I guess alot of that is personal pref.
What engine size?
Do you have a pref. on the year? (97-late 99 early 00 tend to be close in price, after that, they start going up)
specialty model? Rubicon or Unlimited?
I'll take you through my decision process.
I just bought a 98 TJ 4.0L because I've owned 2.5's in the past and I knew I wanted the extra power and torque of the I-6.
I knew I wanted a Manual Transmission.
I knew I wanted something in good shape (ie, not yet modified and offroaded). Some folks dont care about that, but I wanted to know what all she's been through.
I knew I wanted a soft top or dual tops. From my past experience it is cheaper to get a soft top and buy a hard top later. The only exception is if you have half doors and have to buy full doors.
I wanted full doors, but since I found one that matched my other criteria, I let it slide.
i would get 2000 and up as they have the better transfer case and tranny and the exhaust manifolds aren't as prone to cracking like earlier years...so i would stay with 2000 or up (or 2001 and up...i can't remember when they put the better stuff in) its either 2000 or 2001
You can tell if they've been upgraded by looking at them. Just look under the intake manifold. The new ones have 2 flex joints in them to keep them from cracking.
I went round and round with Jeep and my local dealer trying to get them to replace mine after it cracked in 2 places.
Guess where mine cracked...yep, right where the flex joints are located on the new ones.
I finally bought a new header (OEM, with flex's) and forgot about it. I sold it a few months later and then they started replacing them as a recall item.
motor- 6 cylinder
i figgure i can change anything else i don't like.i got 4 wheel drive hardware not to far away!!
i have a 02 ford f-250 that just cracked a exhaust manifold(bad casting) .i'll change one on a jeep anyday!at least the jeep don't shoot sparkplugs out at you!!
Sounds good, as far as specific problems to look out for when buying a TJ:
Header cracking thing
Radiator leaking (the plastic tanks on top and bottom had a tendancy to crack and leak, not sure if/when this was resolved) Easy to replace.
Check the shocks on the back glass of the hard top. They sag as they get old. This is for all cars that have them, so they're cheap.
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