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Old 06-12-2019, 05:49 AM
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TJ or JK or JKU

Hi, I had a TJ years ago and now I’m looking for another Wrangler. This will be a second vehicle, not a DD (no way I can part with my Grand Cherokee for one). I’m looking at either a clean 05-06 TJ or a 2012-13 JK or JKU. One of my big concerns is safety because I have a kid now, who is still in a car seat. TJ I could pay cash for vs having to finance a JK. Is the JK worth paying more for? Especially safety wise? Thinking the JKU would be nice to have the extra space and the ability to tow our 3000lb pop up camper (I think it could?). Any opinions appreciated, thanks!

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Old 06-12-2019, 06:03 AM   #2
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Hi, I had a TJ years ago and now I’m looking for another Wrangler. This will be a second vehicle, not a DD (no way I can part with my Grand Cherokee for one). I’m looking at either a clean 05-06 TJ or a 2012-13 JK or JKU. One of my big concerns is safety because I have a kid now, who is still in a car seat. TJ I could pay cash for vs having to finance a JK. Is the JK worth paying more for? Especially safety wise? Thinking the JKU would be nice to have the extra space and the ability to tow our 3000lb pop up camper (I think it could?). Any opinions appreciated, thanks!

You already said it, a TJ is going to be less money and the JK/U will have more room. IMO the JK will be safer, because you need less height, added, to accomplish the same tasks in the TJ. Unless of coarse you go JKU. If you go JKU than there is no further discussion needed because it stands alone and nothing else compares.


The one thing i'd caution against is the 2005 year TJ. That was the range that they had mechanical problems. I believe end of 04-2005.


Outside of that it wont matter it's a Jeep, your family wins

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Old 06-12-2019, 06:08 AM
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Thanks, I did not know that about the 2005. I know to avoid 2007-2010 because of the motors.
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Old 06-12-2019, 06:12 AM   #4
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Thanks, I did not know that about the 2005. I know to avoid 2007-2010 because of the motors.

2011 also
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Old 06-12-2019, 06:13 AM   #5
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If you want to pull your camper 2013 + JKU with 3.73s or better
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Old 06-12-2019, 06:16 AM   #6
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Having a kid, go for the JKU. I raised my kids with the TJs.
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Old 06-12-2019, 06:33 AM   #7
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As someone what had a JK and was putting car seats in the back seat and then putting the kids in the seats, yea it sucks! That’s the reason I traded for my JKU, it’s so much easier to get the kids in and out of the backseat now and the extra room is a no brainer.


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Old 06-12-2019, 06:42 AM
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If you want to pull your camper 2013 + JKU with 3.73s or better
Thanks, didn’t know that. Do you know the towing difference between that and a ‘12?
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Old 06-12-2019, 06:45 AM
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As someone what had a JK and was putting car seats in the back seat and then putting the kids in the seats, yea it sucks! That’s the reason I traded for my JKU, it’s so much easier to get the kids in and out of the backseat now and the extra room is a no brainer.
Haha luckily he is 5.5 and can climb in and buckle himself. I’m thinking I would really appreciate the extra room because TJs basically have none
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:03 AM   #10
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I was nostalgic for a TJ, having sold my 2 year old 2002 in 2004. I found a dealer who specializes in selling TJs and YJs and on a Sunday, when they were closed, went to take a look at their inventory. Being in the Northeast, it should not be a surprise, but every one was a rust bucket that deserved to be sent directly to the crusher. On the other hand....I work for an Arizona based company and while there training a couple months ago, I'd stop in the parking lot and look at TJs and LJs that looked like they were right out of the showroom. Frames still had factory paint, lightly dusted. If I were to want another TJ, I'd be heading back to Phoenix.

For dealing with a kid, a JKU is the way to go. Push enough to get to at least a 12. You really don't want the 3.8.
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:31 AM   #11
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My dad had a TJ when I was a kid. Some of my best memories were me crawling into the backseat from the trunk. He's out of the carseat so I'd say a 2dr is a viable option still. Since it's not the dd, you don't have to worry about hauling everything and slightly cheaper than a JKU.
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:24 PM   #12
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Thanks, didn’t know that. Do you know the towing difference between that and a ‘12?

For some reason has a higher towing rating on it, 3500#. there is a thread floating around today about that, gears and towing
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:31 PM   #13
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Towing figures are all over the place for what essentially is the same vehicle. Looks like as long as it is a JKU, including 2012, and 3.73 gears or higher you are good to 3500#
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Old 06-12-2019, 01:21 PM   #14
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Others have beat me to it, but if you want to "legally" tow your 3000# trailer, you're going to need a JKU, and one with at least 3.73 gears (3.21 is the standard no-cost differential gear ratio; 3.73 is an upgrade, and 4.10 is standard on a lot of Rubicons but not all, and unavailable from the factory on anything other than a Rubicon.)

There are claims that 2016+ JK 2-doors got uprated to 3500 pounds, but I've never heard that before today's towing thread so you'd want to research that if your budget allows for a 16 and you want to stick with a 2-door. And for what it's worth, a 2012 JKU and a 2016 JK may very well cost about the same, all else being equal.
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Old 06-12-2019, 01:37 PM   #15
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I've had 1 YJ, 8 TJ's, 1 JK, and 1 JKU (current Jeep). The TJ in my opinion is the perfect 2nd vehicle, although the TJ would be a terrible tow vehicle. I traded my JK for a JKU because I had my first child and the rear facing car seat in a JK on 37's was beyond annoying. I have gotten accustomed to driving my JKU because it is my daily driver and it makes a fair-good daily driver. One of my friends asked me to drive their stock 2003 TJ to their new house since he just moved. I was excited to drive a TJ again for the nostalgia of it, but on the drive I realized I could never drive one daily again. His is the 4.0 automatic and is in terrific shape, I had just forgotten how loud and utilitarian a TJ drives. Getting back into my JKU on the drive home felt like getting back into a luxury vehicle. Looks alone I would rate the TJ 1st, JK 2nd, JKU 3rd, but in my current situation I would not give up my JKU for anything. It is comfortable to drive daily and is still pretty good for the type of off roading that I do. In your situation my vote would be for JK.
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Old 06-12-2019, 01:56 PM
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I've had 1 YJ, 8 TJ's, 1 JK, and 1 JKU (current Jeep). The TJ in my opinion is the perfect 2nd vehicle, although the TJ would be a terrible tow vehicle. I traded my JK for a JKU because I had my first child and the rear facing car seat in a JK on 37's was beyond annoying. I have gotten accustomed to driving my JKU because it is my daily driver and it makes a fair-good daily driver. One of my friends asked me to drive their stock 2003 TJ to their new house since he just moved. I was excited to drive a TJ again for the nostalgia of it, but on the drive I realized I could never drive one daily again. His is the 4.0 automatic and is in terrific shape, I had just forgotten how loud and utilitarian a TJ drives. Getting back into my JKU on the drive home felt like getting back into a luxury vehicle. Looks alone I would rate the TJ 1st, JK 2nd, JKU 3rd, but in my current situation I would not give up my JKU for anything. It is comfortable to drive daily and is still pretty good for the type of off roading that I do. In your situation my vote would be for JK.
Thanks for all that input, I think I’m leaning toward the JK. I feel like it’d be a safer, nicer ride to put my kid in, and I don’t really NEED the space in the JKU since it’s just a second vehicle and I could probably save $3-4K. Also I have the Grand Cherokee to tow with, so I don’t need the JKU for that either.
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Old 06-12-2019, 01:59 PM
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Others have beat me to it, but if you want to "legally" tow your 3000# trailer, you're going to need a JKU, and one with at least 3.73 gears (3.21 is the standard no-cost differential gear ratio; 3.73 is an upgrade, and 4.10 is standard on a lot of Rubicons but not all, and unavailable from the factory on anything other than a Rubicon.)

There are claims that 2016+ JK 2-doors got uprated to 3500 pounds, but I've never heard that before today's towing thread so you'd want to research that if your budget allows for a 16 and you want to stick with a 2-door. And for what it's worth, a 2012 JKU and a 2016 JK may very well cost about the same, all else being equal.
Thanks for all that info. I don’t really NEED to tow with the wrangler, so I’m thinking the 12-13 JK might be the way to go, because $$ is also a bit of a factor.
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:47 PM   #18
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Thanks for all that info. I don’t really NEED to tow with the wrangler, so I’m thinking the 12-13 JK might be the way to go, because $$ is also a bit of a factor.
I like your thinking. My general philosophy for "toy" cars and Jeeps: get the least vehicle that will accomplish what you want and fully satisfy you. If you don't need a Rubicon, get a Sport S. If you don't need power windows/doors/mirrors, get a regular Sport, or a regular Willys. If you don't need an automatic, get a manual. If you don't need huge towing capacity, don't get it. And for God's sake... if you don't need a 4-door don't get one!

I don't mind all those things and more on my Daily Slog-mobile -- they can make life more enjoyable. But on an occasional-use vehicle, especially a Wrangler, sometimes the absence of them actually makes life more enjoyable than the presence. Ditto a sportscar.
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:55 PM   #19
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Reverse psychology go for the JKU, good for the kids.
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Old 06-12-2019, 05:24 PM   #20
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JKU all the way... you will hate not having the 2nd set of doors... also, seating for 3 comfortably in the back seat... and trunk space the size for two dogs...(one being 130lbs)

I just saw a lovely 2012 16K$
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:19 PM
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JKU all the way... you will hate not having the 2nd set of doors... also, seating for 3 comfortably in the back seat... and trunk space the size for two dogs...(one being 130lbs)

I just saw a lovely 2012 16K$
Yeah... we have a 50lb dog so if she ever comes it’d be her and the kid/car seat in the backseat. There’s a nice looking 2012 JKU somewhat near me (2 hours away) for $16,500 but I’m worried it’s too good to be true and don’t want to waste half a day.
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Old 06-13-2019, 10:14 AM   #22
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Yeah... we have a 50lb dog so if she ever comes it’d be her and the kid/car seat in the backseat. There’s a nice looking 2012 JKU somewhat near me (2 hours away) for $16,500 but I’m worried it’s too good to be true and don’t want to waste half a day.
I searched for a year and than kicked into gear and went hard core searching for 6 more months. I put 3000 miles on my car going to look at Jeeps before finding my new one 4o minutes away. Drove 3.5 hours to Miami and then back one night for a sure thing and it was a lemon. Don't let anything get in the way of the right Jeep. Im in FL, my search net was De to FL to Tx.. I half hoped I found the right one in TX just so I could go see my friends out there and drive it home..

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Old 06-13-2019, 01:30 PM   #23
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I played with the same idea for a while. TJ, well LJ, JK or JKU. I was moving from a YJ (3 of them over the course of 30 years) I knew them inside and out. I liked my son's LJ, so started there. Pricey for something so old;imho.

I liked the idea of a longer wheel base, so I started looking at JKUs. I really only looked at 10As. I looked for a while drove to NJ, NY, PA, and locally here in MD. Some were total rust buckets underneath (NJ one). I started out auto, but once I test drove a stick I was hooked. All my YJs were sticks, so it was no change for me. Ended up with one from PA about 30 miles from me.

Look everywhere; Cars.com, FB Marketplace, CraigsList, etc...

I found the 6spds were easier to negotiate since they sit longer and fewer people can drive a stick these days (sad).

I think a JKU is a fine wheeling vehicle; yes I lifted it a bit to help with break over, but it is not 'that' big.

With the back seats folded down you have a ton of room for camping gear too.

JKU feels less twitchy on the highway too than my YJs, but it is a 2 generation jump so it should feel better!
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Old 06-13-2019, 03:07 PM   #24
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The owners manual for my 2017 JKU Sahara/Chief shows that a 2017 JK with 3.73 or 4.10 gearing is rated at 3,500 pounds. With the 3.21s it's 2,000.

But, having pulled many a heavier trailer over the years, no way I would pull a 3,500 pound trailer in a short coupled vehicle, be it a Jeep or anything else.

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