Jeep issued an emissions recall in late 2006 to update the powertrain control module (PCM) software on certain 1996 - 1998 vehicles. As part of the recall, the catalytic converter will also be inspected for damage and replaced as necessary. To see if your vehicle is included in the recall you can visit the Jeep website (owners' section) that allows owners to input their VIN number and check the recalls on their vehicle.
Problems for specific Jeep Cherokee years:
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Repairpal verified 1997 Jeep Cherokee problems
Some models are susceptible to rear main oil seal failures in dirty or dusty conditions. As dirt and dust collect on the oil seal, the abrasion wears through the sealing surface. A rubber plug, installed above the starter, is being used in production that prevents the dust entry near the seal and extends the life of the seal. The plug is available from MOPAR and should be installed any time a rear main seal service is performed.
Leaks at the front and/or rear differential pinion seal and from the transfer case are common. Leakage from the transfer case normally occurs at the case-mating surfaces and require removal of the transfer case to reseal.
The throttle body may accumulate an oily, black residue in the bore and on the throttle plate causing hard starting or possibly stalling when coming to a stop. The throttle body should be cleaned during regular maintenance but do not spray cleaners directly on or at the throttle position sensor (TPS) as this can damage the sensor.
The outer exhaust manifold studs can break and cause exhaust leaks, commonly noted as a ticking type noise. The outer studs, clamps, and nuts will need to be replaced and are now being tightened to a reduced torque value (20 Nm/180 in lbs).
A ticking type noise may be noted from the engine area due to an exhaust manifold that has cracked where the pipes are welded; cracked manifolds should be replaced.
A loud buzzing or whining when the transmission is in reverse may be caused by a regulator valve in the transmission valve body. A revised valve was released that does not resonate. Careful diagnosis should be performed because other causes can create the noise.