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Old 05-09-2010, 06:18 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2010
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Trading my car for a 99 Wrangler, need honest opinions please!

What's up everyone. This is my first post of hopefully many on these forums. Let me explain my situation, and see what you guys think.

I currently have a 2005 Dodge SRT-4 with 50k miles. It is lightly, tastefully modded with a full exhaust and Mopar Stage 2 - so it's pretty quick. I love the car, but as I get older I desire speed less and just overall fun more. Also, a 300 hp Neon isn't the most desirable car to have in inclement weather, and I live in Rhode Island so I see it a lot. I have always wanted a convertible, and considered a S2000 or something similar. But I have always wanted a Wrangler since I first saw Jurassic Park, and I figured this would be a great time to do so.

So I figure my car might be worth $11k if I sell it privately. I still owe $4k on it, and that would leave me with $7k to spend on another vehicle. I forgot to mention I mainly want to do this to get out of debt and to have one less monthly payment. Also, the SRT-4s reliability has come into question as it gets closer to the 50k mile mark. Third gear is becoming fussy, and there's a loud clunk coming from the underbody when it gets wet. But I digress...

I found a 99 Wrangler 4L 5-Speed with 80k miles at a local dealer. Soft top, but I always figure I can find a cheap hard top for the winter. I haven't taken any steps forward because, to be honest, I have never owned a car older then 5 years. I don't do a lot of driving, but I am switching jobs and might have to do more in the near future. I want something that is reliable, and my friend swears up and down that the 4L is bulletproof, but what else should I be concerned about? I'm afraid I will sell my SRT, just to purchase another money-pit. Are my concerns warranted? What are the weak points in 99 Wranglers? What should I pay attention to when I'm test driving it? Here's a link to the car, so you guys can have a look.

1999 Jeep Wrangler $7,999 - Lincoln Auto - Worcester, MA 01605 Dealer

I'm sorry for the long post, I just want to make sure I'm making the right decision, and I figure you guys are the experts.

Thanks again,

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Old 05-09-2010, 06:31 PM   #2
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I can't speak for much...I've only owned my Jeep since the end of October, but I'll chime in as much as I can here.

First of all...yes, the 4.0L is pretty much bullet proof. I've been told you can take a dump in the crankcase and it'd prolly run even better yet. lol

A few common issues with the older Wranglers... rear main seals commonly leak. Most live with this for quite a while before they decide to fix it. It usually starts with a few drips of oil and just progressively gets worse over time, but it's not a serious problem.

Also, I believe the older TJs had a habit of cracking exhaust manifolds. That's bout all I know of...regardless, when stuff breaks on these things, it's rarely something that will leave you stranded, just slightly inconvenienced.

You will need to keep in mind that Jeeps have a very short wheelbase which means driving on ice can be interesting and it's not going to corner NEARLY as well as your car probably does. Well...I bet it'll corner just as well...but it'll end up laying on its side. haha

The engines I've heard usually will run over 250k miles without needing any serious work done and the OEM clutches on the 5 speeds should also last nearly 200k miles without burning up.

Biggest thing I'd look for is rust...since Jeeps are commonly off-roaded, they can end up with a lot of water damage and rust.

The one you're looking at appears to be in excellent shape...I can't say if $8000 is a good deal or not, but it definitely looks as though the previous owner didn't romp the crap out of it.

Also, if you plan on lifting it and getting larger tires...check the rear end and see if it's got the Dana 35c axle or the Dana 44 (Dana 35 will have a rubber fill plug, 44 will have a metal fill plug). The Dana 35's are C clip axles and are known to break axle shafts and other components when running oversize tires whereas the 44 is a much stronger axle.

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Old 05-09-2010, 07:17 PM   #3
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s3nt3nc3d made some good points. You also want to just check the basics. Make sure everything works like lights, 4wd, A/C, radio, ect. If there are any bad leaks tel them to fix it. I promise you will NOT regret your purchase. That's a good lookin Jeep. I had an 06 Subaru WRX with Mods and awesome power like your SRT4 but I figured I need better room arrangements for my Dog and other stuff, 4wd cause I was getting tired of not getting around well in the snow and didn't want to sacrafice too much gas mileage so to sum it up I got a Jeep and I have never been happier. Losing 1/2 HP takes time to get used to but now I don't care. I get around in the snow great and have even thrown somw stuff in the back with my dog and went offroading a few times and we both had a blast. The places your Jeep will take you will be just as awesome as smoking every1 with your SRT4 on the streets. Also modding your Jeep will be way easier and hella cheaper than your SRT4.
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Old 05-09-2010, 07:43 PM   #4
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Just a note, if a hard top is what you want, find one with one. A used hard top goes for 800-1000 and you need to find it locally. A full soft top can be had for 200-400
2003 TJ, 33" BFG AT, 2" BL, 2" BDS spring lift, Truck Lite headlights, Homemade sunrider top.
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Old 05-09-2010, 07:57 PM   #5
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Looks like its got no carpet in an otherwise stock jeep. Be ware of a possible flood vehicle
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Old 05-09-2010, 08:29 PM   #6
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I would definitely pull a carfax or vehix report on it. Is it just me or does there appear to be some damage on the left rear?
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Old 05-09-2010, 08:41 PM   #7
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The driverside rear has a big dent in rear bumper and pushed up towards the body, look at the body gap.

Just so your aware Jeeps DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT get good gas milage, so don't expect it... it's a brick on wheels.

If your interested in the Jeep, crawl around underneath the Jeep to see if theres any visuals of hard offroading or issues. crawl under the oil pan and see if the front or rear oil seal is leaking. As of lately I've seen alot of post where people are buying older Jeeps and shocked that there's something wrong with them.

Bring a floor jack with you over there, jack the front end off the ground and check u-joints and especially ball joints. Grasp the tire at top & bottom and rock back & forth and watch the Ball Joints to see if there's any excessive play.
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Old 05-09-2010, 09:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by adawg38 View Post
I had an 06 Subaru WRX with Mods and awesome power like your SRT4 but I figured I need better room arrangements for my Dog and other stuff, 4wd cause I was getting tired of not getting around well in the snow and didn't want to sacrafice too much gas mileage so to sum it up I got a Jeep and I have never been happier. Losing 1/2 HP takes time to get used to but now I don't care. I get around in the snow great and have even thrown somw stuff in the back with my dog and went offroading a few times and we both had a blast.
WoW another 06 WRX owner gone Jeep owner ......Just Like ME

As for the OP....

If it were me I would have the dealer fix the bumper or pull it off to inspect behind it before I bought it......

That and make sure the spare isn't original 11yrs on the back of a jeep is not something I would use to even go 5 miles down the road to the shop.....

I would definitely get a carfax on it..... if the bumper is on the carfax or anything for that matter get the price down a good bit.....
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Old 05-09-2010, 09:50 PM   #9

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does it have AC?
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Old 05-09-2010, 11:34 PM   #10
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I have a 99tj 4.0.

a few things you should know,

Jeeps are different than anything you've prob ever driven

they are short, normally taller (or get that way), quite slow and will not handle like a car, there is NO sports car feel!

gas mileage is just plain BAD. its a 16 gal tank and I fill up about ever 225 miles, do the math, its not good. so if you will be driving a lot keep that in mind

Age, its not new, its been around, its been out of warranty for 8 years! It will need minor work from time to time, if you can do it your self (as I do) its not that bad. as a side note, the 4.0 is great, and the jeep is quite reliable for getting you there, its just little things (it'll get you there but you might not have heat/ ac or the window not roll up. etc etc, ) make sure your blower motor switch works- mine has a problem

Noise! if you have a longer highway drive it gets quite noisy with a soft top, remember to save your money for that hard top, they run 700-1000 dollars USED!

as far a price, its decent but not a steal. I paid 7500 3 years ago for a 99 tj with 100k on it, and it was immaculate. it was a private sell though

I love mine, would not take anything for it, but I will always have a 2nd vehical for those longer drives and stuff
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Old 05-09-2010, 11:39 PM   #11
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and oh, if you plan on bigger tires and lifts, we need to talk about some other stuff,

axles / gearing you can do some real money saving when buying if you know what you intend on doing and what you want

good luck
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Old 05-10-2010, 09:08 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by IROCthe4.0L View Post
Looks like its got no carpet in an otherwise stock jeep. Be ware of a possible flood vehicle
Just wanted to point out, the only piece of carpeting that I can see missing from the pics is the upper part of the rear piece. It still appears to have all the flooring carpet, front and rear in the pics.

Also s3nt3nc3d did make some good points. When I got my 99 (with 100k) back in september of '08 I paid 7k from a private seller which was a younger female, who had never taken it off road and it had absolutely no signs of off road use. One way to check for this is to look at the skid plate and gas tank skid look for dents or dirt piled up under there, that is one indication it may have been off road. Make sure to pull up the carpet in the front where your feet go and check for rust there and on the inside of the front fenders towards the firewall. Drive it, make sure it engages into 4whl both high and low. Try to find some gravel and make sure the fronts are pulling, that was the easiest way for me to determine them working. Also I'd just like to add is mine had been great. No abnormal problems at all, just normal maintenance, and normal wear parts going bad as you would expect with an older vehicle, but nothing to ever make me not want the JEEP.

And yes, hard tops go for a lot. I got mine with a soft top because I loved the JEEP so much, but had to fork out a grand to get me a hard top for the colder months...

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Old 05-10-2010, 09:29 AM   #13
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As an ex SRT4 owner myself I can help here. I would not be happy with the Jeep as my only vehicle. I mean its a fun ride, but it certainly is not the "most fun on 4 wheels". However everyone is different, many people on this forum think the Wrangler is the bestest thing in the whole wide world. SO I suggest the following:

Drive the Jeep, then go from there... you are coming from one extreme to another. Jeeps in general are pretty reliable vehicles, however if you commute very long distances you will find that the fuel mileage is pathetic. (there's nothing to be done to fix this, it is what it is.)

Also a thing to note. the Jeep you are looking at is 11 yrs old. there will be problems, things will break. this is true with all things as we age.

My Number one suggestion is go drive it, and make sure you'll be happy with it. owing 4k on a car is damn close to having it paid off IMO. but as you stated things are wearing out. Many DSM's shared this same fate after being rode hard and put away wet.

Jeeps are fun, you can mod them as much if not more than an SRT4 (I do not agree that it will be cheaper, as I've owned both, and well....I put less in the SRT4 to get impressive results, but that's the nature of the beast when you play w/ FI.)

Taking the doors and top off and going for a drive is really different than anything. its pretty fun, and heck at least no WRX owners will give you crap for owning a "neon" any more.

If you have an off roading park nearby, then a jeep will be a lot of fun. if you do not, it will only be approx 65% as fun as it could.

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