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2008 Grand Cherokee 345ci 4x4

Old 10-01-2018, 07:41 PM
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2008 Grand Cherokee 345ci 4x4

I realize that most of you are hotrodders and more than likely wrench on a big honkin' carborated beast. But, I decided to throw out a thread for the Jeep. Might just be that there are better threads on other forums, but I'm not a big fan of the Wrangler and Ram crowds. Too much conformity.
I may end up doing the same kinds of mods as others, but at least I won't be guilty of just following the crowd.

Anyway,
There's a pic of me and the soccer mom whip.
Picked her up at carmax after doing some searching and realizing there aren't many 5.7 4x4 Grand Cherokees out there for sale. I suppose that might be because people who buy them keep them, or maybe they're filling up junk yards. Either way, I wouldn't be driving the same thing everyone else drives and I still get a good platform to mess with.

Today, we went to the local performance guys and talked about shoring up the (apparently) notoriously weak valve seats. While it's likely that dropped valve seats are a result of overheating, I want to be sure I won't have anything to worry about.
The current plan:
Machine valve seats, then port and polish the rest of the heads.
DiabloSport module install and a custom street tune for 93 octane

​​​​​I'm seeking better durability going forward and some inexpensive prep for future modifications. Because this is how I get to and from work, the shop will be focused on drivability and stretching out how far a tank of gas will go.
I'm not expecting any real power out of this round at the shop. Maybe a slightly quicker response to throttle on and off, but nothing to brag about.

I'll refrain from posting the estimate, because it's as likely to go up as it is to go down at this point.
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Old 10-02-2018, 04:37 PM
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Old 10-02-2018, 06:26 PM
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Thanks Dan, yeah I am guilty of lovin Jeeps. Down to 4 around the house now. 2 toys, a daily driver, and a grocery getter that keeps ice cream cold but has no AC. The 5.7 is a good platform to add some easy power. my niner was built up to try to keep with the new 5.7s when they started being everywhere. What are you looking to do with your Jeep? Here is my grocery getter.
https://moparforums.com/forums/f95/1...ee-5-9l-18418/
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Old 10-02-2018, 09:21 PM
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That is a sick XJ!
I gotta admit that I like the comfort of the WK, but the XJ is flat-out a better performer and looks classic cool!

For my build, I'm looking to eventually add the usual internals for a 5.7:
Port and Polish headers (currently in work)
Valve Seat upgrade (in work)
Spark Plug upgrade (in work)
93 octane street tune via Diablo i3 and custom maps for low end oomph (in work)
Upgraded throttle body
Mild cam (for smooth driving on and off road)

Also gonna sprinkle some off-road capability in there:
Skid Plates (I shamefully have none!)
4" lift kit
Taller tires

And some entertainment:
Borla Exhaust (cuz it sounds so dirty!)
Google Auto Head Unit (would be nice to have bluetooth without the dongle)
Chrome side mirrors and door handles (I know, I know. I like them!)
Interior LED lights (cuz my girlfriend likes them)

All in all, it's not going to pass any cameros or mustangs (other than maybe base models, I guess). And it's not going to keep up with rock bouncers.
But I don't want it to. There are always sacrifices when modding any vehicle. This is my baby, my one and only. She's going to do it all for me, groceries, work, trail riding and putting highway behind me.
She already does a good job at all of that. I'm just looking to give her that unique personality that will make her -mine-.

It's exciting to talk about, for sure!
I'll definitely be stalking the build stories you guys shared for inspiration!

Of course, time and money are always the limitation. Really glad to see other people living the dream while I go through the rigamarole of interviewing for new jobs to get my pay and my lifestyle where it needs to be! I will be putting rocks under my tires and cracking open engines, just a matter of time until it happens.

Last edited by wreklus; 10-02-2018 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 10-03-2018, 05:10 AM
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4" lift should get you through some pretty good trails. Make sure and get the rock sliders on early. I got pushed into it on XJ after I slipped off a rock and crushed section under driver door. The XJ was my only vehicle when I started to build it, I understand what it is like to be on a trail and know I need my truck for work the next day. I have never worked on a WK before, look forward to watching this develop!
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Old 10-04-2018, 10:29 PM
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I do actually have rock rails mounted under the doors, but at stock height they seem more like a fashion statement than protection, haha!
I'm likely going to stop by the shop soon to get a status update on the work and possibly take some pictures while it's torn down a little. I am actually discussing selling my girlfriend's old honda to the shop owner, so I'm hoping that means some VIP access to the garage. We'll see.

For now, I'm cruising around in a new Durango. I have to admit that the new 8 speed auto and fat road tires make for a very comfortable daily driver, but the giant screens all over the dash and center console are actually really annoying. They give good information for maintenance and performance, but it's all just too flashy. A single screen in the console and a heads up display for digital speed and dial tachy would have been a much more useful and comfortable design.

I'll probably downgrade the rental to an economy car as soon as they get one in stock at the rental place. But damn, I already miss my WK and driving a wimpy chevy cruse isn't going to help!
At least I will be happy to have my own wheels back.

Anyway,
Looks like the build is going to get a lot more interesting a lot sooner.
I landed that new job I was hunting for!
I'm going to have a lot of studying to do to get myself useful at the new position, but a yard with a big ugly garage stuck in it might just be on the horizon!
Either way, I'll get to start pricing out parts for that 4" lift soon. Maybe even exhaust, too...
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Old 10-07-2018, 04:40 PM
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This is a double post, and I am very aware that is a faux pas.
But it's update time.

Made a trip out to the shop with my girlfriend.
The heads look okay, but one cylinder on each side has a valve seat that looks suspicious. For over 95k miles, the combustion chambers look fine, if the tiniest bit oily.
What is most concerning is that the exhaust valves have this hard crusted yellow buildup on them. I'm not sure that's normal and it doesn't appear anywhere else except exhaust valves. I think it's carbon buildup and possibly some weird reaction due to heat.
It's going to be resolved by the port and polish, but any wisdom on this would be welcome.

No pictures this time.
My girlfriend was enthusiastic to see things disassembled and enjoyed my explanation. But, I didn't want to end up making her regret taking the time to join in the hobby, so I demonstrated a little mercy and skipped the arguous task of trying to get good pics in the dimly lit shop (they were getting ready to close).
It's great to have a woman who is interested in my hobbies, even moreso that she had fun learning about how the guts of an engine work. She's always just trusted that I knew what I was talking about regarding vehicles, I'm glad she got to see some proof beyond a simple oil change and fluid check for once!

Very tempting to go ahead and order a cam and a set for the valve train right now, but I have a plan and I'm sticking to it!
I just have to remind myself that I have bigger priorities at the moment and a quick soccer mom van isn't terribly important right now. Besides, I'm pretty sure some better throttle response and a few more miles in the gas tank are all I really want right now.

​​​​
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Old 10-07-2018, 05:22 PM
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Dont get to crazy with it.... If they are sure they can do the fix for the seat's then just go with it. If not, Get newer heads. And I had to checkel... I pretty sure I'm going to have to bet you a dollar that your not going to get any better fuel mileage...lol
Keep me posted on tha one...

As for the. Newly Wed / kid mobile.... Toyota or Caravan mini van's are the way to go.
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Old 10-07-2018, 07:33 PM
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You don't see the soccer mom driving a minivan, it's all SUVs.
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Old 10-07-2018, 09:52 PM
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I did some research and finally found some good material on an aircraft mechanic page of all places.
yellow, white or green discoloration and buildup is a result of excessive heat. Often caused by running lean, poor fitted valve seats, or horrendous timing.
When the valve doesn't close all the way, carbon builds up, exhaust gasses encircle the edges of the valve and the whole valve can become junk. Symptoms usually aren't very obvious and valve failure from this is often sudden and catastrophic.
So, now we know I wasn't overly paranoid about the issue. Yellow buildup on my valves means I was blissfully unaware that my cylinders were about to take a big bite out of themselves any day now.
At least I can feel good about paying through the nose to have a hotrod shop address the issue. It takes precision work and proper tools to machine the heads in a way that stops the problem from happening again.

RacerHog,
Want to know how I know you're right about gas mileage?
My foot's got so much lead in it they had to stop adding it to gasoline.


Assuming that lop-sided valve seats, valves that won't close and possibly running too lean make as big a difference as I think they do; we will see something change.
My wrench sense tells me there is a combination of gunked fuel filters and crumbly lines forcing my engine to run just well enough not to throw a code, but bad enough to cause hot spots.

On the point of a Grand Cherokee being a mom car:
Changing times! You really don't see minivans anymore. The soccer moms are now all disinterested divas and they drive vehicles three times the price of mine.
I hope that means the new generation is more budget conscious and less coddling... But I seriously doubt it.

Last edited by wreklus; 10-07-2018 at 10:02 PM.
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Old 10-08-2018, 10:00 PM
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Another double post. Trust me, it's for good reason!

That half installed spark plug is the prime suspect now.
It was cross threaded at the last change courtesy of Firestone. They also adjusted the ignition timing to try to cover up their screwup and prevent a check engine light from coming on. This appears to have caused hotspotting and damaged the exhaust valves.
I'm going to give them an ear full tomorrow and demand refund for their crappy work, as well as reimbursement of the repairs that are in work.
If successful, I just might make up the neglect and mistreatment to my precious WK by buying her some tasty internals.

Good news is, my baby is already in the right hands and being cared for properly. Supposedly, the shop is putting together some pics and a description of the situation to post on Facebook. I'll be using their post as ammunition to bend Firestone into paying out.

Hope none of you guys have to deal with this kind of pain in the what.
Thanks again for the tidbit that got me started on the road to investigating my top end. I am positive that it has saved me a ruined engine!
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Old 11-22-2018, 05:20 PM
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Well, it's been a while.
I decided to go the full 9 yards with my Jeep.
This is where the build is today:
- Cylinder Heads custom ported and flow test above expectations.
- Fully Built Valvetrain including stiffer springs and retainers.
- Custom Grind Cam from Steve Frank (supposedly the man behind Arrington and some other "off-the-shelf" distributers' specs).
- Chromoly Pushrods (the reduced flex from thicker walls is apparently worth the marginally higher weight).
- Upgraded Throttle Body.
- Copper Sparkplugs.
- Borla Cat-Back.
​​​​​​- Dyno Tune.
​​​​​​
We are shooting for a somewhat choppy idle, big gains on the mid-range torque, and good drivability.
I haven't seen a lot of built 5.7s out there on the road. Most of it is off-the-shelf, bolt-on gear. The owner down at the shop seems to be enthusiastic about the build, so we are expecting some very noticeable changes.
Still, the proof will be the seat-of-the-pants feel when I finally get it back on the road.
It's been in the shop for over a month already, and I'm seriously missing my girl.

Last edited by wreklus; 11-24-2018 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 11-22-2018, 07:44 PM
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Well, sounds like the good thing is that you have your ride in good hands. Hope your happy with it when you get it back.
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Old 11-23-2018, 05:32 AM
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Yeah, I hope I'm happy with the results. We'll see.
The more I talk to the owner of the shop, the more I trust him. If nothing else, he is down-to-earth. I will withhold putting out the shop's name until after the work is done. I look forward to putting up a detailed review here and on google for the masses.
I did bring up the google reviews with the owner. He seems to be pretty on top of sustaining customer service even after the work is done. His responses to me regarding the negative reviews was hilarious and seemed to show true integrity. We will see, though.

If anything, the work takes a lot of time. I mean, a hell of a lot faster than doing it myself (lack of tools and a garage for starters!). But I'm a young, impatient guy. The time won't be an issue if the work is solid and the changes meet my expectations.

Learning from my first real buildup of internals (vs the bolt-ons I've done before), the investment in time and money is pretty serious stuff. It's hard to trust someone else to do it, regardless of their credentials. If I had the means, I would absolutely be doing the work myself.
At this point, I'm putting years of careful saving and my only set of wheels in someone else's hands. That's pretty nerve racking.
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Old 11-23-2018, 10:52 AM
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Hahahahahahahaha,, Well everything cost money.... I have an old saying.... "If I could do everything, I would not need all the rest of you"... Kind of funny when you put it into perspective and try to accomplish it !!!
But as for the project, If it all go's down hill, you can always return it to stock. But even that has a cost. You are so rite in one respect. you have to find the rite guy for the job needed. But that holds true i everything we do.
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Old 11-23-2018, 09:27 PM
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If it goes horribly wrong, I'll be buying a junkyard 5.7 out of an old 1500 and shoving a stroker kit up it's bottom end myself!

​​​​​​Haha!
Realistically, I'm extremely confident in the shop and the owner. I'd be very surprised if they don't end up impressing me and hitting better marks than advertised.
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Old 11-24-2018, 09:11 AM
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Confidence is what you feel just before everything goes to hell.
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Old 11-24-2018, 10:03 AM
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Iowan, yeah... Haha!
Those will be the perfect words for me to eat when I get the Jeep back and it sputters and dies at idle and also has no power. Or blows off an oil filter the first time I step on the gas.

Nah, realistically if it breaks, it will probably be because my dumb *** punches the gas right after a cold start and push a rod through a rocker. Or bust the torque converter by trying to break all four tires loose on dry asphalt.
I can never rule out my own jackassery as a threat to my own well-being.
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Old 11-24-2018, 01:13 PM
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its going to just fine...
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:55 PM
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We gonna get choppy with it.
It's a custom grind. The numbers say big lift, but relatively short duration. 113 LSA isn't too crazy, but I was expecting 114.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the shorter separation angle makes for more agressive tune?
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Old 12-21-2018, 03:26 PM
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Narrower the power band, it's not necessarily more aggressive that would be duration. You might think about a converter.
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Old 12-21-2018, 09:05 PM
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Is a converter the same as an adjustable cam gear?
I'm honestly not the sharpest regarding timing (or anything else internal to an engine).
The goal of the cam grind would be to beef up the weak bottom end of the RPM range, to provide an idle that won't die in traffic, and let the top-end be at least as good as it always has been.
I have zero clue what it's actually going to drive like, and am 100% trusting that the performance shop knows what they are doing.

Lots of nail-biting involved.

Last edited by wreklus; 12-21-2018 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 12-22-2018, 04:44 AM
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The 113 will keep the lowend and idle in good range.... What is the projected RPM range ?????
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Old 12-22-2018, 05:48 AM
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Considering we haven't made any changes to the bottom end, I'm pretty sure the RPM range will land in the usual (for this engine) 1k - 7k area. I could be wrong.
​​​​To be honest, I might hit peak RPM one time, once a month when I road trip it 200 miles to National Guard duty and need to pass a 4-banger on boost. So, much more focus is being put on low end torque, mid range power and some fun noises at idle.
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Old 12-22-2018, 07:34 AM
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I will be looking forward to this, I'm curious how this will work out.🙂
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Old 12-22-2018, 08:49 AM
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Yeah, I have absolutely no idea how it's going to behave.
As far as I can tell, the timing of the cam is going to be far and away from any off-the-shelf setup. It's going to make ignition timing really unconventional. Considering this shop is laying down respectible 1/8th and 1/4 times with their custom builds at events without breakdowns on the strip, I'm drooling to get my hands on it.
Little update from today:
The shop decided to throw in a cat delete and custom fit (with V-band clamp) for the borla exhaust, due to the super long wait I have been patiently enduring (nearing 3 months). Owner said with the fuel flow at throttle-off, it's likely the excess fuel would ruin the cats anyway.
So, it seems like it might just be a stuttering, cracking, disgusting monster as far as sound. Something I had mentioned I'd like if it wouldn't sacrifice performance.
You know, sound that offends Prius drivers and makes nuns blush.

Definitely going to post some videos. Good, bad or ugly; future potential customers are going to know exactly how this shop handled my unusual platform and build.
At least I'm satisfied to know that this wagon is going to be unique.

I don't know if I successfully attached an image, but here is (part of) the torn down block and a few of the electrical connectors I taped off myself.
I used to be an avionics technician. I couldn't let loose connectors absorb moisture and dirt while she sits. It's bad enough that the outside of the block is getting crusty from sitting.

Last edited by wreklus; 12-22-2018 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 12-24-2018, 09:11 AM
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Should scoot along pretty good from what you where use too..
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Old 12-24-2018, 01:02 PM
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I guess I'm hitting a snag with uploading pictures.
I'll get them up eventually.

Yeah, any stock engine has room for improvement.
I'm expecting anywhere between 450 and 500 hp when this is done. Not much in the grand scheme, but it will be the most I've owned. Tuned out the way we planned it, all the fun should be in quicker throttle response and better passing acceleration. Nothing to brag about, but it will make driving in my lazy town a little more satisfying.

Side note:
I've been driving a 4 cylinder hybrid for a while now.
This isn't acceptable. Don't do this to yourself, if you can avoid it.
I literally have to wait for someone to politely allow me to change lanes and I can't even pass a VW Jetta if they don't want to let me. It's infuriating.
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Old 12-24-2018, 08:46 PM
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Does your shop have a chassis dyno that they can tune your ride?
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Old 12-25-2018, 07:22 AM
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They do have a dyno. Unfortunately, it's only 2 wheel.
We're either going to have to perform some voodoo rituals on the AWD system to fool it into going rear wheel only, or I'm going to have to negotiate having it flat-bedded across town to another shop that has an AWD dyno.
Seeing as we haven't even started assembly yet (after 3 months), it's not my hottest dumpster fire just yet.
For now, I'm just waiting until after new years to decide whether I fire the current shop or not.
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