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Old 07-08-2014, 06:26 PM   #1
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Looking at TJ's, what do I need to know?

The backstory...a few months ago the GF and I bought a new JKU. We don't really need two 4-door suv's (I've got an Explorer and a crew cab truck). I'm thinking maybe a 2 door wrangler would fit the bill.

Aside from rust, what else should I be looking or thinking about as I look at these? I'm currently looking for something with low (50-70K) miles, doesn't need a lot of options, and is in great shape. I'm asking a lot I know. Just want it nice and reliable. It will be my daily driver (short commute), my hunting rig and will end up as toad most likely on some trips. I know there a couple of engines out there, the 4cyl and I6. It may or may not matter which one it has. I'm also on a budget and want to keep the price reasonable. One thing it seems as though prices here in the PNW are a bit higher than other places. I don't know much about these and I've been looking at LJ's as well. I'd like it to be stock and then do a mild lift for mild offroad use. Is one year better than another? Anything else I should consider? Thanks. Sorry if this is a repeat but I didn't find much in a search.

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Old 07-08-2014, 09:15 PM   #2
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I would suggest getting a TJ with a dana 44 axle, it can handle much more then a 35. Look for oil leaks and hidden rust, the frame should be very solid. To me, 6 cylinder or nothing. The thing is already slow as is. Take it on a bumpy road and go 55-65 MPH to check if it has death wobble, you will know if it does! Then there are the obvious things, funny noises, squeaks, etc.

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Old 07-09-2014, 09:43 AM   #3
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Thanks!
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His - 2014 JKWW, Anvil, Auto, Air, Freedom Top, u130, manual roll up windows and door locks (old school).
Hers - 2014 JKU Oscar Mike, 6spd, Freedom Top, Billet Silver, max tow, heated seats, u430, trak-loc.
Other -2000 F350 Diesel, Dually, Crewcab, 4x4, 2.5" lift, normal Diesel mods, DP tuner, and a Grandby FWCamper.
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:02 AM   #4
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Hold out for 6cyl. It's known to be very reliable, even with high mileage. And going with a 98-99 will be cheaper than a newer one.
Personally, I think a Jeep should be manual, but plenty of folks are fine w auto
If u find one, get the VIN, call the jeep dealer, and ask them for the "differential gearing". You don't want 3.07- sluggish, and anemic on hwy. 3.73 or higher is fine.
If u can, pull up edges of carpet and look for tub rust.
Going w stock is also preferred, in my mind, so ur not paying for someone else's mods that you might wanna change later.
Look underneath- for rust and parts that don't look right- loose, bent, etc.
Check hwy drive. If it has a terrible shimmy, that's "death wobble". Easily reparable, and can help u negotiate price.
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:28 AM   #5
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I agree on the 6 cyl. The 4 is okay but you'll always wish you got the 6, never the other way around. The D44 is a good choice but seem hard to find. It can always be installed though. As for gearing, Look for a tab on the differential cover. If still there it will tell you the gearing, assuming it hasn't been changed. I have a 6 cyl, 5 spd with 3:07 and 33's. It is not bad around town and liveable on the freeway. I agree that 3.73 or better would perform well. Good luck!
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:32 AM   #6
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keep in mind 05 and 06 has the oil pump drive assembly flaw, pull it out of the engine and check for gear wear and change it to an aftermarket one
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:04 AM   #7
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I didn't know to think about gearing and came to find mine had 3.07. (Aftermarket diff covers had no tabs). It was pretty anemic with 31s, and 5th gear was useless unless going downhill. Much happier with 3.73.
Keep an eye on ur local craigslist. Found mine listed there by a small used car dealer just outside town.
Good luck on the hunt!
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:11 PM   #8
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6cyl and a d44 would be a nice find
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:49 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ninjaturtle0 View Post
keep in mind 05 and 06 has the oil pump drive assembly flaw, pull it out of the engine and check for gear wear and change it to an aftermarket one
I happen to be down to choosing one of these 2 years. Both have between 83-87K miles on them. Would this problem have shown up already? I think I read somewhere it showed up early in the effected pumps, like in the 40,000 area?
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Old 07-10-2014, 01:21 PM   #10
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I didn't know about the oil pump drive issue. Good to know!

I'm using CL and a few other car sites. Did look at one the other night but was not the "cream puff" that is was said to be. haha... I'm in no rush so will just be patient and keep looking. I'll hold out for 6cyl as well.

I'd assume that a TJ Rubi would have a d44? or are there others?
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His - 2014 JKWW, Anvil, Auto, Air, Freedom Top, u130, manual roll up windows and door locks (old school).
Hers - 2014 JKU Oscar Mike, 6spd, Freedom Top, Billet Silver, max tow, heated seats, u430, trak-loc.
Other -2000 F350 Diesel, Dually, Crewcab, 4x4, 2.5" lift, normal Diesel mods, DP tuner, and a Grandby FWCamper.
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Old 07-10-2014, 01:54 PM   #11
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I've recently bought my first 02 TJ. My no 1 piece of advice is to look around and don't be rushed into it. So tempting to see what looks like a great one and jump straight in to buying. DON'T. There will be others of this one isn't right.

I looked (nearly) exclusively on Craigslist, and drove 13 in the space of 6 days. That taught me a lot about what I could get for my money. Was set back early with two I liked as one was 2k overpriced (when I pointed this out the seller basically said he didn't care and there would be some mug out there who would pay) and the other I took to a mechanic who found $900 of work needed (the seller wouldn't move on price, tried to tell me his buddy could do it for $200). Walked away from both, and it hurt (I had no other car at this time) but was totally the right thing.

I drove autos and manuals, 1995s to 2004s, 6cl and 4cl, $6k to $13k. Most were overpriced and/or in poor condition. Had to stand on the brakes with one, and another was very spongy, one had the engine light on, dirty, ripped seats, suspension problems, Etc etc. A quick talk with the seller will indicate how much they care & are prepared to budge. Walk away if they treat you like and idiot and/or won't budge on price.

Finally found a beautiful example that was mechanically very sound ('so much better than the last one I looked at for you' said the mechanic), 6cl manual, with bonuses such as lift, jack, CB, compressor, rack, clearly loved and looked after, for 2k less than the first one I drove. I couldn't believe if got such a great deal.

Lessons:
Get 6cl, manual if you can drive stick (more fun, less likely to get stolen), test drive as many as you can, know what you want to pay, and walk away if it's not right. You'll know when you find the one for you. Oh, and take your GF.
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Old 07-10-2014, 02:45 PM   #12
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Old 07-10-2014, 03:03 PM   #13
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.... Is one year better than another? Anything else I should consider? ..............

Not really. The 4.0L engine received some worthwhile improvements in model year 2000, but there's nothing wrong with the pre-2000 4.0L engine.

I'd would consider only 4.0L 6-cyl with the Dana 44 rear axle (and corresponding better axle ratio).....with a manual transmission, really makes for the best TJ no matter what year you select.
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Old 07-10-2014, 03:26 PM   #14
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Take a screwdriver/punch and a hammer. Tap around the frame on the bottom of it. If it goes through or dents easily then it's no good.

Edit: Oh and good luck on your search, the perfect one for you is floating around somewhere out there.

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