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Old 06-28-2013, 05:22 PM   #1
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Buying advice for newbie

Hi. I just joined and am looking to purchase my first Jeep and looking for advice. This will be my weekend/fun vehicle so won't be drive a lot. I'm looking at a 97-03 model and leaning towards a manual, 6 cyl, 2 dr w/soft top. But depending on what is available I may have to revise this. Any thoughts on 4 vs 6 cyl and manual vs auto, especially for models in these year ranges. Also any suggestions on what I should look for regarding wear and repairs. Curious on what kind of miles to expect before needing to upgrade major parts like engine, transmission, etc to determine if I will need to budget for this in the near future. Any other advice to help with my search is appreciated. Thanks

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Old 06-28-2013, 05:35 PM   #2
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First off, welcome to the forum! Second, the most watched for problem is rust. So be prepared to crawl under, look under carpets ect for any signs of rust. With that out of the way, my limited experience with my 2001 TJ, I leaned towards 4.0L vs 2.5L for abit more power. If your out to make your first jeep yours, get one that's stock and build from that. You don't know if any mods where installed right or on the verge of repair unless you know what your looking at. I drive stick, its been since 2000. I won't go back to auto but there are some advantages to auto on the trail (not stalling is a good one) but I prefer standard as a preference. Aim for something around the 100K mile mark, above that there may be an issue later down the road. Test drive it, that means in 4HI and 4Low as well. Do a carfax on it, and take it to a mechanic prior to purchase to see if everything is as it should be. You don't want a salvaged jeep, again more problems down the road. I paid 6.5K for mine at about 110K miles or 184K km for us Canadians. You might not find such a deal in the states but anything is possible. Prices from what I understand vary from area/state so don't be discouraged. Be patient, if it means looking at a bunch of jeeps before you find the right one for you, in the end that patience pays off! Good luck and feel free to post pics if you need a second opinion on the forum!!

Anyone else want to add something I missed??

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Old 06-28-2013, 05:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMVJeep View Post
Hi. I just joined and am looking to purchase my first Jeep and looking for advice. This will be my weekend/fun vehicle so won't be drive a lot. I'm looking at a 97-03 model and leaning towards a manual, 6 cyl, 2 dr w/soft top. But depending on what is available I may have to revise this. Any thoughts on 4 vs 6 cyl and manual vs auto, especially for models in these year ranges. Also any suggestions on what I should look for regarding wear and repairs. Curious on what kind of miles to expect before needing to upgrade major parts like engine, transmission, etc to determine if I will need to budget for this in the near future. Any other advice to help with my search is appreciated. Thanks
Why 97-03?

Most important thing when buying a jeep is to make sure the FRAME and bottom of the tub is super CLEAN. If you see alot of flake/scale rust all over the frame and tub, then bypass and continue looking. Stick with the AMC 4.0L. Find one with a rear D44 too. Personally though Id be looking for as new a TJ as possible.....05',06'.........
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:00 PM   #4
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Why 97-03?

Most important thing when buying a jeep is to make sure the FRAME and bottom of the tub is super CLEAN. If you see alot of flake/scale rust all over the frame and tub, then bypass and continue looking. Stick with the AMC 4.0L. Find one with a rear D44 too. Personally though Id be looking for as new a TJ as possible.....05',06'.........
Budget might be a factor in those years... The newer the more expensive.
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:11 PM   #5
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One piece of advise: get the inline 6 and never look back.
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:12 PM   #6
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I bought an '06 automatic with 72,000 miles that was sitting for sale in a front yard priced the same as the '99s with 100,000+ miles I was looking at on Craigslist. It was clean, no rust, lifted with brand new tires set up just about exactly how I would have done it. Lots of people on here say buy a stock Jeep and upgrade it yourself so you know its done right. In my case, if I had bought a stock Jeep it would have taken me years to justify the price of the lift, new wheels, tires, winch, etc. It made a lot more sense for me to buy a clean Jeep set up the way I wanted it.
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:16 PM   #7
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I also recommend the 6 cylinder. It's not overpowered. I can't imagine freeway driving with the 4 cylinder. I also wanted the automatic. I put 180,000 miles on a standard transmission pickup. I think I'm done shifting gears.
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Old 06-28-2013, 08:41 PM   #8
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Thanks for the advice, I will definitely look for signs of rust. Also sounds like there is a consensus on the 6 cyl. I could go either way with trans since shifting gets old with all the traffic here but hoping wont be too bad since will primarily be driving on weekends and evenings.

Would prefer a newer model but the prices are much higher and have a budget for my "weekend toy". Unfortunately, everything I've seen is over 100K miles in these years, most between 110-130k. That's why I'm wondering when to anticipate major repairs to see if it makes sense to spend more now for lower miles as opposed to spending in near future to replace parts. I'm not anticipating putting many miles on it since wont be using for work.

I'm planning on looking at a few this weekend so I'm sure I'll come back with more questions. I also need to try to be patient since I'm excited about owning my first Jeep but dont want to buy right away and make a bad decision.

Thanks again for the help. Much appreciated
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Old 06-28-2013, 10:54 PM   #9
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Some really good advice here. If you live anywhere south of massachusetts, make sure you get one with Air Conditioning. I have a 2000 SE and it's brutal in ny traffic this time of year. A sport or sahara should have ac but you will pay extra for it. 6 cylinder stick shift is best imo and i will make sure i get that after i sell my current.
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Old 06-29-2013, 03:31 AM   #10
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"... I also need to try to be patient since I'm excited about owning my first Jeep but dont want to buy right away and make a bad decision. ...."


DMWJEEP you just gave yourself the best advise possible.
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Old 07-04-2013, 03:14 PM   #11
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I've had a chance to look at a few jeeps and have a few more questions. Regarding rust, all of the ones I looked at have some rust. Since they are 10-15 years old, I imagine that's to be expected. The weather here in DC is not extreme but dont know what is normal after this many years Where should I be looking for signs of excessive rust? I pulled up the carpet by the driver/passenger feet to look at the tub. I heard that the frame rusts from the inside, so how can I tell?

Also how can I tell if it has a D44? Thanks
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Old 07-04-2013, 03:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMVJeep View Post
I've had a chance to look at a few jeeps and have a few more questions. Regarding rust, all of the ones I looked at have some rust. Since they are 10-15 years old, I imagine that's to be expected. The weather here in DC is not extreme but dont know what is normal after this many years Where should I be looking for signs of excessive rust? I pulled up the carpet by the driver/passenger feet to look at the tub. I heard that the frame rusts from the inside, so how can I tell?

Also how can I tell if it has a D44? Thanks
A D35 rear axle with be very oval shaped. A D44 with be a bit more squarish. Im sure someone can post up pics to the diff covers so you can see the easy difference.
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Old 07-04-2013, 04:35 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by DMVJeep View Post
I've had a chance to look at a few jeeps and have a few more questions. Regarding rust, all of the ones I looked at have some rust. Since they are 10-15 years old, I imagine that's to be expected. The weather here in DC is not extreme but dont know what is normal after this many years Where should I be looking for signs of excessive rust? I pulled up the carpet by the driver/passenger feet to look at the tub. I heard that the frame rusts from the inside, so how can I tell?

Also how can I tell if it has a D44? Thanks
Read up on this thread which includes pics for more information on axel differences:

http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/how-...ve-130225.html

Surface rust on the frame is not the end of the world. Its when its corroded right thru is the issue that you don't want to inherit. If there is some surface rust, then all you need to worry is how much time/money/energy you want to spend trying to remove it? Otherwise frame replacements can add up $$$ wise.

Another thread on rust:

http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/fram...-i-249647.html
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Old 07-04-2013, 05:11 PM   #14
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Most Jeep owners end up lifting and adding bigger tires. For that point alone I recommend figuring out which axles and gear ratio you have prior to purchase.
I learned the hard way after I bought mine, I have the weakest axles and the highest gear ratio, not a good set up if you want larger tires. Fine if you want to stay stock though.
You can run the VIN online and get the info on what it came from the factory with.
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Old 07-04-2013, 05:28 PM   #15
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Most Jeep owners end up lifting and adding bigger tires. For that point alone I recommend figuring out which axles and gear ratio you have prior to purchase.
I learned the hard way after I bought mine, I have the weakest axles and the highest gear ratio, not a good set up if you want larger tires. Fine if you want to stay stock though.
You can run the VIN online and get the info on what it came from the factory with.
I can relate: when I bought my jeep last year, I had no clue about nuttin lol but I found out afterwards via research that I had 3.73 gear ratio and D30 in the front and D44 in the back (straight from the factory) which is fine for running 31X10.5R15 tires which the PO bought new a week before I bought the jeep. No lifts, as close to stock as you can get which is what I wanted for my jeep.
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Old 07-10-2013, 09:34 PM   #16
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I think I've narrowed it down to a few Jeeps and hoping to final shortly as soon as I can find a good mechanic to check them out. One question is regarding the model. The options I am looking at are the Sport and Rubicon models. Any thoughts on pros/cons of either? I believe the Rubicon cost more new, but dont want to assume that means its the better option. Thanks
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Old 07-10-2013, 09:38 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by DMVJeep View Post
I think I've narrowed it down to a few Jeeps and hoping to final shortly as soon as I can find a good mechanic to check them out. One question is regarding the model. The options I am looking at are the Sport and Rubicon models. Any thoughts on pros/cons of either? I believe the Rubicon cost more new, but dont want to assume that means its the better option. Thanks
One of the main differences between sport and rubi's is that rubi has the same front and rear D44 where as sport does not. More vigorous for the trail but not a total deal breaker. Sport should have D44 in the back and 30 in the front like mine.

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