Im just started getting interested in Wranglers and im looking to pick up my first! Im a noob when it comes to all the "mods" so fill me in if there's anything important I need to know. I will be mostly be using it around town and on small trips and go off road maybe once every few months. Anything aesthetic is a plus such as a lift, bigger tires, and black rims. Right now im looking for something around 2000 to 2009 if it fits my price range. A soft top is a huge plus! I can't spend more then 14,000. Im from the Chicago area. Help me out guys!
It looks like your budget will likely allow you to buy you a TJ in good condition. If you're not confident with your mechanical skills, definitely pay a reputable mechanic to give it a look over.
Introduce yourself to Chicago area Jeep groups, I'm sure there's one on this site (I'm not in that area, so haven't checked). Wrangler owners are a great group, and will happily share their knowledge and opinions. Ask specific questions when you narrow down your search and you'll get plenty of answers.
It looks like your budget will likely allow you to buy you a TJ in good condition. If you're not confident with your mechanical skills, definitely pay a reputable mechanic to give it a look over. Introduce yourself to Chicago area Jeep groups, I'm sure there's one on this site (I'm not in that area, so haven't checked). Wrangler owners are a great group, and will happily share their knowledge and opinions. Ask specific questions when you narrow down your search and you'll get plenty of answers.
ya, theres a few different groups in the area. biggest thing to look for is rust. forget about the aftermarket stuff and keep your eyes open for a clean jeep in stock condition. most of the ones that are out there with lifts on them are for sale for a reason, the po did a half ass lift and is upset with the ride characteristics, or has beat on it pretty well.
the biggest concern for rust is where the skid meets the frame, if the vehicle has been in this area its entire life, it will have some decent rust and this area is prone to frame rot
TJ (1997-2006). Hold out for 4.0L V6. Don't get the 4cyl (anemic)
Transmission- I prefer manual (come on- it's a Jeep), but some love auto- personal choice
Soft top is more versatile- full coverage, or windows off, or windows and doors off, or completely topless
Look for rust and mods (different welds, and aftermarket parts) underneath
Pull up carpet by the doors (it's removable) and look at floors for rust.
Get VIN and call Jeep dealer to look up gearing (I have 3.07 gears- underpowered, wish I'd known this tip)
Have a mechanic look it over when you find a good candidate.
For some idea on pricing, I paid about $6k for my 98 bone stock 4.0 standard about a year ago.
Car hunting is fun!
WeekenderATX did a pretty good job summing it up.
What are you going to use it for? What do you want to do to it?
If you enjoy working on vehicles and like to look back and see the progress you've made then make sure to buy one that's bone stock. Some people like to take the other route and buy a jeep that all ready has a lift or other modifications to it. This can be a bit sketchy at times though since many people tend not to lift their jeep correctly.
Definitely go for the 4.0L engine. Dana 44 rear axle is always a plus. I wouldn't worry about gearing too much though. If you ever plan on going any higher then 30s you'll have to regear it eventually anyways. Check for rust everywhere, that's a major issue with jeeps.
Instead of bumping ask specific questions so we can direct our advise towards whatever you have in mind.
The system I used to find the "jeep" with my specifications is pretty simple. I used Auto Trader and Cargurus...and anything else on the net. I coupled it with Autocheck for the vin #'s. I eliminated anything with an accident or odometer problems. I started with jeeps that were priced just about my limit....you would be surprised how low they will come. For me it was a TJ, 97-06. I didn't want a JK (just kidding)...TJ (true jeep). They will become classics very soon. They have held their value and it will rise. I ended up with an 05 Sport Unlimited 6 spd in excellent condition. It was 536 mi from me. I took a train down to Amish country last week and it was better in person that I thought it was. It has 111,000 on the clock. Hardtop and premium HD stereo. It is sweet. Take a look at the LJ, it's ride and towing capacity, cargo room is the way to go, they didn't wow me until I was driving home and feeling the way it tracked at 70mph. My first choice was an 05 Rubicon TJ....glad I listened to many others about the LJ. Be patient, it takes a lotta time on the internet. Call, let them know where you're from. Trade or no trade. No trade is a lot easier and less complicated. Let them know the one phone call is their opportunity to make a sale. Talk to the owner/sales manager and listen to your gut on how forthright they are being. Question pics and request any that are not provided. Things like rear end gears and even trannys can be fixed or righted, but rust is a lot more difficult. Stoney Ledge Auto Sales is where I purchased and obviously I was impressed by the willingness to deal, their hands on support, and making sure that I was satisfied with every part of the deal. 301 Auto Sales in Brandywine MD was also impressive. Good luck and contact me if I can be of any help.
Just bought mine recently and i would say.. make sure it feels right, drive a new jeep or one at a car lot that is in good shape.. try our every function (lights 4wheel drive high 4 wheel low) ask the owner to show you how stuff works to prove that it does work good.. i got a hard top and soft top for 4000 in my 2000 tj purchase so you have plenty of money.. craigslist will have many listings but they might not be super detailed...
as other said ask to have it brought to a mechanic. they can usually do pretty quick once overs.
at the end of the day you have to look at it every morning going about your business.. dont settle unless you like it.. jeeps are all over for sale and one will always come around that you might like so dont rush into a sale..
get one.. love one... enjoy one... and we will all be hanging here when you got pics of it
2000 wrangler 4.0L 5speed
2inch zone bb with shocks
If you can fix it by hitting it, its not that broken yet
Also, don't be scared if it shimmies at hwy speed. This is the "death wobble". It's common and reparable with proper suspension changes, which you'll probably want to do anyways.
Mine had it bad, but it went straight to a mechanic buddy who fixed it, and did my suspension work for me.
The gearing thing can get REALLY expensive if you have to swap everything out, so I would take that into account during your search. Do take the time to call in the VIN to get the gearing numbers. If it's gonna be primarily in town driving and only occasional weekend wheeling, don't sweat it. My 3.07 works just fine at my comfort level. :-)