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Should I buy this Rubicon?

jodomcfrodo

TJ Addict
Supporting Member
Feb 24, 2016
1,308
Evanston, IL, United States
Frame looks like it might need to be repaired and the rear of the body is clearly rusting from the inside out. Body mounts probably aren't great either and would likely need some work. I wouldn't touch it. But if you are looking for a project, $5500 isn't a bad deal for that Jeep. You could get close to that out of it for parts so you aren't taking a huge risk.

I will also never understand the "West Coast rust snobs" comments. Surface rust is much different than rot. Surface rust can be fixed fairly cheaply, rot cannot be fixed cheaply, and TJ's like to rot. Considering the design of TJ frames, it is very unlikely to find a TJ with heavy surface rust and very little internal frame rot. I will say that manual 03-06 TJ's have unintentional frame drain holes where the automatic skid plate is supposed to bolt up, so sometimes those don't have huge rot problems.
 

indio

Member
Apr 15, 2019
71
Chicagoland
Frame looks like it might need to be repaired and the rear of the body is clearly rusting from the inside out. Body mounts probably aren't great either and would likely need some work. I wouldn't touch it. But if you are looking for a project, $5500 isn't a bad deal for that Jeep. You could get close to that out of it for parts so you aren't taking a huge risk.

I will also never understand the "West Coast rust snobs" comments. Surface rust is much different than rot. Surface rust can be fixed fairly cheaply, rot cannot be fixed cheaply, and TJ's like to rot. Considering the design of TJ frames, it is very unlikely to find a TJ with heavy surface rust and very little internal frame rot. I will say that manual 03-06 TJ's have unintentional frame drain holes where the automatic skid plate is supposed to bolt up, so sometimes those don't have huge rot problems.
I won't use the term "West Coast rust snobs". But perhaps some folks in low rust areas have unrealistic expectations.

l lived in arid eastern slope Colorado, where they didn't use a lot of road salt either. And also in Chicagoland, rust capital of the universe. Two different worlds in terms of rust and what is acceptable.

In CO, I might hold out for a cleaner truck. But in IL, unless there is some structural issue or body problem that is not repairable, I'm probably jumping on a Rubi for that price.
 

jodomcfrodo

TJ Addict
Supporting Member
Feb 24, 2016
1,308
Evanston, IL, United States
I won't use the term "West Coast rust snobs". But perhaps some folks in low rust areas have unrealistic expectations.

l lived in arid eastern slope Colorado, where they didn't use a lot of road salt either. And also in Chicagoland, rust capital of the universe. Two different worlds in terms of rust and what is acceptable.

In CO, I might hold out for a cleaner truck. But in IL, unless there is some structural issue or body problem that is not repairable, I'm probably jumping on a Rubi for that price.
I currently live just outside of Chicago. If you buy a vehicle around here, you're going to get some rust, which is perfectly fine for a lot of cars. But you can't apply the same standards to a Dodge Ram (for example) and a TJ because of the inherent design issues with TJ frames. If I was trying to buy a 2006 Ram, I'd be perfectly fine with some rust because that rust isn't going to total my Ram out in a few years. If I wanted to buy a 2006 TJ, I'm not fine with almost any rust because it indicates that there are probably internal frame problems that could total my TJ out in a few years. You can't say what amount of rust is fine on a TJ, because the real answer is that no rust is fine on a TJ unless you can 100% verify the frame is fine on the inside.


When you look at a TJ with rust, you can't simply say "Eh, its cheap, I'll deal with some rust for only $5500" because down the road you might have to do $6000 worth of repairs to the frame in order to keep the Jeep alive. And at that point, why didn't you just spend $11.5k on a rust free Jeep in the first place?
When you look at a Ram with rust, you can simply say "Eh, its cheap, I'll deal with some rust for only $5500" because you know you aren't going to be forced to dump money into fixing major, structural rust issues with the truck.
 

04 LJ

TJ Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Mar 12, 2019
200
Winterville, NC
I currently live just outside of Chicago. If you buy a vehicle around here, you're going to get some rust, which is perfectly fine for a lot of cars. But you can't apply the same standards to a Dodge Ram (for example) and a TJ because of the inherent design issues with TJ frames. If I was trying to buy a 2006 Ram, I'd be perfectly fine with some rust because that rust isn't going to total my Ram out in a few years. If I wanted to buy a 2006 TJ, I'm not fine with almost any rust because it indicates that there are probably internal frame problems that could total my TJ out in a few years. You can't say what amount of rust is fine on a TJ, because the real answer is that no rust is fine on a TJ unless you can 100% verify the frame is fine on the inside.


When you look at a TJ with rust, you can't simply say "Eh, its cheap, I'll deal with some rust for only $5500" because down the road you might have to do $6000 worth of repairs to the frame in order to keep the Jeep alive. And at that point, why didn't you just spend $11.5k on a rust free Jeep in the first place?
When you look at a Ram with rust, you can simply say "Eh, its cheap, I'll deal with some rust for only $5500" because you know you aren't going to be forced to dump money into fixing major, structural rust issues with the truck.
I’m on the East coast and say NO WAY! That’s a shit ton of rust to me. Just my opinion.
 

indio

Member
Apr 15, 2019
71
Chicagoland
I currently live just outside of Chicago. If you buy a vehicle around here, you're going to get some rust, which is perfectly fine for a lot of cars. But you can't apply the same standards to a Dodge Ram (for example) and a TJ because of the inherent design issues with TJ frames. If I was trying to buy a 2006 Ram, I'd be perfectly fine with some rust because that rust isn't going to total my Ram out in a few years. If I wanted to buy a 2006 TJ, I'm not fine with almost any rust because it indicates that there are probably internal frame problems that could total my TJ out in a few years. You can't say what amount of rust is fine on a TJ, because the real answer is that no rust is fine on a TJ unless you can 100% verify the frame is fine on the inside.


When you look at a TJ with rust, you can't simply say "Eh, its cheap, I'll deal with some rust for only $5500" because down the road you might have to do $6000 worth of repairs to the frame in order to keep the Jeep alive. And at that point, why didn't you just spend $11.5k on a rust free Jeep in the first place?
When you look at a Ram with rust, you can simply say "Eh, its cheap, I'll deal with some rust for only $5500" because you know you aren't going to be forced to dump money into fixing major, structural rust issues with the truck.
I don't know about $6000 in frame repair. Worst case I think there is a company here in the Chicago burbs selling nice condition TJ frames for $1000. If it came to it, I would go that route. But yes, I think OP should have a good look at all the frame sections. I'm not recommending buying a basket case.
 

indio

Member
Apr 15, 2019
71
Chicagoland
What's up with some of the kluge frame repairs I'm seeing on TJs? Especially this "capping" thing, where people are having oversized frame sections welded on top of rusted sections. That stuff looks awful, and probably is trouble down the road. Why aren't people cutting out the bad sections and fixing proper? I'm a hobbiest MIG welder, have welded on frames before, but would stay away from capping large sections of bad metal.
 

jodomcfrodo

TJ Addict
Supporting Member
Feb 24, 2016
1,308
Evanston, IL, United States
I don't know about $6000 in frame repair. Worst case I think there is a company here in the Chicago burbs selling nice condition TJ frames for $1000. If it came to it, I would go that route. But yes, I think OP should have a good look at all the frame sections. I'm not recommending buying a basket case.
My frame swap cost me a lot more than $6000. I had a shop do mine, which made the price higher, but you also have to remember that your time is worth something even if you do the swap yourself. The down time of the Jeep is also worth something if it is your daily driver.


And I don’t know of any companies around here selling frames for $1000 or I would have bought one from them. I spent $1000 on my new frame down in TN and had it powder coated.
 

Chris

Administrator
Staff Member
Sep 28, 2015
37,106
Salem, Oregon
I don't know about $6000 in frame repair. Worst case I think there is a company here in the Chicago burbs selling nice condition TJ frames for $1000. If it came to it, I would go that route. But yes, I think OP should have a good look at all the frame sections. I'm not recommending buying a basket case.
How much is someone's time worth? $15 an hour? If so, then sure, $1000 for a frame, and maybe 50 hours of labor.

But what about when you take the body off the frame and find other things that need addressing or replacing while you're in there? Chances are if the frame is that bed, then the body is going to have some bad rust on it as well that likely won't be exposed until you remove the body from the frame. There's more time, labor, and money.

Doing a frame swap (even if you do it yourself) is going to be a very time consuming project. Even if you do it all yourself, you have to account for time equating to money.

This is one of those things where every time you budget for a project, you have to absolutely expect you'll spend way more than you initially figure you will.
 

bromel

TJ Enthusiast
What's up with some of the kluge frame repairs I'm seeing on TJs? Especially this "capping" thing, where people are having oversized frame sections welded on top of rusted sections. That stuff looks awful, and probably is trouble down the road. Why aren't people cutting out the bad sections and fixing proper? I'm a hobbiest MIG welder, have welded on frames before, but would stay away from capping large sections of bad metal.
That's not how capping works. When done correctly, you cut away the bottom half of the frame and then weld the cap on. Considering the frames usually stay fine on the top, safe t caps can be a permanent fix—again, only if done correctly and the existing rot is completely removed.
 
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MutantNinjaTJ

TJ Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Jul 21, 2018
187
The sewers of Newer Mexico!
If you cut your teeth on broken bolts, seized bearings, and rusted components on rock crushers like I did, then this Jeep is for you. You are going to fight with every fastener on that thing. flip the windshield down and see what it looks like under there too. You said your weren't scared of a project, then pull the trigger and keep us in the loop. And for the record I am definitely not a "Left Coast Rust Snob" just don't let your desire to own a TJ cloud your view regarding the condition of that Jeep.
 

indio

Member
Apr 15, 2019
71
Chicagoland
How much is someone's time worth? $15 an hour? If so, then sure, $1000 for a frame, and maybe 50 hours of labor.

But what about when you take the body off the frame and find other things that need addressing or replacing while you're in there? Chances are if the frame is that bed, then the body is going to have some bad rust on it as well that likely won't be exposed until you remove the body from the frame. There's more time, labor, and money.

Doing a frame swap (even if you do it yourself) is going to be a very time consuming project. Even if you do it all yourself, you have to account for time equating to money.

This is one of those things where every time you budget for a project, you have to absolutely expect you'll spend way more than you initially figure you will.
Agreed - time is money. Even for those who don't mind spending time on their rigs. You got to take time into account.

Sounds like the potential buyer has access to the rig and some knowledge of the owner, rather than a cold-call type of sale. So hopefully he has time to clearly assess the level of rust along with condition of other components.
 

Sea Cot

New Member
May 2, 2019
13
S.E. MI
How much is someone's time worth?. . .
Sometimes it's about the journey instead of the destination. All depends on where the beholder's interests lie. I see OP's Rubicon a few different ways.
1. fix & flip if done honorably, or part out. I think he could be cash ahead if OP has the capabilities and resources.
2. a good beater vehicle to drive & restore/tinker/repair as needed, depending on personal resource constraints
3. An opportunity to learn, develop, or improve automotive repair skills.
4. a total money pit if high-level restoration (meeting the strict standards of the non-rust belt states) is the goal.

I think this Jeep is a good starting point for many different directions, all depends OP's goals/vision and how much time and money OP wants to invest. If it can't be saved, it can be parted so others can be saved. Considering the purchase price and value of parts, I think this is a medium-low risk proposition.
 
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JeepguySC

New Member
May 15, 2019
8
Greenville SC
Yes guys I am not scared of a project at all I have a 600hp car I built all by my self motor and all so I’m well with my hands. But I’ve been looking for a Jeep specifically a tj for a while now and I like the price. I also have a buddy that buys restores and flips wranglers all day long so I can also have his help and input on purchasing the Jeep. I would like a project but don’t want to get in too deep and have to replace the whole frame. I’m hoping it isn’t horrible and can be separated from body everything grinded down fix a spot here and there and then treat and protect and reassemble. The worse part to me is the rear of the frame and body.
 

billiebob

TJ Addict
Supporting Member
Oct 31, 2015
3,723
Kootenays, BC, Canada
Price might be OK but there is a lot of work required. There are no easy fixes for the frame, transfer case skid, rear bumper/gas tank repairs. Then add the body rust.

You pretty much need to lift the body, disassemble a lot of the frame, and blast, clean, paint everything.... plus a bit of welding. If the labour is all free, you might have a project to be proud of. But if you need to pay for the work, you will be buried in debt.

This is a great parts source and if you start with a rust free frame it'll be a fairly affordable Rubi.

The front half looks reasonable but the rear and TC skid are at the point of exponential rust growth.
 

indio

Member
Apr 15, 2019
71
Chicagoland
Sometimes it's about the journey instead of the destination. All depends on where the beholder's interests lie. I see OP's Rubicon a few different ways.
1. fix & flip if done honorably, or part out. I think he could be cash ahead if OP has the capabilities and resources.
2. a good beater vehicle to drive & restore/tinker/repair as needed, depending on personal resource constraints
3. An opportunity to learn, develop, or improve automotive repair skills.
4. a total money pit if high-level restoration (meeting the strict standards of the non-rust belt states) is the goal.

I think this Jeep is a good starting point for many different directions, all depends OP's goals/vision and how much time and money OP wants to invest. If it can't be saved, it can be parted so others can be saved. Considering the purchase price and value of parts, I think this is a medium-low risk proposition.
Yep that is why I mentioned differing expectations and perspectives. Here is my 1970 CJ5, that I bought as a beater Jeep many years ago, for $1400. With the rust and all, I think that Jeep would have been a "hard pass", break out the crucifix and holy water vehicle for some folks. :)

Yet somehow I drove that rig around parts of the country for over a decade and had loads of fun. Even with a new floor I made from stainless steel, angle iron with bolts and pop-rivets. (Didn't know how to weld at the time.)

Eventually I sold that Jeep for $500. I bet that stainless floor will be around with the cockroaches after a nuclear blast. :)

TRC_CJ5.jpg