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jamesbernatchez 03-18-2009 11:06 PM

Soon to be Jeep owner...advice on this TJ please
What's up all! I have finally decided it is time to purchase a Jeep Wrangler. I have always wanted something capable off road and knew a Jeep fit the bill. I have looked at 9 or so Wranglers and 2 caught my eye. Now after looking at them in depth I find one isn't as nice as I thought. Water in the front passenger foot area, crappy tires, ok interior, etc.

That leaves this one which is at a small local used car dealer.

Chip's Auto Sales Inc Specials

It is a 2000 Jeep Wrangler Sahara with almost 79K on the clock. It looks to be in very good shape inside and out. No rust that I could see, although I need to check the frame again. It is 5 speed, I6, almost brand new tires, both a hard and a soft top(both tan) are included. The underside also looked to be very clean, doesn't look to have seen much, if any off roading. Paint looks good and both the interior and engine bay look to be very clean. It will need some new brake pads and such soon though, but I did plan on getting that done anyways. What do you think as far as price/condition? It has a clear Carfax report also.

Most of the Jeeps I have looked at have been around this price for the year but have been Sport models, not the Sahara and either came with one or the other top, not both. It has the Dana 35 in the rear also.

My overall plans for it would be to do a lift (3-4") and some 33" x 12.50 tires on 15x10 wheels and the SYE. Eventually I plan on getting some off road lights, rock sliders, and a winch. It is going to see light duty off road for now.

I have to buy where I can get financing as I don't have the cash to just buy something outright. I plan to put a good chunk down on it ~ $3-4k. I am going back on Saturday to test drive it and have a friend at a local shop look it over for me. I am obviously going to offer less than what they are asking for it. If everything checks out and I can get ok financing I plan to go for it then, as long as the price is ok. I was planning on offering high $8k for it. The problem I see is that there doesn't seem to be much "wrong" with it to work the price down. I feel that they won't be going much lower than $9,500 for it for the condition it's in.

Any help is appreciated! :punk:

Looking forward to joining the family!

Gilez 03-18-2009 11:18 PM

Sounds a lot like the one I purchased recently. I6 with 5 speed. Mine was a 2000 also. Sounds like a cool deal. In this market you would think you could get out the door for between 8 and 9 K. Does it have any leaks underneath, and do you know what kind of rear end it has? I am curious does it have AC, and do you care?

mikes05unlimited 03-18-2009 11:20 PM

looks pretty clean, if this is your first jeep have fun am on my first jeep now and it makes me feel like a kid again welcome to the family i hope

jamesbernatchez 03-18-2009 11:21 PM

I don't recall any leaks, although from what I can remember my buddy that was with me said there was a very slight amount of oil underneath. Only thing I know is that the rear is the D35 with the 3.56 gears. It does have AC.

Gilez 03-18-2009 11:26 PM

I guess the only downside is the rear end. You may, at some point, want to up grade it. Of course, you could keep looking for one with Dana 44.

The following is from JeepForum Wiki on Dana 35

The Dana 35 is infamously known as a weak axle when larger tires are put on a jeep. Different owners have different experiences, with some breaking axle shafts after switching to 31" tall tires, and others being able to hand 35" tires. However, more often than not, the axle will break when put under high loads for extended periods of wheeling.

Several axle-shaft companies have address this issue by putting out "Super 35" kits that attempt to increase the strength of the rear axle. However, many jeep owners still believe swapping a new, beefier axle is more cost effective and better.

As a general rule of thumb, most owners agree that once a jeep has been modified to run 32" or 33" tires, it is time to start thinking about upgrading the rear dana 35.

Sb5551 03-18-2009 11:27 PM

I dont think it should have the 3.56 gears. They were only offered in '97. I would talk to the dealer like your a true jeep guy and say it has the crappy d35 not the d44 which is the best. The d35 will hold 33's like your planning, but trust me you'll want bigger than that.

05GT-O.C.D. 03-18-2009 11:27 PM

Here's my post from another similar thread:
Rust on the top of the front fenders, rust in the lower section of the rear corner panels, and on the tub above the side steps. Lift the carpet and look for any significant rust on the floor pan. Look for radiator fluid that may indicate a cracked radiator. Look for any fluid leaks, really. Listen for a tick, which may or not be a cracked manifold. Check all the 4wd operations and make sure that when engaged in 4x4 that the front end 'jumps' on a tight turn so that you know it's kicked in properly.
Look it over for collision damage: overspray, sand paper marks in the paint but below the clear, and don't forget to look for those types of things under the hood where a good repair is more likely to be neglected.

jamesbernatchez 03-18-2009 11:42 PM

Maybe it didn't have the 3.56 gears. I thought that is what my friend said, but we were talking about his Jeep a lot today too. He is running 33s on his stock D35 (on his '97 Sahara) but he does have a Ford 8.8 he will end up swapping eventually. He has been pretty hard on his and it has held up ok. From what I hear from his friends he really thrashes it off road pretty hard.

I don't mind eventually having the rear axle swapped to a D44 if need be and I could bring that up when negociating the price too. Although, I would have to have a shop do the install for me. Unfortunately, the only Jeep I looked at that had the D44 in it was the other one that looked pretty crappy. Plus the rear diff was definitely leaking on the D44 as there was crap all over it.

J.A 03-19-2009 06:09 AM

Hi, my choice is the tj 2003 wrangler sport. Love the half doors! Looks great with the roof off and the windscreen dropped! It also has air con. Believe me when I tell you it's a must! Anyway whatever you decide, if it's a jeep you can't go wrong!

jamesbernatchez 03-19-2009 09:34 AM

I appreciate it guys! I will make a list of the things listed to look for and let you know how it goes :)

T-BONE N BIXBY 03-19-2009 10:18 AM

I'm new to jeep ownership too...something I have read on several similar threads is to enjoy the jeep for a while in the "as is" state, before you go making any modifications to the overall suspension. It looks like a pretty tough. Very nice looking jeep!!!

cnolan76 03-19-2009 10:18 AM

if you decide to go with this jeep, just look it up on nada and offer them a little lower than trade in value. That is more than likely what they paid for it unless they bought it at auction. Don't forget to factor in the miles and equipment. I sold cars for 8 years and you would bee amazed at how much dealers mark up their used vehicles!

jamesbernatchez 03-19-2009 10:25 AM

The car fax report does say it sold at auction. KBB value in excellent condition is a bit over $8500. Factor in the both tops being included also. I do plan to low ball off the bat to see how much they seem like they want to get it off the lot. I am not in any rush so if this doesn't work out there is always another somewhere. Of course if my friend finds something wrong with it I do not plan on buying it.

mattamd_xp 03-19-2009 11:19 AM

[QUOTE=jamesbernatchez;341090]I am not in any rush so if this doesn't work out there is always another somewhere.QUOTE]

That is the most important thing to remember when looking for a wrangler. zfind one that has every option you want, don't just buy the first one that comes close to what you want. If you take your time you can find some really awesome deals :punk:

jamesbernatchez 03-19-2009 11:30 AM

Exactly! I am usually the type to buy the first one I like as I am impaitent. After looking at 9 Wranglers or so this is the one I am fond of. Not so much that I plan on making a stupid decision just to own it. I keep telling myself if it is meant to be then cool, otherwise keep looking :D

I did find one with 35", D44 in back, front air locker, both tops, gas tank skid, long arm kit and a few other little things for $7k privately, but looking at it you can tell it has been used a lot for offroading. I preferred to get something stock to outfit the way I see fit. That and it is pretty damn big on 35s.

jamesbernatchez 03-20-2009 10:04 AM

Just found a '96 XJ 4 Dr w/ 67k miles, mint body, no major rust (just surface rust underneath), auto, 4x4, believe the D35 was in it $3995.

I still prefer the TJ, but that depends what I can get it for.

I plan to go on Saturday, offer $8k for TJ and go max of a bit more. If they don't bite I will walk out and check the XJ out. I'll sleep on it and if I still feel I want the TJ and i'd be happy at $9-9.5k then I'll do it. Although I don't feel I want to pay that much.

There is a '00 Jeep Wrangler Sport down the road with the D44 in rear, mud tires, around same miles, hard top, 5 speed, etc. for $8450 so I will try and play that up too. (it has better rear end, lower price, etc.)

Hope I know what I am doing :D

ljrubitm 03-20-2009 12:12 PM

On the rear dif cover there should be a tag that will tell you what gears are in the F/R dif.

jamesbernatchez 03-20-2009 12:21 PM

Yeah the covers were dirty so I won't be able to tell till I get it on a lift and wipe them off.

o3jeff 03-20-2009 01:23 PM

I am also in CT and it seems all the dealers are still looking for top dollars on them in this economy. I ended up getting a 2003 Sport for $8500 with 57k on it from a private seller that lost their job and needed to get rid of it ASAP.

I know you said you need to get financing, have you checked the local bank to see so you can avoid the dealers?

Just be patient and keep looking. I had a deposit on one a few months ago, but the seller ended up getting a better offer so she ditched me on it. Good thing too because I ended up with a lot better TJ!

jamesbernatchez 03-20-2009 02:09 PM

The issue is my credit history isn't very "developed". I only have one credit card, no more loan on my '02 GTI ( I paid it off in February), and a low credit limit of $500. If I can't get a loan my father said he would cosign for me.

I have the $8 grand I could drop down on a truck right now, but don't want to deplete my savings.

The other nice thing is that doing it through a dealer I can bypass going to emissions and dmv to register the vehicle as they will do it all for me.

The place where the Cherokee is has a BBB rating of F, with 12 complaints in the past 36 months....that doesn't make me want to purchase a vehicle from them.

jamesbernatchez 03-20-2009 03:47 PM

Well I found this one too.

2001 Jeep Wrangler Sport (built for wheelin)

About 20 minutes from my house. Looks to be built with good stuff. Rear swap already done, etc. I could probably do $6500 cash depending on the overall condition of the rig. He is moving so might be motivated to sell.

I don't really care for the size of the tires, but at least it has the 8.8 in it, nor do I care at all about the "system" in the Jeep so that is useless to me.

jamesbernatchez 03-20-2009 04:40 PM

Nevermind, above Jeep has been sold already.

jamesbernatchez 03-21-2009 07:14 PM

Well, the Sahara was sold as I got to the place to test drive it...oh well.

Stupid question?

Does this have the 4.0L, I am assuming so. I am gonna see if I can look at it tomorrow.

Bargain News - Connecticut Used Cars for Sale and CT Classified Ads

05GT-O.C.D. 03-21-2009 08:59 PM

Yes, it will have the 4.0

BeachjeepLJ 03-21-2009 09:20 PM

Keep up the looking you will find the right one.

Jerry Bransford 03-21-2009 09:36 PM


Originally Posted by jamesbernatchez (Post 341514)
There is a '00 Jeep Wrangler Sport down the road with the D44 in rear, mud tires, around same miles, hard top, 5 speed, etc. for $8450 so I will try and play that up too. (it has better rear end, lower price, etc.

Providing it has been properly maintained and doesn't have any hidden damage (do a CARFAX report on it), that's the one to go for.

I think if you don't get one that has the rear Dana 44 to begin with, you'll kick yourself later on when you realize just how much better it is and how much weaker the standard Dana 35c axle is that you get if you don't get the Dana 44. You wouldn't be able to install a locker into the Dana 35c or install big tires on it without risking a failure on the trail. :)

jamesbernatchez 03-22-2009 02:38 AM

Hey Jerry...I actually liked that one with the D44, but when I went to look at it a few days ago there was a puddle of water 1-1 1/2 inches deep in the passenger foot area. The truck has a hard top so I am thinking it is leaking somewhere. Not sure if I want to deal with that at this point. That and the fact that the rear diff was leaking (there was fluid all over the diff cover) put me off.

My06rubi 03-22-2009 08:50 AM


Look at capital one bank and chase bank they offer car loans to private sellers so if you find a good deal through a private seller go with that, you will get a better deal than a dealer. Also remember whatever you spend modifying your jeep you will only get 1/10th back. So if you find a nice built wrangler that hasn't been beaten up that bad off roading it shouldn’t be overlooked. I do understand that modifying it yourself is better but sometimes you can find something real nice and spend no where as much money as the person who build it. Just trying to give you some ideas.

Jerry Bransford 03-22-2009 12:00 PM


Originally Posted by jamesbernatchez (Post 342226)
Hey Jerry...I actually liked that one with the D44, but when I went to look at it a few days ago there was a puddle of water 1-1 1/2 inches deep in the passenger foot area. The truck has a hard top so I am thinking it is leaking somewhere. Not sure if I want to deal with that at this point. That and the fact that the rear diff was leaking (there was fluid all over the diff cover) put me off.

Fluid on the cover is a non-issue, it could have simply been overfilled. Or if the cover is leaking where it seals to the axle housing, that's a very simple non-technical $5/30 minute fix with a tube of RTV. Whoever drained and refilled it may have just not taken his time to seal it properly before refilling it. Again, that kind of issue is extremely minor and nothing at all to be concerned with at all.

Leaking into the passenger floor is not unheard of with Jeeps in heavy rain storms, but it can usually be fixed. Jeeps are not the most waterproof vehicles but they aren't that bad either. Mine had a minor leak in that area when it was new 13 years ago and a little silicone around the air intake for the HVAC system cured it.

Neither of those issues are serious enough in my personal opinion to even warrant a concern. If the rest of the Jeep is ok, that's what I would go on.

jamesbernatchez 03-22-2009 12:38 PM

Cool Jerry, maybe ill go back and check it out this week.

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