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Old 11-22-2013, 10:00 AM   #1
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Best Wrangler model/yr for 12k price ceiling?

Hello all I just joined this forum in hopes that you guys can help me out with shopping for my very first Jeep after selling my car.

My situation is that I don't need a daily driver, and will only drive this thing on the weekends/grocery store type stuff. Very interested in off roading without messing the thing up, just to keep it's value if possible. If not, oh well lol. I don't want to put countless thousands of dollars into it though to make it off road-able.

I did try to do a lot of research before posting here and this is what I found:

-I should get Dana 44 axles all around, and this would limit my choices to the Rubicon, some Sports, and some Sahara's as an option from the dealer. The Unlimited has it only on the rear?

-The 6 speed stick only comes in 05 and up, although I guess a 5 sp would work as well but worried about highway just in case. LSD in the trans should be a must have, and automatic isn't an option LOL. V6's 235 torque doesn't seem to hard to come by, in most Jeep models/yrs

-I should put big tires on it and lift it for suspension/chassis clearance off of the ground as much as possible.

Aside from the above, what do you guys think for a $12,000 price limit? And also, what is the max mileage you would buy one at?

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Old 11-22-2013, 10:09 AM   #2
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JMHO, but

04-06 will be the newest, lowest mileage TJ's, and the best of the breed.

Folks will freak over an oil pump gear issue, but that should have been taken care of many years and miles ago, if it were an issue.

Sports didn't get D44's in the front (unless converted, or special ordered.

6spd gearing is SHORT! be prepared to shift alot. But that doesn't bother me in my daily drive.

Mileage is not near as important as maintenance and service.

Get the best maintained, best condition, one you can in your budget.

I paid $12k for my 05, Sport, 6spd with 91k miles on it recently and my market has a "price premium" on Wranglers.


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Old 11-22-2013, 10:29 AM   #3
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It's going to be more expensive then you think if you want 44s all around + lift and tires yourself. Shoot for a Rubi under 100k miles for 12 with lift and tires on it call it a day
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:30 AM   #4
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The winning answer is any TJ that is lower miles, in great condition (garage kept, never off-roaded, etc.), and preferably with a D44 rear. You're not going to get a decent Rubicon at that price so forget about that. For 12k, you should be able to get an 80k or below easily. I got my '98 with 69k for $10k a couple of months ago. It has a decent lift, etc., but did not have the D44 in the rear. I kind of regret not making sure I got one with a D44, but I am looking forward to putting an 8.8 in now anyway.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:33 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by LukeEC View Post
It's going to be more expensive then you think if you want 44s all around + lift and tires yourself. Shoot for a Rubi under 100k miles for 12 with lift and tires on it call it a day
I think this is dreaming considering a Rubi in decent shape with under 100k for anywhere near $12k. Those would go for $16k plus around here.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:38 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Skold View Post
I think this is dreaming considering a Rubi in decent shape with under 100k for anywhere near $12k. Those would go for $16k plus around here.
x2

and that is WITHOUT a lift or bigger tires.

my 04 sport with 95,000 (only rear d44) stock was $12000

I have since put in about another $3.5k to get it where it is at today.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:42 AM   #7
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I found my LJ rubicon with 129k for $10k
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:53 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by bluevr6 View Post
JMHO, but

04-06 will be the newest, lowest mileage TJ's, and the best of the breed.

Folks will freak over an oil pump gear issue, but that should have been taken care of many years and miles ago, if it were an issue.

Sports didn't get D44's in the front (unless converted, or special ordered.

6spd gearing is SHORT! be prepared to shift alot. But that doesn't bother me in my daily drive.

Mileage is not near as important as maintenance and service.

Get the best maintained, best condition, one you can in your budget.

I paid $12k for my 05, Sport, 6spd with 91k miles on it recently and my market has a "price premium" on Wranglers.

Nice jeep! Thanks for the information, i didn't know alot of that and taking in everything that I can.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LukeEC View Post
It's going to be more expensive then you think if you want 44s all around + lift and tires yourself. Shoot for a Rubi under 100k miles for 12 with lift and tires on it call it a day
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skold View Post
The winning answer is any TJ that is lower miles, in great condition (garage kept, never off-roaded, etc.), and preferably with a D44 rear. You're not going to get a decent Rubicon at that price so forget about that. For 12k, you should be able to get an 80k or below easily. I got my '98 with 69k for $10k a couple of months ago. It has a decent lift, etc., but did not have the D44 in the rear. I kind of regret not making sure I got one with a D44, but I am looking forward to putting an 8.8 in now anyway.
Is this not a good deal for 11k with 135k miles on it?
2005 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by lmike6453 View Post
Nice jeep! Thanks for the information, i didn't know alot of that and taking in everything that I can.





Is this not a good deal for 11k with 135k miles on it?
2005 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
I plan on lifting it and adding bigger tires myself after saving some money after purchase.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lmike6453 View Post
Aside from the above, what do you guys think for a $12,000 price limit? And also, what is the max mileage you would buy one at?

Just do not rush into purchasing a TJ w/o first looking at (in person) and test driving plenty of them, internet ads can be very misleading.

The good news is that for $12K you can get a really nice used TJ, and if you are new to TJ's I'd suggest you select one as close to stock/unmodified as possible, mileage not being as much a factor as condition.

Don't get too hung up on "I have to have D44 rear axle"....some of the best deals on nice TJ's out there are ones that have the standard-duty rear axle. I would for sure want to have the 4.0L engine and a manual transmission but do not discard the autos if a really nice deal comes up.

Don't box yourself in....look at lots of examples in person before deciding, Good luck, it is fun TJ shopping.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:59 AM   #11
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It all depends on if you want that high of mileage. That is reasonable pricing though
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:00 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by lmike6453 View Post
Nice jeep! Thanks for the information, i didn't know alot of that and taking in everything that I can.





Is this not a good deal for 11k with 135k miles on it?
2005 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
On paper, that looks like a GREAT deal. If it all checks out in person, I say go for it.

A good resource to check out deal pricing is cargurus.com. They are a good way to tell what the going rate is for your area and get pretty granular in terms of model/motor/tranny config.
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:10 AM   #13
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I would absolutely not buy one without the d44 in the rear...
the 35 is a turd, is sketchy at best on 35s and is held together with c-clips. A d44 with the chromoly axle upgrade can handle it's own with 37s

My only problem with high mileage is that a jeep isn't just some vehicle that you trade in for a newer model when the mileage reaches its limit. You put so much into it time wise, and upgrades (lifts, mods etc) that I would want the mileage as low as possible.
On the flip side, because I am doing so much to it, ill just replace the motor and keep the TJ when the engine kicks the bucket
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:13 AM   #14
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Thanks for the responses guys. It is really helpful already and I look forward to joining the community

Quote:
Originally Posted by K.wag View Post
It all depends on if you want that high of mileage. That is reasonable pricing though
I'm coming from Hondas where 135k is nothing lol, have no idea how it translates to Chryslers in these Jeeps though

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skold View Post
On paper, that looks like a GREAT deal. If it all checks out in person, I say go for it.

A good resource to check out deal pricing is cargurus.com. They are a good way to tell what the going rate is for your area and get pretty granular in terms of model/motor/tranny config.
Thanks for this site, looks great. Going to start sifting through it now....
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:15 AM   #15
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I got mine 2001 75k miles 5 speed for 9 grand with brand new lift and wheels. 2 tops and some aftermarket stuff like a sound system and intake. 12k for a rubicon is probably pushing it but the deals are out there if you look hard enough . I missed my chance to get an 03 stock with 50k miles on it for 8grand garage kept by old couple selling it because they were moving. Took me 6 months to find my truck you never know although I never saw a Rubicon that was reasonable
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:16 AM   #16
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Just do not rush into purchasing a TJ w/o first looking at (in person) and test driving plenty of them, internet ads can be very misleading.

The good news is that for $12K you can get a really nice used TJ, and if you are new to TJ's I'd suggest you select one as close to stock/unmodified as possible, mileage not being as much a factor as condition.

Don't get too hung up on "I have to have D44 rear axle"....some of the best deals on nice TJ's out there are ones that have the standard-duty rear axle. I would for sure want to have the 4.0L engine and a manual transmission but do not discard the autos if a really nice deal comes up.

Don't box yourself in....look at lots of examples in person before deciding, Good luck, it is fun TJ shopping.
Thanks! I definitely plan on checking out a bunch, but there's only a few after adding my "filters" like you mentioned with the stick, axle etc. I just don't want to pour time and money into getting it to where I want it when I could just save more money if needed to get it that way stock.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K.wag View Post
I would absolutely not buy one without the d44 in the rear...
the 35 is a turd, is sketchy at best on 35s and is held together with c-clips. A d44 with the chromoly axle upgrade can handle it's own with 37s

My only problem with high mileage is that a jeep isn't just some vehicle that you trade in for a newer model when the mileage reaches its limit. You put so much into it time wise, and upgrades (lifts, mods etc) that I would want the mileage as low as possible.
On the flip side, because I am doing so much to it, ill just replace the motor and keep the TJ when the engine kicks the bucket
I was hoping for someone to chime in on how the D44 compares to the Dana 35. I blindly imagined that it would be a huge difference, and now I know.
I also agree about the mileage perspective but I guess I can't have everything for my price range
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:20 AM   #17
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You definitely can't go wrong with a rubicon for 12k. me personally, i probably wouldn't even think twice about 135,000 miles. the lockers and d44s are a nice addition such that you don't have to spend a bunch of money on a lesser model to get what a rubicon has stock.
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:39 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by K.wag View Post
You definitely can't go wrong with a rubicon for 12k. me personally, i probably wouldn't even think twice about 135,000 miles. the lockers and d44s are a nice addition such that you don't have to spend a bunch of money on a lesser model to get what a rubicon has stock.
I agree. This price being so low at a dealer even raises an eyebow, but you never know.
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:05 PM   #19
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The d35 isn't the turd people make it out to be. it is just fine within its capabilities. Millions of d35's have been used offroad without issue up to the point you exceed the clamping capabilities of the c-clips.

I would get the best jeep I could find, and keep an eye out for a junk yard d44 for when the time comes.

<- has a d44 in the garage for when the time comes.

Also, opinions vary.

My college truck was this:



"Oh, if it doesn't have the d44 up front, its crap" was all I ever heard.

This one was an early model with a d33 and drum brakes up front. and it went EVERYWHERE everyone else could go.

And make sure you find one with a strong motor. I drove dozens that had underpowered / weak / turd motors before I found a good one.
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:49 PM   #20
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Agree. Far from a turd, the d35 has served me well in many older Jeeps, as well. Would I upgrade, if I found a d44 reasonably? Sure. Not paying $850 for one, though!

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Originally Posted by bluevr6 View Post
The d35 isn't the turd people make it out to be. it is just fine within its capabilities. Millions of d35's have been used offroad without issue up to the point you exceed the clamping capabilities of the c-clips.

I would get the best jeep I could find, and keep an eye out for a junk yard d44 for when the time comes.

<- has a d44 in the garage for when the time comes.

Also, opinions vary.

My college truck was this:



"Oh, if it doesn't have the d44 up front, its crap" was all I ever heard.

This one was an early model with a d33 and drum brakes up front. and it went EVERYWHERE everyone else could go.

And make sure you find one with a strong motor. I drove dozens that had underpowered / weak / turd motors before I found a good one.
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:25 PM   #21
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"served me well" is an opinionated based logic. It has served a lot of people well. No arguing that.
I was saying from a structural stand point, 35s is pushing it on a 35. You want to stay with 33s, than a d35 is just fine. Just pray your axle never comes sliding out of the housing.
If you want 35s or bigger, a d44 is the minimum recommended axle housing.
As with all things, just because your personal story of success with a below rated piece of equipment doesn't mean you should recommend it.
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Old 11-22-2013, 03:27 PM   #22
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I bought my '08 JKU with 110k miles for $8750. After a new engine and top I could have been in a nice Jeep for $13K, but no....

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Old 11-22-2013, 04:28 PM   #23
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I bought my '08 JKU with 110k miles for $8750. After a new engine and top I could have been in a nice Jeep for $13K, but no....

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I do not understand your post.
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Old 11-22-2013, 04:31 PM   #24
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Not sure if serious.....He had to spend a lot more once he got the bug for mods......his Jeep isn't exactly stock anymore..lol
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Old 11-22-2013, 05:48 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by lmike6453 View Post
Nice jeep! Thanks for the information, i didn't know alot of that and taking in everything that I can.





Is this not a good deal for 11k with 135k miles on it?
2005 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
carfax said it was in an accident bud i'd figure out what the accident was first then re-evaluate it. look for problems with misalignment like the hood not rubbing everything is straight etc
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Old 11-25-2013, 10:24 AM   #26
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I bought my '08 JKU with 110k miles for $8750. After a new engine and top I could have been in a nice Jeep for $13K, but no....

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Why did you drop in a new engine? Last went went out on you or something?
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:08 AM   #27
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I'm in the same boat, my ceiling is 10-11k because I want to have 4-5k budgeted for lift wherks tires gears and a bigger rear axle if needed. So imo if you want 35's shoot for one with a d44. However having a d44 already installed will only save me $500-$1000 in my build over swapping an 8.8 so it's not a required item, if I find a very clean well priced TJ with a d35
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:35 PM   #28
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I ended up picking up a 03 Rubicon with 132k miles, clean carfax
. Now to figure out mods for it, thanks for all the help!
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:51 PM   #29
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I got a '97 with 144k miles for $6k. I really wish I would've done more research and paid a little more for the d44, etc. But oh well, win some lose some.
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Old 11-27-2013, 12:00 AM   #30
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I ended up picking up a 03 Rubicon with 132k miles, clean carfax
. Now to figure out mods for it, thanks for all the help!
Good to hear! got anything planned yet? what did you pay for it if you don't mind me asking? I can't even FIND rubicons around here...

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I got a '97 with 144k miles for $6k. I really wish I would've done more research and paid a little more for the d44, etc. But oh well, win some lose some.
I decided I'm making a D44 a requirement if the Jeep is over a certain price. If I get a better price on one with a d35 (like $1k lower) I'll pick one up with a d35 and swap the rear

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