Hey everyone, I wanted to make a post introducing myself and explaining a bit about what I’m considering. I’ve been a car enthusiast for my entire (short) life. I’ve owned three very different vehicles. I started with a MKV GTI (which I went to town modifying). I moved north and sold the GTI for a Subaru Legacy GT SpecB (also very modified). After I moved back to NY, I decided it was time to switch cars for something small, light, fun and very trackable. I now own an NC Miata, which rides on custom coilovers and has some other work done as well. It makes a great daily/commuter car and is a warrior out on the track. I throw snow tires on in the winter time; coupled with the mechanical LSD I’ve never really had any trouble in the snow (unless it gets really deep—there’s only so much you can do with 3-4” ground clearance). I’ve thought about retiring it for the winter and picking up some sort of beater.
The two strong contenders for me are: returning to a Subaru and picking up a non-turbo, manual Roo. No model preference, just a non-turbo model because they’re more reliable and less maintenance hungry. I’d also be way too tempted to go crazy modding another turbo car. The more serious contender is a TJ Wrangler. I’ve found there’s a good number of Miata owners who also drive Wranglers. It must be because both vehicles are affordable, reliable, small, fun and easy to work on cars. I think I’d look out for a TJ Wrangler with the 4.0 I6 and a 5-speed. The Wrangler, like the Miata, seems to be a lifestyle vehicle. I’ve always found that to be awesome. Lifestyle vehicles are typically very fun (if it fits your lifestyle) and often have a great community of followers, which is also pretty important to me. I’m involved with my local Subaru and Miata car clubs and enjoy spending time with other owners. Beyond that, well, I’m kind of clueless about Wranglers, their options and what sorts of problems/issues to look out for.
I believe there were several differential options available for the TJ? Are some better than others or worth avoiding? What sorts of issues should I be looking out for with the I6? Does the 5mt have any serious problems? I’ve heard rust is a Jeep’s biggest problem; is there truth to this? Jeep seems to have a myriad of 4WD systems. Which ones would be available on the TJ Wrangler? Any other areas I should be concerned with? I’m trying to learn as much as possible about the Wrangler so I can make an educated, well-researched purchase.
The Jeep would serve as a second vehicle for me. I don’t intend to go off-road crazy with it but, let’s be honest, I like to tinker and have fun; it’ll probably see some light modification if budget allows. I’d like to keep it under about $8,000 and would plan to buy sometime mid/late summer. Is there a better time to buy a Wrangler? It seems like it’s a very popular choice year-round.
On a side note, I recently advised my father to look at a WK2 Grand Cherokee Overland V8 to replace his Escalade. He loved the GC and purchased it. He’s still thanking me for the recommendation. I’ve had some seat time in it as well and must admit the new GC is a very impressive vehicle. Unfortunately my budget for a second car is nowhere near what it would take to buy a WK2 the way I’d want it.