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!
An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.
2013 GC Ltd Hemi (2nd Jeep)