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Old 08-20-2012, 10:32 PM   #1
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Help with Jeep Hunting

Hi Everyone,

This is hopefully my first of many posts in the future. I am currently in the market for a TJ. Over the weekend I blew the engine in my '94 Camry. Been driving it since high school and it took a royal beating. It lasted a solid 220k miles and now I'm looking to replace it with a TJ.

After the Camry went I looked at some Toyota 4runners but when I test drove a 2000 TJ I was sold. Now I'm searching high and low for information on them. Besides the standard, "make sure it's not knocking" and "there should be four tires", what kind of things do I need to look for? I have been warned by several people to be careful about buying a used Jeep because people will run them hard and don't take care of them. I figure if I get one without a lift and pretty basic tires then I raise the chances that it hasn't been taken on some "real" roads yet. I would like to be the one that take it's cherry . I live in the Seattle area so rusting in the under carriage should not be a big issue unless its from the east coast. I'm not extremely mechanically inclined but I'm an engineer and do know a thing or two about how most of these systems are supposed to work.

Anything helps. Thanks!

--Tim

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Old 08-21-2012, 04:07 AM   #2
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I would search these forums first and learn as much as you can about the year group of jeeps you are looking for, so when you go look you can ask direct basic questions about the jeep that someone who cared about their jeep would know. Not all jeeps that are modded are bad and abused, I would just watch out for jeeps that have useless mods like 5" body lifts or lots of cosmetic chrome. Modded jeeps can save you money in the long run but only if done right and in the direction you want and that takes experience knowing what works and doesn't for your wheeling style. Rust is definitely the biggest. For the basics I would look for a Dana 44 rear and maybe Dana 44 front but those are rubicons and more $$$, avoid the Dana 35c IMHO as you'll prolly want to upgrade it later anyways depending on tire size and if you really get into wheeling. I'd only look at the 4.0l I-6 but that's me and there are plenty of 2.5l 4cyl supporters that love theirs. Let me know if you want questions to ask or more info about something.

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:17 AM   #3
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Thanks. From what I've been reading it looks like I need to watch out for rust on the frame and underneath the carpets. Is a little bit of superficial rust okay? Does the casing have markings that say its a 44? I was looking at pictures online and couldn't really tell. I am definitely looking for an I-6. At the present time it will be a commuter car with the occasional weekend adventure. Then in a couple years I'll start making more modifications and take on some more wheeling.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:26 AM   #4
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How much is the budget and are you looking for a cash deal or working with a bank? Really nice TJ's with super low miles are avalible but they go for a higher price than most banks will carry on a note (IMO) If you have a good budget you can get a really nice stock clean jeep with a little hunting. I suggest looking for a private party deal instead of a car lot.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:16 PM   #5
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Tim, when I was in the market for a TJ I looked at several at Used lots in the NW mostly to quickly compare and educate myself. One thing I noticed on the Carfax's is than many of the TJ's were bought at auction and had lived much of their life in the rust belt. Body's were great, but the frame and engine component has significant corrosion....like there were at the bottom of the ocean for a week. Also noticed several with bondo jobs, yet "never been wrecked". So be very careful/avoid used car lots.

Also if you find some TJ's on Craigslist that you are interested in, you can always post a link here and we will give you our thoughts and insight based on what we see and what the seller has listed for goodies. Basically we can help you weed out the crap.
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Old 08-21-2012, 02:21 PM   #6
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For the identifying the 44, the shape and size of the pumpkin is different, but the easiest way to tell is the fill plug on the back cover, a rubber plug is the 35, the 44 has an actual metal bolt plug, you should be able to find comparison pictures on here somewhere so you have an idea of what you are looking at
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Old 08-21-2012, 02:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coyote99
For the identifying the 44, the shape and size of the pumpkin is different, but the easiest way to tell is the fill plug on the back cover, a rubber plug is the 35, the 44 has an actual metal bolt plug, you should be able to find comparison pictures on here somewhere so you have an idea of what you are looking at
Yes the shape of the D44 looks like a slighty skew stop sign while the D35 is oval.
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Old 08-21-2012, 02:47 PM   #8
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I figure if I get one without a lift and pretty basic tires then I raise the chances that it hasn't been taken on some "real" roads yet.
Regarding the D44's and your criteria stated.... unless you get a Rubicon, odds are high that it will have a D35. Not a big deal until you decide you want a rear locker and/or 33+" tires.
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Old 08-21-2012, 03:18 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the input guys. I'm waiting to hear back from the bank on a loan, but I should be able to get it. I have been told that I will probably have to put some money because the market for them around here are higher than they are actually worth. I am looking at about $8k-10k range. After last weekend I am pretty turned off of car lots. I will definitely post some links as I start finding some that I am interested in.

Are there any strong opinions on the Sahara trim? I found several of those on craigslist but don't really know much about them besides they're a little more luxurious.
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Old 08-21-2012, 03:27 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the input guys. I'm waiting to hear back from the bank on a loan, but I should be able to get it. I have been told that I will probably have to put some money because the market for them around here are higher than they are actually worth. I am looking at about $8k-10k range. After last weekend I am pretty turned off of car lots. I will definitely post some links as I start finding some that I am interested in.

Are there any strong opinions on the Sahara trim? I found several of those on craigslist but don't really know much about them besides they're a little more luxurious.
That price range should get you into a 97-00 I6 from a private party seller. The Sahara has green seats, painted flairs and a Sahara sticker. I believe some Sahara's may have come with a D44 rear if the original owner ordered it....but likely it's the typical D35.
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Old 08-21-2012, 04:07 PM   #11
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just a quick e-bay search. here is an example. I dont like the K & N under the hood but it looks stock. It may have a Dana 44 axle.

Jeep : Wrangler WE FINANCE!! in Jeep | eBay Motors

Point is you can find them, Now if you could find a private party.
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Old 08-21-2012, 04:17 PM   #12
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just a quick e-bay search. here is an example. I dont like the K & N under the hood but it looks stock. It may have a Dana 44 axle.

Jeep : Wrangler WE FINANCE!! in Jeep | eBay Motors

Point is you can find them, Now if you could find a private party.
If your going to spend that kind of money I would be looking for a rubi. even if I have to go out of state to get it
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Old 08-21-2012, 04:26 PM   #13
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If your going to spend that kind of money I would be looking for a rubi. even if I have to go out of state to get it
I agree. I don't think that is the best example for $10K lol.... Nice clean TJ with low miles, but way too much.
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Old 08-21-2012, 05:20 PM   #14
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I looked in autotrader real quick - Seattle, Yakima, Olympia, using private sellers only. Seems the demand for jeeps in this area is rather strong, so prices are higher than other areas. Majority of these found are already lifted, etc...

If you have family in another town that can search for you, I would ask them for help.

Check into one of the jeep groups in your area. They are going to provide a wealth of information too (where to shop, etc) Some might even help look at the jeep when you are already to make a purchase to help give you a hand to make sure you dont get burned. Beer is the usual customary payment.

Good luck!
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Old 08-21-2012, 06:24 PM   #15
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Just because they ask too much for a jeep doesn't mean they won't settle for a lot less. get your money straightened out and start making offers based on what the jeep is really worth instead of some inflated asking price. Sooner or later someone will be ready to sell for the right price if you have the money in hand.
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:08 PM   #16
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I just got approved for $9k from the bank and I'm planning on putting down at least another $1.5k. My goal is to find something for the right price and quality in the next two weeks, without rushing of course. Here are two that I found, any thoughts?

2000 Jeep Wrangler
2000 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:26 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim_ho
I just got approved for $9k from the bank and I'm planning on putting down at least another $1.5k. My goal is to find something for the right price and quality in the next two weeks, without rushing of course. Here are two that I found, any thoughts?

2000 Jeep Wrangler
2000 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
Just from the pics, I would look at the Sahara. From the pics, looks like it's been taken care of. I'm guessing you know what to look for ( rust, leaks, etc...), so I won't mention it all here.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:10 PM   #18
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They're both Saharas. The Green (second one) looks like a better option to me. I would be concerned about what has been done to the white one. It states that it has 17" wheels and a body lift. No mention of tire size, but I imagine that the BL has to be over 2 inches to be able to accomodate them. I also noticed that it has a stock spare wheel and tire. These are just a couple of things that jump out from the limited info that is given.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:17 PM   #19
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Well both seem comparable and they are both sahara models, for me it would be the rear axle that determines it, if one has the 44 then it's an easy choice. The issue I have is the one ad is so short and doesn't mention it's a Sahara so how much does he really know or care about it, it also has a little rust on the tire carrier but no biggie. He's also in a rush to sell but that isn't always a bad thing. Since he doesn't seem to know much about it, I would inspect it thoroughly, look for the Dana 44, if it has it don't say anything about it, find small issues with it, and if he is in a hurry to sell, offer him 7500 and see where it goes.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:26 PM   #20
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Those pics reminded me to warn you to look at the key immobilizer, if you look in the upper left of the dash pic of the white one you will see a circle and key symbol, that should light up momentarily when starting and the plastic part of the key should be thicker where a chip could fit inside. A buddy of mine bought a jeep and when I looked at it after he bought it I realized his key was just a copy and then looked and someone had ripped out and disabled the immobilizer, and that symbol didn't light up on his dash when starting
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:29 PM   #21
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I too like the Green one if you can get it closer to $8.5K-9K...its clean and the owner took pride in it. The white one is iffy and I think worth closer to $7500ish.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:35 PM   #22
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Well both seem comparable and they are both sahara models, for me it would be the rear axle that determines it, if one has the 44 then it's an easy choice. The issue I have is the one ad is so short and doesn't mention it's a Sahara so how much does he really know or care about it, it also has a little rust on the tire carrier but no biggie. He's also in a rush to sell but that isn't always a bad thing. Since he doesn't seem to know much about it, I would inspect it thoroughly, look for the Dana 44, if it has it don't say anything about it, find small issues with it, and if he is in a hurry to sell, offer him 7500 and see where it goes.
My concern with the white one is that even if it has a D44 rear, the stock gearing is 3.73. Unless it has been regeared, that diff is going to be strained turning those wheels and tires. That aside, a body lift over 2" is going to change the center or gravity quite a bit making it a lot less stable. Has the speedo been recalibrated? Tummy tuck? etc.

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Those pics reminded me to warn you to look at the key immobilizer, if you look in the upper left of the dash pic of the white one you will see a circle and key symbol, that should light up momentarily when starting and the plastic part of the key should be thicker where a chip could fit inside. A buddy of mine bought a jeep and when I looked at it after he bought it I realized his key was just a copy and then looked and someone had ripped out and disabled the immobilizer, and that symbol didn't light up on his dash when starting
If it has the sentry system, the key will be grey. Non-sentry keys are black.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:55 PM   #23
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My concern with the white one is that even if it has a D44 rear, the stock gearing is 3.73. Unless it has been regeared, that diff is going to be strained turning those wheels and tires. That aside, a body lift over 2" is going to change the center or gravity quite a bit making it a lot less stable. Has the speedo been recalibrated? Tummy tuck? etc.



If it has the sentry system, the key will be grey. Non-sentry keys are black.
The Dana 44 rear w/3.73 is better than a 35 w/3.73, Besides the tires are what strain the axle as well as a smaller pinion from a lower gearing, which 3.73 is not. So 3.73 is not going to strain the Diff regardless and unless he's running over 40's that 44 will be fine and can be beefed up more successfully than the 35. Also my sentry key is green.
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Old 08-22-2012, 01:57 AM   #24
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I really appreciate all of the feedback guys. I just emailed the Green Jeep and will hopefully be able to look at it in the next day or two if it is still available. What about this next one? I am a little leery about the number of miles and how old it is. I would really prefer something 2000 or above.

98 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:37 PM   #25
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Mea culpa. Should have stated the link with the word sahara in it :-)
Meant to state the 2000 green sahara that you posted. I'll try to be more precise next time.

For your last post- yeah, lots of miles on that one (98 Sahara). No way to truly tell if it's been towed for most of the miles it has.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:43 PM   #26
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Thats a good price for I6 even with 141K...something tells me something is not being fully stated or its going to be sold immediately. Plus the milage does not go up when being flat towed...so something is not right.
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Old 08-22-2012, 05:48 PM   #27
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How are automatics compared to manuals? I would really prefer a manual but it seems that there are more automatics available.
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:07 PM   #28
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The more I look the more I think I hit the jackpot with my TJ.

I saw it listed on my works post board.

Its a 1997 four banger but the guy I bought it from was an aircraft mecanic so he put some work into it and it seems to have more power than the average 4 cyl. (I go up and down interstate hills at 70+ MPH). When I got it it had 126k and the engine looked like I could eat off it. Over 10,000 miles later and its still running like a top.

The best part is I only paid $3,350 for it!
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:31 PM   #29
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How are automatics compared to manuals? I would really prefer a manual but it seems that there are more automatics available.
This choice is a matter of preference. Do a search on this forum, and you will see varied responses. Bottom line, buy what you like. If you know you are going to do certain things with your jeep, look at what those folks do and see what kind of transmissions they use.

Personally, I bought a stick because that's what I wanted. I live in MD where there isn't much rock climbing to do, so you have to drive a few hours out to get somewhere to play. I've had mine for a year now and have not had time or money to go on rock climbing trails. I play in mud where I can find it legally, and can go where most can't when we get snow storms. Nice to drive in with the top down!
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:39 PM   #30
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The more I look the more I think I hit the jackpot with my TJ.

I saw it listed on my works post board.

Its a 1997 four banger but the guy I bought it from was an aircraft mecanic so he put some work into it and it seems to have more power than the average 4 cyl. (I go up and down interstate hills at 70+ MPH). When I got it it had 126k and the engine looked like I could eat off it. Over 10,000 miles later and its still running like a top.

The best part is I only paid $3,350 for it!
how is the 4 cyl. compared to the I-E 6? I have specifically been avoiding the 4. In the future I would like to be able to haul maybe a quad, bike, or boat. But in the near future I will only by commuting with it.

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