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Old 07-12-2011, 09:18 AM
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Need advise, thinking of buying used Wrangler

I just got back from OBX again and my wife saw a really nice looking Jeep Wrangler. Now she wants her own Jeep (I have a 2011 GC Laredo X). It had a moderate lift on it and 33-35" tires. I thinking I would like to find one that was basically stock and add my own parts to so I know it wasn't beat. I would like to keep the initial purchase around $7k. What years should I consider and/or exclude. Coil vs leaf suspension? Is the 4.0 the motor I want? I've seen a bunch of 4.0's with mileage in the 125k-140k, is that a lot for the motor or are the good for a lot more? I don't want to buy a 125k motor to find out that I need to rebuild it. Any insight regarding this would be great.

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 08-31-2011, 06:57 PM
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Re: Need advise, thinking of buying used Wrangler

I'm helping a friend look for a Jeep for one of his kids and here are some bullet points for a Wrangler under $7k:

- Stick to the TJ models (1997-2006), they have coil springs and ride better.
- The 4.0 is a good but old design and high miles = leaking rear main seals, but repairable.
- Axles and differentials on high mileage units usually need rebuilding ($oon).
- The 2.5 4cyl is OK, but you cannot run big tires and expect to hold highway speeds.
- In 2005+ the 4cyl is now a 2.4L with a lot more power than the 2.5, OK with a manual trans.
- The 4.0 in years 2000-2002 w/"331" head have internal cracking issues ~ cyl#3-4. It is repairable if caught in time.
- The manual transmissions are decent but higher mileage units the internals are often worn out.
- The 1997 (first year, same old story) tend to have electrical gremlins.
- The frames in rust-belt climates tend to rust inside-out and with structural failure - beware sales stating "new tires"
- TJs that are already lifted sometimes cannot engage the transfer case to 4-wheel drive
- The prices are high, IMHO for the TJ line but that is due to some seeing them as more customizable to off-roaders (cheaper, plentiful aftermarket).

All this said, you can find deals out there, but if you can, buy one that lived in a dry rust-free climate to have a better chance of avoiding an unsafe frame; the frame rust is not always evident from an external examination. The cylinder head issue in years 2000-2002 can be show-stoppers; look for traces of coolant on the oil dipstick. The weakness is due to a bad run of head castings and they strengthened the susceptible area by the end of 2002 so a 2003 and newer is OK. I really feel a 1998-1999 and 2003-3006 are the ranges to look at for TJ Wranglers. You might be better off and save some money to get a 2007 JK with some miles on it; the JK is IMHO a better platform with more clearance and better ergonomics right out of the gate. If you go a TJ (or older route) to get that $7k threshold, beware that you can easily spend twice that fixing the issues that will crop up on those older vehicles. I've been down many of those roads before, unfortunately. Ask yourself, do you want to drive it or fix it? best of luck to you!
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Old 09-01-2011, 01:16 AM
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Re: Need advise, thinking of buying used Wrangler

X2 on the above post. I have heard of guys running 33"+ tires on the 4cyl, but it's not going down the highway and pulling into traffic without endagering yourself or other vehicles. I would try and stay in the TJ Body style or save up for a JK, but the problem there is you are going to have a hard time finding one for 7k. I have been looking to go up to a newer TJ 05-06 from my 99 and would try and sell it for around 10k. Stealerships only want to give me 8 for it at max and they would turn and sell it for around 10k. If you are stuck at 7k you might have to go YJ or try and find a nice CJ... If you can up your budget, that would be the way to go. Good Luck! Happy Hunting.
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Old 09-05-2011, 01:29 PM
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Re: Need advise, thinking of buying used Wrangler

going to be very hard to come up with a decent TJ for 7K. I had a guy offer me 9K for my '99 with 95,000 miles. Keep us posted!
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Old 09-05-2011, 01:53 PM
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Re: Need advise, thinking of buying used Wrangler

My friend wants to sell this one.



It's got all five rockstar wheels and Toyo tires.
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Old 09-23-2011, 09:33 PM
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Re: Need advise, thinking of buying used Wrangler

Absolutely go with a TJ. The 4.0 is a stout motor, the softtops, especially the aftermarket sailcloth tops offer a much quieter ride and insular properties. Problem is, you won't find many TJ's with less than 150k for 7 grand. Period. I just sold a 2000 Sahara for 7000 with 180k on the odometer...
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