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How To Upgrade Your Jeep XJ Cherokee With A Winch Mount Bumper

Remove the six bolts that hold the factory bumper to the frame.
Remove the six bolts that hold the factory bumper to the frame.
Dan Sanchez

Many 1984 thru 2001 Jeep Cherokee XJ owners want to upgrade their front bumper to a heavy-duty unit that can also carry a recovery winch. But many don't want a big, heavy, bulky front bumper, so manufacturers like OR-Fab, have designed slim bumpers that can handle serious off-road abuse, but also enhance the appearance of the vehicle.

How to upgrade your Jeep XJ Cherokee with an OR-Fab winch-mount bumper and Warn M8000s winch
Dan Sanchez

The OR-Fab HD front winch bumper, PN-83241 used in this installation, features a tapered "V" shaped design that easily slides off rocks and ledges. It's manufactured from 3/16-inch thick steel plate, and will clear up to 37-inch diameter tires. The bumper features an integrated winch-mount that is designed for a remote-style winch, so it won't block airflow to the radiator and provides a streamlined look that makes the old Cherokee look great.

In this installation, OR-Fab used a Warn M8000S winch, because it can be operated with a wired remote, and has an 8,000 lbs.-pull capacity. The winch weighs 80-lbs. and it features a 4.8 horsepower motor with a three-stage planetary gear set that provides smooth, fast, and reliable operation. The winch also comes with 100-ft of 5/16-inch wire rope, but is also available with Warn's Spydura synthetic rope. The Spydura synthetic rope reduces the winch's weight to 55 lbs, and provides easy handling on the trail for folks with a bit more winching experience.

Because this bumper features a "competition cut" one that allows it to clear much larger tires, some trimming is involved. But first the factory bumper, bottom air dam, and corner fender cross-braces from the vehicle must be removed. The instructions give detailed guidelines of where the fender is trimmed following the bottom of the XJ's grille back towards the wheel well. Once all the trimming is done, new OR-Fab mounting brackets are bolted in the factory locations.

Installing the Warn M8000S winch is simple using the supplied nuts and bolts to secure the winch to the winch mount. The mounting bracket for the Warn control box normally sits above the winch motor, but in this application, the bracket was modified slightly (trimmed and an additional hole drilled), allowing the control box to sit slightly above the motor for easy access on top of the bumper. Warn also supplies a fairlead and a winch hook for the end of the cable.

Once the winch was mounted into the OR-Fab bumper, it took two people to lift the assembly and secure the bolts onto the Jeep's frame. Warn also supplies large two-gauge battery wire leads that were routed to the XJ's battery, and once attached, the installation was complete. The next step was to wind the Warn Spydura synthetic line onto the winch drum.

The OR-Fab bumper also features two heavy-duty D-ring mounts and comes with two D-rings. While the Warn winch comes with a winch hook, we upgraded to using a Factor-55 winch thimble. Warn also has winch thimbles and other winch accessories that make it easy to properly and safely hook up a winch-line.