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Old 08-20-2013, 05:32 PM   #1
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School Me on TJ Shopping

I'm in the very early stages of shopping for a used Jeep and am leaning towards a TJ.

Would like a Rubicon but not a must.

Would like an Unlimited but not a must.

It'd be a weekend, recreational vehicle, maybe used to commute to work once a week (if that).

I understand the 4.0 L I6 is a pretty reliable engine. Should I steer away from the 4 banger or not?

All the TJs I'm finding on-line seem to have high mileage (a surprising number of them between 230K and 250K kms) - obviously I'd like to find the lowest kms possible but is there a magic number in terms of mileage that should simply be avoided?

Is there a particular model year in the TJ that's preferable, or is there a specific model year that should be avoided?

What other TJ specific things should I check for when looking at one?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 08-20-2013, 05:47 PM   #2
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If I could have, I would have went with a LJ 4.0, 6 spd (I think only '06, maybe '05) softtop.. But that's just my favorite!

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Old 08-20-2013, 06:38 PM   #3
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The most important thing to check is for rust. The frame and mounts to the body are prone to rust with high miles and/or age. The I6 is probably the more prefferable choice. Take your time and look carefully at everything. Good Luck!
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:24 PM   #4
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Try to get one with a Dana 44. I didn't and now stuck with the little 35
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:38 PM   #5
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Avoid rust and get something with a dana 44 rear axle if you plan on getting bigger tires. Dana 44 diff cover looks like this.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:38 PM   #6
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Old 08-21-2013, 02:23 AM   #7
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I'd look for a 2000 and newer TJ with the 4.0L and stay away from the SE model (they were all 4 cylinder engines). The 2000 and up 4.0L had improvements that you will want.

What I learned when TJ shopping was to put value on low mileage (e.g.: less than 10K per year), original, unmodified, and rust-free TJ's and just skip the rest.

Poke your finger inside the frame to check for corrosion. Always test drive them at highway speeds to ensure the suspension is not damaged.

Good luck and have fun shopping.
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Old 08-21-2013, 03:53 AM   #8
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I agree with the others, especially the test drive at highway speed. Jeeps can get death wobble, which is not fun to experience. A number of things can cause this massive front end shaking. Out of balance tires (which is what mine was), worn front end parts, etc...but sometimes can be a pain to pinpoint. With that said...Rubicon is a very nice route, if I had to do it over I would hold out for one...or an LJ (Unlimited). If you live up north you may want to opt for full hard doors and a hardtop. 97's didn't come with cruise control just so you know. Lower mileage, unmolested TJ's are what you should look for... Patience is a virtue.
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Old 08-21-2013, 07:58 PM   #9
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Ditto the advice above. I spent about six months in Tidewater Virginia scouring lots, Auto Trader, finally found a jewel on Craigs List Feb 2012. 2006 TJ Rubicon with 32,000 miles, all original, still had softtop folded inside the hardtop. It don't look like that no more.

Even if a light-offroad or DD, having the Rubicon package really pays off in peace of mind. It just runs and I pay no attention over what
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:13 AM   #10
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I agree. Get a Stock unmodified vehicle and check for rust. You are wise to insist on the 4.0 and not the 2.5. Listen for a clean sounding engine, with no ticking or knocking, and check the gear switching, to make sure you get one with a good tranny or clutch. Check the brakes and make sure they don't squeal, and check all the fluids and their color. Check under the vehicle and look for leaks. Jeeps are known to leak, especially around the tranny area. Check the electrical and make sure everything works, turn signal, brake lights, back up lights, etc. Good Luck.

Oh yeah, original options are good too, like AC for one.
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Old 08-25-2013, 11:30 AM   #11
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Excellent advice folks. Thank you!!!
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Old 08-25-2013, 01:54 PM   #12
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Be patient too. I think I got a pretty good deal by waiting. I found an 02 Sport 4.0L 5speed Danna 44 with 76k miles for $8000. All unmolested and senior citizen owned and operated. He passed away and his wife sold it after the fact.

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