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Storm27m 01-12-2010 08:19 PM

Good enough of a deal?
Where to start? Sorry if you guys get tired of this kind of post but I'd like some experienced opinions on a probable purchase. First post here on the forum but I've been browsing for a while and soaking up all the info I could because I wanted to find a used jeep as a second vehicle/toy. I've been doing a lot of reading trying to figure out what I should be looking for in a used TJ and how much I should expect to pay. I found the one that I think I'm going to buy and wanted to get your opinion on whether it's a deal or not. All things considered, I think it is a pretty good deal. The owners are heading out of town for a week or so and are holding the Jeep for me. No money has traded hands yet. Here's the info:

-1998 Wrangler TJ Sport
-4.0L I6
-123,XXX miles
-5spd manual
-Looks to be pretty much bone stock other than aftermarket alloy rims and tires.
-Soft top, half doors
-Price: $4500 He wouldn't budge, but I think it's a fair price (KBB private party is $4700-5800?) Most I6 TJ's here seem to go for $6k plus
-According to seller, two owners (within same family), clean title, no accidents. Should I get a VIN report? Sellers are a wealthy older couple that seem legit.

The Good:

-Dana 44 rear (with 3.73's if I read the tag right)
-Interior is in pretty good condition...not anywhere close to perfect, but not bad either, has all seats with no tears, carpet is out but he's including a Herculiner kit which I would want to do anyways. No visible rust in interior.
-No body rust noticed
-Frame looked good
-Ran good, took it up to 75mph on the highway
-Heater works, but blower only works in top two speeds. Missing the speed knob
-Has cruise control, but doesn't always turn on right away. Had to mess with the buttons a bit to get it to work
-Stock radio works. Had some sort of sound bar, don't know if that is stock or not
-Engine sounded good and was very clean
-No damage to the undercarriage that I notice

The Bad:

-Paint looked good except for maybe a clearcoat issue on the hood? Wasn't peeling, but had white spots in the paint. Not sure what the term is.
-Cracked manifold, I understand that is pretty common
-A few small chips in the windshield, no cracks
-Soft Top has seen better days. Not terrible, but not good. Only one small hole that I noticed by the passenger side door
-Gas tank skid plate rusted through in one spot
-Slight oil leak somewhere, had some light oil on the engine/tranny housings
-Gas gauge is not working, everything else on the dash seemed to work
-Tires are about due for replacement, but have some plans for that anyways
-Corrosion of some sort on the mirror mounts? Nothing that I couldn't sandblast and paint.
-MAYBE, MAYBE noticed a vibration around 3500-4000 rpms under heavy acceleration. I couldn't tell for sure.

I think that's about all I can remember for now. I spent 20-30 minutes prodding and poking around. I drove it for about 15 minutes on the test drive in both city and highway driving. Only issue I noticed was that I think I could hear the crack in the exhaust manifold when decelerating/downshifting. Temp gauge was reading a steady 200-210 once it was warmed up, I don't know what the normal operating temp is for these.

I was happy with what I saw and told them I'd buy it. They're holding it for me, but going to be out of town anyways. No $$$ has changed hands so I suppose I could back out if I wanted to, but it seems like a pretty good deal for the money. It's not perfect, but it's in overall good shape where it really matters. I appreciate any and all advice....opinions?

Only picture I have is from their ad:

Storm27m 01-12-2010 08:23 PM

Forgot to add, he's throwing in anything he has that is jeep related. A few spare parts, repair manuals, etc. Just little stuff, but it will save me a few bucks.

slownomore 01-12-2010 08:31 PM

$4500 seems pretty fair if you'd be doing the work yourself. All the stuff that is wrong with it seems as if its stuff you want to swap out anyway. As a bonus that gives you more leverage to use against the wife to trick her into letting you buy new goodies for it. "well hunny the tires are bald and I need new ones so we dont die." Use the word death a lot.. Works wonders for my wife...

BestopTeam@Bestop 01-12-2010 08:36 PM

Sounds a lot like a 1998 Jeep Wrangler with 125k miles on it! (or a lot like my 1999 WJ with that many miles).

TJs seldom go for much less.

And you sound like you know what you're doing. I mean, sometimes we see kids here with posts like "the oil is kinda that bad?" Now those are the people who should really be asking questions!

I think you've already made your decision. Have fun. Post some action shots.

BestopTeam@Bestop 01-12-2010 08:37 PM


Originally Posted by slownomore (Post 522488)
Use the word death a lot.. Works wonders for my wife...

I've tried that. It doesn't work. She just won't let me take the dog with me.

InfernoGirl 01-12-2010 10:02 PM


Originally Posted by slownomore (Post 522488)
"well hunny the tires are bald and I need new ones so we dont die." Use the word death a lot.. Works wonders for my wife...

:rofl: I almost ruined my keyboard with that one !


Originally Posted by Geoff@Bestop (Post 522492)
I've tried that. It doesn't work. She just won't let me take the dog with me.

Hahaha! Poor Geoff..... she's on to you! :D

VARedLeg82 01-12-2010 10:19 PM

The oil leak is probably coming from the filter and/or the drain plug. Every, and I mean every, used vehicle I've ever bought that was serviced at the local Jiffy Lube was leaking a small amount of oil from both.

The gas gauge is a problem I've noticed on and off with every I6 4.0 Jeep I've ever owned (to include a couple of previous WJ's, both 90's models). My current 99 TJ will occasionally read empty on startup, but a quick restart, or driving about a half mile usually frees it up. Eventually I'll replace the sending unit, but I also know I get 200-220 miles on a tank. Usually hit the gas station around 150 miles.

Otherwise, for a stock TJ, sounds like a great deal. Just make sure the title is clean.

Also Geoff... I've found Tahitian pearls will usually buy me a few free weekends in the garage with Christine. The preggo Mrs. won't get in my rig anyways, so the death threats just get a reminder that I have a good life insurance policy.

meyers 01-12-2010 11:03 PM


Originally Posted by Geoff@Bestop (Post 522492)
I've tried that. It doesn't work. She just won't let me take the dog with me.

Someones Else's wife does the same thing !!! I can be driving with 2 bent wheels and no brakes, as long as the dog isn't riding its okay..

birdhunter 01-12-2010 11:19 PM

3500-4000 rpm at heavy acceleration slight vibe
bud its a jeep straight 6 its not meant to be driven
like that
210 is the operating temp
Sound like a fair deal ,
I would harp alittle about needing tires to bring it down alittle
the tops are not cheap to replace either

distortedtj 01-12-2010 11:49 PM

Would you like me to go take a look at it for you???

Storm27m 01-12-2010 11:49 PM

Thanks for the info/advice so far. Pretty much what I was expecting to hear. I just like a little reassurance on bigger purchases. I haven't seen too many TJ's going for this price here, not even 4 bangers, so I feel pretty good about it. I'll continue to keep my eye out to see if I'll regret this purchase later:banghead:

No wife to worry about right now......cheating wife= :flipoff: But budget is ALWAYS an issue!

Jeepzcb09 01-12-2010 11:55 PM

sounds good, it haerd to find an early TJ sport with the D44!!!!! if you can do the work yourself i would go for it

Fweaky 01-13-2010 12:04 AM

Looks like a good deal. Welcome to the forum!

distortedtj 01-13-2010 12:12 AM

Well? Welcome to the forum bud. ;)

scoobasteve 01-13-2010 06:30 PM

I think if you kept looking you could find a better deal but if you have already grown attached it's hard changing your mind. Just think about things in the long run. As stated if you plan on doing yourself the repairs should be too bad, however if you have to pay to have it done expect 700-900 for the header repair, 500-600 for tires, several hundred for the oil leak, and $xxx for the new top if you choose to replace it. Add all that up and you might be better spending 6500 on a jeep that is in better shape and wont need those repairs. Just my 2 cents.

multisonic 01-13-2010 07:17 PM

"the oil tastes like raccoon pee, is that bad?" I couldnt help myself.

debruins 01-13-2010 09:07 PM

that sounds pretty solid. Seems like no real problems to me! I am wondering about the top of the hood, mine does the same exact thing and I was wondering if it was my fault?

Storm27m 01-13-2010 11:03 PM

I'll be doing the repairs myself, so I won't be paying labor costs. I'm not a mechanic by any stretch, but I'm mechanically competent. Not too worried about the oil leak....yet. It doesn't look like it's even enough to cause a drip. Very similar to the leak my 2000 F-150 has had since I bought it in 2003. I won't say I'm attached, but I've been looking for a while and this Jeep seems decent enough. I'm on a bit of a budget and it's easier to come up with the money here and there than it is all at once. I'm not wanting to have a loan payment so I'm sticking to my cash budget. I can deal with the problems this one has at a lesser cost. YEAH, it might cost me more in the long run but hell, getting there is half the fun! And if it looked as pretty as the more expensive ones, I might be afraid of getting it dirty.:D

I did end up paying for a CARFAX report but besides piece of mind, it was a waste of money. The title is clean an there was nothing negative on the report. Everything the current owner has told me checks out.

distortedtj- Thanks for the offer, but I don't think I need you to come out and look at it for me. That's assuming you live near me and were being serious with the offer? I do appreciate it though. I'm new to Jeeps, so I may seek you out in the future if you are local and willing to help.

specbill 01-13-2010 11:27 PM

The price is a fair one, but more importantly it is a good deal because you did your homework...confirmed that the seller is straight up...the rig is near only have a two owner history to worry know what you are buying and should not get any surprises. Just do it!!
Good luck and have fun!

distortedtj 01-14-2010 12:55 AM


Originally Posted by Storm27m (Post 523330)
distortedtj- Thanks for the offer, but I don't think I need you to come out and look at it for me. That's assuming you live near me and were being serious with the offer? I do appreciate it though. I'm new to Jeeps, so I may seek you out in the future if you are local and willing to help.

Yes I was serious if you needed. And I live fairly close. I'm in Housing. And Mechanically inclined, If you need any help with what ever vehicle. Just let me know my garage is decently stocked.
The oil leak on that TJ is most likely a rear main seal leak...happens to all of them. Not to bad to change out.
If you've been at McConnell long you've seen at least one of my vehicle.

REALLY BIG gold S-10 ring a bell? Or the "barbie" gold TJ.

mistert 01-15-2010 07:54 AM

I see a lot of Jeeps at the car auction and own a black '03. Most of the TJ's that are black seem to have trashy paint, especially on the hood. Bird crap seems to be a major player on the spots and you'll also see small "checks" on hood(s). Again, poor quality paint direct from the manufacturer. I didn't want to spend a couple of thousand re-painting mine so a friend at the body shop told me about "Black in a Box" by Turtle Wax. It's a three step process and takes a little time but, it helped a lot. No cure but much better for a whole lot less. I also used it on my black Harley and black Tundra to hide minor scratches and swirl marks.

Storm27m 01-16-2010 12:45 AM

Well, I was able to pick the Jeep up earlier than expected and got her home today. Did another inspection in the garage and don't have any post-purchase regret yet. I did notice that I have a busted sway bar link, not sure how I missed that before. No biggie. Probably going to take care of that and Herculine the inside this weekend.

distortedtj- I've been at McConnell for a little over three years (probably TDY for almost half of that) but I can't say that I've noticed either vehicle. I really don't get around much on base. I head straight to the gym in the am and I'm usually half awake with a good dose of tunnel vision. After that, it's straight to work and after work I hit the gate and head for home. I'll be keeping an eye out for you now though. I'll still be driving my black 2000 F-150 4x4 for now. I live about six miles from base, so you're not too far away.

mistert- Yeah, the hood is definitely the worst area in regards to the paint. I'll check out the black in a box and might give it a try. I'm really not too concerned with the paint, but the white spots do annoy me a little. Thanks for the info.

distortedtj 01-16-2010 12:55 AM

Congrats on the new jeep bud. Need any help just let me know.

dabolt55 02-12-2012 08:29 PM

Sounds like it was meant to be, congrats....

SippiTJ 02-12-2012 11:54 PM

Congrats on the purchase and thank you for your service.

WaterDR 02-13-2012 06:02 AM

That is a very low price IMO. That Jeep as you describe it would have gone for at least 6k here and about 7500 if it had none of those problems at all.

The paint issue sounds like oxidation. Some elbow grease and the right compound will either salvage that or not. It's worth a shot.

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