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Old 12-15-2019, 11:51 PM
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What is the Best JK to Build Out?

Let me limit it to automatics from 2012-2018.

In the used market cars vary in age, mileage, condition, and cost. Most that have been modified are modified for mall crawling.

Rarely is a modified car still in possession of the person who modified it. Modifications that aren't obvious are unknown.

I have a big concern that regular car things—A/C, electronics, etc—may be problematic on an older car. On the other hand, if it has good bumpers, a good tire carrier, etc. that is just saved expense.

So, how much better is a 20k mile car over a 50k mile car, or a 50k mile car over a 90k mile car? Or a 2017 over a 2012?

Are any options especially important? I'd like heated seats, prefer cloth seats, remote start. Is the hitch important or is it better to get a towing rated bumper with hitch?

2017 Rubicon Recon's seem to be in the low-mid $30k range. 2017's have LED headlights and the Recon has a stronger front axle (definitely stronger inner knuckles, probably thicker tubes).

Is a Rubicon driven only on Sundays by a little old lady in Pasadena (unlikely find since I'm in NJ) better than one that's been modified? Is the a place to look for used modified JKs? Are any with PR44s and Teraflex/Clayton/Rocker Krawler/etc. long arm 4" lift suspensions on the used market? If so...where can they be found?

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Old 12-16-2019, 12:45 AM   #2
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I would always recommend newer the better. I love my 2018 recon but if you are going to build something hardcore might be wiser to buy a sport. What is your budget? If you want cloth seats a recon is out.

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Old 12-16-2019, 01:11 AM   #3
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A Rubicon is a good start if 44’s are good enough for you as you get the 4:1 TC and lockers. That’s good enough for 37-38 inch tires assuming you regear and beef up the axles (and do all the other customary mods)

For a more extensive build with “super” 44’s or Dana 60’s you’re better served by a Sport model.
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Old 12-16-2019, 01:17 AM   #4
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Also the LED headlights are an easy mod for $300-400, and the hitch is easy too, so those shouldn’t be show stoppers.
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Old 12-16-2019, 01:33 PM
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The advantage of the Recon would be not having to reinforce the front axle housing.

Two suspension manufacturers who don't sell axle assemblies or axle housings have recommended a Sport/Sahara (I would get the Sahara for features) and add Dynatrac's Trail Leader package which their ProRock 44 front housing, front and rear ARB lockers, gear ratio of buyer's choice (5.13 or 4.88 in my case), and front and rear 35-spine chrome moly axles.

Things that might save money are lights (especially LED headlights), bumpers, tire carriers, and winch. Everything is easily added and it is nice to have your own. However, the cash register keeps on ringing and already installed stuff is 50¢ on the dollar or less on a used car. As long as it is stuff I would want to use.

So far I haven't seen any reinforced front axle housings (although the Recon has that) or long-arm suspensions. Generally, I've been looking at used cars under 100k miles (some newer ones under 50k) in the price range of $22k-$33k. I'd like to keep that down, but really trying to keep the final build cost down.
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Old 12-16-2019, 01:42 PM   #6
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I don't think they have cloth heated seats. I could be wrong though. Personally I would buy one still under factory warranty and get a max care mopar warranty. Granted, once you lift it or it will be be useless for suspension coverage. But, it would still cover electronics, powertrain, etc.... in most cases. Just my .02
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Old 12-16-2019, 01:44 PM   #7
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I don't think they have cloth heated seats. I could be wrong though. Personally I would buy one still under factory warranty and get a max care mopar warranty. Granted, once you lift it or it will be be useless for suspension coverage. But, it would still cover electronics, powertrain, etc.... in most cases. Just my .02
My 2014 had cloth heated seats as a factory option which ironically enough had to have the Max care warranty used on both driver and passenger side 2X in 62000 miles
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Old 12-16-2019, 01:51 PM   #8
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My 2014 had cloth heated seats as a factory option which ironically enough had to have the Max care warranty used on both driver and passenger side 2X in 62000 miles
I stand corrected. Thanks.
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Old 12-16-2019, 01:52 PM   #9
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The advantage of the Recon would be not having to reinforce the front axle housing.

Two suspension manufacturers who don't sell axle assemblies or axle housings have recommended a Sport/Sahara (I would get the Sahara for features) and add Dynatrac's Trail Leader package which their ProRock 44 front housing, front and rear ARB lockers, gear ratio of buyer's choice (5.13 or 4.88 in my case), and front and rear 35-spine chrome moly axles.

Things that might save money are lights (especially LED headlights), bumpers, tire carriers, and winch. Everything is easily added and it is nice to have your own. However, the cash register keeps on ringing and already installed stuff is 50¢ on the dollar or less on a used car. As long as it is stuff I would want to use.

So far I haven't seen any reinforced front axle housings (although the Recon has that) or long-arm suspensions. Generally, I've been looking at used cars under 100k miles (some newer ones under 50k) in the price range of $22k-$33k. I'd like to keep that down, but really trying to keep the final build cost down.
the recon also comes standard with LED headlights, heated albeit leather seats (I would hate to go back to cloth after having leather tho), nicer looking hood, steel bumpers etc. I know where a pretty nice one for sale is.
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Old 12-16-2019, 01:58 PM   #10
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My opinion is that things wear out about half as fast from age as they do from use. I call it jp4me's law.

So an older, low mile Jeep might seem appealing you may run into issues with plastic and rubber items aging out. Or maybe A/C units and such failing from non-use.
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Old 12-16-2019, 03:37 PM   #11
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the recon also comes standard with LED headlights, heated albeit leather seats (I would hate to go back to cloth after having leather tho), nicer looking hood, steel bumpers etc. I know where a pretty nice one for sale is.
Are you selling your Recon??
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Old 12-16-2019, 05:29 PM   #12
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Are you selling your Recon??
Who me? maybe lol.
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Old 12-16-2019, 05:30 PM   #13
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Who me? maybe lol.

Once you get the itch there is only one way to scratch it.
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Old 12-16-2019, 05:36 PM   #14
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Once you get the itch there is only one way to scratch it.
made the mistake of testing driving gladiators....which has me jonesing for a new Ford F250.
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Old 12-16-2019, 05:38 PM   #15
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made the mistake of testing driving gladiators....which has me jonesing for a new Ford F250.

I have inquired about the JT’s, but I’m not a truck guy and I don’t want to buy the 40’s needed to make them look good IMO.
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Old 12-17-2019, 06:39 AM
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Confirmed it yesterday: I don't fit in a JL. Although "shoulder room" is about the same as JK by arm wants to be where the door is or slightly outside. We have no option to get a new JL.

Now the big question is: Buy a 2017 at premium prices or an older/higher mileage one?

And: Is the Recon worth the premium?
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:34 AM   #17
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Confirmed it yesterday: I don't fit in a JL. Although "shoulder room" is about the same as JK by arm wants to be where the door is or slightly outside. We have no option to get a new JL.

Now the big question is: Buy a 2017 at premium prices or an older/higher mileage one?

And: Is the Recon worth the premium?
I bought a new 2017 JKU sport last December. It was completely stock except for the LED headlights, fuel door, tail light guards and the steering wheel controls with Bluetooth support. I’ve enjoyed adding various features to it a little at a time over the last year. I added remote start and power locks through a local shop. Then I added a new stereo and speakers myself with Apple CarPlay support. Next I added bigger wheels and tires and finally a 2 inch lift from Rancho.
My point is if you’re going to do any upgrades yourself I’d get a newer Jeep with low miles because once you start upgrading you’ll never want to stop.
Also I’ve heard the 2012 year has some engine head problems so you might want to steer clear of those if you do decide older.
Edit: wanted to add that I did a search on cars.com and Edmonds.com and looked for vehicles up to 200 miles away. Found mine brand new in a small town with those weird options.
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Old 12-17-2019, 10:13 AM   #18
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I do think the first consideration should be intended use: Mall crawling/DD, Fire Roads/DD, Plain old DD, Trail riding, or dedicated Rock crawling. Budget is next. After these you should be good to go shopping.

I think starting stock is best over all, you may save on mods, but you also deal with PO installation and this may be poorly done. I think having a plan helps you weed out undesirable Jeeps for a variety of reasons.

Every year/model will have quirks, so best to just look at the Jeep itself to see how 'it' is working. Some 'bad' years may have decent Jeeps mixed in and forums are not representative of the entire Jeep JK ownership pool. Most Jeep JK owners don't even join forums so you are getting a very small view into the line up. Keep this in mind when weighing 'bad' years or 'bad' models.

Good luck.
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Old 12-17-2019, 10:17 AM   #19
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Confirmed it yesterday: I don't fit in a JL. Although "shoulder room" is about the same as JK by arm wants to be where the door is or slightly outside. We have no option to get a new JL.

Now the big question is: Buy a 2017 at premium prices or an older/higher mileage one?

And: Is the Recon worth the premium?
it was to me. Others would probably say no, but I never get tired of looking at my Recon.
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Old 12-17-2019, 10:22 AM   #20
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it was to me. Others would probably say no, but I never get tired of looking at my Recon.
I like my 10A, but I'm also a big Recon fanboy!
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Old 12-17-2019, 12:00 PM
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The Recon is nice...the question is how stock can you stay?

I agree a newer car is nicer and stuff in better condition. However, two suspension manufacturers have suggested getting a Sahara and the Dyantrac Trail Leader package. I've seen one Rubicon with gears, and I believe none with chrome-moly axles.

In another thread I brought up the Dana Ultimate 60s for the JK which are $11.5k with with free shipping. And that includes all brackets for a 4" lift, 10+" ring gears, chrome-moly axles, 4-piston brakes on 14" rotors front and rear, manually locking front hubs (what Jeep tried to do on JL, but the manually locking ups don't cause the housing to break), full-floating rear hubs, etc.

I must admit used JK prices are a bit of a shock. Recons from $32k to $40k. Others also expensive. I noticed today that the Sprintx supercharger only works to MY 2016.

Could a 2012 with 100+K miles for $18k be the answer? I was originally thinking of starting with an XJ for $5k.
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Old 12-17-2019, 12:22 PM   #22
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you need to state your desired use. Why build to the hilt if you are just going to do normal offroading? Stock these things will do more than almost all owners will ever put them through. Plan on doing the Rubicon trail? no need for a build that would win King of Hammers. Plan on doing 95% of Moab trails? again no need for a build that could conquer BFE and helldorado.

I have a 2018 recon with 2" mopar lift and Falcon 3.1 shocks and it drives like a nice car and can go anywhere I am willing to take it. Do I worry about breaking or bending an axle? no not even for a second. I am honest and know I am not going to enter KOH or hit Helldorado when I am in Moab. You can do this kind of stuff all day long tho and never have hiccup.
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Old 12-17-2019, 01:18 PM   #23
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you need to state your desired use. Why build to the hilt if you are just going to do normal offroading? Stock these things will do more than almost all owners will ever put them through. Plan on doing the Rubicon trail? no need for a build that would win King of Hammers. Plan on doing 95% of Moab trails? again no need for a build that could conquer BFE and helldorado.

I have a 2018 recon with 2" mopar lift and Falcon 3.1 shocks and it drives like a nice car and can go anywhere I am willing to take it. Do I worry about breaking or bending an axle? no not even for a second. I am honest and know I am not going to enter KOH or hit Helldorado when I am in Moab. You can do this kind of stuff all day long tho and never have hiccup.
Sound Advice. imho, I'm built similarly to @jadmt ; reasonable lift, 35s on a Rubicon. Pretty good build with fantastic road manners and does not look over-done. Looks are 100% subjective, but performance is not; at least not honest performance.

Maybe this will help; I'm sure someone will be offended or think I'm way off on the categories, but it is a quick little chart for reference.

Stock = capable, but I get that it is still stock.

Overlanding build: 33s, spacer/no lift = great capability, looks a bit 'bigger than stock'

Mild Build: 35s, 2" lift, maybe gears = fantastic capability and has a 'look' people associate with Jeeps.

Trail Build: 37s, associated $$$$ items to support tire demands = incredible capability, may start to look 'too big'.

Dedicated trail rig: 40s, Portal axles, hydro steering, yada, yada, yada = spectacular capability, Looks and drives like a trail rig.

Good luck!
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:40 PM
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Sound Advice. imho, I'm built similarly to @jadmt ; reasonable lift, 35s on a Rubicon. Pretty good build with fantastic road manners and does not look over-done. Looks are 100% subjective, but performance is not; at least not honest performance.

Maybe this will help; I'm sure someone will be offended or think I'm way off on the categories, but it is a quick little chart for reference.

Stock = capable, but I get that it is still stock.

Overlanding build: 33s, spacer/no lift = great capability, looks a bit 'bigger than stock'

Mild Build: 35s, 2" lift, maybe gears = fantastic capability and has a 'look' people associate with Jeeps.

Trail Build: 37s, associated $$$$ items to support tire demands = incredible capability, may start to look 'too big'.

Dedicated trail rig: 40s, Portal axles, hydro steering, yada, yada, yada = spectacular capability, Looks and drives like a trail rig.

Good luck!
Many wise words in this post.

My braking question: Can you lock the wheels on dry asphalt causing the ABS to engage? I haven't driven a JK than can yet.
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:48 PM   #25
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made the mistake of testing driving gladiators....which has me jonesing for a new Ford F250.

At least keep it in the family and go Ram.



Still miss my 2016 2500 Diesel. Nothing like cranking up that Diesel in the morning. Of course then there was the nightmarish maintenance regimen that comes with a diesel. Two fuel filters every 10,000 miles, 3 gallon oil changes, crank case filters, DEF, etc.
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:48 PM   #26
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Many wise words in this post.

My braking question: Can you lock the wheels on dry asphalt causing the ABS to engage? I haven't driven a JK than can yet.
If I emergency brake ie jam the brakes on at say 40mph I can kick in ABS with both 35's and 33's. I may have two things that contribute to better braking tho..Falcon 3.1 shocks and AEV geo brackets. Both help alleviate nose dive.
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:55 PM   #27
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At least keep it in the family and go Ram.



Still miss my 2016 2500 Diesel. Nothing like cranking up that Diesel in the morning. Of course then there was the nightmarish maintenance regimen that comes with a diesel. Two fuel filters every 10,000 miles, 3 gallon oil changes, crank case filters, DEF, etc.
not a chance. lol. I bought my first new Ford F150 in 1977 and have had many since and just like how the new F250/350's look better altho the Rams can be had for a screaming deal no doubt. I would be going with a gasser as diesels just don't make sense to me.
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:58 PM   #28
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not a chance. lol. I bought my first new Ford F150 in 1977 and have had many since and just like how the new F250/350's look better altho the Rams can be had for a screaming deal no doubt. I would be going with a gasser as diesels just don't make sense to me.

Just don't test drive one. That "knock, knock, knock" of the Diesel is intoxicating.



Nothing like towing a 10,000 pound trailer and forgetting its back there. LOL
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Old 12-17-2019, 08:02 PM   #29
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Many wise words in this post.

My braking question: Can you lock the wheels on dry asphalt causing the ABS to engage? I haven't driven a JK than can yet.
If you go with oversized tires, get the big rotor kits. I have had the ABS kick in.
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Old 12-17-2019, 08:05 PM   #30
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Just don't test drive one. That "knock, knock, knock" of the Diesel is intoxicating.



Nothing like towing a 10,000 pound trailer and forgetting its back there. LOL
oh I have spent many miles in them just not something I will ever get my money's worth out of one. the other draw back for me is load capacity for a camper is always less with the diesel compared to the gassers. The towing capacity is much higher but I am wanting a camper not a trailer.

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2018 Gobi Recon unlimited W/Mopar 2" lift coils combined with RK rear coils wedges, TF lower control arms, rear TF monster track bar and rear track bar bracket and Falcon 3.1 shocks, Cooper ST Maxx 315/75-17 on AEV Salta rims, Grabars, RE gas skid tank, mopar head liner, Warn VR10 and Maximus3 winch plate.
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