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Old 04-11-2019, 08:42 PM
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Be honest about the 3.8

Howdy, I have been speaking to my parents and they really want me to get a newer car meaning (TJ vs JK) as my DD (I am still in College so they help with a lot of financial decisions). I might have to switch my mind off a 4.0 TJ and look at 3.8's JK with my price range. They also will save a bit in insurance.

I will be looking in the 12k range which could get me a 80-100k 3.8, I've heard the engine is great but the transmission is awful. Now the question is it really as bad as people say? I'm coming from driving a 2.5 Nissan Rogue and occasionally my girlfriend 3.6 JKU.

Should I opt for the manual to relieve from the auto headaches or all those all a myth?

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Old 04-11-2019, 09:07 PM   #2
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I was pretty happy with a manual 07 JK Sahara that had 4.10s and 35s. I did add a Superchips to it and pushed it on a regular basis over the passes in Colorado from 8,000-12,000 feet. The power was fine.

The JK ended up being a preference to me over the TJ for its better ride and having a touch more space.

I drive a 3.6 JKU now and feel like that extra horsepower is necessary on the 4 door, but not the 2 door.

Hope it works out for you!
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Old 04-11-2019, 09:08 PM   #3
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The engine is not as bad as you would think from reading posts online.

All things being equal, I would opt for the manual. Yes, part of the problem with the 3.8 was that 4-speed automatic. The 6-speed allows you to extract more out of the same motor.

FWIW, the 3.8 peak torque hit sooner, which felt better than the 3.6 with the 6-speed on the trail.

Good luck!
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Old 04-11-2019, 09:24 PM   #4
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4.10s are actually easy to find early model JKs

Get the VIN for some you are interested, then look them up online in VIN searches. In Florida, you may never have to re-gear with bigger tires.
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Old 04-11-2019, 11:21 PM   #5
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I have an 11 jku with the 3.8 and automatic. It's not terrible. It's not great but I don't think it's any worse than my old under geared TJ with the manual. Obviously the manual was easier to get the most out of but I don't have any problems with the auto 3.8 and I'm sitting on 34s currently fwiw.

Although not recommending that without regearing. But I've pulled trailers with it with this set up so if it's just a DD I don't see any problems

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Old 04-12-2019, 08:03 AM
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4.10s are actually easy to find early model JKs

Get the VIN for some you are interested, then look them up online in VIN searches. In Florida, you may never have to re-gear with bigger tires.
I actually hope to buy one pre lifted since I am tight on a budget and time for mods. I will be talking to them abt gearing or finding out if they don’t know
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Old 04-12-2019, 08:04 AM
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I have an 11 jku with the 3.8 and automatic. It's not terrible. It's not great but I don't think it's any worse than my old under geared TJ with the manual. Obviously the manual was easier to get the most out of but I don't have any problems with the auto 3.8 and I'm sitting on 34s currently fwiw.

Although not recommending that without regearing. But I've pulled trailers with it with this set up so if it's just a DD I don't see any problems

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How long have you had it? Reliability wise how is it holding up with the auto?
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Old 04-12-2019, 08:13 AM   #8
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I had a 2-door 2008. 4.56 gears, 33s, 2.5" lift, automatic.
It was absolutely fine.

...unless I towed something and then it sucked balz.
So, if you're not going to tow, the auto is okay as long as the gears match the tires. The manual is more fun and makes up a little for an under-geared machine.

Even with 4.56 gears, this set-up below couldn't hit 65 mph on the highway on flat ground. The trailer was just a tad over #1500.

Click image for larger version

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Old 04-12-2019, 02:24 PM   #9
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So far we haven't had any transmission issues in over 135k miles on 2011.
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Old 04-12-2019, 03:37 PM   #10
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How long have you had it? Reliability wise how is it holding up with the auto?
I have a 2007 JKU Auto w/4.10 on 35's. 172,000 miles. Still strong with no tranny issues. History suggests a couple water pumps and a radiator.

knock on wood.
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Old 04-12-2019, 03:48 PM   #11
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Even with 4.56 gears, this set-up below couldn't hit 65 mph on the highway on flat ground. The trailer was just a tad over #1500.
Attachment 4142323
What trailer is that? I have been looking at trailers lately and trying to figure out which one is THE one.

EDIT: OP, I had a 4.0 TJ before and really liked it. They are easy to work on, common mods seem to be less expensive (at least used to be). I wouldn't hesitate to buy one. Can't say anything about 3.8 though.
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Old 04-12-2019, 04:04 PM   #12
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I have a 2009 Rubicon with 157k and a manual. I have Superchipped it, Q-tech leveling kit and Nitto RG's 285-75-17. I think it runs better now than when I bought it 4 years and 100k miles ago. More power would be nice but a quick downshift or two helps and I think the transmission is fine.
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Old 04-12-2019, 10:06 PM   #13
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How long have you had it? Reliability wise how is it holding up with the auto?
I've only had it a few months got it at the beginning of the year. it has close to 190K on the odometer though and I don't believe I saw anything about a transmission rebuild or replace on the Carfax...I'll have to double-check that though to be sure

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Old 04-12-2019, 11:04 PM   #14
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My 2010 Sport has the 6-speed and while it痴 no rocket ship. She still holds her own on the highway, and runs smooth and strong.
The motor is pushing 103K and so far has proven to be reliable.
I recently spoke to a gentleman who has a 2011 with 168K.
So my feelings are. It痴 all about how faithful you池e with your maintenance, as to the longevity of the motor.
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Old 04-13-2019, 12:07 AM   #15
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If it helps, my 2011 JKUR auto on 35's is significantly better than my 2001 TJ auto on 33's...
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Old 04-13-2019, 06:07 AM   #16
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What trailer is that? I have been looking at trailers lately and trying to figure out which one is THE one.

EDIT: OP, I had a 4.0 TJ before and really liked it. They are easy to work on, common mods seem to be less expensive (at least used to be). I wouldn't hesitate to buy one. Can't say anything about 3.8 though.
It's a 2002 Conqueror Compact from South Africa. We have a teardrop now and I think the Conqueror is living in Texas with an avid mountain biker.

Here's one of my slideshows with a few different Conquerors. At the time you could only get them via infrequent container-ship imports. Now there's a vendor in the US.
Very very durable trailers.
https://conqueror4x4usa.com/

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Old 04-13-2019, 07:08 AM   #17
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The 3.8 was only a dog because of the weight it had to lug around with no help from its aerodynamics. The 4-speed auto did it no favors either, but both either trans with 4.10 gears was adequate
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Old 04-13-2019, 07:15 AM   #18
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My 3.8 2 door with 4:10s was good, even with the automatic. Like Aldo said, low end, nearly off idle torque was great. The internets will tell you will die a slow death with the 3.8, but most the info is hearsay, I'd suggest you take answer on this topic from actual owners, not the keyboard cowboys.
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Old 04-13-2019, 08:19 AM   #19
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I also know someone who has an '11 with a supercharger. 189k and going strong and he doesn't baby it at all.
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Old 04-13-2019, 10:14 AM   #20
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Bought our 2010 new. We have 115K on her now. It's an auto with 4:10's and we run 285 70R17's. Burns some oil between oil changes, but the 115k have been virtually trouble free. You're not gonna win any races with the 3.8 but then again it's a Jeep. No issues with the trans either.

As far as looking for a Jeep "prelifted", I would try to find one as stock as possible. This way you can do it your way, if you want and know it's done right.
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Old 04-13-2019, 06:21 PM   #21
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My 09 JK only has 18K miles on it but the 3.8 w/6 speed works great. I have a Banks package on it and I'm up to 70MPH coming outta 3rd gear
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Old 04-15-2019, 04:27 PM   #22
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I've found the 3.8L automatic with 4.10 gears and 33" tires on my JKU to be fine combo and not nearly as deficient as people would have you believe.
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:48 PM   #23
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I have an 09 jk manual with 167k on it. Its been great. But... its low on power. I have 35s with 4.56 gears. Eventually i will want 37s. When I offroad, Its a little weak. I'm looking at doing an engine swap now for an upgrade.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:34 PM
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I have a 2007 JKU Auto w/4.10 on 35's. 172,000 miles. Still strong with no tranny issues. History suggests a couple water pumps and a radiator.

knock on wood.
A bit of a dumb question, but how is it running through gears? Its a jeep so you will feel them, but are they obnoxious or anything?
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:36 PM
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What trailer is that? I have been looking at trailers lately and trying to figure out which one is THE one.

EDIT: OP, I had a 4.0 TJ before and really liked it. They are easy to work on, common mods seem to be less expensive (at least used to be). I wouldn't hesitate to buy one. Can't say anything about 3.8 though.
I personally don't have much time to go under a hood since my day is always a rush, but I know just fenders alone for a TJ and a JK are a big difference in price.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:38 PM
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The 3.8 was only a dog because of the weight it had to lug around with no help from its aerodynamics. The 4-speed auto did it no favors either, but both either trans with 4.10 gears was adequate
I will be doing a JK instead of the U so that will help a bit on the weight side.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:44 PM
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I have an 09 jk manual with 167k on it. Its been great. But... its low on power. I have 35s with 4.56 gears. Eventually i will want 37s. When I offroad, Its a little weak. I'm looking at doing an engine swap now for an upgrade.
I will be sticking with nothing bigger then 33's until it becomes my second vehicle, so the power shouldn't be an issue from what everyone is saying.
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Old 04-16-2019, 03:00 PM   #28
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The 3.8 was only a dog because of the weight it had to lug around with no help from its aerodynamics. The 4-speed auto did it no favors either, but both either trans with 4.10 gears was adequate
I will be doing a JK instead of the U so that will help a bit on the weight side.
JK 2-door is still a heavy beast, ~500 lbs heavier than a TJ
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:07 PM   #29
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A bit of a dumb question, but how is it running through gears? Its a jeep so you will feel them, but are they obnoxious or anything?
Well, there's only 4 lol, but not obnoxious at all. No problem drinking and driving.
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Old 04-24-2019, 07:59 AM   #30
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We have a liberty with the 3.8. It is a torquey little thing, but runs out of steam quickly.

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