This page is primarily an explanation of a problem that often plagues early model Jeep Cherokees, especially the 2-door models.

Note that replacing the hinge sets are NOT the only way to fix this problem. First thing to do is check your hinge pins! If they get wallowed or worn out the door will sag & be hard to open almost as bad as the early stages of a failing hinge. If those are ok and it IS the hinge, then a simple re-weld of your existing hinge can often cure the problem and buy you a lot of additional years usage. See any competent body shop if you lack the skills and tools for this job.

Early XJ Hinge Failure

Starting around 1998 Jeep Cherokees came with a redesigned door hinge to help alleviate a problem that the factory never really admitted the XJ had with their door hinges.

Fact of the matter is that people have had their freakin' door FALL OFF due to the crappy old design and that the factory welded the hinge to the body sheet metal!

That alone is bad enough but the straw that breaks the camel's back for these hinges is often "big guys"... uh, FAT DUDES (or "FAT CHICKS" if yer into dating the bovine persuasion) . It seems the big boned folk like using the doors to haul themselves in and out of our XJ's rather than just stepping in & out.
Sorry guys & gals but those aren't cattle gates and no matter what ya weigh you're gonna kill the doors if you use it as a ladder to get in and out. (In their defense, XJ's are not designed to be easy to get in and out of... and if you've lifted it - getting in and out is a challenge for anyone.)

What to watch for: The hinge pins on all models tend to wear out so keep an eye on those.
The hinges on the 2-door models will tear the sheet metal if you use them to pull yourself in and out of your Jeep.

Always use the body door-frame to get in & out!

Driver side - View of upper hinge showing where fender was trimmed for new hinges.

The late model hinges are weld on replacements so you should check to see if your old hinges can be repaired or rewelded first. Check for looseness in the hinge which can indicate a need for shimming, a wallowed out hinge pin or (worst case) a hinge weld that is letting go and tearing away from the door frame below the windshield frame.

If it starts letting go - get it taken care of quickly before it tears the metal too far!

Driver Side - Upper Hinge close up showing welds.

NOTE! Your repair could be as simple as replacing a worn or broken hinge pin! These are called "roll-pins" but the hinge pins are a metric size NOT commonly found at most hardware stores. They cost a little more at the dealership but it's not worth the time to hunt them down at a specialty hardware shop (unless you have to drive by it on the way to the dealership...).

If you'll look in the previous picture - you can see clearly where the fender was trimmed to clear the new hinge. Y' think the auto body guy was having a bad day with the shears?
Good grief! - my 9 year old coulda done a better job...

Driver Side - Bottom hinge closeup

If you compare this picture of my new lower driver side hinge to your old lower hinge you can see the difference between the two.

Check out GoJeep's excellent write up on repairing your busted hinge welds.

Many years after this started cropping up... Jeep dealers were also given 'instructions' on how to repair this problem, even though they never really quite admitted that there actually was a problem with the hinges. Here's a "hint" for the idiots at Daimler-Chrysler... If the door freakin' falls off there MIGHT BE A PROBLEM!

Hinge has ripped completely off of body. Jeep finally produced a 'repair kit' but never really admitted there was a problem with the hinges. Attention Jeep Engineers: Having the door fall off just might be a clue there is a problem.
Photo courtesy of Scott / 86JeepXJ (on J.U.)

The factory's solution was to reinforce the hinge with a riveted on support plate. This will probably work if you catch your hinges breaking loose before they get too bad, This does not appear to involve any welding but I have NO experience with this repair or the "kit" / parts involved. If anyone has used this kit to repair their hinges please send me any information / pics / an article on it so we can get the info out to everyone!

This is a pdf download. Early XJ Door Hinge Repair Tech Bulletin.

If you have pics of your own repairs or can suggest other methods - please contribute your ideas (and pictures) to this article

Revised on: January 9th, 2007

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