Jeep XJ Overhaul Part 1: Brake System

With no major vacation plans this year I knew we wouldn’t be traveling very far this summer and I also knew that the Jeep wasn’t going to be hitting any trails a long distance away either. The timing of this really couldn’t have worked out any better as the old XJ needed some serious TLC. So, this would be the summer of repairs. First up, the brakes.

I inherited my 97 Jeep XJ with a complete disc conversion kit which was great; except for the fact that literally every part of the brake system was failing. Everything had to go. Honestly I don’t know how it was stopping prior to the brake overhaul. Here’s a list of what was done:

  1. Replace front calipers
  2. Replace rear calipers
  3. Replace front and rear brake pads
  4. Replace 85% of the hard brake lines
  5. New master cylinder
  6. New brake booster
  7. New front and rear brake rotors

Some of the things on this list were a piece of cake while others were an absolute pain. Our main hang up was getting all of the air out of the system. With the most of the lines being brand new there was a ton of trapped air. After bleeding the brakes several times and fixing a few leaky connections we were able to get a firm peddle. Below are some notes about what we learned as we went:

Brake Booster

This was an easy bolt on part. The trickiest portion of this job came when bolting the new booster to the firewall. This requires someone to crawl under the dash and lay on their back in order to reach the bolts. Once there, a multi angle socket is a must.

Master Cylinder

This was an easy job. Care does have to be taken when bench bleeding the new master. Pushing the piston in too far can cause damage to the MC.

Rear Disc Brake Kit

Fun fact about most rear disc brake conversion kits: the calipers, rotors, and pads are from a 96 Ford Explorer. Pretty cool. Took quite a few phone calls to figure that one out.

Going Forward

There’s no doubt that the brakes are remarkably better than they were prior to all this work. And that’s a good thing considering how long this job took. They could be better though. Some day I’ll replace the proportioning valve. More research is needed but I have my eye on trying a prop valve from a Ram 2500 truck. For now though it’s time to move on to the next project!

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