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Old 04-09-2012, 02:39 PM   #1
RxZ OP
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Jeep Wrangler advice?

This past Easter weekend I was sitting around shooting the breeze with my father-in-law when the following conversation happens:

fil: So, how has car shopping been going?

me: Hit and miss. I've found a few worth buying, but they were priced too high for the mileage and condition.

fil: Still looking for a Jeep?

me: No. For the most part anything worth buying is outside of the range I am wanting to spend. (I received a little less than 6K from selling a car a few weeks ago, and have been looking for a used car to buy with that money. I just bought my wife a car and we did not want to have two car payments.)

fil: Well, here's an idea... Why don't we go in together and get a Jeep? That way you can get something a little nicer than what you were looking for, and I can get one cheaper than what I was wanting to spend. I was going to get a Jeep but I don't think either one of us would use it "as a Jeep" that often. You drive it, and when I need or want to use it I'll let you use my other car for a few days.

me: followed by


So, if one was looking for a Jeep Wrangler in the $10-12K range, what should he look for? This will be my first Jeep, so although excited I do not want to buy the first one I see and then regret it due to something I should have known before hand.

It will be used mainly for daily driving when I do not feel like taking the bike to work, or when raining or snowing or zombie attack (folks still want their pills from the pharmacy). However, I will also use it taking my kids camping and also the occasional usage in Arkansas or Colorado whenever I can get to either.

The only thing I know for sure is I want the 4.0 inline six engine. I have never heard anything bad about that motor, so I am hoping that nothing real serious would happen to whatever I buy.

Impart thy knowledge upon me inmates!
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Old 04-09-2012, 02:54 PM   #2
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4.0 = TJ, so that's that.
$10-12k = TJ (again), leaves out Rubicon or LJ

You only need to figure out top/door configuration, transmission and come to the realization you will kick yourself later if you don't take the time to find a Dana 44 equipped TJ.

For me, I came to the educated opinion the NV3550 5 speed tranny was best option. 40k miles later, I feel like I made a great choice with that pick. Some of the autos or the 6-speed manual that came on later TJs don't have the same reputation.

I recommend full doors for sure, and if you have the choice, go hard top, because buying a soft top later on is much less expensive than other way around.Research what a D44 axle looks like. I didn't take the time, and it's the ONLY thing I regret about my TJ. It may cost a bit more if the seller knows what they have, but with your price range you should have no problem affording the option. A stronger axle or shafts will be $1k (easily) if you ever want to run >33" tires, which you will once you catch the bug.

Make sure you inspect thoroughly for rust. It's a boxed frame, so it rusts from the inside out. Take all the time you can making sure there is no rot, I've known people with beautiful TJs on crap frames. About the bug, though... you will get it. Mods are a way of life with a Jeep, and I predict yours will be on 33" tires a year or two after you buy it. Again, make sure you grab one with that D44!

**If you choose to go with a D35 for whatever reason, you'll be much happier with 3.73 gearing. the 3.07 gears make the Jeep a dog, especially when you add your bigger tires. You can check gearing by a little tag on the rear diff. AFAIK, D44 always come with 3.73 or 4.11 gears.
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Old 04-09-2012, 02:54 PM   #3
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Check out jeepforum.com for more information than you need. You will probably be looking at a TJ. Definitely get the 4.0l inline six and you may want to look at getting one with a Dana 44 rear axle if you plan on doing any off-roading. Being in Texas, you will probably want one with AC. Putting a soft top down is easy and only takes about 5 minutes while a hard top will be more secure and probably have less road noise. There is also another Jeep thread in shiny things that may give you some ideas. Good luck.
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Old 04-09-2012, 03:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brton161 View Post
4.0 = TJ, so that's that.
$10-12k = TJ (again), leaves out Rubicon or LJ

...
All good info, thanks! I didn't know about the Danas so I will do my best to get the 44s. Is there a way to tell which wranglers they come on? Like standard on ___ model, but only an option or not available at all on _____?

Quote:
Originally Posted by redsport View Post
Check out jeepforum.com for more information than you need. You will probably be looking at a TJ. Definitely get the 4.0l inline six and you may want to look at getting one with a Dana 44 rear axle if you plan on doing any off-roading. Being in Texas, you will probably want one with AC. Putting a soft top down is easy and only takes about 5 minutes while a hard top will be more secure and probably have less road noise. There is also another Jeep thread in shiny things that may give you some ideas. Good luck.
Thanks for the forum link. I knew about the other two big threads, and have read through them. However, I didn't feel this was a good post to put in those threads, but who knows

Either way, they are both filled with a lot of good info if it is the two I am thinking of.

So far then: TJ with a 44 and straight six is what I should look for?
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:19 PM   #5
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There are good FAQs in the TJ section of the forum mention above. Dana 44 will only be in the rear. Easiest way to tell is the Dana 35 has a rubber fill plug, and the 44 has a metal one.
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:30 PM   #6
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The 4.0 was available in the YJ Wranglers. I don't remember if a Dana 44 rear end was an option in the YJ.
YJ's have a leaf spring suspension vs. the coil spring suspension on the TJ.
The later YJ five speeds were better than the earlier five speeds.

You'll pay less for a lower mileage YJ than a comparable TJ. That is the only reason I would buy a YJ over a TJ.
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RxZ View Post
All good info, thanks! I didn't know about the Danas so I will do my best to get the 44s. Is there a way to tell which wranglers they come on? Like standard on ___ model, but only an option or not available at all on _____?


Either way, they are both filled with a lot of good info if it is the two I am thinking of.

So far then: TJ with a 44 and straight six is what I should look for?
Jeepforum should have models they were equipped with. I know Sahara and sport models had them available as an option. They didn't come standard as far as I know until the rubicon was built. The x model may have them available as well, come to think of it.
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Old 04-09-2012, 05:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by AKjeff View Post
The 4.0 was available in the YJ Wranglers. I don't remember if a Dana 44 rear end was an option in the YJ.
YJ's have a leaf spring suspension vs. the coil spring suspension on the TJ.
The later YJ five speeds were better than the earlier five speeds.

You'll pay less for a lower mileage YJ than a comparable TJ. That is the only reason I would buy a YJ over a TJ.
The 44 was only available on the YJ in Canada and in South America.

As much as I like YJ's, I wouldn't recommend one as a daily driver. (although I do use mine as a dd) The oldest YJ will be 25 years old and the youngest will still be 16 years. That's a lot of miles and so you might be fixing more then just maintenance items depending on how well it was kept.

I'd definitely go with a 4.0L (I drive a 2.5L) and possibly go with a Unlimited for the additional rear space. That would mean getting a TJ. I'd also go with the 6-speed Manual ('05-up) or the 4-speed auto ('03-up). The later 5-speed (00'-'04)is OK too. As well as the 4-speed auto but the 4-speed is just nicer with the OD. The 4.0L TJ's had an option called 44-3 which adds a Dana 44 rear axle. This is better then the standard Dana 35C axle but if you're not going to take it offroad or build it up then it won't really matter. Basically everything over the SE (SE is the 4 cylinder engine) had the option available. Sport, X and Sahara. Rubicon comes with it standard.

For most people, I'd go with a Sport or X Unlimited. There's a premium for the Rubicon model and unless you're going to actually use it offroad, it's probably not worth it. Even a non-Rubicon will still be able to handle light to medium trails.
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:23 PM   #9
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I'd go in with the FIL on a utility trailer, or a leaf blower. Or maybe a propane-fired turkey fryer. Things you're going to use a few times a year, maybe, and hopefully not want to at the same time. But a car? Nope. I like him fine right now, but it wouldn't last long if he shared title on my toys.
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:42 PM   #10
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I'd go in with the FIL on a utility trailer, or a leaf blower. Or maybe a propane-fired turkey fryer. Things you're going to use a few times a year, maybe, and hopefully not want to at the same time. But a car? Nope. I like him fine right now, but it wouldn't last long if he shared title on my toys.
He could also be wanting to helping them out without it sounding like a handout.
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:56 PM   #11
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He could also be wanting to helping them out without it sounding like a handout.

Good point. My FIL also never offered me a Jeep.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:26 PM   #12
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I don't agree with the comment that you will definitely mod your jeep. I know many do, but many don't too. I fall into the latter category. Currently on Wrangler #5, I've been through one YJ, two TJs and two JKs. Of those 5, the nicest driving road Jeep was my JK Sahara with the comparatively lower profile tires on 18" wheels. The most capable off roader is my '09 Rubicon. The most endearing was probably the YJ, probably because it felt the most like my memories of Jeeps from my childhood. Crude, utilitarian, rode like a brick, and required constant attention from the driver. The TJs fall somewhere in the middle. They were good jeeps and were still fun, containing bits of the utilitarian feel of the YJ but not as crude.

The advice about looking for the Dana 44 if you are going above 33" tires is probably good advice. In particular, getting abusive off road with 35's has been known to break many axles, both front and rear. But the only way you're getting a 44 up front is to go with a Rubicon or find one somebody has modded their jeep. Of course if you are going above 33's you'll probably want at least 4.10 gears anyway. Again I've never done this, but have friends who have with their jeeps. Personally I find my JK Rubicon to be beyond any capabilities I need with the stock 255's (roughly equivalent to 32's), but my trip to Moab later this year has the potential to change my mind about that. Though I've had 3 of the 5 Wranglers I've owned significantly stuck at one time or another, the only one I ever found really lacking was that first YJ I owned with steel wheels, an open rear diff, a 4 cylinder, and 205 series tires. I called it the postmaster special It was great in the snow and dirt, but mud? Not so much

One of the great things about a Wrangler is the resale value. One of the worst things about a Wrangler is the resale value It just depends which side you're on. But the good news is if you buy one and later decide it isn't robust enough to mod the way you want, you can always sell it and buy another.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:20 PM   #13
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Yeah I hear you. I modded mine for years and have recently brought it back to stock for ride quality and mpg... It's a daily driver. If it was a second vehicle like the op is looking for, it would be on 35s.
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:52 AM   #14
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Good point, but it will be my name ONLY on the title

That and my fil is pretty cheap. I am sure that to him, this is a way of getting what he wants by spending less money than he was going to!

Quote:
Originally Posted by McB View Post
I'd go in with the FIL on a utility trailer, or a leaf blower. Or maybe a propane-fired turkey fryer. Things you're going to use a few times a year, maybe, and hopefully not want to at the same time. But a car? Nope. I like him fine right now, but it wouldn't last long if he shared title on my toys.

Thanks everyone for all the info! I just started browsing the for sales in the area and Craigslist yesterday, so I still have some time for the research part of this purchase. Keep it coming.
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Old 04-10-2012, 06:35 AM   #15
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I'm jeep shopping right now myself. After much research and reading, I'm down to looking for an 03-06 rubicon that is all stock with full doors and a hardtop, and an auto. And not black or red.
I'm sure I'll end up having to spend way over the budget you have listed (which ironically is the same range I was trying to stay in), but after reading all the horror stories of trying to unfuck someone elses nightmare, I feel it will be worth it.
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