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Old 06-19-2013, 11:14 AM   #1
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1st time buyer - opinion?

Those few years before you get your license when you dream/fantasize about what car you want? For me it always came back to a Jeep. Yes, there were occasional others - Spitfires, Midget, TR-6, TVR and, for a brief period, a Ferrari Daytona (way too much Miami Vice watching!) But, ultimately, it was always a Jeep. I had a chance to get a YJ after a divorce about 14 years ago but balked just as I was about to sign. Now, though, I've gotten the ok to seriously pursue it (to the point that my wife had me bid on a nice TJ on eBay last week).

I've been seriously looking (read obsessing) for about 3 weeks now. The catch is that I'm extremely picky about it. Not so much color and not even really options/lifts/etc. Mainly that it's got to be the I6, a 5-spd and a TJ. It'll be a daily driver, very light towing (a small trailer with camping gear on occasion, hence the I6) and the majority of the off-roading will be on FS roads to mountain bike trails or out of the way camp sites.

My budget can run up to $7500 (maybe $8000). I know that I can definitely find the specs I'm looking for in a YJ but am pretty stuck on the TJ. And, honestly, even if I found a good deal on a JK in that range, I'd probably pass.

I found this locally:

1998 Jeep Wrangler Sahara I6 5 speed

and am curious what the thoughts are on it (hopefully nobody will snake it out from under me). Definitely in the price range - and gives me a couple of grand to work out any kinks. I'm hoping to check it out this weekend if it's still around but have been talking to the seller. Dana 35 rear, 30 front. He says that there's no rust issue which I can verify when I see it.

What are some things I need to check out pre-sale? What are things I need to consider after the sale that may be coming up sooner rather than later? There's a few things I'll want to do pretty quickly:

half doors
rugged ridge easy load trail rack
step of some kind (wife is 5' even)
mirror relocation

Long term would be a frameless top. Wouldn't mind REMOVING the lift either but I'm told it'll be more work than it's worth.

So . . . opinions? Something I should consider? Avoid like the plague?

Thanks.

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Old 06-19-2013, 12:42 PM   #2
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From the pictures I can see, I'd avoid it like the plague. The t-case skid looks rusted along with the frame above it. And Rough Country (especially back when that one was most likely installed) is a pretty low quality lift. Also there's what seems like a t-case drop in there, not really the "correct" way to stop driveline vibes. If you could get some more info about the other mods that would be helpful. Looks like there's some aftermarket control arms on there as well, RC has never been know for the quality of their CA's. And if you could get some more pictures of it that'd help alot in determining the quality of the jeep. Pictures of the front axle, control arms, frame rails, etc.

But if you go see it and test drive it, listen for pops in the steering and suspension. Make sure you take turns fast and slow, and turn it to full wheel lock in both directions if you can to see if there's any pops or something wearing out up front. Any major looseness in the steering, wheel jerk and/or shimmies going over bumps. And definitely hit bumps in the road going 40+ if you can. If there's any DW in that jeep, a bump at 40-45+ will most likely trigger it.

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Old 06-19-2013, 12:59 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. If I didn't mention it before, I AM new to a lot of this . . .

While I mentally noted the rust color, I didn't point blank ask him about that specifically - just if there were rust issues with the frame, His reply was that there wasn't. Whether he was taking me literally or whether we're seeing clay stains I don't know and won't until I look at it.

For the sake of argument, assuming he's right about there being no rust . . . going back to my lack of knowledge but having Google as my best friend -that's a suspension lift, correct? Would removing it fix the issues described? Though, further thought . . . doesn't address the t-case drop - that's not part of the lift, right?

I just noticed that the ad says Sahara but the Jeep in the picture says Rubicon and doesn't have the Sahara sticker . . .
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Old 06-19-2013, 12:59 PM   #4
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IMHO, buy a bone stock jeep for your first timer. You can do your own mods, and you will get to know her and her personality from scratch. Unless your buying a first class pro rig, or someone's garage jewlery, you are most likely inheriting someone elses headache. Rust on a jeep doesn't scare me. An improperly installed lift kit or mis-sized tires can be a nightmare. Just saying.
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Old 06-19-2013, 01:47 PM   #5
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Noboat - something I'm considering as well. While rust DOES give me some concern, I'm more concerned with something that can have an immediate critical problem - i.e. the lift and/or tire issues you mentioned.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grogcummins View Post
Thanks for the reply. If I didn't mention it before, I AM new to a lot of this . . .

While I mentally noted the rust color, I didn't point blank ask him about that specifically - just if there were rust issues with the frame, His reply was that there wasn't. Whether he was taking me literally or whether we're seeing clay stains I don't know and won't until I look at it.

For the sake of argument, assuming he's right about there being no rust . . . going back to my lack of knowledge but having Google as my best friend -that's a suspension lift, correct? Would removing it fix the issues described? Though, further thought . . . doesn't address the t-case drop - that's not part of the lift, right?

I just noticed that the ad says Sahara but the Jeep in the picture says Rubicon and doesn't have the Sahara sticker . . .
Google is definitely your best friend. And yes it has a 4" suspension lift on it. The transfer case drop is technically not "part" of the suspension but the transfer case itself is effected by the suspension height via driveshaft angles. If you took that lift off of it, and just put some 2" spacers in (commonly referred to as a BB or "Budget Boost") or even stick height springs (I've got some if you want them) you could take the t-case drop out. Also if you remove the lift, depending upon what other mods he has they may also need to be replaced (like possibly fixed control arms, trackbar, etc). And in all honesty, if I was buying it, I'd replace everything he's got on there regardless of what I was planning on doing with it. Because its more than likely he's got RC control arms and an RC trackbar. Both of which aren't worth a damn. Does all that make sense?

A good option that is pretty easy on the wallet is the 3" Zone lift too by the way. I don't have one (I've got an Old Man Emu setup with other goodies) but many members here are happy with that lift. It'll give you looks and functionality without breaking the bank and is a very good alternative to what's on there now. Plus it'll lower it down an inch so it's easier for your wife to get in and out.

And it's definitely not a Rubicon. They didn't make those in '98 and they come with a D44 rear axle. So someone just put a sticker on the hood.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:26 PM   #7
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It makes sense to the extent I have a general idea of what you're talking about from reading the forum almost non-stop for the past few weeks. Unfortunately since I wasn't interested in lifts, I never really read much of the lift threads - need to go back and review those.

I think I'll ping him and see if I can find out exactly what was done (and by whom) - maybe that will help some.

Going away from the lift and possible frame issues, what, if anything to look for in regards to engine and transmission?
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:30 PM   #8
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Just general vehicle stuff with the engine and tranny. No weird noises or knocks, easy shifting, no smoke, temp should run at about 210 or just a tad under once it's been driven for a few minutes, oil pressure should be up around 40, etc.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:38 PM   #9
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Great - thanks. With 200k+ miles, wasn't sure if I'm looking at a rebuild in, say, the next 100k or not.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:45 PM   #10
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that wrangler is a death trap. stay away! also, they didnt start making rubicons till like, 2004... lol

I agree with buying one that is stock.
try to find a clean one with a D44 rear axel if your lucky.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grogcummins View Post
Great - thanks. With 200k+ miles, wasn't sure if I'm looking at a rebuild in, say, the next 100k or not.
Now that totally depends upon previous maintenance. That engine could go another 100K or another 10K. I have no idea because I haven't seen it myself. Just be careful when you go and be critical of every detail. Look at it objectively, not with your head running saying "I'm so excited I'm gonna have a jeep!" Because that's how you end up with a money pit. If there's something you don't like about it and you think it's a deal breaker, just walk away from it. There's plenty of TJ's out there.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lutzkanin View Post
that wrangler is a death trap. stay away! also, they didnt start making rubicons till like, 2004... lol

I agree with buying one that is stock.
try to find a clean one with a D44 rear axel if your lucky.
And despite what I've already said here, I also kind of agree with this. Minus the D44 part. Doesn't sound like you'll actually need the D44 rear end.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:53 PM   #13
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No, from what I've read, I don't think I'll necessarily need a D44.

It's not going to hurt to check it out. My cousin's been wrenching since he was in diapers and I'll bring him with me to look it over. While simply looking at the $$$ makes it desirable, I'm a firm believer in "if it looks good to be true . . . " and can walk away if it doesn't feel right (hence what I did 14 years ago) . . . in the meantime I'll continue scouring CL and eBay . . .
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:35 PM   #14
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I had the wrong tires on a set of maxxims on the jeep when i got them used, 245-65-17. Gave me a horrible feedback wobble at 55-65 mph only (which is my normal hwy cruising speed) the wobble would stop at 70, i know, go figure) i switched to a used 245-70-17 just to see if it made a difference and it eliminated the problem. I've since purchased brand new 245-70's and couldn't be happier. It took me a month just to figure that whole thing out after 2 balancings and an alignment)
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:34 AM   #15
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Never got the chance to look at it - sold before I could make it out there. Found a stock '97 Sport in Charlotte that I'm hoping I'll be able to look at this weekend if it's still there (live in Atlanta so likely can't get up there until then).

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