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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Firstly, I want to say thank you to everyone who contributes to this forum. It has helped me a lot over the years to solve problems (this is a new account, but I am not a new user) and to fix things that I never would've been able to without you guys and gals.

Also, apologies in advance for the long read, but I want to give the backstory. Plus, what I'm about to tell you might actually come out quite comical for those of you who know how to take care of a vehicle...

So here is the situation:​

I just got out of college about a year ago and have been driving my 4 cyl 1997 TJ since about sophomore year of high school. It currently has 135,000 miles and is obviously paid off. Since I have been a student all these years, I haven't really had the time to invest in learning about my engine, learning to fix things, etc (but at least I know quadratic formula and environmental physics....because THAT'S super helpful in life). Basically, with the exception of oil, I never fixed or changed out anything until it broke. Yea, I was that guy.

Now I have a "big boy" job though and am willing to put some money and time into my jeep and learning more about it, and not to mention that I actually like working with my hands. I'm afraid that it might be too far gone though (my own fault) and by the time I put the money back into it, I could've put a pretty down payment on a newer jeep.

Here's an example:
I haven't did anything with 02 sensors since I have had my jeep. However I knew there was something wrong with them because I got codes for them A COUPLE YEARS AGO (no, that's not a typo) but I did nothing about it. After "stuttering" problems while idling for long periods of time though, and smelling like fumes after longer drives, I decided a couple months ago to order some and start fixing everything wrong on my Tj. I got under the jeep and under the hood, and I shit you not fellas, I'M PRETTY SURE I HAVEN'T HAD 02 SENSORS THIS WHOLE DAMN TIME! Maybe I'm just crazy but I checked everywhere that they possibly could've been and they weren't there, and under the hood?...An empty plug-in that looks like it fits the bill perfectly, and what looks like a bolt or a plug inside the hole of the manifold where I'm pretty sure the sensor belongs. I'm pretty sure the PO just used the jeep for weekend fun but would my jeep really still be running all of this time without sensors?? And how much damage could that have done? I've probably wasted so much gas over the years, damn it.

On top of that, I had my exhaust replaced in high school to try to fix an exhaust leak, and I'm almost positive they replaced the part of my exhaust where my other 02 sensor belonged. Like I said, I'm not a mechanical genius, but I looked everywhere possible and found nothing. Maybe I'm just more mechanically declined than I thought. Lmao so that is just one of the types of things I am talking about as far as me being an idiot and not taking care of my jeep over the years.

And Here Is The Question...

So on my jeep currently, I'm about to need a new top cause mine is falling apart, new door skins because they already have fell apart, new tires, somehow get it to stop sounding like a low powered diesel that just ate P.F Changs, stop the damn near death-wobble when I hit the brakes (only sometimes though, which is weird) and only god knows how much in engine parts.

After all of that, I could've put a decent down payment on a new one but I will be stuck with a payment at that point that I might not have to have if I fix up my jeep and take the time to learn it.

My question is though, if I put all of this money and time in my jeep, how much longer do you guys think it will last?? How much damage could I have already done to the engine? What would you do if you were in my situation? Fix it with initial money and time, or get a new one and cut your losses?

Thanks for any responses guys, and again, sorry for the long read but I only put what I think is necessary for you to understand the situation. Hopefully you at least got a laugh at my mechanical stupidity. Lmao
 

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How rotten is the undercarriage and frame? If you've got a lot of rust I'd start looking at a newer model. Anything can be fixed and/or replaced, but if you need to almost rebuild the old skate it might be worth at least checking around to see what's available.
 

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Found this with a Bing search:
97 TJ Oxygen Sensor Locations? - JeepForum.com

And this:
O2 sensor locations on 1997 TJ - Bing video

See if you can find a reputable tire dealer in the area where you currently are living. Get your brakes fixed first. Then put new shoes on the Jeep. What is the current size of tires you are running. Looking at some of the discount tire stores, you can go with a Goodyear Wrangler Radial in 235/75R15 for less than $350 for four, but if you go the BFG A/T KO2 in that same size, it is twice that.

If you phase out your repairs, do the brakes first, then the next month, do the tires, then the front end work and over a series of months you will not only have the Jeep running better and safer, it will be worth a lot more on trade if you decide you want to upgrade. A replacement top will run anywhere from $340 (Quadratec) to $800 (Bestop).

Some where in there or in subsequent months you need to have your anti-freeze flushed and replaced. You also need to have your front and rear differentials drained and refilled with fresh gear lube.

There is something else to consider in all this - your credit rating. If you are the normal new Grad just starting out you don't have one. Since you are working, you most likely are dealing with a bank. If you have a credit card that is not with that bank, get one with that bank. Avoid getting up around the limit and avoid paying only the minimum. And never get in the situation where you miss a payment.

Start a file folder and keep all the receipts in it. Then when you go to sell it, you can show the recent maintenance history of the Jeep. That shows the potential buyer it has been cared for. I see you spending between $1800 and $2000 over the next six months. If you can keep paying as you go you avoid paying interest. But you may also want to borrow that and pay it off over the next six to eight months to establish the credit rating as well. Lots to think about.
 

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These are also things I would want to fix before selling her anyway. Would not want to sell with bigger known issues.

If the frame and body is fairly rust free then you should have a decent vehicle to fix up.
 

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Perhap someone here with a 97 TJ 4 cyl could shoot a pic or 2 for you.
Did you by chance find the sensor pigtail wiring, near the manifold and exhaust pipe?
I know there are numerous paper and download manuals. Get one and refer to it. So many answers there and if you plan to do future work, a good manual is an absolute must.
As far as the expense of repair vs down payment, a paid for vehicle, in good mechanical condition, is always better than something you (are over-paying for) don't actually own. When it is time, the repair cost vs no notes and resell value are well worth it.
 

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The cheapest vehicle is the one you already have..... even if it costs you several hundred a month for a while to get the maintenance caught up it will still be cheaper than the new one.

One of my daily drivers is a 94 YJ with 265,000 Mi on it I beat the living heck out of it I replace what needs replaced and it is just as reliable as a new one.

Many people would consider an attempt you currently have to be superior to a new jeep in a lot of ways....

I recently bought a TJ to replace my YJ. I parked the YJ for a couple of months with the idea of selling it when I got a chance. I have since decided to keep the YJ (and of course the TJ too) and restore it. It will get new seats carpet front fenders fender flares and paint. At that point as far as I'm concerned it will he better than a new one in every way except it won't have a warranty but then that's cancelled out because it also won't have a payment.

Not to brag at all but just to illustrate a point.... I'm in a position where I could go pay cash for a brand new jeep and I'm not even the slightest bit tempted........

I say fix what you have and stuff as much money in the bank as you can..... in 20 years you'll be GLAD you did.

Also.... LEARN how to work on your own stuff as much as possible..... it isn't that hard and we're all here to help....

You can spend a few hours on a saturday afternoon OR you can spend $600 at a dealership to accomplish the same thing.
 

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The cheapest vehicle is the one you already have..... even if it costs you several hundred a month for a while to get the maintenance caught up it will still be cheaper than the new one.

Not to brag at all but just to illustrate a point.... I'm in a position where I coukd go pay cash for a brand new jeep and I'm not even the slightest bit tempted........

I say fix what you have and stuff as much money in the bank as you can..... in 20 years you'll be GLAD you did.

Also.... LEARN how to work on your own stuff as much as possible..... it isn't that hard and we're all here to help....

You can spend a few hours on a saturday afternoon OR you can spend $600 at a dealership to accomplish the same thing.
DITTO;
Yes I too could buy a NEW (Overpriced) latest and greatest. FOR WHAT?
I always keep my wife in a newer, nice car, so she can travel to see family or in case of emergency, and that is also what we use when we travel together. I have a few older Harley's and other than my TJ, a 1996 Z71.
At any moment I have total confidence to jump on and roll out on any of the bikes, because I have worked on and maintained them all. Same with the Z71 - New hubs & bearings, shocks, brakes, ring & pinions, shocks and other stuff. The 10 years I've had the truck, purchase price, parts, add-ons, doing 95% of the work myself probably in the truck for $60 a month - not counting insurance, registration, and fuel.

I started accumulating tools and manuals as a teenager. Now with the internet, it's easy to decide what is within ones ability and equipment needed.
Lots of typing to say - get the tools, get your manuals, watch as many YouTubes on the subject, ask questions, and GO FOR IT.
Worst case scenario - $75 wrecker to a shop and repairs, if you totally screw up.
 

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Well ... my 2000 TJ has issues, but most of what you said, are easy purchases and fixes. Yeah, it is some extra dollars, but I look at it as no car payments. Better to spend $1000 a year in repairs, than $3,600 in payments.

For me, my frame rusted out (tub still decent) 2 years ago (so unsafe to drive) ... so I began to track down a non-rusted frame (took about 1.5 years of endless searching) ... and then about another year to put it back on (see my avatar). And when you replace your frame ... there are a ton of other repairs that came up ... BUT ... I spent about what it would cost to buy the same TJ ... but this was mine (and not someone else's problems) ... and I know what is generally breaking and what is replaced. That is a comfort zone for me, that I don't have with other vehicles.

Plus, how cool is it that you have a TJ, and not many other people do? That alone is worth $10-$15K added value right there!!!

Doc
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
How rotten is the undercarriage and frame? If you've got a lot of rust I'd start looking at a newer model. Anything can be fixed and/or replaced, but if you need to almost rebuild the old skate it might be worth at least checking around to see what's available.
Frames not really bad at all as far as I can tell. The only thing that really has rust on it is my exhaust. I'll upload some pics soon when I get to my phone to post and yall can tell me what you think!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Found this with a Bing search:
97 TJ Oxygen Sensor Locations? - JeepForum.com

And this:
O2 sensor locations on 1997 TJ - Bing video

See if you can find a reputable tire dealer in the area where you currently are living. Get your brakes fixed first. Then put new shoes on the Jeep. What is the current size of tires you are running. Looking at some of the discount tire stores, you can go with a Goodyear Wrangler Radial in 235/75R15 for less than $350 for four, but if you go the BFG A/T KO2 in that same size, it is twice that.

If you phase out your repairs, do the brakes first, then the next month, do the tires, then the front end work and over a series of months you will not only have the Jeep running better and safer, it will be worth a lot more on trade if you decide you want to upgrade. A replacement top will run anywhere from $340 (Quadratec) to $800 (Bestop).

Some where in there or in subsequent months you need to have your anti-freeze flushed and replaced. You also need to have your front and rear differentials drained and refilled with fresh gear lube.

There is something else to consider in all this - your credit rating. If you are the normal new Grad just starting out you don't have one. Since you are working, you most likely are dealing with a bank. If you have a credit card that is not with that bank, get one with that bank. Avoid getting up around the limit and avoid paying only the minimum. And never get in the situation where you miss a payment.

Start a file folder and keep all the receipts in it. Then when you go to sell it, you can show the recent maintenance history of the Jeep. That shows the potential buyer it has been cared for. I see you spending between $1800 and $2000 over the next six months. If you can keep paying as you go you avoid paying interest. But you may also want to borrow that and pay it off over the next six to eight months to establish the credit rating as well. Lots to think about.
Thanks for such an extensive reply man! So right now I am running 31's and have been since high school. Put the current ones on about 4 years ago and they're getting about to the edge. I've done some looking and am thinking that Goodyear wrangler's are going to be my next tire, or at least some type of A/T. I have mud terrains now and love the look, but I am thinking I can get a little more life out of an A/T and still keep the aggressive look. Just need to do a little more research myself to get my preference and then I'm going to pull the trigger on that.

I appreciate the little to-do list brother! Your post actually made me start an actual to-do list and I am writing things down as we speak that need to be done to get her back to new shape again.

As far as my credit score and rating, you are correct. I don't have much of one at all. The only credit that I have established is through paying back my student loans, which are all in good standing as of now. I have definitely needed to get a credit card for about 6 months now and am about to pull the trigger on that one as well. Even if I don't go for a new jeep, good credit is great to have no matter what when it comes to buying anything or trying to burrow.

HOWEVER, I did not think about the "burrowing $2000" to fix the jeep part and then paying it back but that is a GREAT idea. I'll need to look into it a little more but I don't think I will have a problem at all burrowing that amount and it can do nothing but good things for my credit as long as I pay it back on time. Thanks for that!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The cheapest vehicle is the one you already have..... even if it costs you several hundred a month for a while to get the maintenance caught up it will still be cheaper than the new one.

One of my daily drivers is a 94 YJ with 265,000 Mi on it I beat the living heck out of it I replace what needs replaced and it is just as reliable as a new one.

Many people would consider an attempt you currently have to be superior to a new jeep in a lot of ways....

I recently bought a TJ to replace my YJ. I parked the YJ for a couple of months with the idea of selling it when I got a chance. I have since decided to keep the YJ (and of course the TJ too) and restore it. It will get new seats carpet front fenders fender flares and paint. At that point as far as I'm concerned it will he better than a new one in every way except it won't have a warranty but then that's cancelled out because it also won't have a payment.

Not to brag at all but just to illustrate a point.... I'm in a position where I could go pay cash for a brand new jeep and I'm not even the slightest bit tempted........

I say fix what you have and stuff as much money in the bank as you can..... in 20 years you'll be GLAD you did.

Also.... LEARN how to work on your own stuff as much as possible..... it isn't that hard and we're all here to help....

You can spend a few hours on a saturday afternoon OR you can spend $600 at a dealership to accomplish the same thing.
Agreed. I'll take character over "brand new" any day! Thanks for the advice, as of right now I'm thinking I'm definitely going to follow it and just fix up my jeep myself. With having no car payment, no time to spend my money AND no girlfriend right now...hell I'm gonna be a rich man in no time.
 

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First, pump the diction brakes. Second, it's cheaper to keep her. Outside of a major catastrophe, she'll treat you well with proper maintenance, & it doesn't take big boy job to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Perhap someone here with a 97 TJ 4 cyl could shoot a pic or 2 for you.
Did you by chance find the sensor pigtail wiring, near the manifold and exhaust pipe?
I know there are numerous paper and download manuals. Get one and refer to it. So many answers there and if you plan to do future work, a good manual is an absolute must.
As far as the expense of repair vs down payment, a paid for vehicle, in good mechanical condition, is always better than something you (are over-paying for) don't actually own. When it is time, the repair cost vs no notes and resell value are well worth it.
Here's what I found that I think is the plug for the 02 sensor and also a bolt that looks like it is in place of where the 02 sensor is supposed to be, although I could be completely wrong on that. Lol i still haven't clicked on those bing links above, just wanted to post pics here while I had my phone and was posting. Will be checking those links out as soon as I'm on a computer.
 

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Good advice from the rescue jeepers above. But, you have a 4cyl.Since you are a big boy with a big boy job, I would get a different jeep. Doesn't have to be new if your budget does not permit, but atleast a newer one so you can take big boy trips.
 

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Here's what I found that I think is the plug for the 02 sensor and also a bolt that looks like it is in place of where the 02 sensor is supposed to be, although I could be completely wrong on that. Lol i still haven't clicked on those bing links above, just wanted to post pics here while I had my phone and was posting. Will be checking those links out as soon as I'm on a computer.
ok, I believe that is your o2 plug, but that is not where it goes. your o2 sensor will be on the rear of your exhaust pipe about 4 inches below where the exhaust pipe connects to your exhaust header. you may have to get under your jeep to locate it. your other 02 sensor is located between your cat and muffler. you will have to be under the jeep looking from the muffler to cat. it should be on the drivers side of the pipe out of the cat, or on the side of the cat. don't worry too much about the rear o2. the front is easy to change. you can get a rent a tool at the parts store to remove them with. when you find it spray it down good with PB blaster or some other rust solvent. If you have a bolt, just remove it and plug your new o2 sensor to that plug. good luck.
 
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