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My 17 year old son wants a Wrangler like everyone else his age. It will probably have to be old to be affordable. I don’t expect the car to last forever. Are there years to avoid? How many miles are too much? What mechanically do you need to be cautious about? Thanks
 

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Welcome to the Forum.. Tough question - let's start with a question back.. What is the anticipated Budget? Depending on the intended use & budget will drive what model; i.e. Sport, Rubicon, Sahara. You definitely need a complete and thorough inspection, and if the budget allows definitely consider a Certified Pre Owned from an FCA Dealer. I am confident that you will receive massive feedback from all WF members.
 

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Welcome to the Forum.. Tough question - let's start with a question back.. What is the anticipated Budget? Depending on the intended use & budget will drive what model; i.e. Sport, Rubicon, Sahara. You definitely need a complete and thorough inspection, and if the budget allows definitely consider a Certified Pre Owned from an FCA Dealer. I am confident that you will receive massive feedback from all WF members.
Oh, I think under 10k. He says he wants to fix it up if he needs to. I think he would be happy if it pretty much ran. I was the same way when I was his age. I had a Triumph. That was not exactly reliable as a Camry but I didn’t care.
 

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$10K should get him in to a fairly reliable TJ or YJ IMO. In that price range, it’s all about a careful inspection for rust, previous accidents, severe off road use and maintenance records IMO. You will probably look at a lot of turds before you find a prince. But for $10K, if you’re patient, you ought to be able to find a mighty nice “first car” Jeep.
 

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Try with website.. Used Cars and New Cars | Auto.com You enter your zip and specify the miles.. in my area this shows up Looks good on screen: Vehicle Details
The Car House (4.1 out of 5) 8 Reviews 1434 NJ-23 Butler, NJ 07405
(973) 841-6183

  • Price $8,995 Mileage 69,755 Exterior Color Silver Interior Color Black Body Style
    Stock Number 6975
  • Engine 2.4 L I4 16 V Mpfi Dohc VIN 1J4FA29123P319338
  • Transmission Manual Drivetrain 4WD Doors 2
 

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data point: I am in the greater Boston area. I paid $10,500 for a 2008 JK 2-door (X model, automatic transmission, with 150,000 miles. it was typical for the area, but in much better shape than some I looked at. Some people think the 3.6L engine is better than the 3.8L V6 in the 2007 to 2011 JK's...but it seems very OK to me so far. It came with a hard top. I have purchased a soft top, seat covers, lights, shocks, and done all the routine maintenance since Feb - so about $3K to $4K more in expenses.
 

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All TJs are manufactured to be reliable (1997-2006), but age and care of ownership play the biggest role in whether they are reliable today. Four cylinder models can be had at a steep discount and are just as reliable as six cylinder models. They are just slow, which may be a good thing for a teenager. Manual transmissions are generally preferred as well as more common and will cost a little more than an automatic. The nice part about that is you don't have to worry much about another kid driving the Jeep when you are not around, and a manual makes people pay attention to the road and not their devices. There is no standard price on a TJ and there is no such thing as paying too much for one that is in great condition. The biggest mistakes are buying something worn out for a "deal" then dumping tons of money into it, or spending a lot on one you think is in great condition only to find out it has serious issues later. If you spend what you think is too much on a TJ in excellent condition, don't worry, you will get it back when you sell it unless your kid destroys it. TJs no longer depreciate. They are worth more money every year assuming their condition does not deteriorate. There are no bad years for TJs, only bad TJs for sale from every year based on the life they had since they were new. Rust is the number one factor in pricing (especially frame rust). Everything else can be fixed. Motors, transmissions, axles, and the like can all be had for surprisingly little money. The Rubicon package is available 2003-2006, but ones in good condition tend to start around 12K and go to 20K. The LJ or "Unlimited" is the Unicorn and is likely out of your price range. Good deals are generally private party sales on craigslist that sell within hours of posting, or disused Jeeps siting in someone's driveway that are waiting on someone to knock on the door and ask if they would like to sell.
 

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Where you're located can effect the price you pay; higher prices in CA or states like NY, NJ. I'm currently on my 5th Jeep, over the past 30 or so years...all bought used. That said, I'd avoid older, used Jeeps from places where they salt the roads due to snow or Jeeps that have been used extensively on beaches where there's ocean salt. Look for one that hasn't been beat to hell or radically modified, with things like high body and/or suspension lifts, had huge V-8 engines stuffed in them, etc. I prefer the stock 6 cyl engines over the 4 cyl's and manual tranny's. My preference is under 120k miles. Look carefully, especially underneith, for rust, and pay close attention to frame rust...Jeeps are notorious for frame and body rust.

I recently bought this '08 JK with 117k miles, 6 spd stick tranny, V-6 with factory A/C, in southeast GA, from a private owner for $11k.
4453051


I'm currently teaching my 17 yr old grandson to drive it. At this point, after a couple of sessions, he has the shift pattern down pat but is still 'perfecting' using the clutch. Good luck in your search!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
data point: I am in the greater Boston area. I paid $10,500 for a 2008 JK 2-door (X model, automatic transmission, with 150,000 miles. it was typical for the area, but in much better shape than some I looked at. Some people think the 3.6L engine is better than the 3.8L V6 in the 2007 to 2011 JK's...but it seems very OK to me so far. It came with a hard top. I have purchased a soft top, seat covers, lights, shocks, and done all the routine maintenance since Feb - so about $3K to $4K more in expenses.
Thanks, I’m in the greater Charlotte area. It may be worth taking a longer drive to buy the right car. He doesn’t know how to drive a manual but I told him it’s more fun. Maybe cheaper.
 

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Thanks, I’m in the greater Charlotte area. It may be worth taking a longer drive to buy the right car. He doesn’t know how to drive a manual but I told him it’s more fun. Maybe cheaper.
If you're willing to drive a little, Jeeps get significantly cheaper once you get away from mountain-y areas like you're in (well, close-ish to). I got my 1995 YJ near Athens, GA for $3500 a few years ago––110k miles, new top, great condition. Put some money into it and sold it for almost twice that back in the hill country lol. Manuals seem to be cheaper due to low demand (and definitely more fun!), dealers tend to sit on them longer––but I would avoid dealerships if you can, as they seem to think every Jeep is worth $18,000.

If he doesn't mind an older car (and you're not worried about the lack of airbags), YJs are great, but they tend to rust out––1995s were galvanized, I think? So they're usually better off. There's a '93 and a '95 on the "nearby" Charlotte craigslist page that look pretty good. So much fun, like driving a big lawnmower––especially that '93 6-cylinder 4.0, that's an excellent price if it's not rusted to crap underneath.

A 1997+ TJ will get you A/C and airbags, but they are almost as pricey as a newer JK model, at least where I am––although this one looks nice. I found a JKU with under 100k for a decent price, but it took forever.
 

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Oh, I think under 10k. He says he wants to fix it up if he needs to. I think he would be happy if it pretty much ran. I was the same way when I was his age. I had a Triumph. That was not exactly reliable as a Camry but I didn’t care.
What kind of Triumph did you own? I have a 1959 Triumph TR-3A that I have owned since 1978.
 

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Best of luck, I spent probably a year “hoping” to find a nice TJ in the NC/SC area. Everything was either a million miles on the odometer, a hack job, or a 4 cylinder. Finally said F it and bought a 2012 Hemi Grand Cherokee for my 15 year old (will be 16 soon) to drive. Wouldn’t you know it, a week later exactly what I had spent a year looking for pops up for sale in Davidson (I’m in Cornelius). 2005 TJ, 4.0, stick, white w/half doors, 82K miles bone stock beauty for $10,800.

So they do exist be patient.
 

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What kind of Triumph did you own? I have a 1959 Triumph TR-3A that I have owned since 1978.
It was an 80 TR7. Should of waited out for a spitfire. I can see why they went belly up. As far as mountain areas, the Jeep is just the cool car to have. I don’t know if they go off-road. I always wondered why no other company tried to compete with Jeeps? If you want a Jeep, it has to be a Jeep. I think Suzuki had the Samuraiback in the day. Imagine that was crap
 

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Yeah, early TR-7s were a problem. The factory had a lot of "labor issues" at the time. The TR-8, on the other hand, was a really good car. Back to Jeeps now, though. Have fun.
 

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Condition is the biggest factor when looking at a used vehicle. I posted in another thread recently "You cant make a $5,000.00 vehicle into the same condition of a similar $10,000.00 vehicle for $5,000.00". Start looking in the want ads or Craigslist adds for Jeeps in your price range. The best deals are usually private party sales. Once you have an idea of what a decent Wrangler that's in your price range in your area, check the ads a couple/few times a day. The good deals sell quickly. Have cash in hand. Look at the title and compare the VIN on the title to the VIN on the vehicle. (No title in hand, walk away. I've heard so many BS stories in my career that I ask to see the title before I examine the vehicle that I might be interested in buying). If you're concerned about having enough knowledge to determine the condition, plan on having an inspection service examine the Jeep. If it's a decent vehicle, the seller shouldn't object.
Go out an look at the Jeeps that are in the ads. That will help you gain some idea of what to look for and determine a fair price for the one you decide upon.

Plan on kissing a bunch of frogs before you find your prince(ess).

Good Luck, L.M.
 

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My 17 year old son wants a Wrangler like everyone else his age. It will probably have to be old to be affordable. I don’t expect the car to last forever. Are there years to avoid? How many miles are too much? What mechanically do you need to be cautious about? Thanks
Like some of the others have mentioned you will be in the YJ and TJ series for that price range...

now the YJ is not bad, doesn’t have all the extra items, such as leaf springs verse coils
Now you can modify both, I have noticed parts for the YJ is straight forward and fairly easy for modifications

with that being said... stay away from the 2.5L 4cyl
They are really under powered and the transmissions are extremely weak...

I have 2 YJ’s and both I have done major modifications on for daily drivers I removed the 2.5L and did full V8 swaps (one a 350 and the other a 400)

like some of the others... check for rust... there will be a fair amount...

a place that (if the seller will let you check) is the bolt locations for the transmission skid plate...to check frame that there (even if they won’t let you remove it... you can check to ensure that the bolts look solid there and pull a little on it and see if it wiggles or is secure

check the engine mounts and front and rear bumper locations for their rust...

floor pans as well

now if they have rust there... don’t worry...
NEGOTIATE!!

All of those areas they make patches for..
They are about $80-160 for patch and easy to weld up there
 

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Like some of the others have mentioned you will be in the YJ and TJ series for that price range...

now the YJ is not bad, doesn’t have all the extra items, such as leaf springs verse coils
Now you can modify both, I have noticed parts for the YJ is straight forward and fairly easy for modifications

with that being said... stay away from the 2.5L 4cyl
They are really under powered and the transmissions are extremely weak...

I have 2 YJ’s and both I have done major modifications on for daily drivers I removed the 2.5L and did full V8 swaps (one a 350 and the other a 400)

like some of the others... check for rust... there will be a fair amount...

a place that (if the seller will let you check) is the bolt locations for the transmission skid plate...to check frame that there (even if they won’t let you remove it... you can check to ensure that the bolts look solid there and pull a little on it and see if it wiggles or is secure

check the engine mounts and front and rear bumper locations for their rust...

floor pans as well

now if they have rust there... don’t worry...
NEGOTIATE!!

All of those areas they make patches for..
They are about $80-160 for patch and easy to weld up there
Thanks for all of the great information, I have a 16yo daughter that would like a Wrangler also. My wife and I both drive JKU's - so I'll be in the market within the next 6 months to find something for her to drive.
 

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Thanks for all of the great information, I have a 16yo daughter that would like a Wrangler also. My wife and I both drive JKU's - so I'll be in the market within the next 6 months to find something for her to drive.
Food for thought. JKs have Electronic Stability Control, which basically saves the lives of teenagers everyday. TJs and older do not have this feature so fish tailing and loss of control are far more common. IMHO if you are putting a teenager behind the wheel of a TJ or earlier, then on a rainy day you need to take them to an open parking look and show them how control can be lost on turns and fast accelerations. A JK's ESC will shut down the wheel spin, but older jeeps tend to go 360 in the blink of an eye. It is important that your young driver knows what the envelope is and that they can't expect to take turns quickly. They should not discover this on their own. I got so damn lucky as a Teenager that I didn't die when I took a turn too sharp with a CJ. I lost control and the jeep ended up stopping right next to a cliff. A few feet over and I would have been done for.
 
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