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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So here is my dilema, I am a new owner of my first Jeep and I am asking for some suggestions.

I bought a 97 TJ SE 5-speed with 33's and 167,000 miles on her chassis for $3,600 bucks. I didnt think I did to bad for what I got but I am starting to understand why the guy let it go for so cheap. Dont get me wrong I drive it everyday and it still runs but theres the normal wear and tear items im slowly replacing.


Now that leads me to my first question for everyone. Should I do A) keep the TJ I have now and begin campaigning my awesome wife to allow me to upgrade the normal stuff, engine, trannie, axles and transfer gear so we could do some weekend fun trips in it.....oooorr B) trade it in and get a newer Rubicon or something?? Plans with either one is to be a DD and the occasional trips in the mud and backroads.

Not planning on any serious rock climbing or deep mudding, but I also dont want to be in the back 40 and have to get on it and snap a weak dana 30 and be stuck.



anyway thanks for reading and I look forward to any and all suggestion.
 

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I am going to say "it depends" and there are pro/cons to each, but much of it is going to depend on your mechanical skills to be able to do a custom conversion.

If you do most of the conversion yourself, you might be at a total around $10,000 total investment ($3600+v8 upgrades). Run out and buy a Rubi TJ, you could be at $15K+ and still want to upgrade some things.

But at the end of the day the '97 with V8 conversion might be worth $7000 and the Rubi would still be worth about $15K.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey thanks for the reply. Well I wasnt really planning on going the V8 route with it but if its gonna cost the same V6 or V8 then I would probably opt for the 8.

Im pretty mechanically inclined but limited on tools so I could alot of it with assistance.

You def have valid points tho, thanks for your suggestions.
 

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I don't understand why you would want for fork out 3-4x more $$$ if yours is still driveable. You really haven't yet fully experience your Jeep off the beaten path to even assume the axle will break. Why not just enjoy your jeep and put aside an emergency fund for an upgraded axle if that is your concern. Besides, what issues are you having? bad lift? weak 4cyl not geared for 33s? vibes? ride quality ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It is still driveable and I have done some research, altho be it that I am new to Jeeps, and I have read alot about the 35 snapping pretty easily. It is still driveable and I actually went down to 32's and that helped with the DD pep but the 4 banger is still kind of weak to me. I just dont want to start dropping a bunch of coin into it if I wont get a return on investment so to speak. Your right I havent taken it out but I have been in the woods in other vehicles.

Thanks for your input
 

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2020 Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon 2.0
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Hiya rgrim,
Upgrading to a Rubicon is always a good move, Just make sure you stick with the TJ.
I just downgraded from a 2009 JK Rubicon back to a TJ. At the start of 2012 I traded my immaculate 2003 TJ for the 2009 JK, Fun to own and drive but a nightmare with leaking freedom roof panels and door seals every time it rained. Sold the JK this week now bought a 2004 TJ.
 

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rgrim75 said:
It is still driveable and I have done some research, altho be it that I am new to Jeeps, and I have read alot about the 35 snapping pretty easily. It is still driveable and I actually went down to 32's and that helped with the DD pep but the 4 banger is still kind of weak to me. I just dont want to start dropping a bunch of coin into it if I wont get a return on investment so to speak. Your right I havent taken it out but I have been in the woods in other vehicles.

Thanks for your input
It's a vehicle. You're not going to get all of your money back with anything you do to it. 35s only snap if you drive the hell out of it and go overboard with your foot that's on the skinny petal.
 

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Rgrim75, I suggest you direct your unwarranted stress induced web research away from axles, and redirect it to "how do I take the doors off " and "cutting flares".
 

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It is still driveable and I have done some research, altho be it that I am new to Jeeps, and I have read alot about the 35 snapping pretty easily.
The D35 is weak compared to a D44 or a 8.8, but much of the D35 weakness hype is due to these forums and its causing people to overly worry about it. Most people on this forum will never snap a D35 axle shaft.

Excluding the hardcore rockcrawler guys and "drive it like its stolen" guys...I bet if you take 1000 people with a D35 daily driver, only a few have been in situation where they actually broke a shaft.
 

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I am a new owner of my first Jeep
Welcome to the family!

theres the normal wear and tear items im slowly replacing.
This is going to be the case with any daily driven Jeep you buy. Accept it.

Should I A) keep the TJ I have now and begin campaigning my awesome wife to allow me to upgrade the normal stuff, engine, trannie, axles and transfer gear so we could do some weekend fun trips in it.....oooorr B) trade it in and get a newer Rubicon or something??
Depends. If you have a burning desire to run out and drop $15k on a vehicle, then by all means sell your SE and go buy a Rubicon. This will be the fastest way to get what you want, but it will also be the most expensive.

If you just want a bit more power, the smartest move would be to sell your SE and then replace it with a 4.0L model of similar vintage. (Actually, I'd buy the 4.0L first, then swap any/all desirable bits off the SE onto it, then sell the SE.) This will keep your "engine swap" cost very low, and if you shop carefully you'll end up with a Dana44 rear axle in the bargain. This is what I would suggest.

If you don't mind taking time and spending your money in smaller chunks rather than all at once, keep the SE and upgrade it as you desire. Go ahead and swap in another axle; add gears and locking diff(s); a well-researched engine & trans swap; or whatever.

I also dont want to be in the back 40 and have to get on it and snap a weak dana 30 and be stuck.
I'm sure someone here will disagree with me, but by and large the front Dana30 axle proves to be more durable than the rear Dana35. Especially if you keep it open (or use a selectable locker), it won't likely give you much grief.

I just dont want to start dropping a bunch of coin into it if I wont get a return on investment so to speak.
You'll never see a financial return by modifying your Jeep. However, the intangible benefits--the feeling of satisfaction, the happiness that it's set up how you like, etc--are priceless. When it comes down to it, you have to decide what you really want out of it and why. Do you want locking diffs just so you can brag about them to your open-diff buddies? Fine. Or do you want lockers so you can climb serious obstacles that would otherwise be insurmountable? That's fine, too. Just be honest with yourself so you can be sure you spend appropriately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for everyone's insight, although some were more sarcastic than others lol. You'll have to do a bit better than that to get at me.

Anyway everyone gave me good insight and a different perspective. For now I think I'll keep making minor improvements to the ole girl and keep my eye out for an engine swap maybe down the road. For now ill just drop the top, kick off the doors and enjoy the ride.
 

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I am one of those guys who had a perfectly good YJ 2.5 5 speed. Ran great. But I read on the forums how weak everything I had was. And even after running it off road and finding out it did almost everything my buddies rubicons did I sold it. I bought my buddy's 04 rubi for 12500. I have since put in cromo axles, 4.88 gears, bilstein 5100 shocks, currie correctlync steering, 35 inch MTRK's and new driveshafts with spicer joints. About 5000 bucks so far. This week I went out on a rescue and two YJ's. One with lockers one without, and 33's and not much else both did everything I did for about 1/3 of what I have spent. Drive it some. Wheel it some. Then talk to people who have run your stuff for years and had no problems. Find out why. Should you up grade if something breaks? Heck ya. But don't do what I did. Chasing internet nirvana on your jeep is a loosing proposition. We have a lady jeeper on here IH8RDS She is a legend in SoCal. She does things in her Daily Driven 2.5 TJ with d30/35's that make lesser men cry like babies. Just sayin you got a pretty capable starting point if you look at who is working their stuff and keeping it on the road.
Bob
My two Jeeps, both go off road well. One costs tons less.
 
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