Thinking about upgrading the performance, ride quality, and efficiency of your old jeep XJ? If so, consider a jeep xj ls swap. Read to know more!
With its ahead-of-the-time design, the Jeep Cherokee XJ packs in incredible practicality, fantastic all-terrain capability, and iconic features. However, despite being one of the best compact SUVs, there are still some areas that require modification and upgrading. Chad thought likewise and changed its engine to boost its overall horsepower and performance.
After various trials and errors over the hefty duration of eleven years, Chad finally became able to manufacture an LS-swapped XJ engine. However, it was not only the XJ engine that Chad modified. Instead, he made minor and major changes in the suspension, wheels, bumpers, and safety of XJ.
What is an LS engine swap?
By LS engine swap, we mean to replace your current vehicle’s engine with an LS engine. It’s usually done to improve the performance, quality, and power of a ride. If you are still confused about whether you really should opt for a jeep XJ LS swap or not, below are some points that will surely help you to cross the fence.
The LS engine, manufactured by GM in 1997, revolutionized the entire world of vehicle engines, especially the V8 engines and the reason was undoubtedly their unmatchable performance. These engines suit almost all types of terrain and driving conditions.
On top of everything, these engines offer the highest power at the given cost. That’s also another reason why all the vehicle owners, from Mazdas to Porsches are seeming inclined toward this LS swap idea. Other perks of LS swap are as follows;
Fluid dynamics and air circulation are the main factors that determine the ride quality and total speed. In the case of vehicle engines, the more amount of air circulates through the engine, the greater the amount of speed it will sustain.
Considering this phenomenon in mind, the LS engine manufacturers are intrigued by fantastic computational fluid dynamics and efficient head design which makes LS engines what they are known for today – The most powerful and efficient ones out there.
Considering the power, reliability, efficiency, and durability, LS engines are quite affordable. For example, most common LS engines like LS1s and LS3s are available to purchase for about $2000-$2500. On the other hand, other popular engine options like LSX are extremely expensive as their price goes up to $10,000.
The best part is that you can find LS engines even in the scrap yards with minor wear and tear. Such engines can be refurbished and revitalized after which they can function much better and more efficiently than other high-end engines.
Another feature that makes the LS engine appealing to jeep owners is its lightweight build. Due to this very reason, these engines are compatible with a wide range of vehicles (including lightweight ones). You’ll hardly notice a difference between a cast iron four-cylinder engine and an LS1 aluminum engine.
Due to this lightweight build, these LS1 engines not only boost the powered performance but with their unique pushrod design, they also ensure a safe and sturdy center of gravity.
GM developed LS engines in a way that they can deliver nothing but reliability and consistency in every condition. To make these engines highly durable, the manufacturer has added longer head bolts which decrease the amount of torque cylinders experience during tough rides.
With this different head bolt configuration, the overall torque is distributed evenly so not any component has to bear more pressure. This in turn helps the engine to work efficiently and effectively without any damage in the far future.
Also, these engines are not only easy to tune but also super easy to take care of. If appropriately maintained, an LS engine may easily last up to 200,000-300,000 miles. In other words, even if your vehicle turned old enough to run properly, these LS engines would still have enough life and power to serve you for years.
The very first thing you need to do to precisely fit an LS engine into the Cherokee XJ is to buy LS frame brackets. In addition to those frame brackets, you’ll also need block plates to fill the empty area.
The LS engine is quite small in size whereas the XJ hood line is quite low. So if you place the LS engine in the hood without frame brackets, the engine won’t fit in there properly and keep moving on all the bumps and drifts. Luckily, you don’t need to weld or cut the frame brackets to the appropriate size. Instead, all you need to do is to drill the frame and mount it in the corresponding cavity.
First thing first, you need to remove the existing engine and the very first step you should take in this respect is to clear the engine codes. Otherwise, you won’t be able to remove the battery system and stock PCM.
Fortunately, the computational systems of later XJ generations (post 1995) are reprogrammable which means the vehicles of these generations can be easily swapped with an LS engine. However, if you have an older generation of Jeep XJ, you might first need to purchase an ECU since the computational systems of those jeeps are nearly impossible to reprogram.
Once done with the ECU, the next thing you need to do is to make a few changes to the hardware of your jeep XJ. These changes and replacements will help properly function your new Jeep XJ LS swap.
For instance, you need to replace struts if your jeep XJ has a 4 or 6-cylinder engine. However, if you have a V8 model then there’s no need to replace struts since both engines work perfectly with standard springs. Also, both engines have nearly the same weight so there’s no need to change struts for this purpose.
Besides struts, you also need to replace the mount engines and need to add a lift of a few inches. This lift will help in keeping the exhaust system, oil pan, and front axle clear and safe.
In some instances, you may also need to change the oil pan to achieve maximum clearance. While going to the aftermarket to purchase an oil pan, don’t forget to purchase an oil pump to lubricate this new engine system.
The biggest change you need to make is to discard the existing LS cooling system. The grille size of the jeep XJ is quite small so it’s nearly impossible to fit a factory-made LS engine in it. However, there are still some chances that you might find a suitable LS radiator from the aftermarket, of the same size but if not, then you will need to say goodbye to the AC system.
Still, if you can’t imagine a ride without a cooling system, there’s another solution for you. Get an AC compressor of near-similar size and weld or cut it to squeeze it perfectly into your vehicle frame.
After making the above-mentioned changes, your XJ jeep is ready for the LS swap. On placing the new engine in your vehicle, you might notice a lack of space. If your SUV feels overly congested, you may consider adjusting the engine beneath the passenger compartment.
When done with the placement, all you need to do is to connect your SUV system to the LS engine via throttle cables. However, if you are planning to install a modern LS engine that has a throttle-by-wire system then consider attaching an electronic accelerator pedal system.
In the end, you need to check all the gauges to ensure whether all of them are working properly or not. In most cases, stock gauges need to be replaced with GM-based gauges. Such gauges are found in GM Corvettes and pick trucks and to buy them at affordable rates, you better head to junkyards.
We hope you’d find the above information helpful in the Jeep XJ LS swap. Before you start working on the LS swap, make sure you have sufficient tools and assistance. Otherwise, changing an entire engine and replacing it with a new one is not a task for a single person.
Also, you should pay special attention to the safety area. Since the whole process would involve so much welding and cutting, make sure there’s no inflammable thing in the workplace. Work in a well-ventilated area to discard all sorts of safety threats.
Fortunately, LS swap is not that difficult since all the required parts and accessories are easily available and you don’t have to run from one vendor to another, in search of a component. Just keep all the mentioned tips and tricks in your mind and upgrade your boring jeep XJ into a monstrous vehicle.