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Old 08-21-2009, 02:16 PM   #1
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Buying a high-mileage TJ - what to watch out for?

As the thread title says, I'm considering buying a high-mileage (to keep the price down) TJ. I would prefer a 6 cylinder manual, but am willing to be convinced that the 4 cylinder would be ok. The car will basically be used by my wife as a local run about to replace our minivan - I think she's having a mid-life crisis..:-)

I'm reasonably useful around cars, having rebuilt several in my youth, and am wondering what the major things that can/will go wrong at various mileages on the TJ. e.g. Under normal use, how long does the clutch last? How bullet-proof are the engines, and how many miles is unreasonable for the 6 Cylinder? What are the things that typically fail?

Sorry for the newbie questions, and if there are already similar threads then please tell me where, or suggest appropriate search terms.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 08-21-2009, 02:26 PM   #2
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100k-200k is fairly normal miles for a Jeep 6cyl. I don't know about the JK's new V6 but the I6's are pretty damn good and will last if you treat them right and do proper maint. Don't buy a 4cyl as there is no reason to have it, hold out for a 6.

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Old 08-21-2009, 03:04 PM   #3
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I can't answer any of the questions that you asked. However, I have a 97 4cyl auto with 133K+ on it. I've had it for 10 years and haven't had any major problems with it. I've heard of people having close to 200k on their tj's, so they can last a long time. Anyway, good luck on finding a jeep.
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Old 08-21-2009, 03:36 PM   #4
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I have seen 6cyl's with close or over 300,000 miles, but the 4 cyl is junk. Look at craigs list every jeep with a 4cly says "rebuit motor" or "new Motor", cause they a blow up, I have personally seen many blow up under or around 100,000 miles
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Old 08-21-2009, 03:47 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I just realized I typo'd my username first time round, so I've corrected that. Posting here to update the subscription to the thread.
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Old 08-21-2009, 04:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K.C.'sJeep View Post
I can't answer any of the questions that you asked. However, I have a 97 4cyl auto with 133K+ on it. I've had it for 10 years and haven't had any major problems with it. I've heard of people having close to 200k on their tj's, so they can last a long time. Anyway, good luck on finding a jeep.
same here! 97 TJ, 137k miles on my 4cyl, 5spd & it still runs great! i think the trick to 4cyl is not to beat on em' like they're a 6cyl. having said that, i've had a TJ with a 6 & have to admit it was a lot better (it was also a new 05 so not really fair to compare) BUT the 4 is fine for the light use we give it.
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Old 08-21-2009, 05:52 PM   #7
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How about auto vs manual? We prefer manual, but it seems there are more autos out there.
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Old 08-21-2009, 05:59 PM   #8
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How about auto vs manual? We prefer manual, but it seems there are more autos out there.
Doesn't matter get which ever you prefer.
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Old 08-21-2009, 08:08 PM   #9
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mannual
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:41 AM   #10
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How about auto vs manual? We prefer manual, but it seems there are more autos out there.
manual is more fun....unless you drive in lots of traffic
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Old 08-24-2009, 10:33 AM   #11
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I have had a 97 4cyl with 108000 (son wrecked it) and now a 98 with a 6 with 112000 miles and they run great. They haven't been needy in any way, my mid-life loves both of them. BTW, she liked the vibrations the 31" mudders I put on.
The 6 is worth a thousand dollars more IMO. The 4 was great but too weak for evryday driving in hilly areas.
If you like autos I found many that were cheaper than the manual. I had to pay more because she wanted a stick.
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Old 08-24-2009, 10:50 AM   #12
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I have had a 97 4cyl with 108000 (son wrecked it) and now a 98 with a 6 with 112000 miles and they run great. They haven't been needy in any way, my mid-life loves both of them. BTW, she liked the vibrations the 31" mudders I put on.
The 6 is worth a thousand dollars more IMO. The 4 was great but too weak for evryday driving in hilly areas.
If you like autos I found many that were cheaper than the manual. I had to pay more because she wanted a stick.
lol....
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:04 AM   #13
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if taken care of either engine can last. I had a TJ 6 with just under 160k ran great. I had a ZJ with 210k miles, still ran strong. That's not so say either one with 50k could go bad.

Check for offroad abuse under it, skids plate damage, frame rust on older models. make sure the HVAC works. Looks for oil leaks etc. A stock jeep is usually better to buy than a modified one, unless you know who built it and how well it was done.
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Old 08-24-2009, 12:44 PM   #14
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If you live in new england like i do be sure to check for rust! The salt during the winter time is really harsh on vehicles if they are not cleaned regularly. Also don't be afraid of the 4 cylinder...if you can afford it get a 6 for the extra horsepower, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the 4 cylinder reliability IMO. 4's are going to be cheaper than a 6 as well, you could get a lower mileage 4 for the same price as i higher mileage 6. One thing i would advise though is not to get an auto tranny with a 4, get a manual tranny so you can shift it yourself for more power when you need it.

By the way i have a 4 cylinder with 166,000 miles on it and its still going strong
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Old 08-24-2009, 05:32 PM   #15
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'00 6 cylinder 5-speed 204,xxx. origional 6 would have still been good if po had actually changed the oil, ever. motor thats in it is an 03 and has somewhere around 70k. im just glad i noticed the oil issue before i bought it, running at 2psi just aint rite.

o one more thing, when i pulled the control arms to lift it i noticed that almost every bushing was shot so the suspension bushings definately go before 200k.
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Old 08-24-2009, 06:25 PM   #16
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4 Cylinder TJ's

Hey guys.... new here....

I bought an '01 with a 4 cyl/5sp. As much as I am now hooked on a Wrangler and wouldn't mind being buried in one.... I have to say that I will never buy another 4 cylinder, primarily for two reasons:
  1. I think the 4 cylinder engines are inherently flawed. With only 69,000 miles and just a few months of easy driving, I was forced to pull my motor and have it rebuilt. The number 4 piston's skirt broke off and was flopping around in the pan. Another piston showed fracture in similar position. One poster correctly pointed out that if you go to Craigs list and do some research, you will find an unusual number of 4 cylinder engines that had to be rebuilt. Thus far, I have had no further issues, but used aftermarket pistons in the rebuild

    The other issue is that the 4 cyl is extremely underpowered for the weight of the TJ's. There were days on the highway I couldn't break 65mph.

I still love my TJ like crazy. I'm 39 and can't believe it took me so long to get one! We just added another tj to the family...for the wife. A much more capable 6cyl/auto, with half doors, Khaki w blk top! We're totally geeks about our Wranglers! So.. to the guy thinking about getting one... DO IT... just be sure to get the 6 cyl.
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:23 PM   #17
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Hey guys.... new here....

I bought an '01 with a 4 cyl/5sp. As much as I am now hooked on a Wrangler and wouldn't mind being buried in one.... I have to say that I will never buy another 4 cylinder, primarily for two reasons:
  1. I think the 4 cylinder engines are inherently flawed. With only 69,000 miles and just a few months of easy driving, I was forced to pull my motor and have it rebuilt. The number 4 piston's skirt broke off and was flopping around in the pan. Another piston showed fracture in similar position. One poster correctly pointed out that if you go to Craigs list and do some research, you will find an unusual number of 4 cylinder engines that had to be rebuilt. Thus far, I have had no further issues, but used aftermarket pistons in the rebuild

    The other issue is that the 4 cyl is extremely underpowered for the weight of the TJ's. There were days on the highway I couldn't break 65mph.

I still love my TJ like crazy. I'm 39 and can't believe it took me so long to get one! We just added another tj to the family...for the wife. A much more capable 6cyl/auto, with half doors, Khaki w blk top! We're totally geeks about our Wranglers! So.. to the guy thinking about getting one... DO IT... just be sure to get the 6 cyl.
Ya man that was me who used Craigslist to point out how the 4 cyls are junk and go bad way to soon,
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Old 08-24-2009, 10:34 PM   #18
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the only inherent problem with a 4 cylinder motor is that...






its missing 2 cylinders.
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:39 AM   #19
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I have a 97 4 cyl with 151000 miles and no issues. Like my Dad taught me, take care of it and it will last. I perform all the maintenance and have had no issues. The only benefit I see to a 6 is the extra power, longevity seems to be the same for either.

T
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:40 AM   #20
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I would suggest 6 cyl with stick. I just bought mine few weeks back. I tried a few and 4 cyl seemed to have very low high end torque. I mean it just has no pick up after 50 55 mph. I wish my 6cyl had a little more pickup during changing lanes on parkway.

Also stick is the way to go. Its lot of fun, and if you live in a city you will get used to it. I live in Jersey city and a couple of day I was like man this is tough. In 2 hrs i moved like 6 miles! But I got used to it fast. Also the small size is a big plus around corners and parking.

Good luck
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Old 08-25-2009, 12:08 PM   #21
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I don't know why everyone has to hate on the 4 cyl. Yes, on the highway the 4cyl is not as capable as the 6 but so what it's not really meant for the highway. I live in the mountains and my 4cyl is just fine (I don't drive my jeep like a racecar tho). Offroad the 4 IMO is just as good as the 6. I have a 4cyl 6spd and I ride the trails with friends that have 6cyl. and we all go the same places, get stuck in the same places etc... yea the extra horsepower is nice in certain situations but on the plus side the 4 saves gas. I had the same engine in a dakota and ran it to 213,000 miles. As said above, if you take care of your stuff it will last. There are pros and cons to owning a 6 just as there are to owning a 4.
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Old 08-25-2009, 02:45 PM   #22
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I don't know why everyone has to hate on the 4 cyl. Yes, on the highway the 4cyl is not as capable as the 6 but so what it's not really meant for the highway. I live in the mountains and my 4cyl is just fine (I don't drive my jeep like a racecar tho). Offroad the 4 IMO is just as good as the 6. I have a 4cyl 6spd and I ride the trails with friends that have 6cyl. and we all go the same places, get stuck in the same places etc... yea the extra horsepower is nice in certain situations but on the plus side the 4 saves gas. I had the same engine in a dakota and ran it to 213,000 miles. As said above, if you take care of your stuff it will last. There are pros and cons to owning a 6 just as there are to owning a 4.
for real! I have a 97 4 cyl and I love it. I bought it when it had 95k on it and the motor is still going strong. I can get it up to 80 to 85 mph easily, and I have towed a 2k lb drift boat behind it. my poor little tranny started giving out though, I just replaced it at 168k and WOW it's running like a brand new jeep. I am getting a little tapping when she start's in the morning, but I figure next year I will rebuild the head. she has 170k on her now. I don't dog her out though, I keep it maintained obsessivley too. every 3k I change the oil. and every 6k I change the plugs, distibutor cap, rotor button and plug wires. every 30k the whole underside gets relubed and all the cases get drained and refilled. I am starting to believe the 97's were built pretty good, everyone I talk to that has one has always had really good luck with them. I plan on keeping her til I drop dead.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:09 PM   #23
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Auto vs. 5 speed

Hi I'm new here so be nice.haha
I'm looking in to buying a wrangler tj and I know I want a 6cyl. But I wanna know how reliable are the automatics?
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:27 PM   #24
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I've seen a few TJs with the I6 with around 200k miles and they have no problems at all. The 4 cylinder is a piece of junk. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone (it won't pull a hair out of a cats ass). I'd say look for a I6 with around 150k, you can probably find one pretty cheap. Just make sure the previous owners took care of it.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:30 PM   #25
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My 4 cycle runs like a champ 47k miles no problems moves when i need it to and its not bad offroad also pretty ballsy actually

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