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small3687 07-14-2010 10:00 PM

First Time Vehicle Buyer Looking For Advice Please
Hi everyone, first of all thanks for taking some time to read what I have written here. I'm a 23 year old who has never owned his own car before and vowed a long time ago to make his first purchase a Wrangler. I'm saving and I don't think I will have enough money to truly think about getting a Jeep for at least another ten weeks but as I have never purchased a vehicle of any kind before I was hoping to get some advice from those more experienced then me. I have no idea what would be a good deal for a Wrangler of a given make or model or how high or low mileage should factor into my decision making.

If anyone could provide some examples, real or hypothetical scenarios I could run into and maybe some reasons behind why the deal would be good or bad I'd really appreciate it. Heres an example of what I was hoping for in terms of advice:
An 06 Sahara edition with a hard and soft top that has 70,000 miles on it and avg rusting a busted stereo but the engine runs well at 12,000 is a fair price to a good buy. It's fair because the Sahara's tend to last for X amount of miles or X amount of years. Yeah the radio being busted sucks but as long as you check X on the engine and Y isn't an issue then you should be in good shape. Watch out though for X and Y on the Saharas though and maybe look at Z on the Wrangler just be X isn't an issue.

I made that up off the top of my head so please don't be offended if what I have placed makes zero sense. Feel free to correct me I'm here to learn.

I'd like to get a deal on a Jeep but what I'm truly concerned with is preventing myself from having a bad first vehicle purchase experience. I don't have a lot of money and this is a big deal for me getting my own Jeep. I won't lie, I'm very nervous and excited about the whole thing but I don't really have anyone to turn to on advice regarding this sort of thing. I'm in the Derry PA area and i'm hoping some knowledgable people won't mind me picking their brains. I'm just starting my research into looking for a Jeep and I'm trying to keep my options real open. What I'm really looking for though bottom line no matter what is getting a good solid Wrangler that can last me for a good 6 years and can handle a cross country journey as moving out to California is a possibility for me someday. Thanks in advance!

VVCG33 07-14-2010 10:22 PM

The only bad thing about Wranglers is they hold their value VERY well. I bought my 2001 for $8000, although it probably wasn't worth that much...Low milage in Jeeps isn't really a necessity, because they can run up to 300k before they need serious working on. But the lower the milage, the longer you can keep it I guess! If you are looking for an older car, YJ's (years 1987-1995) run pretty cheap if they aren't totally modded out. When buying a Jeep, make sure it isn't a complete rust bucket, as they do tend to be sometimes...Hope this helps man!

rtread 07-14-2010 10:24 PM

I'd strongly recommend the 4.0 liter 6 cylinder over the four cylinder.

Also, getting a Jeep without 4WD is akin to buying Near Beer.

I'm more familiar with TJs than any.....they are a good ride. If you are buying a used one, get underneath and will tell what kind of life it's had.

Stay with this website.....great wealth of knowledge here.

InfernoGirl 07-14-2010 11:52 PM

x2 what they said. And post up anything that you're looking at, and we'll do our best to help you decide if it's a deal or not... We love buying Jeeps, even if we don't get to keep them... :)

burton160w 07-15-2010 12:57 AM

Realistically, let us know how much you're looking to spend and then we can narrow down to what you're looking for. Here's some basic info to get you started, and check out each of their respective forums

Wrangler Model Designations
  • CJ (1970 - 1987) - Not technically a Wrangler, but a civilian Jeep
  • YJ (1988 - 1995) - Square headlights
  • TJ (1997 - 2006) - Round headlights
  • JK (2007 - present) - Minivan Wrangler

It sounds like you're looking for a TJ Jeep, which you'll find in the $4000 - $14000 price range. Note there isn't a 1996 year because that was crossover from YJs to TJs.

We're all here to help, and I think in comparison to JeepForum or Pirate, you'll find us to be a lot more forgiving to newbies. Heck, I'll type anything out for +1 on the post count. Just post how much you're looking to spend and what you're looking to do with it. We'll help you out from there :punk:

small3687 07-15-2010 12:57 PM

Thank you so much everyone! All your prompt were responses were great and have helped me to start narrowing some things down. I'm in the market for a TJ as their suspension system seems to be a big improvement over the previous models. I was looking at Craigslist just for fun to see what kind of Wranglers are out there and what they are going for. I either stumbled across the luckiest buy ever or a way too obvious scam. Could anyone give me their two cents on this? The price seems wholly unrealistic but I'm a hopeful person.

A 2006 Jeep Wrangler X 65th Anniversary Edition for ONLY $2,940. Yes that's right I didn't miss a zero or anything thats how much the woman is asking for it. I sent her an E-mail and here is the response I got back, as well as what I sent back to her.

Hi, my name is Zach I'm a huge Jeep lover. I'm 23 just out of college and I have never owned a car of my own and I always vowed I would make sure my first car would be a Jeep. I have to ask if you price is listed incorrectly. 2940??? Thats impossibly low for a 2006 that only have 27,500 miles on it. What's the deal? Why is this so low? Was this wrecked at some point? Is it missing the engine? Haha, come on this is practically charity. No flat out. It is charity. You could easily get an extra 10,000 out of this if it's everything you've listed. Please Please get back to me and explain the situation. If you Jeep is as you say it is I want it I'll buy it. I'll make no qualms if this is what you say it is and you will have given me, flat out, a gift.


The car is located in Gambrills, MD and I am selling it at this price ($2940) because i just finished the divorce
with my husband. The divorce is finished and I own this car. I work as a dealer on a cruise ship and i want to
sell it because I need money for other things. This car is in excellent working condition, no scratches, flaws or
any kind of damage, slightly used, in 100% working and looking conditions and comes with a clear title ready for
transfer. From the beginning you have to know that for the payment I request only secure pay, I prefer the payment
to be done using eBay services. Since i am working most of my time, and divorced I want the deal closed only through
eBay's Buyer Protection Program in order for me and you to be 100% protected. The final price that I want for this
car is $2940. If you will take it for this price, I am willing to handle the shipping. Please get back to me asap
if you decide to buy, and include in your e-mail your full name and address where you want it shipped so I can start
the deal with eBay. You will receive payment and shipping details from them.
I will wait your answer very soon only if you are interested to buy because i don't have any free time to waste.
Best Regards,
Amanda Cooper

Dear Amanda,
I'm sorry to hear about your divorce. I understand and appreciate your concern to have the vehicle paid for in a safe manner for us both. If it's all right with you however, I would like to drive down to Gambrills with my grandmother. I could pay in cash so there would be no worries about a digital transaction that honestly makes me a little bit nervous. Also, I would like to see and drive the vehicle back. I will gladly pay the full amount. Are you comfortable with that as opposed to going through Ebay? This should save you a considerable amount of money as you won't have to pay for shipping and Ebay won't take anything out as I know they do with sales over their service. Thank you for your prompt response.

There is almost no way I will do this transaction without going and seeing the jeep with my own two eyes. I normally go by the old adage if it's too good to be true it is. This definitely seems too good. Here is a link to the actual ad with pictures of the Jeep. Thanks again everyone!

InfernoGirl 07-15-2010 12:59 PM

Scam...... Sorry :(

drivebytruckerz 07-15-2010 01:03 PM

Yeah, sounds like a scam. Get yourself together about 6000.00 bucks and buy a good YJ or 4cyl TJ.

rtread 07-15-2010 01:04 PM


Originally Posted by InfernoGirl (Post 689392)
Scam...... Sorry :(

I agree. A good rule of thumb for Craigs List or other similar transactions......NEVER turn over money for ANYTHING without seeing the person and the item in person. It's a cruel world out there.....

VVCG33 07-15-2010 04:04 PM

Scam, if anyone ever asks for personal information, or wants to ship it somewhere before you actually check out the car, it's phony.

burton160w 07-15-2010 08:16 PM

Yeppers, that's an old scam. Send them the money and you'll get smoke in return. Again, I gotta ask, how much are you looking to spend and then we can go from there into breaking down the models and years to look at. I'm happy to see you want a TJ, excellent decision :punk: you're on the right track.

Generally, you're looking at $4500 - $19000 depending on the model, year, mileage, and engine. The TJ came with two different engine choices, the 4cyl and the 6cyl (4.0L) and I wouldn't buy anything but the 4.0L (6 cylinder). It's got a healthy torque pull and can keep up on the highway.

Here's the package models available in the TJ
  • SE - Base model 4 cyl. w/ all features optional
  • X - 6cyl. base model w/ all features optional
  • Sport - Standard 6cyl. model, some optional features, but usually find more amenities with these
  • Sahara - 6cyl. interior/exterior package that comes with some nicities like seats, matching fenders and a paintjob.
  • Rubicon - Upgraded suspension, wheels, and the Dana 44 axle in the front/rear
  • Unlimited - Longer wheelbase Wrangler, designated as an LJ and has the Dana 44 rear

What model you want to buy all depends on how much you're looking to spend and what you plan to do with it. Like I said, I'll never made a recommendation for the SE model, the 4cyl. engine is god awful in my opinion. I also prefer the manual transmission, especially the ax-15, but that's just me. If you're planning on using this as a daily driver and you're mods are going to be simpler, don't worry about the Rubicon. The Rubicon really shines when you're beginning to lift and throw on tires that are 35"+ thanks to the beefier Dana 44 axle. But thanks to the popularity of Ford Exploders, picking up a Ford 8.8 for an axle swap will save you some bones if you want to go that route later on. The Unlimited has a 10" longer wheelbase. It's great if you have younger kids, and it includes the Dana 44 rear axle, but tops cost more for it since they are swappable with the TJ, for the most part everything is however the same. I personally think they look a little bit goofy because of how stretched the rear window is, but that's my opinion.

In terms of price, I paid $6000 for my 1999 w/ 118,000 miles in Stroudsburg, PA. It's a 6 cylinder Sport model, black, and Carfax showed that the 2nd owner drove it less then 3,000 miles over a period of 3 years. I'll take that. Shop around, Wranglers are an expensive dime a dozen, but there are deals to be had. I like Craigslist (where I got mine), as well as Check Ebay, but shop local - I couldn't spend all that money on a car I couldn't see first. Don't cut a check on a scam.

small3687 07-16-2010 07:44 AM

Thanks again everyone. No response from that woman, I had a feeling that it was a scam and I am taking no response back as proof. I think the max I will probably be able to spend is 10,000. I would be okay with a sport, I'm more interested in a Rubicon than a Sahara. With the Rubicon's upgraded suspension is there a big difference between the other models? Is it a smoother highway ride? This will definitely be a daily driver for me. Thanks again :)

InfernoGirl 07-16-2010 08:08 AM

You'll likely have trouble finding a Rubi in your price range. They didn't start making Rubi's till '03... If I were you I'd be looking at a 97+ Sport with a 4.0L I6... as close to stock as possible. Use the leftover $ to start building it how you want it. The ride difference between a Rubicon and a non Rubi is likely to be worse due to the Rubi having a stiffer suspension. (I could be wrong about that :)) Check prices on Autotrader, CL etc in your area to see what you can expect to get in your price range. You'll probably have better luck with pricing in a few months when it isn't the middle of "Jeep season".... :)

burton160w 07-16-2010 11:18 PM


With the Rubicon's upgraded suspension is there a big difference between the other models? Is it a smoother highway ride? This will definitely be a daily driver for me.
There isn't a big difference on-road w/ stock wheels with tires up to 35 inches. The Rubicon should theoretically ride rougher because the shocks are stiffer, but realistically, don't think anything too drastic. The Rubicon really shines in terms of the rear axle and lockers, aka, if you plan on going big and going off-road a lot. If this is a mall queen that you wouldn't want to break a nail in the trees :D then the Rubicon would be overkill (until you get the wheeling itch once you buy it).

At $10,000 you're looking at the 2001 - 2005 price range for a Sport, X, or Sahara model (with some haggling). Like I said, the Sahara is an appearance package that gives you different fenders, new seats, yadda yadda I think they're ugly and not worth the extra $ - but again, that's my opinion. So what I would do is look for some 2003+ Sport or X models that have the amenities you would like (for me, I had to have the following: Cruise Control, hardtop, a/c, and a manual transmission). Like I said, I won't recommend the 4cyl. engine, it's SLOW. Like molasses slow.

Now, if you do plan on throwing some mods in (welcome to WF :wavey:) maybe some tires, lifts, and the likewise - then look at a 2001 - 2003 for around $7600 and use the leftover money to upgrade. I would grab one with mileage less then 120,000, but the AMC 4.0L is reliable and strong.

A1bertmarkovski 11-09-2010 09:58 AM

i got a 2.5 and it does the job but i would go with a 4.0 TJ and i would do manual because i hear auto has more tranny problems...

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