Another Newb Seeking Advice for a TJ


SteamRollin

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This is a rollover discussion from the "How to verify if a TJ is a Rubicon" thread.

I want to first start off by saying thank you to all the members who commented on my previous thread, their feedback has made me feel reassured that I'm in the right place.

As the title implies I'm looking for advice on choosing a TJ as I come across them. I mainly intend for this vehicle to be used off road (weekend riding), but not limited to that. As of right now my goal is to find something that is in good condition that I can have some fun with while learning the off road ways and slowly work my way to building a Jeep that will do the harder trails and possibly rock crawling. At first my initial impulse was to focus on finding a Rubicon but as I've been learning on this forum, I don't need one in order to achieve the goals that I have set. If fact I'm starting to see that it may be a bunch of unnecessary spending, if I'm just going to end up swapping it out in the future. I'm torn between Standard and Auto, as I've heard the benefits of both. I should however mention that I'm not 100% familiar with Standard but I have driven them a few times over a decade ago. I'm committed to learning how to use a standard if it will give me more advantages and control. As I've read in some other threads, I'm beginning to feel the sense that I would be better off with a Sport or Sahara with a Dana 44 at the rear and paired with a 6 speed in order to better suit my needs (Thank you, JMT). I've also seen where the majority of owners (if they could do it all over again) would've stayed with 31" tires and went with a smaller but higher quality lift. I believe I would be content with that, at least I say that now HAHA.

When I stumble across a potential candidate, I'll upload a few images of that vehicle along with any initial information I gather. In order to keep confusion at a minimal, I'll give each Jeep their own code name. So which ever vehicle you guys help me pick out, I'll keep that code name for it!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to respond. There might be some other route or path I should take or have not thought about, any suggestions I would appreciate. Thanks in advance!
 

Chris

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In regards to auto versus manual, give this thread a read: To Shift or Not to Shift.

They both have their pros and cons and that thread lays it all out perfectly in the very firs post.

As far as not needing a Rubicon, I think I'm getting to that point myself where I'm thinking I could have just gotten a Sport model with the Dana 44 rear end (you definitely want that Dana 44 rear if you can find one with it), as I'm dumping so much money into my build that the only thing remaining on it that will be "Rubicon" specific will be the transfer case.

Anyways, we're all happy to help pick apart any potential candidates, so feel free to post them up as you find them by all means.
 

06lj

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Sounds like you have a good plan. Definitely get the rear Dana 44. If you want the 6 speed you are limiting yourself to an 05 or 06. An auto will give you more control off road, especially if your not experienced with a clutch. I always thought Jeep's should be manuals and every one I owned was. My most recent Jeep is an LJ auto and now I wouldn't go back to a manual for off road use.
 

glwood

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I always thought Jeep's should be manuals and every one I owned was. My most recent Jeep is an LJ auto and now I wouldn't go back to a manual for off road use.

That was also my mantra for 25 years or so of Jeep ownership. 'No stinking auto for me!' Once I drove an automatic that was actually worth a flip, I won't go back.
 
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tomtaylz

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As far as not needing a Rubicon, I think I'm getting to that point myself where I'm thinking I could have just gotten a Sport model with the Dana 44 rear end (you definitely want that Dana 44 rear if you can find one with it), as I'm dumping so much money into my build that the only thing remaining on it that will be "Rubicon" specific will be the transfer case.
And you don’t even have the sticker on your hood so really, what’s the point? ;)
 
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SteamRollin

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So quick question, how many miles is too many miles? I was aiming for nothing over 150k but ideally something 120k and under. I’m looking at spending somewhere around $8-10k for the initial purchase, slightly more if it’s a deal I can’t turn away.
 

tomtaylz

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So quick question, how many miles is too many miles? I was aiming for nothing over 150k but ideally something 120k and under. I’m looking at spending somewhere around $8-10k for the initial purchase, slightly more if it’s a deal I can’t turn away.

Personally, for me I think the sweet spot is 60-90k. But these engines do run for a lot of miles so with your budget I don’t think there’s anything wrong with less than 120k. Just know there will be a fair bit of maintenance items that’ll come up as there’s probably still a lot of original components which are near end of their life at 120k (ball joints, sensors, etc) but I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a Jeep with 150k or less if it was in good shape.
 
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glwood

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So quick question, how many miles is too many miles? I was aiming for nothing over 150k but ideally something 120k and under. I’m looking at spending somewhere around $8-10k for the initial purchase, slightly more if it’s a deal I can’t turn away.
I bought an '03 X 5 years ago with 153k on the clock, drove it for two years, sold it to my friend. He's still driving it, and it still sounds and runs like when I bought it. I don't know exactly how many miles it has now, but 5 years worth of driving, no issues. I did a rear main seal, but almost every 4.0L TJ out there needs that done eventually...
 

06lj

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I've had TJ's with close to 300k miles down to 30k miles. It all depends on who owned it and how it was taken care of. I wouldn't be afraid of higher mileage especially if it wasn't a DD. At this age almost any Jeep is going to require some maintenance. Ball joints, bushings, bearings, seals... ect. But half the fun of Jeeps is working on them. Sometimes little issues like oil leaks or sloppy steering can help you haggle the price down. I generally do all of above listed things as preventive maintenance when I get a new vehicle anyway. With your budget and the research you are doing I think you're in good shape.
 

Matt77

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You will get more money when you sell it if it's a rubicon. I have a sahara. Standard is definitely good for mudding and rock crawling I would think. Sucks in highway traffic and the boat ramp. You should definitely go atleast 33's. From what I read i think it would be the minimum for rock crawling. They are money pits though. Lol especially older ones. Definitely probably want a 4.0L. It's like Legos for men. You can dump lots of $1,000's.00 into it before you know it. You'd be ahead of the game to find a 4.0L with a 3.5-4" lift, 33's and a rear Dana 44.
 

AndyG

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Even if they have extremely low miles , they are 12-20 years old or so. Time ages hoses, belts ,rubber , corrodes relays ,etc .

My 03 Rubicon had 20,500, and when I got on the interstate going home , I about crapped . It drove like a boat ...awful . New shocks , tires, and a long arm kit later (and a pretty hefty check) and it is the best driving Jeep I've owned ...they can be saved ,but buy accordingly .

Incidentally , I recently drove an automatic...loved it . No thinking .

A stick is fun too. A Jeep is just fun to drive period .
 
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SteamRollin

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There’s a couple of All-Ready-Built Baddies for sale that look great and have a long list of mods/upgrades and are in my price range, but I don’t know that I want someone else’s project. Not to mention they have miles past 150k.
 

AndyG

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It seems there are categories-

Hopped up and beat up

Hopped up and high miles (street queens)

Hopped up and medium miles (more money )

Stock and decent miles , but build cost factor in

Built and low mileage - hard to find , expensive , and may still need some real money put on .

I have one MO when I shop
.what is the best condition, lowest mileage vehicle I can find , and I move quick if I nail it .

Remember , know what you really want , and be prepared to move fast.
 
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SteamRollin

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It seems there are categories-

Hopped up and beat up

Hopped up and high miles (street queens)

Hopped up and medium miles (more money )

Stock and decent miles , but build cost factor in

Built and low mileage - hard to find , expensive , and may still need some real money put on .

I have one MO when I shop
.what is the best condition, lowest mileage vehicle I can find , and I move quick if I nail it .

Remember , know what you really want , and be prepared to move fast.
The one I’ve been eyeing is Hopped up and High miles but doesn’t look like Street Queen.
It’s specs:

2005 Jeep Wrangler Impact Orange

Ac/heater/Cruze/tilt wheel

Kenwood double din stereo w-SiriusXM

Cobra full size CB radio

Mariene speaker cans

4.0 inline 6 new lifters oil pump

New rear main seal oil pan and valve over gaskets

Rl42e Auto. Rebuilt 4000 miles ago

3core aluminum radiator

Water pump and thermostat replaced

4” Rough County short arm lift

Rubicon express adjustable front track bar.

Tom woods front and rear drive shafts

231 transfer case with sye.

Dana high pinion 30 front axle 4:88 G2 gears Detroit trutrack locker

Complete G2 Dana 44 rear axle 4:88 gears Detroit soft locker

Aintirock front sway bar

5 procomp crawler extreme 252 wheels 15”x10”-5-4.5

5 General Graplers Red letter 75% life left.

Rock crawl front bumper with warn 8000# winch

Smittybilt rear bumper with swing away tire carrier

Rock crawl Rock sliders

Smittybilt 3” front and rear tone finders

Led angel eye headlights with amber halos

Amber underglow lights

50”,20”light bars

Pair led pods all Cree brand

Best top next top bowless

1/2doors with best top uppers

Optima yellow top gel battery

New KYB shocks

170k miles @ $11,340

We’ll call this one “OJ”

9BDC7392-DBC5-4E54-96CE-A2992C76D0D8.png
 

AndyG

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There's a sharp blue '03 Rubicon for 12,500 with 135,000 on Facebook marketplace , looks nice and cared for.

Columbia TN. No rust likely.
 
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SteamRollin

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First Runner Up
Code Name - “ALPHA

1997 Sport A/T (54k miles) - $12,600

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***owner’s notes***
1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ with the 4.0 liter straight six engine and automatic transmission. Yes you read it right only 54,000 original miles. I am the second owner and it has been meticulously maintained, it runs like the day it rolled off the assembly line over 21 years ago. Mechanically this Jeep is a 10/10. The interior is also in great shape no rips or tears in anything and the seats have always been protected by seat covers. The exterior is in great shape for its age but not 100% perfect. Few fine lines, nicks and scratches here and there but overall looks great. No accidents, no smoking, garage kept, clean and clear title in hand. Open to offers but don’t waste our time. I have owned many Jeeps and this has been one of my favorites because the age and condition. I don’t need to sell but I’d like to make room for a new toy. Only modifications to the Jeep are the JK rubicon wheels and tires. No lift or suspension modifications, everything is 100% factory stock. Comes with factory half doors with sliding glass uppers, bikini top and full soft top.

Alright guys, do your thing!
(I’m waiting to hear what kind of rear it has on it)
 
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06lj

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Looks like a nice Jeep. Those JK wheels will need some attention. There is no room for the suspension to flex. Does the owner have the original wheels?