Four Wheeler - - Techline -

QI have a ’05 Jeep Wran­gler LJ with a sixspeed man­ual trans­mis­sion and my 4.0L en­gine just ate it­self. The num­ber six pis­ton ring made its way into the oil­ing sys­tem. I’m plan­ning on do­ing an en­gine swap with a 4.0L crate en­gine. I have sev­eral ques­tions:

1. Is it bet­ter to pull just the en­gine and leave the trans­mis­sion and trans­fer case in the Jeep?

2. Other than the wa­ter pump and the clutch, is there any­thing else I should re­place now while it’s easy to get at?

3. Is there a rule of thumb on how to get the syn­chro­nizer (dis­trib­u­tor-not-a-dis­trib­u­tor) aligned prop­erly? When I re­placed the cam two months ago it was some­thing I ended up hav­ing to pay some­one to do.

That’s all for now—thanks for your time. Oh, and any tips or tricks I missed, I’ll gladly take too!


ASwap­ping out a worn or blown en­gine is usu­ally a fairly straight­for­ward propo­si­tion. You un­bolt and pull the old one and then sling in the new one. How­ever, there are a few things that you can do to sim­plify your repower swap. It’s usu­ally eas­i­est to pull just the en­gine, leav­ing the trans­mis­sion, trans­fer case, and drive­shafts in place. Make sure the trans­mis­sion is prop­erly sup­ported be­fore un­bolt­ing the bell­hous­ing bolts and at­tach­ing the hoist to the en­gine. How­ever, in some ap­pli­ca­tions it may be dif­fi­cult, or im­pos­si­ble, to ac­cess the bell­hous­ing bolts. If so, the en­gine and trans­mis­sion can be re­moved as a unit, or you can pull the en­gine, trans­mis­sion, and trans­fer case.

The most im­por­tant thing is to make sure you have every­thing dis­con­nected and out of the way. Dis­con­nect all plugs, hoses, and wiring that are routed from the en­gine to the frame and body. In most cases you should be able to un­bolt the A/C com­pres­sor from the en­gine, leav­ing the hoses pres­sur­ized, and place it out of the way in the en­gine bay. In other cases you may need to have the A/C sys­tem evac­u­ated prior to en­gine re­moval, and then recharged once the en­gine and front ac­ces­sory group are back in place.

You can greatly sim­plify the en­gine re­moval process by swing­ing your Wran­gler hood all the way open. On other 4x4s the hood can be re­moved. Re­mov­ing the ra­di­a­tor and grille and maybe even the fend­ers will of­fer greater ac­ces­si­bil­ity and ease your en­gine re­place­ment.

When re­plac­ing an en­gine, it’s al­ways a good idea to re­place the wa­ter pump, spark plugs, belts, hoses, and clutch. Don’t for­get to resur­face and prop­erly clean the fly­wheel prior to in­stalling the new clutch. If the trans­mis­sion has a lot of miles on it or it makes un­usual noises, then it’s a good idea to freshen it up. It’s not at all un­com­mon for an old and worn au­to­matic trans­mis­sion to give up the ghost shortly af­ter be­ing backed up to a new en­gine.

The eas­i­est way to keep the 4.0L camshaft syn­chro­nizer aligned is the same as any older dis­trib­u­tor-style ig­ni­tion. Ro­tate both the new and old en­gines to the No. 1 cylin­der at TDC. Set the in­dex­ing mark on the har­monic bal­ancer to 0 on the de­gree mark­ings on the block. Use a paint pen to mark the 4.0L camshaft syn­chro­nizer, in­ter­nal wheel, en­gine block, and fire­wall, or any­where that will help you get it back to the proper lo­ca­tion dur­ing re­in­stal­la­tion in the new block be­fore you re­move it. It may take a cou­ple stabs and some futz­ing with the oil pump gear via a long screw­driver, but you should be able to get it prop­erly lo­cated us­ing your marks. You can also cor­rectly lo­cate the 4.0L camshaft syn­chro­nizer by lin­ing up the two holes un­der the top cap of the sen­sor us­ing a tooth­pick. The tooth­pick is used to keep the camshaft syn­chro­nizer in­dexed while the en­gine is at TDC on the No. 1 cylin­der. This should al­low you to get the en­gine started, but you’ll likely need to time the en­gine 5-10 de­grees one way or the other for it to run prop­erly.

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