontiac Firebird a few years ago, so I am not too concerned with rust in this area (and worst case I can just replace the windshield frame). It runs very well, except for some occasional trouble getting it into 2nd gear and a bit of a wandering as it goes down the road. The Jeep already has what I speculate is a 3" lift and SYE of unknown brand. Overall the list of issues isn't too bad:
  • Rust around windshield - repairable or easily replaced
  • Minor issues getting into 2nd gear - need to have a transmission shop check it out
  • Wandery on the road - I'm 99% sure this is due to the lift. The shackles are much longer than stock and the leafs are of unknown brand. I checked and the track bar and drag link are parallel (must be dropped pitman arm), so the issue is probably elsewhere. I'm not sure what components were used, if this was a kit or home-brew lift so everything should probably just be replaced.
  • One of the soft top spreader rods is broken - replacement ordered for $9, really not a problem because the top will be down 90% of the time, top is also missing the bar that goes over the tailgate door to ensure that the back window closes snugly
  • The passenger's door and tailgate do not lock/unlock with the key - need to look into this
  • Some minor wiring issues, spliced wires and winch wiring is a little questionable - easy to repair
  • Fuel gauge is unreliably - likely the little plastic piece around the fuel sender in the fuel tank
  • Fuel tank skid plate is rusted - will replace when I drop the tank to repair the sender
  • Tailgate sags and is hard to close - will simply remove spare tire for the time being and eventually upgrade hinges to something heavier duty to fix the sage and install an aftermarket tire carrier to prevent it from happening again
  • Parking brake does not work

The only somewhat major issue is my wife told me I couldn't buy a Jeep without air conditioning. Fortunately, the place where I bought the Jeep is conveniently located 45 minutes from JeepAir, so I just swung by on my way home and picked up an A/C retrofit kit in person. The plan is to get that installed sometime in the next week after I have a mechanic give the whole Jeep a look over. I plan on using the YJ as a pseudo-daily driver (I still have my 4 door JK and don't plan on getting rid of it), so my initial goal is to get it to be as safe and roadworthy as possible so we can enjoy the summer and trips to the beach (phase 1 if you will). I also plan on using this Jeep for off-roading trips, camping, hunting etc, so after I've driven it for a while, I plan on some major upgrades to make it as capable if not more than my current JK (or phase 2 if you will). Here's how it looks like broken down:

Phase 1
  • Get a full inspection by a mechanic - then fix any issues they find
  • Replace current lift with RE 4" extreme duty system - hopefully this helps with the steering / wandery feeling issues
  • Replace the current aftermarket fender flares (kind of dorky looking imo) with something narrower
  • Fix wiring issues
  • Install a vinyl floor covering or bedrug throughout the interior
  • Repair fuel sender / replace tank as necessary, replace skid at the same time
  • Repair door locks
  • Replace most of the exterior lighting (everything is either non-DOT compliant or cracked/broken)
  • Interior cleanup (seat covers, remove some previous mods and give everything a good clean, maybe replace roll bar covers)
  • Exterior cleanup (POR-15 frame, undercoating, fix soft top issues including spreader bar and missing piece over tailgate, remove spare tire, repaint/PC some components that are peeling/rusty)
  • Tuffy security trunk - so I can leave some tools and other things in it with the top down - will need to fix tailgate lock at the same time
  • Replace aftermarket cold air intake with factory airbox - ordered already
  • Fix parking brake - probably needs a new cable

Phase 2
  • Larger lift to accomodate 35s+ - either SOA or 4 link with coilovers (might be overkill, but we will see)
  • Stubby bumpers, rocker armor, tire carrier
  • New Winch
  • LS V8 Swap - Probably from Novak or similar, will also include upgraded axles (tbd) to be done at the same time as the suspension upgrades, lockers, bigger brakes, new driveshafts, etc.
  • Paint - either a quality repaint in the factory Radiant Fire or full Line-X
  • New Wheels/Tires
  • CB radio

I'm taking the YJ to a shop on Monday to get it checked out. In the meantime I'll probably go ahead and install a new Spiderwebshade and start fixing some of the electrical. More to follow soon.

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Old 05-14-2019, 11:26 AM   #2
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That's a good looking Jeep there. I see the track bar is still there in the front. Contrary to what you might think that thing can lead to the strange feel when driving. It moves in a different arc than the springs and can create that feeling.

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Old 05-15-2019, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by daddyjeep View Post
That's a good looking Jeep there. I see the track bar is still there in the front. Contrary to what you might think that thing can lead to the strange feel when driving. It moves in a different arc than the springs and can create that feeling.
Thanks. I got the Jeep up on jack stands and one problem area might be some slack in the steering box. I’ll probably give that a small adjustment (1/8th turn) to see. The Jeep has brand new ball joints and tie rod ends, so I didn’t see any abnormal movement in those areas. I had read that removing the track bar could help, but it seemed counterintuitive. It makes sense if they are on a different arc that it could cause issues. I’ll give it a try later this week to see if it is the problem.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:46 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Rexenator View Post
Thanks. I got the Jeep up on jack stands and one problem area might be some slack in the steering box. Iíll probably give that a small adjustment (1/8th turn) to see. The Jeep has brand new ball joints and tie rod ends, so I didnít see any abnormal movement in those areas. I had read that removing the track bar could help, but it seemed counterintuitive. It makes sense if they are on a different arc that it could cause issues. Iíll give it a try later this week to see if it is the problem.
It is free to take it off. If you don't like the way it drives without it you can just put it back on. I am pretty sure you will be happy with it off though.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:31 AM   #5
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It is free to take it off. If you don't like the way it drives without it you can just put it back on. I am pretty sure you will be happy with it off though.


I agree with this! Lifted Jeeps need longer trackbars, if it is the stock one itís too short. YJs donít need them anyway. It was added from the factory as added precaution from the CJs which had a rollover issue.

Good luck with the build!


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