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Old 03-30-2014, 11:53 PM   #1
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Help: When is "a little rust" a deal breaker?

Never owned a Jeep before - but I'm in the market to get a TJ - found this on Craigslist near me.

1997 Jeep Wrangler Sport

2 causes of concern for me and they are both rust related.

1. I'm worried about how rusty the undercarriage looks. The picture looks pretty bad but it just might be highlighted from the direct sunlight lighting and the fact that there are no siderails.

2. Seller mentions to me 2 rust spots on the left front fender line above turn signal.

Seller mentions in e-mail to me:
"The bottom of the jeep has "surface rust". There are no holes rusted through floor. What is probably visible in the pictures is the frame rails, they have some surface rust, it has given me no cause for concern. The rust to concern me would be a spot, about 2 to 3 inches in diameter, visible from above on the left front fender above the yellow turn signal light, and another spot much smaller on the right fender hidden from sight with the hood closed. There are other small blemishes. I consider this so light that I would sand, grind, fill and paint these small problems myself if I needed to keep the vehicle. Just how much all that should concern you is very subjective, I encourage you to see it and judge for yourself."


Looking for guidence from this community and your wealth of knowledge. Is this a dealbreaker? Easy to fix. THANKS!

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Old 03-31-2014, 05:05 AM   #2
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i would buy this one in a shot. if worst comes to worst you can buy new fenders for it. my jeep tj has so much bondo on it looks like i got it out of a junk pile

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Old 03-31-2014, 05:13 AM   #3
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If it's only rust on body and not frame I think it's a good deal. I would be more worried about rust on frame then a fender. Take it out for a test drive. Look it over real good during the day. Poke around at things. Make sure you get it to 60mph to check for any kind of death wobble. But if it drives nice and you see no cause for concern I say buy it.
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:41 AM   #4
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If the fenders rusted through then the frame is not far behind. Any 17 year old TJ operated in salty conditions that was not routinely pressure washed during the winter will be a rusty mess.

Do yourself a favor and track down a rig from Texas, Cali, or AZ and drive it back to the rust belt.
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Cole View Post
If the fenders rusted through then the frame is not far behind. Any 17 year old TJ operated in salty conditions that was not routinely pressure washed during the winter will be a rusty mess.

Do yourself a favor and track down a rig from Texas, Cali, or AZ and drive it back to the rust belt.
This is good advice, although that Jeep looks really clean on the interior, I would be worried about the underside.
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Old 03-31-2014, 09:42 AM   #6
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suggest you go look at the jeep. You will learn a lot by looking at several jeeps before you buy one. Be ready to crawl under the jeep and look around. I agree that it will be a challenge to find a rust free example in your part of the world. Most people are not willing to complete the work and travel to purchase one in a different region of the country. I would agree AZ would be a great place to pick up a TJ.
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Old 03-31-2014, 09:45 AM   #7
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here you go 2002 Jeep Wrangler
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Old 03-31-2014, 10:02 AM   #8
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This is all helpful, thank you.

I've looked at 3 or 4 so far over the last couple years. Rust on the frame has always been the reason I didn't buy.

I actually will be in Los Angeles in a couple weeks for a few days. Perhaps I should bring my checkbook. Would love a green TJ - maybe i should stop being so picky.......
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:32 PM   #9
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Nothing wrong with being picky....it's an arduous task looking for "that" jeep, especially a TJ/LJ. Just the age of the vehicle adds to the difficulty, but in the end when you do find "it", the joy is insurmountable. Good luck.

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