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Buying a Used CJ or Wrangler

awidenhouseawidenhouse Posts: 4
I am planning on buying a used CJ or Wrangler as a Play Toy. I am looking now at a Wranger 92' 9" of lift 33/12.5 tires and 4.0 motor. I am also looking at several early 80 CJ-7's. Is there anything I should know about these Jeeps before buying one?


  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    I think you're more likely to get the feedback you want in the general Jeep Wrangler discussion or one of the other existing topics in the Jeep Wrangler group.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    9" of lift for a 33" tire??? That has to look rather goofy.

    I know of a 1982 CJ7 for sale near me for about $4k (not mine as I don't have one). The earlier CJ's will likely have rust issues so look over the body and systems carefully. They will likely be carburated as well, so if you plan on playing with the CJ offroad, steep angles will get interesting on occasion.

  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    Is there anything I should know about these Jeeps before buying one?

    The first thing you need to know is that CJs, YJs, and TJs are very different vehicles that have a similar appearance.

    If you want a reliable vehicle with readily available parts, get a TJ. If you want a hobby vehicle you might consider a CJ.
  • Are there issues with the Jeep V8 "304" or is if safer to get a slightly newer one with the 4.0L? Is there anything to look for when looking at a used Jeep, like Rust is the first thing. What about the Mileage? Is jeep known for having a certain problem or problems to for a first time owner to be aware of or to be looking for?
  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    I'd prefer the 4.0/4.2 to the V8. Similar output, less complex, longer life.

    CJ/Wranglers use a seperate body and chassis, so chassis rust is more critical than body rust, though neither is good. TJs are the least likely to have serious rust issues.

    A well maintained Wrangler with a 4.0 should see 150-250k miles without major problems. However, the older the vehicle the more 'interesting' its history is likely to have been. Same applies to a vehicle that has been modified by some of its previous owners.

    If you want a hobby, pick whatever catches your fancy. If you want a reliable ride, pick a late, unmodified, properly maintained, street queen.
  • I drove a TJ today. It has 9" of lift, 35/12.50 new tires, detroit lockers front and rear, yukon axles and gears, dual stearing stablizer. The Stablizer has been removed because of the lift. When you step on the gas it pulls to the left and when you get off the gas it pulls to the right. Can this problem be corrected and how?
  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    That's an easy one........remove the nine inches of lift. :shades:

    Seriously, nine inches? Good grief!!! :surprise:

    Also, I don't understand about the stabilizer having been removed, but that it has dual stabilizers?

    The pull to the left come from the torque of the engine twisting the suspension when you step on the gas. The only possible use for such an extreme suspension modification is for use offroad, or for a show vehicle.
  • flokofloko Posts: 2
    The CJ-7 is cult, but you should be aware that most of the CJs are in bad shape. Many owners restorate their Jeep with cheap aftermarket parts and an individual style. You won't find much CJs in original style.

    But if you find a good one ... buy it and never give him away.
  • I have the opportunity to buy a 2006 JEEP Wrangler X with only 3,500 miles. The catch -- it has a salvage title. It would need two full hard doors, hood, fender flares and a possible roll bar. The price would be between $7000.00 - $7500.00. Would this be worth it and besides eBay and local junk/salvage yards where do I find GOOD cheap parts? Thanks a million.....
  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    From many years of experience, there is ALWAYS more damage than first appears.
    In my experience, insurance assessors and claims adjusters are pretty sharp and aren't usually known for their generosity when setting the selling price of a damaged vehicle.

    As to value, the general rule of thumb is that a repaired salvage titled vehicle is worth 50% of what it would be with a regular title. Whether it's worth it or not to you depends on how you value your time, your skill level. A messed up salvage titled '06 will be worth half what a messed up but regular titled '06 would be. Remember also, that late model salvage titled vehicles can be difficult to sell because traditional credit institutions are reluctant lend on them.

    Finally, eBay and salvage yards are the major source of used parts, both good and bad. Keep in mind that if you use parts from earlier models then the vehicle's value will be depreciated even further.
  • jc63jc63 Posts: 1
    I am looking at a 1998 Wrangler with a 4 cyl. and a 5 speed. I own a 1995 Grand Cherokee with the inline 6. I love the Cherokee. What can you tell about the 4 cylinder? I don't expect much in the way of MPG, but I am curious about power for pulling a boat/trailor, highway speeds, and torque for mud and hills.
  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    What can you tell about the 4 cylinder? I don't expect much in the way of MPG,

    That's good, as it'll get about the same as the 4.0.

    but I am curious about power for pulling a boat/trailor

    Unless it's a very lightweight trailer, forget it.

    highway speeds

    If it's flat with no headwind you'll eventually be able to match speed with surrounding traffic.

    torque for mud and hills

    This where gearing makes up for the difference in power between the 4.0 and the 2.5. The 2.5 does fine offroad.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    I can address this.

    I have a 1997 TJ SE with the 4 cyl and 5 speed. Manual transmission is the ONLY way I'd have gotten a 4 cyl. A 6 was my preference, but ended up with the 4 since it was initially for my 16 YO daughter.

    MPG is decent, about the same as the 4.0 - your limiting factor is the Jeep's lack of aerodynamics, lack of high end horsepower, and excess of drag, especially as you mod it. :) If you have press down hard on the pedal to get it going, you WILL take a MPG hit.

    Power for pulling a boat? Realize that the SWB TJ you're looking at has a rating of MAX 1500 lbs or so, due mainly to the short wheel base. For the 2.5, I'd say the realistic max is a bit lower than that. I moved my daughter to new apartments and home with my TJ using this trailer. Yeah, I need a drop neck hitch on the TJ. :D


    You see it loaded about 1/2 to 2/3 full of hardwood floor. THAT was not problem, but I was only going max of 45-50. I couldn't imagine hauling THAT size trailer or a boat on the highway. Jetski, probably. Lightweight Sunfish or boat, likely. But a fullsize powerboat, no way. Also a 1/4 ton military trailer with camping gear or a Lowe's/Home Depot run, sure would LOVE one of those.

    Highway speeds are a mix. I have regeared to 4.88 to help with the rotational mass of the 33's I have as tires. That puts me to about stock. Here in north Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky, I can normally maintain 65-75 depending if I am going up (60-65), down (65-80), or level (right about 70). If the hill is long and/or steep, I'll have to downshift to 4th, sometimes 3rd if it is REAL steep. I'm used to it. I have another car for go fast duties, with twice as many cylinders. :)

    For offroad, the 4 cyl does JUST fine. I've taken it places where the 6 cyl Rubicons go (I'm locked front and rear). With the appropriate gearing, a manual transmission, a hand throttle, and a good spotter, I can go where I want to go with no problems. Just a slightly different driving style. While 6 cyls can tackle a steep, rocky hill in 2nd gear and 4lo, I'd approach it in 4lo and 1st gear. 2nd gear can lead to the engine lugging a bit and potentially dying. I prefer to keep the RPM's a bit higher on a ride like that. I DO NOT LIKE restarting my engine on a STEEP incline while offcamber. :)




    If you need to haul a boat, you MAY want to consider one of the newer TJ Unlimited's which have the longer wheelbase, higher towing capacity, and the 4.0 engine.

    Feel free to ask any other questions you'd like.

  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    An excellent reply from erickpl, which includes something I left out and bears repeating:

    "Manual transmission is the ONLY way I'd have gotten a 4 cyl"
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Flattery always helps. ;)

  • Hello all, just found this site, not of the email generation. Here are some pointers. I agree with a lot of the "beware of" comments that have been mentioned. The wrecked jeep is a no purchase unless you have your own shop. There will be a lot of work on that one. It was a roll over, big question is high speed or trail. If trail you can fix it cosmetically. High speed no way. :lemon:
    As far as the CJ vs wrangler (notice not capitalized) :) That is preference. The CJ is easier to modify mechanically, less emissions control so going for a V8 is easy. V8 options I would go with a chevy II 350ci. The 304 is a good motor and I would purchase any jeep with it as long as the motor is sound. The kicker is this, it will cost you more to rebuild the 304 than to build a 350 with all the correct mods to place in the jeep.
    The wrangler is a good product and generally all around sound vehicle. The 4.0 is bullet proof, they learned that back in the 60's. If mileage is a concern go for the 4.0 or any in line 6 cylinder version.
    I will say as far as suspension the wranglers do have us CJers beat. As far as a stock product they made some good changes.
    I would not purchase the 9" CJ. It is a problem waiting to surface. It also sounds to me that you have a limited jeep experience. That 9" lift is a bear to handle. As far as the pulling it is a simple solution, drop the Jeep 5" and it will probably fly straight. Anybody who goes over 4" is an idiot, unless you are building for a specific reason.
    Off-roading is a slow moving art form of driving. You could build the most radical machine and have a stock 4cyl pass you on the trail because the other knows how to drive. The key is not power but torque AT THE WHEELS.
    Rust: look at the chassis as mentioned earlier. If you find surface rust no biggie. If it has rusted through the frame anywhere but on the very front or very rear then do not purchase. A good way to fix the problem is POR15. Simply brush it on and it will cease the rust. Good product. And it will keep you busy over the winter months.
    I hope my blabbering helped and you got a chuckle or two. If down in NC come by the shop. I am never there. :shades:
    PS I like the little car thingies.
  • I'd like to buy a used TJ with a 6-cylinder and an automatic transmission. How many miles are too many? And does anyone have any experience with buying Jeeps from CarMax? Thanks
  • in the future, the next year or two, i would like to purchase a Jeep Wrangler. probably used and probably a standard. however i know nothing about them execpt that i really want one. what should i know before hand? is it any different than buying any other vehicle? i've only bought cars before. and what is a YJ, CJ, TJ? as you can tell i'm new to this! but would appreciate any help, Thanks!
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    CJ, YJ, TJ, etc are all model designations from jeep for the variations.

    CJ - older style up to about 1985 IIRC.
    YJ - 86-96
    TJ - 97-06 models (what I drive)
    JK - 07-now

    When looking at a Jeep, consider if you plan on offroading it - as that may affect which version you go after. I personally wouldn't go any older than a TJ, especially if you want reliability for a daily driver.

    If you plan to offroad, consider the axle types (Dana 44's have a metal plug on the back axle for draining vs a rubber one and are considerably stronger). Strength is key for bigger tires, gears, lockers, etc.

    Some like the hard top, some love the soft top. Mine only has the soft top and steel half doors. My upper doors/windows are fabric. There are:

    Hard tops / soft tops
    full doors / half doors
    Safari / bikini tops to cover the cabin, but have no windows at all (I run one in the summer with no doors at all.

    If you tell me what your intended activities are with it, I could better help you. A 2001-2006 TJ (Sport trim) with hard and soft tops is an EXCELLENT base to start from, whichever path you choose.

  • 4rider4rider Posts: 96
    One thing to consider on the later TJs(may be 03 and newer?) it that it they have a lower hanging gas tank which makes the rear diff oil change or any other work in that tight spot unnecessarily painful. I had to get rid of my Rockcrusher diff cover in the back for this very reason.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    That's what body lifts and Kilby tank skids will help with. ;)

    I've found that jacking up the body/frame a bit to sit on jackstands so the axles are easier to access makes changing the fluids a bit easier.

  • 4rider4rider Posts: 96
    "I've found that jacking up the body/frame a bit to sit on jackstands so the axles are easier to access makes changing the fluids a bit easier. "

    Totally agreed. In fact, this is the only way to do it. I guess this is a lesser problem for liftted TJs. I wished they could have designed this differently so that there is a little more space between the tank and the rear axle for easier maintenance and (quick) inspections.
  • flyrodflyrod Posts: 2
    My daughter is in the market for a car and wants a Wrangler, manual transmission with softtop. Looks like 2005 is the price range limit.

    Questions: mileage for a 6 vice 4 cyl? reliability? safety? will be driving in No. VA. DC area. any and all advice will be welcomed.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Questions for your first:

    How old is she? Wranglers are not necessarily ideal for a new driver due to their short wheelbase and higher COG. My daughter had one (and it became mine) and nearly rolled it on the road going around the corner.

    As for your questions:
    1. 6 will have more pep, esp on the highways. Mileage may be a hair better for the 4, but not enough to be a huge difference. The 4 is great for around town. DEFINITELY not a speed demon. I have a 4cyl.
    2. Reliability. Depends on previous owners. My 97 is doing okay with only a few things I've had to address, mainly from my offroading. If the PO wheeled it (check the underside for scrapes, dents, etc) I'd probably stay away.
    3. Safety. They hold up pretty well in crashes, but if this is a concern, I think there are better SUV options out there. I drive mine w/o doors and top and it can be disconcerting for younger drivers knowing a bumper or other car part could get ya pretty easily. I've armored mine up for offroad action and I actually feel safer in it as a result, even on road.

    In your region, knowing how DC drivers are, the 6 would be a better option as far as being able to go highway speeds vs being the slowpoke and have a truck drive up the tailpipe.

  • jetbattjetbatt Posts: 2
    1. Definitely the 6cyl. (#1 - more zip, #2 resale value, #3 Mpg difference is negligible)

    2. My 2004 has had ZERO problems! and yes it has been used off-road.

    3. Safety? Name any other consumer vehicle that comes with a functional roll-cage. We traded a dodge neon in on our Wrangler and my insurance premiums actually dropped! They are safe to drive and cheap to fix.

    4. Things you WILL want in a used jeep. Full size doors are a must, No one wants to unzip the window every time you go to the ATM or McDonalds. Hard top is a Plus for the winters in your area, you can always buy an aftermarket soft top.( Alot of Hardtoppers like me have both ). Say NO to skinny tires. Wider tires get more traction in wet weather and have better overall handling. A/C comes in handy when sitting in traffic under a hot sun.

    5. One thing to remember - They all ride ruff !
  • flyrodflyrod Posts: 2
    Thanks for the responses. My daughter is an experienced driver, very good with a manual transmission, has always driven "wrecks" that had to be nursed through the day, every day, up to now. She wants the softtop, knows about the ride, noise, etc. She's old enough to get what she wants (and will, no doubt). I feel better about the Wrangler and will go looking with her next month when she's ready to buy (what do I look for besides the underside?). I am thinking a 2005 soft top in good shape with 40K miles, manual tranny, 6cyl, CD, A/C, rear seat should go for $13,500 cash. Is that about right? Any years (older) other than 2005 better than others? Any years to stay away from? We've looked at an 05 with a 6 speed manual 4 cyl that was very nice but I thought it needed a little more merging power.
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    IF you think she'll offroad or mod it any, try to find one with the Dana 44 rear axle. That has the metal fill plug (not the rubber one).

    Check the radiator for any signs of leaks (Jeep radiators are a mix of plastic and metal and can crack - easily fixed). May also want to check under the carpet for signs of rust.

    If you stick with 03 and newer, you should get a decent one. Quite a few changes in 02 and 03, but then fairly consistent after that.

    The opinion about full vs half doors is pure opinion. I have half doors and HATE the full doors. When the uppers are off, VERY comfortable. The full doors feel confining by comparison, though I admit they are more secure, especially with a hard top.

    may want to see about finding one with both hard and soft top if possible. If you have one top, and want the other, adding it later can be pricey!

  • New here...does anyone know what a 1981 CJ Superstar is worth? It isn't on kelley blue book or since it is so old. Thank you for any information anyone can give me.
  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    So much depends on condition. Could be anything from a $30K restoration to a $100 rust bucket.

    To find comparable Jeeps you'll need to research magazines and eBay over a period of time, and remembering of course that there's always a difference between asking and actual selling price.
  • Thank you for your reply. I'm not too familiar with this situation. When you say $30 restoration, do you mean that is what it would cost to fix it up? He is asking $3,000. He has taken care of the engine but the body is junky looking, as far as faded paint. Not a whole lot of rust. It has been in Phoenix, Arizona. My husband and I are thinking of purchasing it from him and restoring. Thanks much!
  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    ("Could be anything from a $30K restoration to a $100 rust bucket".)

    When you say $30 restoration, do you mean that is what it would cost to fix it up? He is asking $3,000.

    (Mmm.......$30K = $30,000. ;) )

    Three thousand dollars sounds like a lot to me for a Jeep in need of restoration, even if the engine has been 'taken care of'.

    Whats' your objective? If you want to end up with a beautifully restored older model Jeep, then buying one that someone else has done the work on will be much cheaper than restoring one yourself.
    If you want an inexpensive Jeep runabout, you'll get a much better value in a later model.
    If you want the fun and experience of restoring an older Jeep then this may be the way to go. However, unless there's something exceptionally wonderful about this one I think you need to negotiate a substantially lower price, and even then you'll be amazed at how much you'll eventually spend on the project.

    Just remember that fully restored vehicles at the lower end of the market (under $100K) sell all the time for much less than the cost of restoration. Most people restore them for pleasure rather than profit.
  • mac24,
    you answered our questions. we are novices at this. it helps to get advice from someone who has experienced something first hand. Our main thing was if we pick up the Jeep cheap, would restoring be a big cost and it sounds like it could be depending on how good of condition we want to make it. thanks so much for your help.
  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    ...................if we pick up the Jeep cheap, would restoring be a big cost and it sounds like it could be depending on how good of condition we want to make it.

    Glad that helped. Don't let it put you off owning a Jeep though! :)
  • 87000 miles ,AT AC, in MN good condition new tires $5500 OBO . Is this a fair price? Any issues with this make and model that I should Be aware of ?
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Price sounds decent. Have it checked out by an independent mechanic. If you can look it over, look for signs of wheeling. Also check to see if you have any manifold cracking - the 97's were prone to that. Pound the catalytic to see if it rattles.

  • for a 2001 Wrangler. Where's the best place to buy a good quality top ?? Thanks! Paul :)
  • Would prefer a 'no - drill into the windshiled' :confuse: model.... if there is such a thing. thanks!
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Bestop is the only game in town IMO. Quadratec, JCWhitney, etc all have pretty much the same price for Bestop stuff.

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,533
    Quadratec will price match if you find it cheaper somewhere else.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • new owner, some wind noise coming from between the top of windshield and hardtop. What's the best fix for this?

    Has 55, 000 miles: plan to change coolant and tranny fluid soon. Anything else, i.e. plugs, etc.. thx. Paul
  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    ......some wind noise coming from between the top of windshield and hardtop

    It's likely to be one of three things.
    In no particular order, it could be a hardtop that's distorted, the hardtop could have been refitted incorrectly, or the seal on top of the windshield could be bad.

    Whichever, start by unclipping the hardtop at the windshield and removing the top to body fixings at the tub, then lift it a little and move it back six inches.
    You can now examine the header seal on top of the windshield frame. If it's damaged in any way replace it (part #55176 512AE_ SEAL, Header Opening).
    This would also be a good time to examine the top to body seals as well, as they too have a bearing on the alignment of the top (SEAL, Enclosure To Body_#55176 372AC Right _#55176 373AC Left).
    To correctly refit the top, very loosely install the tub bolts then align the front of the top on the header rail and snap the retaining clips shut. Lastly, tighten the fixing bolts, pulling or pushing the hardtop sides in or out as you do so to align with the body sides.

    Finally, if the noise remains because the hardtop was a poor molding (or you're too lazy to undertake the previous steps :P ), you can run a thick bead of silicone sealant between the front lip of the hardtop and the windshield frame.
    Use the best quality black sealant in a cartridge, which needs to be applied with a caulking gun. Cut the nozzle for a thick bead and smooth it afterwards as the smoother it is the quieter it will be. You might also want to lay masking tape above and below the joint beforehand to help keep thing clean and tidy.

    Has 55, 000 miles: plan to change coolant and tranny fluid soon. Anything else, i.e. plugs, etc.

    Yes, do everything. Whenever you get a 'new to you' vehicle, service everything.
    You don't know when things were previously done and it gives you a baseline for future maintenance.
    Inspect the brakes and steering, change the brake fluid and power steering fluid, and grease the steering and suspension points.
    Check the wheel bearings for wear, and the 'U' joints on the propshafts and front halfshafts.
    Change all powertrain fluids (diffs, t/case, transmission, engine) and filters. plus the air filter, spark plugs, and serpentine belt.
    Flush the cooling system and check the hoses for cracks and leaks.

    From that point on just keep to the maintenance schedule in your handbook, starting in 3K miles as if the Jeep was brand new.

    Have fun! ;)
  • THANKS for all of the info... Another question ( there may be more :) ) Some vibration when applying brakes.. feels like warped rotors. Replace pads / rotors? A guess on price for this? THX PAUL
  • any / all parts mention above , get from the local dealer or another good site to buy OEM replacement parts? THX PAUL :D
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    Personally for brakes, I'd go with EBC Yellow or Green pads for your wrangler. Just get some GOOD quality rotors. They do NOT have to be OEM. :)

  • I am looking at purchasing a used Wrangler. This will be my first Jeep. I priced out three used vehicles using the Edmunds pricing tool. In each case the Edmunds retail price was $4K below the price listed by the seller. All three vehicles were listed with Edmunds and the sellers were dealers and not individuals. For example, a 1997 Jeep Wrangler with 140K miles was listed at $9K. Edmunds priced it at a little over $5K. In another instance a 2005 Wrangler with 59K miles is listed for $17K and the Edmunds pricing tool returned a retail price at a little over $12K.

    Is there anyone on this board that can comment? Are the dealer prices high or is Edmunds low? I'm an experienced negotiator but I don't know too much about Jeeps and need some feedback from folks that are used to dealing in this market.
  • I just bought my first Jeep in MN.. A 2001 Wrangler Sahara, Auto trans. Hardtop only, traler hitch. , 55,00 miles I paid 11,600$ Very clean. ..... Also, test drove a 2002, for 11,500$, 80,000 miles, 2 tops... I looked at a lot of Jeeps on Cragslist and good luck!! :D
  • mac24mac24 Posts: 3,910
    Edmunds retail price was $4K below the price listed by the seller. All three vehicles were listed with Edmunds and the sellers were dealers and not individuals.

    Dealers usually have a lot more mark up on a used vehicle compared to a new one.
  • Thanks to those that responded. I have had three contacts with sellers so far. Two private sellers and one used car dealer. The private sellers were easy to talk to and deal with over the phone. The used car dealer was somewhat difficult. He was very critical of the offer that I made using the Edmunds price. He wanted to talk NADA retail price. The vehicle in question looked great on the AutoTrader site. It had four previous owners. The last owner had an accident report that showed up on car fax as moderate damage. The dealers last comment to me was the Edmunds needed to join the real world. After that I thanked him for his time and ended the call. I'll continue my search. It is just going to take a while before I find what I want at a price that I am willing to pay.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Seems to me that banks and state taxing authorities love NADA because their values are higher. So the banks can justify loaning more money and the states can justify soaking you for more taxes.

    Just a theory, but I keep seeing comments like yours. :shades:
  • The garage a few miles away has this vehicle for sale at 8k.It needs tires and the corner of the rear bumper, right side, needs work. The body and top are in good shape, no rust and it has 75,000 miles. The rear window has a black circle/plug on each side, about one inch diameter. Around these plugs the glass seems to be cracked on the inside. Since it is sunday the garage is closed the vehicle locked so I wonder if the glass is cracked or another problem exists I have never owned a Wrangler and would appreciate any info from Wrangler owners on what type of problems, if any, are common to this year.
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