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EDIT: Mods, I mistakenly put this in the CJ section. I reposted in the correct section. Feel free to delete this.

Hello forum. I am on the verge of purchasing one of two Wranglers. The first is a 2003 Sport, 4.0, with 100k on it. It has a 2.5" lift, 32" tires and is in overall good condition. I'll probably have to put $500-700 into it right away for standard maintenance type stuff.

The mechanic who inspected it said there was what he described as a "light valve train" noise coming from the engine, but mostly made it seem like it probably wasn't a big issue. I test drove it (felt as solid as a lifted wrangler can feel) and looked at the engine and while I don't recall any ticks or noises at the time, I'm not real familiar with these inline 6 engines so my ears may not have been able to discern a problem. My regular mechanic, who works on jeeps a lot, said that I should steer clear of this because any kind of valve-train or lifter noise is a sign of an engine that is not entirely healthy.

I've read though a ton of posts here with owners talking about mitigating these ticks but in very few, if any of them, have I seen you guys say 4.0 lifter or valve-train ticks are anything to be seriously worried about, absent other symptoms. So it seems that it's possible my mechanic is overplaying the risk.

The second Jeep I am considering gets inspected today (2002, Sport, totally stock, 4.0 with only 78k on it). I'll be paying about $800 more for this one if I buy it. If the inspection comes back with acceptable levels of repairs, I'll jump on this 2002. If not, I'm back to the 2003 with the engine noise and I'm stuck on what to do. Thoughts? Advice? Jokes?
 
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