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Old 02-11-2014, 11:43 PM   #1
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Average Costs of Aging TJs?

Hi All-

So I have a 2001 Sport TJ. It's loads of fun and I've really enjoyed it and so far it hasn't really cost much for repairs other than simple things like replacing a broken shock from wheeling too hard or something. It's at 130k miles now though and I'm starting to worry that the expenses are coming...

So, I'm debating whether I should put money into upgrading straight to a newer JK ($15,000ish is probably what I would spend on one) or if I should just set that money aside for keeping my TJ going. I guess my question is what are the normal problems and costs associated with an aging TJ? I hear that the 4.0 engines last well over 200k miles, but what does that mean exactly? For instance, I often see people posting about their 80s era jeeps or CJs. I assume those are likely rebuilt engines or at least they've had heavy replacements on their parts?

Some things I can think of that might go out and be somewhat pricey, but I have no idea if or when: transmission (automatic), gears/gearing, steering, head gaskets...help me brainstorm what else I might prepare for so I can decide where to start saving. Thanks in advance!

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Old 02-12-2014, 01:05 AM   #2
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It will always be cheaper to repair what you have instead of buying a new one....more fun too

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Old 02-12-2014, 08:43 AM   #3
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It will always be cheaper to repair what you have instead of buying a new one....more fun too
Does that hold true if I'm only moderately good at DIY? I mean I can do things like replace shocks and lights, etc... but if it came down to anything like a transmission, gearing, or head-gasket, then I'm hosed.
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Old 02-12-2014, 09:19 AM   #4
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Does that hold true if I'm only moderately good at DIY? I mean I can do things like replace shocks and lights, etc... but if it came down to anything like a transmission, gearing, or head-gasket, then I'm hosed.
I am in the same boat, I am moderately good at mechanics. I can install the exterior components and such (bumpers, armor, and such) but I farm out the true mechanics. I see it this way. I can experiment my way to an install, and then pay someone to fix my mistakes, or I can save the money and have an expert do it right the first time. I am money ahead paying the experts.

I have a bone stock 2005 Wrangler X (TJ) that I am getting ready to dump 12k to 15k. I estimate my labor costs in my build (outside work) will be in the 5k range. If I did it myself the labor costs would be in the 10k range.
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Old 02-12-2014, 12:26 PM   #5
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I'd say make jeeping friends and have them show and help you fix it. They are usually happy to help cause they find it fun and they're friends!
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Old 02-12-2014, 12:33 PM   #6
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I was thinking the same thing. I got my Jeep TJ in October and it currently has about 175k. I have to check with the receipts from the previous owner, but when should I rebuild the engine and/or tranny? I definitely want to keep this thing running as long as possible.
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Old 02-12-2014, 12:36 PM   #7
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It will always be cheaper to repair what you have instead of buying a new one....more fun too
X2 especially if it's paid for, nor are there any guarantees a new JK will cost any less in the long run to maintain. Too many variables
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Old 02-12-2014, 12:46 PM   #8
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In my opinion, if you have an older TJ (I have a 99 with about 122K miles), unless you are reasonably good at DIY, or unafraid to try doing at least small things yourself like replace shocks, distributor, water pump, fighting off rust on the frame, cracked manifold, rotted exhaust, keeping up on spark plug changes and fluid changes on the oil, differentials, tranny, etc. Then the older Jeep will slowly bleed you dry having to pay a mechanic a few hundred bucks for this, a few hundred bucks for that and so on. In that case, you are much better off leasing or buying a newer vehicle under warranty and getting rid of it every few years or so for another one under warranty.

These trucks have good solid engines that will not likely blow up on you, but they WILL need things all manner of smaller things replaced as they age. I like to say that the rest of the Jeep will fall apart around the engine before you need to rebuild it.

To me, its not really the price of the parts that kills you, it's the mechanic fees for diagnosis and then repair. If you don't know your Jeep very well, and don't have a lot of basic mechanic know-how, I am sorry to say that 8 out of 10 shops will take advantage and overcharge on the repair times, or while diagnosing one small issue, will talk you into parts and repairs that were not necessarily needed. For example, you'll walk out of the shop with a $600 bill for new tie rod, drag link and shocks when all you really needed was a new $10 bushing.If I did not do things myself, I would already dropped 1/3 of the blue book value of the jeep on repair and maintenance costs in the three years I have owned it.
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:08 PM   #9
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^ Not necessarily.
Finding honest garages/shops/mechanics will save time and money. I use a garage or two, and their owners or mechanics treat me right. My skills, tools and time are limited. They've told me to wait a bit (sure, do it now but it's your dime/$) or to do it myself and showed me the simple part(s) to replace and given tips on how to do it (50% mix of ATF and Acetone is the BEST, beats H*LL out of PB Blaster, et c.), and they've done some work with reduced or NO labor costs. I've priced other places and I've considered what I can do with/on my time, tools, labor & cussing Vs. what I'm willing to pay to save the foregoing.

It is a shot in the dark to find good honest mechanics and garages I will admit but even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while...
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:37 PM   #10
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The cost difference to me is huge. Most shops charge over twice (sometimes grossly more) what I put into my transmission flush, or my oil pressure sensor, or my o2 sensors, or my ball joints, or my ujoints, or my brakes, my differential fluid changes, my radiator/block/heater core flush and fill, etc, etc, etc. I also know what everything looks like because I saw it with my own eyes, and I know that the bolts are torqued right, I didn't miss anything, etc.

I understand that some folks are limited on time or tools, but seriously these rigs are not hard to work on. I've got lots to learn about them but I've learned a ton in the last year and I've performed all work and maintenance myself. A metric deep socket set, some wrenches, a Torx bit set, a torque wrench, a large sae socket or two and you're just about set. All the information is available and it's not like the guy at the shop is magical or supernatural, he just has the information and the experience to confidently do the work. He wasn't born with it, he learned it, just like we all can. Now if you don't want to work on it, then that's a different story completely.

I figure as long as I keep the consumable items and high wear parts fresh and running smoothly my LJ should last me a long, long, long time. Ball joints, unit bearings, fluids, brakes, regular love and attention with lube and steering/suspension component inspections/servicing and I should be good to go. YMMV.
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:39 PM   #11
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Joining my very active local Jeep Club has allowed me to filter out probably 90% of jobs I might otherwise have given to a Dealer/Shop. The TJ is one of the last vehicles IMO where you can crawl underneath and still make sense of what parts do what. Keeping on top of things as they eventually wear or get out of adjustment I expect my 2006 Rubicon to last as forever as a motor vehicle could.

I know more than a few JK owners in my Club who are chasing their tails constantly trying to run down mechanical demons on their rigs after even moderate offroad use, especially the first five production years. I'd give up Jeeping my TJ before I would own a JK. YMMV
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Old 02-12-2014, 07:47 PM   #12
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I have a '97 TJ Sport automatic, original owner. I've had to replace the Tranny, Starter, Battery, air compressor, OPS unit and the catalytic converter. That's not bad for 17 years with 140K.

These things do leak over time, and this was the reason for my tranny rebuild. When you start noticing tranny leakage and slipping, then you are developing tranny problems. My OPS unit lasted 16 years. My Cat lasted 11 years. Other than that, on my stock TJ, I haven't had any problems.

Just do regular maintenance and inspection. As it gets older, it will burn oil more. Just check the oil level, tranny level and radiator fluid, brake fluids, differential fluid, grease joints, etc. The fluids are your major preventive measures.
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Old 02-12-2014, 08:14 PM   #13
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The TJ is prob one of the easiest vehicles to work on.Like posted earlier,make a few Jeeper friends near you.I bet they would be glad to help you,especially if you mention beer,lol
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Old 02-12-2014, 08:54 PM   #14
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I have an '06 with 150,xxx miles and have lifted it 4", changed tires/rims,and basic maintenance. I keep thinking its time to trade,but I LOVE my jeep. I think if you can handle simple repairs,(brakes, oil, filters, etc..) the jeep will hang with you. I've owned ford with great luck and chevy with great luck,and I believe that the jeep will hang with them as far as dependability,even though I have treated the jeep as a rented mule!
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Old 02-12-2014, 09:12 PM   #15
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This is a personal choice only you can make. Some people can't wrench, no matter how easy for some, it might as well be quantum physics for others.
I bought a great sports car, fun for a few years, then things started breaking. Money pit. This, that and another thing. Three computers, so nothing was easy to work on. So what did I do? I bought a Jeep, lol. Like many said, it's inline six is super easy to work on and reliable when taken care of. Frame and drive line are easy to access and care for. Not too many bells n whistles to go wrong. Parts are cheap, easy to get and don't change much year to year.

As was said, you know what's wrong with your Jeep or what's coming up. But unless you buy new, sometimes you are buying someone elses problems and you'll wish you kept what you had... Good luck!
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Old 02-12-2014, 11:28 PM   #16
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Also, keeping up on the simple maintenance like fluid changes etc, can prevent larger issues like transmission or engine failures.

There are no guarantees that a newer vehicle won't also have issues, just the way vehicles are.

Of course, there might be issues that pop up that you aren't comfortable doing, then that's what a shop is for. (I have front diff issues right now & it's going to a shop).

You can buy alot of aftermarket parts for the $$ of a car loan payment each month.
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Old 02-13-2014, 04:35 AM   #17
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As was said, you know what's wrong with your Jeep or what's coming up. But unless you buy new, sometimes you are buying someone elses problems and you'll wish you kept what you had... Good luck!
I think verf said it best. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't. I can only reiterate what everyone else has said, a few jeep friends and a case of beer goes a long way. Also, doing the little stuff on your own can save huge if you choose to keep it. Maintenance is a must no matter what your driving.

Goodluck brotha. I hope you end up happy with whatever you choose.
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Old 02-13-2014, 06:30 AM   #18
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Assuming you don't have a monthly payment to make on it I would and do put some money in it on a regular basis for piece of mind and so that if some major expense does hit, you don't have to ask yourself if it is worth it to repair because you can remind yourself of all the items that you don't have to worry about.
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Old 02-13-2014, 09:04 AM   #19
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I bought my TJ because of how much easier it is for the owner to look after and work on it him or herself.
I bought my TJ in December 2011. Since then I have replaced the Water Pump, Two Pulleys, The Fan belt, The Altenator, The Battery, The Exhaust Manifold, The Exhaust and a bunch of interior and exterior new bits.
I am now looking at transmission work due to a bad bearing. Mechanic says $900 to 1500 depending on parts. I do honestly still believe that its all been worth it though. At 182,000 miles a Jeep can be forgiven for having a few problems. I'm no mechanic, but with the help of the forum and Utube I have done most of the work myself and will only have used the mechanic for the tranny, The exhaust and my coil spacers as he did them while doing the exhaust.
Making my 14 year old Jeep look like it came out of the showroom a couple of years ago is part of the fun and enjoyment of owning one. Just my 2 cents but I reckon I will never sell my Jeep. It keeps me sane
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Old 02-13-2014, 06:40 PM   #20
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I bought my bone stock 99 tj for $5,400. After the build and repairs I have roughly the same as I could buy a jK for. But the JK would be stock. Stock JK, nice, built TJ, priceless!
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Old 02-14-2014, 08:32 PM   #21
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thanks

Thanks to everybody for the responses. I've decided to stick with my TJ. What parts in my jeep should I start keeping a close eye on though? I'd like to make sure to get things fixed when they're small problems rather than when they become big ones.
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Old 02-14-2014, 09:46 PM   #22
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After years and years of being grease monkey, there isn't anything I haven't done yet. To all of you that say you are ok mechanics, you will only get better by just doing the deed. A lot of people think that rebuilding an auto transmission is scary. I can tell you 100% that its one of the easiest things you can do in the power train.
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Old 02-14-2014, 09:57 PM   #23
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paying for parts is better than paying interest on a loan. And you learn from the installation. Youtube has made life infinitely easier.
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Old 02-15-2014, 12:51 AM   #24
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A lot of people think that rebuilding an auto transmission is scary. I can tell you 100% that its one of the easiest things you can do in the power train.
What about a manual? I might be tempted to give it a whirl one day
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Old 02-15-2014, 01:11 AM   #25
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Another great thing about Jeeps is that you can find a write up or YouTube video for just about anything you need to do to it. Everything else has already been said.
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Old 02-16-2014, 07:28 AM   #26
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paying for parts is better than paying interest on a loan. And you learn from the installation. Youtube has made life infinitely easier.
Could not have said it better.
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:21 AM   #27
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What parts in my jeep should I start keeping a close eye on though? I'd like to make sure to get things fixed when they're small problems rather than when they become big ones.
Steering, tires, brakes.
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:52 AM   #28
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Steering, tires, brakes.
sounds easy enough. Thanks!
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:41 AM   #29
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I'll add: ball joints, unit bearings, all maintenance lubrication and fluids as well. Watch the track bars and keep the tires rotated and balanced, preferably perfectly balanced.

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Old 02-17-2014, 12:11 AM   #30
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A little secret about watching brakes. Many folks know/have heard that brake fluid absorb moisture out of the air. If you didn't, it's true. But what folks fail to keep in mind is that moisture mixes thru out the brake line and will rot the line from the inside out. People somehow think it just pools a layer in the reservoir. That's why you should flush the whole system from time to time.
Easier way is of course to pay someone else, lol.
Got $40? Speed Bleeders. One man bleeding done easy, watch that reservoir!
Rent the free to use vacuum bleeder at the local auto shop
And of course call a buddy, crack a few beers, BS, push and hold, lol

Oh, and if you ever have to replace one brake line because it burst, replace the other, it's on it's way too. And cause the new one won't give, the old one won't deal with the added pressure. Save the headache later, do both at the same time. Hand bending is easy, keep the original to follow as a template

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