97 Tj V.S Later models

LucyTempleton

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Hello! I am looking to buy a jeep tj project and i’ve heard that 97’s are the model that you should NOT buy because the parts are more specific and harder to find. The only problem is that all i find in my price range is 97’s. So i’m asking what you think i should do? Should i rule out 97’s completely? Or are they actually a fine car to work on? Please let me know!
 
Hello! I am looking to buy a jeep tj project and i’ve heard that 97’s are the model that you should NOT buy because the parts are more specific and harder to find. The only problem is that all i find in my price range is 97’s. So i’m asking what you think i should do? Should i rule out 97’s completely? Or are they actually a fine car to work on? Please let me know!
So a little background. There was never an official 1996 Jeep Wrangler. They pre released the 1997 TJ in 1995, and the early model 97s manufactured in 95 had a mix of YJ and TJ parts in them. The models manufactured in 1996 were all TJ parts, or so I've read. So the 1997 TJ was sold in 1995 and 1996.

1997 is a fine and tested year for the TJ, so just be sure you're getting a model that was manufactured in 1996.
 
Many of the parts on the 97 are the same through either 99 or 02, and some are the same throughout. There have also been revisions to parts through the run, but they still work. I have a 97 (granted, mine was manufactured in early 97) and haven’t run into an issue of finding parts for it.
 
If it’s clean and the underside is rust free, I wouldn’t be afraid of a 97 by any means. Be patient, the right one will come along.
 
I've noticed that some of the wiring diagrams in the '97 manual don't always line up with what is actually on the Jeep (locations, wire color, etc.) depending on the production date, but it isn't too big of a deal. If it's a clean TJ & meets all your criterion I wouldn't shy away.
 
The great thing about this forum is the amount of information everyone's collected. I agree with everyone else above, i wouldn't shy away from it. As far as parts go, whatever problem you have, someone along the line has figured it out, and there are tons of people on this forum that have different manufacturers and models parts on their rig. (Dodge dakota and durango, JK models, ZJ models, ford explorer, almost any 3/4 ton for axles, hyundai tiburon.) The list goes on and on im sure!
 
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Dont be afraid of it. The issues are small (different plugs etc..). Nothing you cannot overcome. I enjoy my 97 (Jan build date IIRC)