Help convince me I am not crazy for buying a TJ (so I can convince my wife)


Hopper

TJ Enthusiast
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Dec 28, 2018
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Same boat as you a couple years back except my wife knows I'm crazy and when I get bit by a bug she just steps aside. Buy the Jeep you will love it more than you hate it although that line gets blurry.
My advice read up and fing a great TJ. Learn on the easy stuff. Finding a mechanic you trust and knows Tjs for the bigger things help, also have this mechanic check the Jeep before you buy if you can will help.
STAY AWAY FROM RUST. Look for rust like a hawk, frame inspection, floor pans under the hood. If you find rot move on no matter how cheap it is. Trust me you dont want to go through the rusty frame fiasco.
Good luck and welcome to the forum. This forum is the best out there and these guys and girls will help you learn as you go.
 

RustyAutoholicGuy

Kubota Diesel Wrangler Guy
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I assume you meant $10k... and brother, if you can find a clean Rubicon for $10k you better jump on it! Or avoid like the plague, because it's probably a scam, lol.
I actually bought my LJR for $6K and on the drive there I still thought it was a scam. I at one point debated selling my LJR but clearly I lost my mind for about 2 weeks. I have since made a full recovery and come to my senses.

The other thing I will add, seeing as I'm becoming an expert on this, builds take WAY LONGER than you will plan for. I'm doing a diesel swap on my 2006 Right Hand Drive TJ, had it before the LJR, I honestly thought it would take 6 months whiched turned into 12 months. At the 17th month mark, this past March I finally got the engine started for the first time. I've now been working on my project for 27 months, just over 2 years and I'm hoping to have it on the road next month if I'm lucky.

Projects just take time, especially if you are doing something that hasn't been done before or well documented.

-Grant
 
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Johnfromphilly

Johnfromphilly

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Jan 6, 2021
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Philadelphia, PA
Same boat as you a couple years back except my wife knows I'm crazy and when I get bit by a bug she just steps aside. Buy the Jeep you will love it more than you hate it although that line gets blurry.
My advice read up and fing a great TJ. Learn on the easy stuff. Finding a mechanic you trust and knows Tjs for the bigger things help, also have this mechanic check the Jeep before you buy if you can will help.
STAY AWAY FROM RUST. Look for rust like a hawk, frame inspection, floor pans under the hood. If you find rot move on no matter how cheap it is. Trust me you dont want to go through the rusty frame fiasco.
Good luck and welcome to the forum. This forum is the best out there and these guys and girls will help you learn as you go.
Thanks for the encouragement and tips! I hear you loud and clear.
 

Vtx531

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Nov 17, 2020
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Kalamazoo, MI
Id be more leery of a dealer and would probably avoid buying from a dealer if I could help it.

Unlike someone selling a personal car, the goal of a used car dealership is to make as much money on you as possible. They will often do quick fixes to get things looking nicer, such as rust repair, that will show right back through in a year or two.

Hopefully if you are buying from a private party, they will not be as likely to do the things a dealer will do to cover up problems, or have the ongoing networking connections with people that do those things. As well as be more honest and be able to tell you details on the vehicle history.

I think the vast majority of private sellers are just concerned about selling a car for a fair price, and not as willing to put their ethics on the line to maximize a profit. Same reasons to avoid car flippers!

A used car dealership warranty is pretty worthless too in my opinion because thy will do whatever they can to get out of following through their end of the deal if you have problems. Remember their goal is to make as much money from you as possible and giving away free shop hours and parts doesn’t help them.
 
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Jeeptron

New Member
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Dec 8, 2020
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Rosemount, MN
I Bought mine recently. You can see details here: https://carsandbids.com/auctions/rjRlkOGY/2003-jeep-wrangler-sport

Not my first Jeep, but first TJ. I love the thing. Don't buy rusty. Mine is a California Jeep, always in the south and it is perfectly clean. I put new bumpers and lights on with not 1 stuck bolt or screw. I rust proofed it, waxed it, sealed the top and it will be my winter car, but trying to keep it a survivor up here in MN. For roughly $11k i am super happy. I drove it home 1,300 miles. Totally worth it.
Did I mention...Don't Buy Rusty!
 

Chris

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Serious question, do you think this is a bad idea? I am not talking about doing an engine swap or learning to rebuild a transmission. I am talking swapping a radiator or fixing the heater or AC. and replacing seats etc.

You are an Admin on this forum so I value your opinion.

No I don't think it's a bad idea at all. I was just being facetious when I called you crazy. I think we're all a bit crazy on here with the amount of time and money we put into our Jeeps. But you only live once, right?
 
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Johnfromphilly

Johnfromphilly

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I Bought mine recently. You can see details here: https://carsandbids.com/auctions/rjRlkOGY/2003-jeep-wrangler-sport

Not my first Jeep, but first TJ. I love the thing. Don't buy rusty. Mine is a California Jeep, always in the south and it is perfectly clean. I put new bumpers and lights on with not 1 stuck bolt or screw. I rust proofed it, waxed it, sealed the top and it will be my winter car, but trying to keep it a survivor up here in MN. For roughly $11k i am super happy. I drove it home 1,300 miles. Totally worth it.
Did I mention...Don't Buy Rusty!
Thanks for the reply, nice purchase by you! Congrats! I hear you on the rust!
 
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Johnfromphilly

Johnfromphilly

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No I don't think it's a bad idea at all. I was just being facetious when I called you crazy. I think we're all a bit crazy on here with the amount of time and money we put into our Jeeps. But you only live once, right?
OK, cool, Thanks! I know it is a little crazy but I need a hobby and have wanted a jeep for 35 years. That and a 911 and I am NOT learning how to fix an old 911, ha!
 

Chris

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OK, cool, Thanks! I know it is a little crazy but I need a hobby and have wanted a jeep for 35 years. That and a 911 and I am NOT learning how to fix an old 911, ha!

The Jeep will be more fun than the 911 anyways.

I mean I've owned a Hellcat, a 650 HP Z06 Corvette, an M5, an M3, and the list goes on-and-on. The Jeep is more fun than all of those cars ever were, honestly.
 
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Johnfromphilly

Johnfromphilly

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The Jeep will be more fun than the 911 anyways.

I mean I've owned a Hellcat, a 650 HP Z06 Corvette, an M5, an M3, and the list goes on-and-on. The Jeep is more fun than all of those cars ever were, honestly.
:) Stop! You are going to make me rush out and buy, I am trying to be patient!
 
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DaveC

TJ Enthusiast
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Jan 3, 2019
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Gilbert, Arizona
I'd buy the all around soundest Jeep you can find within your budget. Remember, these are 20 year old vehicles and even with a solid frame and good mechanical condition, things wear out over time, so you're going to get your chance to work on things even if it's in good shape the day you bring it home.

I'm not very mechanically inclined, but like you, am willing to learn and give things a try. I waited until I could find an unmolested TJ in sound mechanical condition and as things have worn out, I've used those opportunities to cut my teeth on repairing, replacing, modifying, as well as learning when to waive the white flag and take it to a pro.
 
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Johnfromphilly

Johnfromphilly

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I'd buy the all around soundest Jeep you can find within your budget. Remember, these are 20 year old vehicles and even with a solid frame and good mechanical condition, things wear out over time, so you're going to get your chance to work on things even if it's in good shape the day you bring it home.

I'm not very mechanically inclined, but like you, am willing to learn and give things a try. I waited until I could find an unmolested TJ in sound mechanical condition and as things have worn out, I've used those opportunities to cut my teeth on repairing, replacing, modifying, as well as learning when to waive the white flag and take it to a pro.
You just described my goal and I appreciate the encouragement! I will print this out and hand to my wife who thinks I am nuts. Haha
 

TurboTJOffRoader

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Dec 16, 2020
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Manassas, VA
Hi there! I recently joined the board after proceeding down the same rabbit hole as you. Before I opted for a 3 year lease on a 2017 Rubicon Recon I had not owned a Jeep. After 3 years (and swearing that my Recon would put an end to my constant vehicle trading and updating) I traded the Recon for a Camaro SS. Less than 3 months later I had bought a 2k1 TJ. I couldn't NOT not have a Jeep and I am STILL kicking myself for not just buying the Recon off-lease, but am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.

A couple of lessons I have learned:
1) a $5k budget for a decent used TJ is a JOKE (I started with a $4k budget and ended up spending $8500)
2) Do not only LOOK for the frame rust but understand WHY the rust happens and why the TJ's are do famous for it
3) The first time you take the doors off and your wife is in the Jeep GO SLOW, she is going to swear she is going to fall out. It took my wife (as have many others) a few trips with no doors before she was hanging her foot out and having an absolute BLAST.
4) If you get a hard top, figure out the winch system (even if it is just ratchet straps) for your garage (do NOT try taking the hard top off solo - OR ask your wife to help you - this will result in divorce discussions)
5) Dismiss the 2.5L, 4 cylinder engine - go for the 4.0L inline 6; they are bullet proof and they last forever)
6) You said you likely will not take it off road - that's funny (especially being so close to Rausch Creek).
7) Do not discount deflating your tires, even if you are just taking it on the beach. Invest in some deflators and a portable air compressor.
9) Familiarize your self with what different axle options there are (DANA33, 42, 44, 16, I like the DANA177.64 myself - very sturdy unit there) I still do not have it all figured out
10) Familiarize your self with the different types of differential options there are (Open Diff, Limited Slip, LOCKERS)

You are going to enjoy this and there is A TON of folks not only willing to offer advice but also willing to help when the time comes.


Welcome to the Jungle;we got fun & games...
 

JKP

TJ Enthusiast
Joined
Aug 20, 2020
Messages
209
Location
Warner Robins GA
If you are able to build houses, you should be able to do all the basic repairs using the FSM, YouTube, and advice from the forum.

You'll need the basic SAE and metric sockets and wrenches, jack and stands, etc.

Nearly all of the specialty tools and test equipment are available for free as loaner tools at local auto parts stores. You pay for it up front, then they refund your money when you bring it back. If you don't bring it back, it's yours to keep.

Shop around for the best one you can afford to start with so you won't be overwhelmed.

Avoid body and frame rust like the plague.
 

GaTechTJ

TJ Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2020
Messages
163
Location
Georgia
Jeeps can become an expensive addiction. (You've been warned.)
There is always something more you are wanting to do to it.
This can be a good thing for your wife as it will give her a never ending list of gift ideas to get you for your birthday, Christmas, anniversary, etc. (Better things than socks and ties.)
 

AndyG

TJ Guru
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Jul 30, 2018
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8,607
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Alabama
The post topic was partly funny and mostly true..I am brand new to the forum and appreciate all of the info here!

I am looking to buy a TJ, it will be my first Jeep. I have wanted a Jeep since I was a teenager (I am 51) and saw a CJ for sale in my neighborhood and dreamed of it. I am looking to buy a TJ for driving around town and getting around at our beach house in the summer. I will not be trail riding (as far as I know), just looking for a little top off manual driving fun. For that purpose I am looking to spend less money and get a banged up Jeep that may need some work, basic stuff like ripped seats, body rust (not frame!), bad dash etc. I have read many posts here and other places about what to look for in a used Jeep so I know to deeply investigate the frame condition and also the engine and transmission. I am also going to have my trusted mechanic do a total inspectrion on any Jeep before I buy it.

Here is my issue, I have never worked on cars beyond the basic upkeep. I have no mechanical training at all. I have good carpentry skills and like working with my hands and learning but I never had a father or brother or friend into cars so I never learned. We did carpentry and built houses and did renovations.

I read the threads and watch You Tube videos of the work that many of you and others do and it is amazing. How easy will it be for me to learn as I go with a Jeep like a 2003 TJ? I keep hearing that they are easy to work on and parts are resily available. If the transmission needs to be rebuilt I am not tackling something like that but brake replacement, Alternator, belts etc are things I think I can learn. I will have to also invest in some specialty tools I would imagine but I have done that for years with carpentry projects, buy a tool for one job and you have it forever. Thats why I have a garage full of tools, haha.

So...am I crazy to buy a Jeep that may need some work and thinking I can learn to fix it as I go? I am hopefull this is something I can do and then have a nice Jeep to run and then build on and add things to and have a keeper.

Thanks for any input to a TOTAL newcomer.
My recommendation would be to get around me... Your wife would then decide your perfectly normal.

On a serious note don't feel like owning one of these things means a lifetime of mechanical servitude... Most of what you see people doing are things they elect to do to alter or modify the vehicle..

But to balance that out these things are 15 to 23 years old and any motor vehicle that age will need some maintenance regardless of mileage.

Try not to buy anything in rough shape and the closer it is to stock the better you'll be right off the bat.

Post pictures of anything you're looking at if you can.

And certainly pay close attention to the frame.


Expect the rear main seal to leak a little bit or seep


And
...expect it to be the funnest vehicle you've ever owned... I know a guy that got his first Jeep...the next morning his wife woke him up at 5:00 in the morning putting on a jacket wanting to take the top off and go get donuts... She absolutely was thrilled. They are way more than a car or struck or SUV. Way more. They are a lifestyle.
 
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Johnfromphilly

Johnfromphilly

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Philadelphia, PA
Thoughts on this one? Frame looked and felt solid, wil set up test drive and deeper inspection before moving forward. From the research I have done and the others I have looked at this is a good buy if frame and floors are solid plus if it passes my mechanics check.


 

Irishguy

TJ Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 7, 2018
Messages
239
Location
Lick Skillet, AL
I've had many Jeeps, but even more Miata's and BMW's. All of which to a greater or lesser extent I have reconditioned, restored or simply built out to my liking. This last TJ I have I finally have it almost to my liking. Back when I bought it my wife just rolled her eyes and said, "Here we go again." Recently I tossed the idea to her that I might want to sell it and get another sports car instead, she looked at me and said, "No way! We're keeping the Jeep. I love it."

So I kept the Jeep, I love it too, and just bought another motorcycle project to piddle with.

Point being... Once you have it "fixed up" (Whatever that means to you...) she will love it as much as you do.

BTW: I would by the nicest, rust free example you can find. Even buying a very nice TJ, there will still be plenty of stuff for you to work on and spend money on.
 
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