Im driving 3 and a half hours to look at a 5000 dollar 97 wrangler se. What should i check for and be aware of?
Not to judge your situation, but for 5000 dollars I would think you might be getting a mess for a tj. I know everyone says that buying a high mileage tj is not a big deal, but I would rather buy something where I know what im getting into. I would also urge you to buy a 4.0. People have great luck with the 2.4/2.5, but not knowing your intentions it is a safe route to go. Good luck.
sic vis pacem para bellum
Water in the oil means the engine is toast. Ingredients in the anti-freeze usually partiallydissolves the rod & main bearing material. Not right away but in a short period of time. If its your jeep to begin with, when you find a coolant leak, its sometimes worth the gamble to try to fix the leak and take a chance on the bearings (and other parts) but if its one you are looking at to buy and the oil is milky or there is junk on the bottom of the radiator cap.....Dont walk, run away as fast as you can.
That said, when you first look at the jeep make sure the engine is cold. Then start it check for anything amiss. Sound, smoke etc. Let it warm up before driving it. Let it idle at least 5 min. Check for leaks. Check for dinged up undercarriage, stand on the brakes very hard.
If its a stick, put it in 3rd and take off. It should die. Lots more but this should get ya started.
x2 on checking for rust. Also if it's a soft top, unzip/zip all windows, especially the dreaded rear window to ensure all zippers operate smoothly.
Take it on the freeway up to 70 to look for vibes/?DW..
Look for leaks and engage the 4WD.