How to Install and Calibrate an Aftermarket Speedometer in an Old Jeep Cherokee?

Whether you’re a lifelong Jeep enthusiast or a new owner of an old Jeep Cherokee, you undeniably appreciate the ruggedness and reliability of these vehicles. However, even the most durable vehicles may require repairs and updates from time to time, such as installing and calibrating an aftermarket speedometer.

While you might immediately think about heading to your nearest dealer or mechanic, this is actually a task you can carry out yourself with a little guidance. This new undertaking not only saves you a few dollars, but it also offers an opportunity to familiarize yourself more intimately with your vehicle.

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In this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to install and calibrate an aftermarket speedometer in your old Jeep Cherokee. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right size and type of speedometer, to the actual installation and calibration process.

Choosing the Right Aftermarket Speedometer

Before you purchase an aftermarket speedometer, you need to ensure that it’s compatible with your Jeep Cherokee’s specific model and year. This is crucial because the speedometer needs to properly fit into the location where the existing or older one is currently housed.

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Also, consider the kind of display you prefer. Many owners opt for digital readouts for their modern look and easy-to-read nature, but there’s something nostalgically appealing about classic analog speedo displays. The choice is ultimately yours, and what matters most is that the speedometer meets your needs and preferences.

Steps to Install an Aftermarket Speedometer

Once you’ve purchased your preferred aftermarket speedometer, the next step is the installation process. You’re now going to embark on a technical journey, so ensure your toolbox is ready.

To begin, disconnect your Jeep Cherokee’s battery to prevent any electrical shorts. Then, remove the existing speedometer from its location by detaching all connected wires and screws. Take note of each wire’s function, so you can properly connect your new speedometer.

Next, fix the aftermarket speedometer in place. This usually involves fitting it into the existing location and securing it with screws. Afterward, reconnect the wires you previously disconnected, ensuring each wire connects to the appropriate terminal on your new speedometer.

Calibrating Your New Aftermarket Speedometer

After installing your new speedometer, the final step is calibration. This is a crucial part because it ensures that your speedometer accurately reflects your actual speed.

To begin the calibration process, you first need to determine the number of pulses your speedometer receives for every mile you travel. This information is contained in the speedometer’s manual. If it isn’t found there, you may need to post a question on a car forum or contact the speedometer’s manufacturer.

Then, find a measured mile in your area or use a GPS to accurately measure a mile. Drive your Jeep Cherokee at a consistent speed and note your speedometer’s mph reading. Adjust the speedometer’s settings until the readings are accurate.

Remembering the Importance of Tire Size in Calibration

While calibrating your new speedometer, it’s essential to keep in mind that your tire size can affect the device’s accuracy. Basically, larger or smaller tires than those which the Jeep originally came with can throw off your speedometer’s readings.

So, when calibrating your new speedometer, ensure you factor in your tire size. If you’re unsure of how to do this, you can use online calculators to figure out the correct settings. Also, consider posting a question on Jeep forums to get insights from other owners with similar experiences.

Maintaining Your Jeep’s ABS System

Besides the speedometer, another crucial part of your Jeep Cherokee is the ABS system. The ABS, or Anti-lock Braking System, is a safety feature that prevents your wheels from locking up (or skidding) while braking. This is particularly vital in slippery conditions.

When installing your new aftermarket speedometer, ensure that the ABS light on your vehicle’s dashboard is functioning correctly. The ABS system typically relies on wheel speedo sensors to function properly. Therefore, any wire or sensor problem could prevent your ABS light from coming on when there is an issue. If you notice this, you might need to pay a visit to your dealer or a trusted mechanic to have it fixed.

In conclusion, installing and calibrating an aftermarket speedometer in your old Jeep Cherokee can be a bit challenging, especially for beginners. However, with a detailed guide and a little patience, it’s a task you can successfully complete on your own.

Considering the Impact of Tire Size Change on Speedometer Calibration

When talking about speedometer calibration, it’s also important to discuss the impact of tire size change. Many Jeep Cherokee owners may decide to switch their factory size tires to larger tires for off-roading purposes or a smoother ride. Conversely, some might prefer smaller tires for better fuel efficiency or other reasons. Whatever the case, changing your tire size will affect your speedometer’s accuracy and therefore requires recalibration.

Larger tires cover more ground per revolution, which means that your vehicle will travel further than what your existing speedometer will indicate. On the other hand, smaller tires cover less ground per revolution, resulting in your vehicle covering less distance than what your speedometer shows. Therefore, recalibrating your speedometer after changing your tire size is crucial to ensure its readings stay accurate.

You can find various online calculators to help you in recalibrating your speedometer based on your tire size. In addition, the Jeep forums can be a valuable resource in getting first-hand insights from forum members who have done similar modifications.

Recalibration might seem like a daunting task, especially for beginners. But with the right tools and guidance, it can be an easy and educational process that familiarizes you more with your beloved Jeep Cherokee.

Conclusion: Embrace the DIY Spirit of Jeep Ownership

Nothing says "Jeep ownership" quite like getting elbows deep in the engine or making modifications to enhance your vehicle’s performance and your overall driving experience. Taking on the task of installing and calibrating an aftermarket speedometer in your old Jeep Cherokee might feel overwhelming, but it’s a project that can be done with patience, careful research, and a bit of DIY spirit.

From choosing the right aftermarket speedometer that fits your style and your Cherokee’s specifications, to carefully installing it and adjusting the calibration to account for your specific tire sizes and driving conditions, each step will help you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for your vehicle.

Don’t forget the importance of maintaining the integrity of your Cherokee’s ABS system alongside your new speedometer. And also remember to account for tire size changes, as they can significantly impact the accuracy of your speedometer readings.

When in doubt, turn to the wealth of knowledge available from other Jeep enthusiasts. The grand Cherokee forums are filled with helpful threads and discussions where members share their experiences, tips, and solutions.

In the end, equipping your old Jeep Cherokee with a new speedometer will bring you one step closer to a more personalized and fulfilling driving experience. After all, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of successfully completing a project on your beloved vehicle. Embrace the journey, for every bolt turned, every wire connected, and every successful calibration is a testament to your commitment to keeping your Jeep Cherokee running at its best.