View Full Version : When is old -- too old...

04-15-2011, 09:06 PM
and how many miles is too many....

Im looking for a Wrangler as a "fun" car as a father and son project. Originally we were going to do a District 9 truck with lite armor and chain link on the glass for riot control; but now we're leaning towards doing something more like a "Rat Patrol" gun jeep.

Im looking at used Wranglers. My first thought was nothing older than 2000 and no more than 100K miles; but Im being told those arent necessairly fixed numbers any more.

Today I looded at a 1995 Wrangler with 116K miles. It was in what I would call "good" shape and drove fine; but had some issues like needing 5 new tires and some minor rust. The dealer wanted $6000 firm, thats more than Blue Book for one in excelent condition. I gave him my number and told him to call me when he was ready to deal.

Tomarrow, Im looking at a 1999 with 125K miles, from a different dealer. The asking price is $9000. Its "supposed" to be in better shape and with a single owner.

Im not looking for a new Wrangler to start customizing; but new ones start at $22000, so Im not willing to spend more than about $10-15000 on 10+ year old cars??? I dont mind wear but I dont want worn out. We're gonna have it repainted, and I can live with dings but rust scares the shite out of me.

Im NOT a mechanic; but I DO know my left thumb is the one that gets bashed when I pick up a hammer....


04-15-2011, 11:01 PM
The '95 Wrangler is a YJ; they have leaf springs and were not available at all with the Dana 44 rear axle (they have the wimpy model 35). The '97-on TJ (there was no '96 wrangler) has coil springs and the heavy duty D44 rear axle was an option. Try to find a clean Rubicon if you can. The earliest Rubis were a 2003 model, so they may be available in your price range. That gets you a heavy duty transfer case with 4:1 low range, Dana 44 axles front and rear with selectable lockers, better body protection than stock, and they all came with 31" tires. That gets you something that is extremely wheelable in a stock condition, no mods required.

04-15-2011, 11:27 PM
It has been a long time since I was in the Jeep game, but I can tell you that the inline 6 cylinder engine used in the YJ and TJ models is a very good engine that should go well over 100k if properly cared for. I would look at a TJ model for the superior suspension system. The leaf springs on the YJ jeeps were prone to spring fatigue and the front mounted shackle makes for a very bumpy ride. Just some thoughts, hope this helps.

Rusty Phillips
04-16-2011, 06:41 AM
i suspect you are a lot like me and do more thinking about things than actually doing...............

contrast this with a buddy of mine who charges into projects with very little thought

re: your vehicle dreams.... you can do anything you want - but you have to answer the budget question first

how old is too old? id rather have a 25 + year old truck that runs well than a two and a half year old electronic whizmobile that has electrical gremlins

rust - RUN away at all costs....

Rusty Phillips
04-16-2011, 06:42 AM
if it is a father son project why are you looking at the dealerships?

does your Chief Financial Officer approve of this aquisition?

04-16-2011, 08:21 AM
DONT BUY FROM A DEALER...why pay $6K for a jeep he paid $1500 for slapped a few tires on it and changed the oil...go to craigslist or local shopper, be patient...the right well cared for deal will come along soon enough adn you will be much happier and get a much better condition Jeep...

04-16-2011, 09:40 PM
if it is a father son project why are you looking at the dealerships?

does your Chief Financial Officer approve of this aquisition?

Thankfully shes no longer in the picture (although she is still actively digging for ways to get anything she can from me). As to her approving, she never approved of any of this, she didnt even like me to carry my off duty gun when we were in Baltimore City.

This is a Father and Son "design build". Hes just starting High School in a program for computer design. So the idea is we "think it up" and anything that requires more than bolting on to existing hole gets out sourced, and then we "think" some more.

Its been a lot of quality searching for ideas and pics so far. He even decided a H2 wouldnt work becase the sun roof was too far forward and would be impossible to access a MG on a pintle mount from the back seat....

04-16-2011, 09:51 PM
The best place to find a father son project jeep is ebay. Do a search for jeeps close to your home. Don't hesitate to get a YJ, or a CJ even. A TJ would be splendid, but you get get A LOT of fun out of an older jeep if you find the right one. Take it from me, I've owned several jeeps, and none of mine have been pavement queens.

04-17-2011, 01:06 PM
If i was looking for a project i would be looking for something pre 1996, it will be a lot cheaper and easier to repair than something newer. Not sure what part of the country your in but if you can find a rust free southern jeep likely you'll just need some shocks and some bushings and suspension parts to make it ride like a brand new vehicle. A well cared for engine and trans (find a seller with maintenance records) will usually go for over 200k miles without a problem.

04-17-2011, 01:38 PM
If you end up buying a YJ, be sure to get a '91 or later with the fuel injected 4.0 liter engine. Earlier models had a computer controlled carb which sucked. If you end up with one of those, do a search on the "Nutter Mod" which puts the computer to sleep. The TJ really isn't any more complicated than the YJ; the newer JK on the other hand is a different story. The computer controls everything on those. The '00-on TJ went with a distributorless ignition in the 4.0L models, which works fine. My '01 is at over 102,000 miles and shows no sign of slowing down. Had a couple minor issues with the camshaft position sensor and its drive several years ago, but no recurrences once both parts were replaced. Other than that and changing oil/filters, the only thing I've had to do to the engine was change the spark plugs at 70,000 miles or so. Based on the condition of the old ones when I removed them, I thought it was a miracle that it was even running at all. A non-computer controlled engine would have run like shit if at all, and all I had was an occasional miss and an error code. At higher mileages, the crankshaft position senser on the bellhousing sometimes fails, but it is easy enough to change, and I carry a spare (which I've never needed). Also, some TJ model years will display error codes on the odometer without need for a reader, by turning the key on, off, on, off, on (without starting the engine). Definitely the '97s will, and definitely the '01s. I think the only years that was disabled was '98-'99, but I can't say for sure. I carry a xerox of the error codes out of the FSM in my console, but haven't really needed it.

05-06-2011, 05:07 PM
I would suggest buying an older rust free jeep, even if you need to drive and pick it up. Get a good set of tools and a good shop manual. Then your son can maybe partially build it himself, learn mechanics, have fun and get into a lifelong hobby.

My first car was a 1971 Ford with 287,000 miles on it I bought for $25, boy did I learn a lot on that car!

Terry D.
05-20-2011, 03:13 PM
I've been thinking about this too. I have an 87 F250 diesel that is solid with 145,000 miles. Bed has rust holes but cab is good and it runs like a top.

Needs a little front end work, some TLC of the other moving components, but I'm going to keep it. I've been doing a little at a time.

She goes in the dirt and snow good. A box and mount in the bed and zombies could be piled in heaps.

Any thing I ought to look at for reliability?

05-20-2011, 10:30 PM
Edel, any Jeep with an I6 should run well in 200,000 miles trouble free. I bought my last one at 200,000 miles and sold with with 250,000 miles on it, running fine.

Where are you located? I've been looking for one myself and have a bunch of good leads.

05-24-2011, 09:46 PM
Im in the People's Republik of Maryland. I found my "perfect" Jeep. its a 2006 Wrangler with Right Hand Drive. Its slightly lifted and only has 40K miles.

Thumper PM me if your close. I found a used car dealer that has a more than any other in the area and was a pleasure to deal with during the purchase.