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Old 08-19-2013, 08:14 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 23
Advice on a purchase 89 Wrangler

Hey guys, could use some advice. On the prowl for my first Jeep, looking at a 1989 Wrangler, private seller. Asking price is 3,000 but negotiable as he is trying to get rid of it before going off to school. No body rust, lifted an unknown height, and 33" tires. Just under 100K miles. Needs a new clutch, new rear shock mount, and wider flares to pass inspection. Overall looks to be in good shape, but definitely a 24 y.o. vehicle. Just enough work to do to get me excited.

Is this reasonable price? Anything in particular I should be looking for? Obviously going to take it down to a trusted mechanic before buying.

The one thing throwing me off at present is the tailgate. From what I know, which is to say very little, the year places it in the YJ category, but the tailgate is not swing away like the other YJ Jeeps I've seen, rather a drop down. Was the drop down a stock option? Should I be questioning the year listed? Checking the VIN with a decoder shows the vehicle as being an automatic, or sometimes doesn't even show (guessing due to it's age?) Unsure if a Carfax report would help in this.

Anyways, any ideas you guys could throw at me would be super helpful. Doing my own research as I go, but a few quick answers would go a long way. Looking forward to joining the Jeepers!

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Old 08-19-2013, 08:18 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Lubbock Texas
Posts: 1,220
There is a conversion for the YJ that allows you to make the tailgate drop down like the CJ instead of the swing out like the YJ. Does it have square headlights?

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Old 08-19-2013, 08:23 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2013
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Yes, it does have square headlights. As for the conversion kit, there were no plates to cover the existing holes from the swing away hinges, any other indications of a conversion?
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:42 PM   #4
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Location: Lubbock Texas
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Could have welded/bondo them up and painted over them. Can you run your hand up behind that panel and feel for slag/bondo where the holes would have been. May have to pull the splash shield out from the tub to get to them.
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:46 PM   #5
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 118
Seems like a fair price. Is it a 4.2 or 2.5? Fuel injected or Carb? If carb does it have the original carter BBD (With the large, circular, metal air filter with all the vacuum lines? Check the driveshafts for any issues.

The work that needs to be done sounds reasonable if the engine is in good shape.
1990 YJ 4.2L
Currently in the shop for an 8.8 swap!
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Old 08-19-2013, 09:07 PM   #6
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 23
I'll check it out as soon as I can rykemc, thanks! Mesh, it's a 4.2 with the carb, no idea about the BBD. Is having the original a positive or negative? Checking the driveshaft for sure. Good to know it sounds like a fair price from a third party, and it's not just my excitement talking. Thanks!
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Old 08-19-2013, 09:53 PM   #7
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I have an 89 4.2 and I like it, original carb and all. I've done one rebuild and never had a problem. The tail gate is a conversion, which is fine. Forget about a carfax. Have your tech check it out and make sure it runs good at speed, shifts good and that the 4wd works. If everything checks out offer 2K and go up to 2500 if you really want it.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:09 PM   #8
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 157
Looked at a bunch around here before I bought my 88. Here are some things to look for.

In terms of price, that sounds very reasonable, but I have noticed prices really vary by region. Around here if you can buy a jeep that runs for $3k you better get it.

Check for rust in these areas;
1-lift the carpet in front of drivers and passenger side floor board. Out of 15 jeeps 14 o them were rusted through right there. Not a hard fix, but something to consider
2- below the windshield frame and just below the JEEP emboss on each side check for rust
3-look for leaks around the driveshaft yokes, transfer case, transmission, and lower part of the engine
4-listen for exhaust leak around exhaust manifold
5-do a compression test
6-check the four wheel drive and make sure it is working
7-tires are expensive, how do they look
8-does it have a spare
9-check the oil dipstick and see if it has a burnt end, this is a witness mark for overheating or a lot of sludge in the engine
10- test the brakes good. I mean take up to some speed and hit the brakes pretty hard see what happens. Of it pulls one way or another it may need brake lines.
11-watch out for a lot of spray paint underneath. What are they trying to hide.
12- how does it smell? Lol. If it doesn't have the Jeep smell....there is something wrong.

I'm no expert, but I looked at enough to realize you will can easily dump another 3k in repairs very quick if you aren't careful. It's a pretty old jeep. Good luck and happy jeepin.

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