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Second-generation Jeep Cherokee speedometer cable replacement

by Pete Jackson • Also see our main repairs page • Also see our Jeep Cherokee page

Vehicle: 1987 Jeep Cherokee,
AW4/NP231. (This will probably work on any 1984-96 Jeep Cherokee with a speedometer cable).

What you'll need:

  • adjustable open end wrench
  • #2 Phillips screwdriver (6") and #1 Phillips screwdriver (4")
  • long-reach needle-nose pliers
  • new speedometer cable. Cherokees with cruise control use a two piece cable, the instructions for them are almost identical (these instructions used the one-piece cable)
  • safety glasses or a full face mask to protect your eyes from dirt (or keep you from eating dirt)

  1. Raise and safely support the vehicle and open the hood. Put on your safety gear.
  2. Using the adjustable open end wrench, unscrew the the speedometer cable from the rear of the transfer case.
  3. Detach the speedometer cable housing from the lower control arm mount using the needle nose pliers to pull off the push nut. Now remove the lower portion of the cable from the transmission tunnel and let it drape on the ground.
  4. In the cab, remove the four #2 Phillips head screws from the Instrument Cluster trim panel. Two screws are located in the upper trim panel above the fuel gauge and speedometer. The other two screws are located in above the cigar lighter and the headlamp switch. Gently remove the panel by disengaging the slip fit fasteners by the radio and the HVAC controls. If you have an aftermarket stereo, remove it before you remove the cluster trim.
  5. Remove the Instrument cluster by removing the 6 #1 Phillips screws from around the instrument cluster. Two screws are located above and below the warning light panel and the other four are around the gauge cluster.
  6. Gently pull the instrument cluster from the dash. You will only have about 2 inches of slack, so pull gently and you can draw the lower portion of the cable thru the grommet and into the cab. Now reach behind the I.C. and unplug the electrical connections. One dead center, the other on the warning light panel. Once the electrical is disconnected, depress the tab on the speedometer cable and gently pull it from the instrument cluster.
  7. Now from under the hood, work the grommet out of the firewall and slide the cable out of the vehicle.
  8. Also from under the hood, drop the new cable in between the firewall and the intake manifold. SLowly work the cable into the hole in the firewall. Once you have cable fed into the dash, go back in the cab.
  9. Contorting yourself uncomfortably, reach up in to the dash and feed the end of the cable through the dash board support. Use the oblong hole where it was routed before.
  10. Now sit in the driver seat and pull the cable up far enough to connect it to the speedometer head. It helps to line up the flats on the cable with the flats in the speedometer drive.
  11. Reconnect the electrical connecters to the back of the I.C. Now would also be a great time to check and replace the bulbs in the cluster.
  12. While I had the cluster out I noticed a couple loose screws on the plastic electrical grid; I tightened these and now have slightly more accurate gauges.
  13. Slide the cluster into place in the dash making sure to engage the studs next to the upper cluster screws.
  14. Now go back under the vehicle and route the new cable the same way as the old, down the firewall next to the lower control arm mount and in the trans tunnel to the transfer case, making sure to avoid hot or moving parts. Reusing the metal clamp from the old line, secure the cable to the lower control arm bolt using the old push nut or use a new nut as I did.
  15. Making sure cable flats are lined up with the flats in the speedometer gear, gently seat the cable onto the transfer case. Now gently screw the nut down (using the adjustable open end wrench) onto the speedometer drive. Make sure it is seated fully and tightened snugly.
  16. Back to the cab we go! You may now re-install the I.C. mounting screws. Tighten them snugly or the cluster will vibrate and make noise.
  17. Now you may re-install the instrument cluster trim panel. Engage the two slip fit connectors and the four retaining screws. Don't forget to put your aftermarket stereo back in!
  18. Lower the vehicle and go for a drive! See the speedometer tell you how fast you are going.


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