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Old 08-24-2014, 10:21 AM   #1
mtk
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Need advice before buying TJ

I've been reading alot on this forum the last few months and am finally ready to buy a TJ (mostly just to be a part of this community) but need some serious advice first. Anything is appreciated...

The Jeep is a 97 2.5L with 88k totally stock. I'd be buying it from the original owner who is a 72 year old sweet woman. She's never off-roaded, modified, or abused the vehicle in any way (I know her personally and fully trust this). There are some quirks, but she only wants 4.5k for it which seems like a steal in the northeast. I know a couple grand more would make a big difference but I wouldn't be able to afford that as a student.
She has replaced brake lines, front shocks, a/c, tires, and maybe a couple other minor things in the past couple of years.

The concerns are as follows:

The frame most importantly. There is some surface rust but it seems to be a consistant thickness throughout. That is, it hasn't eaten through any of the metal. I wish I had a picture, but the spots are pretty much just oranging and textured.

Theres are 2 SMALL bits of rust on the front body part over the tire (proper name?). Not coloring or anything, just a little bubbling.

The transmission is original. Maybe I'm just worrying because I've never owned a manual before. But I'm hoping that I won't just tear through the thing.

Anything else I should be looking for? I've heavily browsed the forum and thus far those are the things that I've become savvy to.


I'm extremely handy and am in no way afraid to tackle most tasks. Not sure I'd want to get into a frame off type of thing, but who knows.

Also, I'm almost sure the answer is yes, but would it be worth paying a mechanic to look for issues with the frame that I may not have picked up?

Thanks guys, in all honesty I'm probably going to buy this Jeep regardless of these issues so I hope to make this forum home

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Old 08-24-2014, 11:42 AM   #2
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the '97 TJ's being the first year are lacking so many of the great changes Jeep made to the TJ in subsequent years, plus the SE/2.5L being at the very bottom of the TJ pedigree, means this TJ you are considering is at the ultra-entry level of the TJ heap.....all that aside, if it is priced right and checks out and it suites your needs than you could do far worse, like buying a high mileage p.o.s. rusted out beaten up TJ.

yes, if you are a TJ newbie get this one inspected by a good Jeep mechanic. good luck,

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Old 08-24-2014, 11:52 AM   #3
mtk
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Thanks alot
I know its definitely the bottom of the barrel but I think I'm going to take the leap.
Thanks also for confirming my thoughts on buying a low milage cleaner grandma Jeep rather than a more appealing beater.

I have one other question though, at what point is a frame considered to be beyond repair without doing a frame off job?

Thanks
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Old 08-24-2014, 12:23 PM   #4
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id walk.. 2.5 is just not worth it
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Old 08-25-2014, 07:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtk View Post
Thanks alot I know its definitely the bottom of the barrel but I think I'm going to take the leap. Thanks also for confirming my thoughts on buying a low milage cleaner grandma Jeep rather than a more appealing beater. I have one other question though, at what point is a frame considered to be beyond repair without doing a frame off job? Thanks
When things start falling off the frame due to rust. Something a tad bit more severe than this:

Massive frame rust need help!!!! got pics

But even that can be repaired.

If it's just surface rust, you're fine. Sand down that frame- and hit it with some POR-15.
You'll also need to coat the inside of the frame using a special spray, I forgot what it's called but I'm sure if you search around other threads, you'll find it.

I would buy the jeep. People complain about it being a 2.5L and how it's weak blah blah. I have a 2.5L and I honestly think it's fine. I've off-roaded my jeep plenty of times and it's kept me happy. You don't need a 4.0L when you want to do light to medium off-roading, or trails.

As for heavy off-roading, most people suggest the 4.0, and how it's way better- but it's silly, because I also see heavy off-roaders doing a engine swap to a V8.

Moral of my story: Don't worry about the 2.5L. It'll work just fine .
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Old 08-25-2014, 07:49 AM   #6
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My 97 with a 2.5 has got me into and out of a lot of narrow rock strewn canyons just fine. If you're doing general trail riding, nothing extreme, you'll be fine. Extra power on highway grades would be nice but I just stay to the right. I'm never in a hurry anyway. You can only go so fast on trails anyway so speed there isn't a factor. My trail buddies all have the 4.0s but we always start and finish together. My suggestion is go ahead and grab it. At that price you could always do an engine swap later. Plus, at 3k if you do ding it up you don't feel so bad.
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Old 08-25-2014, 03:23 PM   #7
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I would buy it and enjoy it. The frame sounds not bad.
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Old 08-25-2014, 04:40 PM   #8
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You should be able to use a hammer and some hits to check the frame for issues.

I have a 97 tj with the 2.5. The motor is fine. I wouldn't build a crazy rig with it but as far as just putting around and some basic trails, you will be fine. I would be more afraid of the 2.4 motor than the 2.5.
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Old 08-25-2014, 04:46 PM   #9
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x5 on buy it
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Old 08-25-2014, 04:55 PM   #10
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Go for it man! I had some surface rust on my 04 sport when I bought it and I had a weekend off of work and by the weekends end it was like new again, and the body rust on what sounds like the fenders isn't a big deal, if it becomes an issue for you, you can always swap those out for pretty cheap or sand it down and bondo it

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