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Old 06-26-2015, 10:01 PM
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Should I buy a '94 for $1300?

My wife has been bugging me for a jeep since we met 10 years ago. I found a 1994 Jeep Wrangler, 4 cyl, Manual transmission, hard and soft top with 200k talked down to $1300. I have not seen it in person yet but I wanted to know off the bat if it is a decent deal. I'm wondering what are some deal breaker things I should watch or listen for, pictures appreciated. This would be a weekend vehicle as I have a Chevy spark for my everyday.

Only odd thing is that it has not been inspected this year (passed last years) and seller says recently did much needed cosmetic/body work and has no rust, should pass inspection now.

I apologize that I am not very knowledgeable about this topic. If I buy it I will be on here often getting help.

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Old 06-26-2015, 10:26 PM   #2
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For 1300, you could part it out at a profit if you get tired of it. Don't know where you are, but take a real good look at the frame for signs of rust and/or repairs.

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Old 06-27-2015, 02:16 AM   #3
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I agree with airslot. At $1300 you almost can't go wrong. I don't know much about the 4 cyl. But my 92 has almost 200k on it and it still runs like a champ. If you live in an area where they salt the roads, make sure to crawl underneath and look for rust. Even if it's just a weekend toy, you don't want to be out on a trail and have your frame break or something.
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Old 06-27-2015, 05:46 AM   #4
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Definitely look underneath the vehicle for evidence of rust. If it has carpet, lift up the carpet on both front foot wells and check the condition of the floor boards.

I do not like the sound of "and seller says recently did much needed cosmetic/body work and has no rust, should pass inspection now".

Reminds me of the time I saw a later 40s flat fender advertised for sale and said the condition was "mint". The sellers idea of "mint" was far different than mine. I could look through the frame behind the left front wheel, the foot boards were almost completely gone and there was a large rusted hole on the firewall where the original builders plate should have been.

Look down the sides for any sign of bondo work to cover rust as well. But, as said, for $1300 you can just about part it out and make you money back. If the frame is in good shape it is worth about half of that, and still leaves the tub, engine, axles, etc.
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Old 06-27-2015, 06:14 AM   #5
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I just bought my YJ a week ago. I can tell you that all of the ones I looked at for around $2k, had extensive frame rust. Make sure you check the frame. I also checked prices on repair kits for the frame. If you can weld or know someone to do it cheap, it may still be a good deal. I didn't want to deal with the rust so I found one that was in good shape, I paid a bit more than $1500 though.
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Old 06-27-2015, 10:50 AM
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Thanks for the insight, keep the suggestions coming! I will look at it today, take some pictures and get more advice.
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Old 06-27-2015, 11:25 AM   #7
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The 4 cyl sell cheaper than the 6 cyl but the fact that it has both tops is a plus, especially in PA. Make sure both tops are in good shape. If the soft top is not on the vehicle, check it out. In my opinion, $1300 is a steal, even for a 4 cyl. I paid $5000 for my 90 that needed to have the engine rebuilt. But that was in SoCal where nothing is cheap. I agree with the other comments, rust is your biggest problem and Jeeps are known to have rust issues. So check the frame very carefully.
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Old 06-27-2015, 11:33 AM   #8
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$1,300 seems like a good deal to me if not rusted out. I'd be suspicious if the frame looks to good to be true. I'm not from an inspection state. So can you stipulate that you'll purchase it for $1,300 if it passes inspection. But less if it doesn't?
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Old 06-27-2015, 02:10 PM
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Pictures! - Album on Imgur

It drove great. No odd noises. Ride is bouncy but I think that is normal...

It has rust on the fram but I am not sure what is the line between normal 20yr rust and scrap yard so check the pictures!

He cut out the rusty panels and bondoed then riveted steel plates. He has it primed just needs repainted. Soft top doors are good, soft top is meh, he has all the fenders just hasn't put them back on.

I will use your mighty opinions to decide what to do.
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:13 PM   #10
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So here's my opinion. It's hard to find a wrangler that you can put around in for $1,300. If you were looking at this vehicle as your daily reliable transportation I'd say pass. If you just want to cruise around the neighborhood on those beautiful days with the top and doors off and you can afford it as a toy I say go for it. As far as the ride, welcome to the world of leaf sprung jeeps. They are supposed to be bouncy. But if the shocks are doing their job it shouldn't be continue to bounce down the road from a bump you hit half a mile ago.
The body is fairly trashed. But if it keeps out the elements who cares. You can see where the floor has been patched. Plus many patches on the body. Not a deal breaker for me. Just means you don't have to worry about scratches and minor dents in the trails. The frame is on its way out. There's a pick where a hole is rusted through it. And I'm not sure but I think there's a crack by one of the body mounts. I think you could probably get a couple more years out of it. A lot of the frame actually looks pretty good. If it comes down to it you can buy frame repair sections. If I had the room and the means I wouldn't mind having this jeep for $1,300. Maybe see if he'll go $1,100 but it sounds like you already got him down to here. There's always value in a drivable jeep. So you could play with it for a year or two Also and there's s good chance you could sell it and get most of your money back.
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:47 PM   #11
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Frame rust is bad in the one picture next to the fuel lines/brake etc... that needs fixed.. I would guess there are other areas as well.. They make weld in sections.. but again this jeep had some bad rust as you can see where it was patched. As noted above.. daily driver.. no.. fun weekend toy (after you fix some area's) yes would work for that.
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Old 06-27-2015, 05:29 PM   #12
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You are going to put a lot of money into this jeep to make it safe, as well as one your wife will like. The interior is trashed and the frame is thrashed. I say buy one that's in better shape so you won't have to say a prayer every time your wife drives it.
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Old 06-27-2015, 09:49 PM   #13
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You really need to poke around at that frame rust. Focus on the mounting points (body, spring shackles, motor mounts, trans mounts, etc.)

The tub is shot, but is mostly esthetic, so if you don't mind patches and primer spots, it's OK. Hard to believe the body is so rusted out and the frame is fine.

Make sure it'll pass what ever regulations it needs to in your area. In some areas, this is a huge deal breaker because you may never be able to get it registered.

I'll assume the frame needs repairs:

All that being said I would say PASS on this one, unless your looking for a disposable ranch toy.

If your budget is $1,300.00, this will far exceed your budget even with just minor repairs.

If you can afford to do repairs beyond the $1,300.00, look for one that doesn't require repairs. If your willing to accept a beat up interior and tub, you should be able to find one without frame issues.

If you can afford even more restoration/repairs/mods, look for something much cleaner to start - especially if you want your wife to enjoy it.
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Old 06-27-2015, 10:22 PM   #14
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I would not just pass, I'd RUN PASSED IT or FROM IT!

That thing is going to be a Money Pit.
Most of us don't just have a Jeep, We have a relationship with our Jeeps, and a Lot of us want to keep doing things and adding things to Our Jeep to make it Better, it's get Additive. Buy something worth Spending more money on, just Me.

P.S. The Frame is Rotten, not just in need of a corner patch or two.
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Old 06-27-2015, 11:09 PM   #15
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My opinion is worth two cents, and I can get two pennies from my local convenience store penny tray, so no obligation to pony up!

If it were me, and the "dream" was to have a Jeep I'd buy that one in a heartbeat.

HOWEVER, I'd do that. I am into fixing up my car and jeep, I don't mind doing a little work and spending a little money. Sometimes kind of a lot of money, but I try to stay on top of things and that helps keep costs to a minimum once you get over the hurdle of getting it driveable, safe and up to date. Plus, I do 90% of my own work. Saves a lot of bucks.

Therefore, and again, I'm no expert, but I'd predict that there are a few things to consider:

Do you want this Jeep to be driveable, and just bang around town with no top and have fun? If this is what you're looking for, there are only things you would NEED to do (i.e. spend money on) to achieve this goal. This goal means you don't care about primered panels, ripped up seats, etc. etc. Many people don't mind those things. You'd have to fix it enough to pass inspection, but not a penny more. Estimate based on pictures? Probably another 800 to 1600, depending on part quality, do it yourself vs. shop and all of those other factors.

Second tier? You have to replace some springs. There is clearly a leaf missing in one of those photos. Probably do some frame work and paint. Then some interior work. We're talking anywhere between probably 2 and 4 large here, depending on how much you do, whether you do it yourself or have it done, and what quality you achieve. Many variables.

Third tier, if you want to bring this Jeep back from the dead, all the way. This tier would require, and again I'm no expert, at LEAST 5 to ten thousand, again, variables being do you do your own work? Do you buy OEM or better parts? What do you want out of it? Will you lift / big tires / winch / trick it out? Do all maintenance, all fluids, all engine work, all body work, all frame work and truly make it a mint condition Jeep. Few people do this. I don't do this, but it's an option, so I'm listing it here.

Jeeps are like women, they will take as much money as you're willing to give them. Choose wisely!

Good luck!

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Old 06-27-2015, 11:14 PM   #16
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Really does hinge on the condition of the frame. The first photo with the brake lines does show rust through, but it's at a top edge bracket.

The other frame pics show surface putting, you can't really evaluate from photos. Poke at it with a large screw driver.

If you can mitigate the frame damage, are OK with a beat up tub, can afford what ever level of interior restoration you want and you can get it registered, can't really go wrong with $1,300 if your just looking for a runabout, knock around jeep. NOTE: that is a lot of "if's"

If you have ANY inclination of this being your "baby" or your project jeep - pass and keep looking.

Also FYI. YJ interior restoration can be pretty cheap depending on your desires. You can literally get everything from catalogs. Just by gutting it and throwing in a couple cheap seats, you have a acceptable (though Spartan) jeep interior.
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Old 06-27-2015, 11:16 PM   #17
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on top of all the previously mentioned frame rust problems it looks like in that last pic your rear diff has a major leak as well, either that or the transfer case. neither of which are cheap to repair if they have been messed up
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Old 06-27-2015, 11:34 PM   #18
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on top of all the previously mentioned frame rust problems it looks like in that last pic your rear diff has a major leak as well, either that or the transfer case. neither of which are cheap to repair if they have been messed up
That looks like typical D35 push in rubber fill plug issue.

But does raise a valid point with all these "should I buy it" threads. Everyone offers comments or opinions based on A LOT of assumptions. This one being that the original report of the jeep running good may have lead to the assumption that this jeep is in reasonable mechanical condition.

There are just way too many things to look at and consider and way too many tell tale observations when looking at 20+ year old vehicles, it really is impossible for anyone to provide accurate evaluation via photographs.
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Old 06-28-2015, 12:11 AM
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Thanks everyone for all the insight. The decision is...

Not going to buy.

The key reasons are because my wife has wanted one for years which tells me while she is ready to settle for any condition that she would be quickly disappointed with what it would take to make this her dream. I would be hard pressed to put any serious money into it with the body looking the way it does. I was already comprehensive about having to buy 5 tires for it (just to be safe).

The original listing 1994 Jeep Wrangler does not show the vehicle in its current shape. That sends like a creepy thing to do... Seller claims he has owned the vehicle for 10 years. I have to wonder why they are just now patching things up. Plus the saying of no rust is not a true statement as we can all see.

Trailcrawler was right in that it is hard to provide an accurate evaluation with text and pictures however I do appreciate you all taking the time to provide your opinions and know that if not for them I would have let my wife buy this. She was only persuaded after reading your texts and decided she would rather wait and get her a perfect and well loved jeep around $8000 in a couple more years.

I'll be back!

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Old 06-28-2015, 12:35 AM   #20
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Dill, good for you.

Save up, get it right the first time, and just two more pennies:

When you get ready to drop 8, come back, go to the TJ / JK section, whatever you are looking at, and ask again.

The best advice I've seen here is go STOCK. If your budget is 8, look at it like, OK, the Jeep itself is, say 4, what I want to do to it will cost 3-4, that adds up to around 8.

I have never heard of anyone getting a Jeep that didn't sink more into it, the initial cost is the starting point. And everyone's advice on here is that buying a modified Jeep is a risk. Both of the Jeeps I've had were not modified just by dumb luck, but I guess being dumb and lucky can be fortunate sometimes. I don't lift, don't put big tires, really don't do anything except refurbish and restore. Your goals may vary, but I guess I'm trying to say that I can sense a strong undercurrent on these forums that buying modified is asking for headaches, you're better off buying stock at lower price and take into consideration the modifications you want to do.

It's a whole thing I guess.

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Old 06-28-2015, 12:57 AM   #21
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Wise decision but don't stop looking. The more you look the more you will learn about what's out there and what they go for. You might just find that dream vehicle for under $8000. And no matter how much you spend, be prepared to put more money into it, because they are an addiction and we all have to do some customization to make them ours. It's truly a jeep thing. Good luck!
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Old 06-28-2015, 03:22 AM   #22
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Dill, wise decision. When the time is right, it will happen. While you will pay more, you may want to haunt some of the dealers web sites and use some search engines. That's how I found my '03 Rubi. I was just going to do my normal casual cruise of my local dealers website on Saturday when the Rubi was the featured vehicle. I looked at the photos and did a little research on it, then went online to my out of state bank and got the financing arranged. However, it took me two weeks to get it and at that point I had given up. When I go to the dealership, my salesman informed me that it had been sold, but that buyer hit several snags and couldn't close the deal, so it fell to me. I have had to spend a little money on it for a new top, tires and a few other things, but it looks good and drives great.

A Jeep dealer selling a used Jeep would never allow one in that condition to be on his lot. The shame of it is a little TLC along the way would have prevented it from falling into that state of disrepair. When I read "cut out metal, patched with bondo and riveted panels on" I cringed. That is not the way to repair body panels, and all it does is make it worse on down the road. Watch a few of the car restoration shows, paying attention to how they do the body work. The poor Jeep was treated to half assed care and now half assed repairs.
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Old 06-28-2015, 07:14 AM   #23
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Subscribed--this thread was very helpful. It may have caused me NOT to by the '88 YJ I'm looking at.

I will post a thread when I can get the pics.

Thanks OP and to all who contributed.

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Old 06-28-2015, 08:55 AM   #24
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Good move. Reading the original post the guy I'll call delusional just to be nice. No rust? Coat of paint will make it perfect, really? It will be very challenging (impossible) to find a YJ for under 2k up north that doesn't have any rust that you can drive home. So you will need to either go up in price or accept the best you can get and maybe learn to weld body panels in.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:28 AM
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Thanks again for all the opinions and love!

The moral of the story is don't settle! I think we have all been guilty of settling for something less than what we want because something is right here right now.

I know a guy who drove from south Texas to northern Oklahoma to buy the perfect car for himself. A 2003 PT Cruiser, tangerine dream. Manual and turbo. Previous owner was an Old man who bought it and kept it in a garage, rarely drove it he passed away and the family sold it. My friend got it in 2014 with under 2000 miles on it in beautiful shape.

There are a bazillion PT cruisers out there, he could've settled for any of them. By being patient and looking carefully for over 3 years he got exactly what he wanted. Said the leather seats still smelled new...

Thanks again everyone. You Jeep folks are quite the nice group
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:59 AM   #26
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We found a cherry 93 last week for my wife. It is not showroom but dang clean for a $21 year old Jeep. I paid $4300. That was about $1000 more than I wanted to spend but it was clean and there was somebody else coming to look at it and I had already lost two by haggling over price. Good luck with your decision.
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:59 PM   #27
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Keep looking and don't get impatient.

I looked for over three years, refusing to pay stupid prices, before I found my 91. Dealer was asking 6500, I offered 3500 and they took it. So far, it's only required some TLC and normal maintenance to make a reliable DD out of it. 18-20 MPG.

Fortunately, this one had never seen any serious off road use.

Now the fun can begin: mild lift, tires/wheels, bumpers, winch, stereo and the list goes on and on.

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