: Changing it up a bit... Jeep TJ



Playdrv4me
11-13-05, 04:56 PM
Been thinking about my current car conundrum and as you all know I had been looking at some older luxury cars, predominantly 1987 - 1996 Mercedes S Class or BMW 7 Series vehicles to purchase cash, but there is a piece of me that has wanted a 4x4 something as well, and I recently found out that 1997/98 Jeep TJ's, the first ones of the current body style, can be had on the cheap.

The other cool thing is that as wild as I am about Xenon lights, there is a kit for the 97 and up TJ that runs about 700.00 that will allow you to retrofit projector Xenon headlamps into the factory openings. The beauty is they would not look out of place on a well done up lifted TJ as they might on say a previous gen F150 truck, which there is also a retro kit for.

So im lookin at about 6k for a 4cyl 5spd (Ill have to learn to drive stick as embarrasing as that is, just never needed to) with between 75 and 120k miles on the clock in a 97 or 98 model. Of course the other big positive is that if anything breaks they are easy to work on and parts are more than plentiful and CHEAP as opposed to the luxo cruisers I was looking at.

Heres a 97 with 115k miles thats already had some stuff done to it at a local Ford dealer... They ar asking 5988.
http://images.autotrader.com/images/2005/11/10/192/147/1947906425.192147763.IM1.MAIN.565x421_A.562x421.jp g

Night Wolf
11-13-05, 08:06 PM
HEY HEY HEY!!!!!

yeah! this is all me!

ok ok ok... I gotta contain myself now....

first, welcome to the "Caddy owner that wants TJ" club!

The HID light conversion on those things are, like you said, expensive, but IMO they look weird. They are nicked-named "boobie-lights" just look at a TJ with them nd you'll see.

ok, the first thing.... high miles on these things mean nothing.

you don't want a 4cyl! the old TJ's used the 2.5 the new ones the 2.4.... but really, especially coming form high powered cars and trucks, do NOT get the 4 banger. Also, much the oppisite what alot of people like to think, the 4bangers get nearly the same fuel mileage as the 6, because you have to nearly floor it on the highway just to keep your speed, around town the 4banger is strained also.

the 4.0 I6 is, IMO very high on my list of engines I would like to own. Powerful!, very reliable and just a great engine, its the last of the old AMC-designed engines. The thing is, however nothing more then a glorified tractor engine, which means it likes gas (expect 15mpg town and 19mpg highway with ANY TJ) and you can put all the after market air filters, mufflers, header, anything and it wont do a damn thing. The only way to really get more power from the 4.0 I6 is the 4.6 stroker kit or super charge it.... both are made for it.

I would personally avoid 1997, it was the first year for them and lots of things were updated latter on. By 1999 some things were advanced, but really there are 2 generation TJ's....

1997-2002 and 2003-2006

'03+ has alot of extra little things, more leg room, slightly different driving position. new Sail-Cloth top that makes it nearly silent at highway speeds and is much more durable etc...

2005 the manual became 6spd (over the 5)

Oh, another thing, make sure the Jeep has the Dana44 rear end! really, the D35 on them is very weak, all you gotta do is go under and look, the D35 is perfectly round while the D44 is egg-shaped.

There were different models, SE was the base 4cyl, Sport was the more fancy version with the I6 and Sahara was the top with the painted wheel flares, upgraded interrior etc... Sahara was stopped in 2005, and the X is basically an SE but with the I6 (no D44 option) the D44 was only optional on Sport and Sahara.

For year-to year changes on the TJ check this out:

http://www.geocities.com/jeepboy49028/changes.html

Also, I would avoid ANY TJ with all that extra stuff.... honestly the one in the picture dosn't even look good... the chrome bumper... thats gotta go.. I like chrome, but not on a CJ/Wrangler. I don't like the wheel spacers it has either.

Try and find a clean Jeep that wasn't taken off road (check out the underbody) To see if the doors were ever removed, check the paint on the 2 nuts on each door hinge, it is impossible to remove the nut without chipping the paint off, so it kinda shows what kind of use that it had... not that it wasn't made for the doors to come off :)

Honestly, I would personally try to find the newest, cleanest Jeep in your price range.

I havn't mentioned it yet, but the local Toyota dealer ship has an '03 Sport. This thing is NICE! it is super clean, NEVER off road, doors never removed, hell the plastic wrapper on the bars for the soft top are still there (never even had the top down) it is silver with a black soft top, full doors (that Jeep in the picture has half doors... which are in more demand then full) it had AC (optional) cruise control (optional... included with the leather wrapped steering wheel) had the Dana44 rear end, and it was a 5spd..... all with 42k miles on it (its still there too) they were asking $16k or so, so I went over and looked at it, the guy told me I could take it for a test drive, even after I told him I wasn't going to buy it.

First, I learned to drive manual on my friends '94 Jetta, 2.0L putt-putt. The only other manual I drove was his new Jetta... '01 with the 1.8T, this car is peppy.... but you gotta work the clutch and gas from a stop or it'll stall.

Well, the first thing you'll notice with the 4.0 I6, there is so much power, and the gears are low for offroad, that you can literally pop the clutch out in 1st or reverse with the engine at idle.... and it dosn't stall, it just starts moving!, how is THAT for being easy to drive a stick on?

I first drove it around the lot, it was pushing 3rd gear at 15-20mph at about 1,000RPM, no shutter no anything.

Once I got onto the road it took a little getting used to... but I swear, I was accelerating with traffic, yet the RPM never went above 2,500. It had the same feeling as the big block Caddy's in that you could loaf around at a low RPM and it was fine. just laying into the throttle about a half the way down, I was in 3rd gear doing 40mph and the Jeep lauched forward... the power was there. When I was merging onto a main 55mph road, I downshifted into 4th and when I hit the gas to speed up, I wasn't expecting it to throw me in the seat like it did.... even in 5th on the highway I could hit the gas and it accelerated nicely.

I have been wanting a TJ for awhile, but never drove one, experienced what it was like... since I went on that test drive (only 8 miles) I can honestly say that it is most defintily going to be the next vehicle I own. I don't care if the interior was designed in 1993, the newest interior I have now was designed in 1982. I don't care that I could buy a 2002 Seville STS for the same price as the Jeep and get lots more HP and lots and lots more features.

I want a 4x4, a manual transmission, a convertible.... I want to stay with an American-made product, and unlike the Caddy's I want something with an aftermarket!.... the TJ is the perfect vehicle for me.... gotta be young and live.

the Jeep I will be getting in 2 years or so is a 2005 Rocky Mountain Edition (basically an X, but with alot of extras) I want the 6spd, Patriot Blue, soft top, AC, cruise and factory tinted vinyl windows for the soft top. The RME package includes the D44 rear end, fog lights, tow hooks, really nice 15" wheels, body color wheel flares, 7-speaker CD player (they have a 50-watt 8" sub in the center consol) and a couple other fancy things. I will except nothing less either, thats what I want, thats what I am going to get, I can wait.

Basically, is it going to just be a weekend toy to knock around in? if so, get the older one.... but if it is going to be a daily driver, then do youself a favor and get a newer ('03+) one, although by '01 they were decent. You need the 4.0 I6 and the D44, if you never plan on going offroad and stuff, then you could get away with the D35, but once you get anything bigger then 32" tires on it and start tearing up the rocks... the axel shafts snap.

Also do you plan to go topless often? if not, maybe the hard top would be better... much more quiet, and it actually improves the highway fuel mielage by 1-2mpg.

Basically what I would first start with is, look for a 2001+ Sport, then from there pick your options... top/doors, transmission etc...

I~LUV~Caddys8792
11-13-05, 08:15 PM
Yeah my friends 2.5 Liter, 5 speed '98 Wrangler is SLLLLLOOOOOWWWW! He got about a 13.8 second 0-60, and this is with the manual! And he gets 13.6mpg in mostly city driving. But It's really good offroad, and its very easy to work the clutch in his car. It's very easy to park, and is pretty reliable, He needed a new fuel injector last spring w/ 74k on the clock. But I would hardly call it a comfortable vehicle, and its loud with the softtop, but thats expected with this type of car. So if you get one, get it with the 4.0 I-6 and the hardtop. Then it won't be so slow, and its quieter on the highway.

Night Wolf
11-13-05, 08:24 PM
Something like this would be nice:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2001-JEEP-WRANGLER-4-0L-SPORT-4X4-5-SPEED-NO-RESERVE_W0QQitemZ4589479534QQcategoryZ6285QQrdZ1QQ cmdZViewItem

All Wranglers hold their value very well... so getting a good Jeep for a small amount of money will be hard.

the Sport, IMO is the minium I would accept, it has the I6, the factory fog lights which are nice, tow hook, fancy wheels etc.... the SE is good for someone that wants to build up their Jeep themself... but they are still stuck with the 4banger (most end up swapping to the I6 when they realize it dosn't have enough power)

if you budget is ~$6,000 or so for a TJ, then the only thing you'll bve able to get is a '97/'98 SE..... which I would pass on.

Here is an older Sahara... notice the painted flares and different body side moulding? Its an auto though... and, all TJ autos were 3spd.... yes... no overdrive... until 2004 (IIRC) when they got the 4 spd.... and, you guessed it.... it really did nothing for mileage... in fact nothing will make a TJ get better mileage, its a tractor engine pushing a barn door sideways... just gotta kinda deal with it :) They still hold their value well.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/BLACK-SAHARA-HARDTOP-AUTOMATIC-NICE-NO-RESERVE_W0QQitemZ4588145039QQcategoryZ6285QQrdZ1QQ cmdZViewItem

I would never consider a TJ with an auto, that is part of my whole TJ buying reason, I want the manual... plus, it was just soooo sweet to drive a manual in that thing, it wasn't like the car... it was like, yeah, if for whatever reason the road is blocked, but I need to get somewhere... I'll just go over the curb here, down the median and be on my way.... it felt like things such as curbs or a grass hill didn't mean forbidden, it ment freedom that I can do it.... hell, I already drive over curbs and thru grass medians with the Caddy.... but it just seems more normal in a Jeep :)

When I look back, I think that getting a first car I should have got a Northstar-powered Caddy or a Jeep YJ ('88-'95... square headlights/leaf suspension) as it may have fit me better then the '93 Coupe... but I love this car... and only being 18 right now, but looking back.... lots of horse power OR the abality to drive over stuff at the age of 16 probably woudln't be such a good thing..... I got into enough trouble with the Coupe as it was :)

Night Wolf
11-13-05, 08:29 PM
Yeah my friends 2.5 Liter, 5 speed '98 Wrangler is SLLLLLOOOOOWWWW! He got about a 13.8 second 0-60, and this is with the manual! And he gets 13.6mpg in mostly city driving. But It's really good offroad, and its very easy to work the clutch in his car. It's very easy to park, and is pretty reliable, He needed a new fuel injector last spring w/ 74k on the clock. But I would hardly call it a comfortable vehicle, and its loud with the softtop, but thats expected with this type of car. So if you get one, get it with the 4.0 I-6 and the hardtop. Then it won't be so slow, and its quieter on the highway.

'98 had the old canvas type soft top.

'03 got the 4-ply Sail Cloth, then I think '05 changed to 3-ply same thing though.

I got up to 65mph in the TJ and there was no noise from the soft top... wind noise yeah, but not fromt he soft top. I was surprised. I have heard that around 75mph it gets noisy, and anything above that the TJ isn't very stable..... but hell, no top and no doors who needs to go fast?

Also the '03 TJ, IMO road very smooth, I was surprised, it handled the road and bumps well... though from '98-'03 alot of changes were made to the chassis/steering, and the upgraded seats for '03 are alot more comfortable.

Truth is though, even the most basic 4banger TJ is still more capable offroad then any high dollar luxury SUV or anything for that matter, so while it (older 4 banger TJ) may not be the fastest, most comfortable or quietest thing on the road... it'll defintily take you places that you could have only got to by walking before!

Stoneage_Caddy
11-13-05, 08:47 PM
go with the six ....ive been 4 wheeling for years ....if you get into abind youll like how the six will pull you and your buddies right out fo trouble ....ive gotten stuck i dont know how many times with the 2.5 4cyl

there is never any need to modify the six , its just that damn good ....one fo the few engines in a off road truck that doesnt need anything ....

do a suspension lift and lockers locker lockers ....the best tires and best suspepension lifts int he world mean nothing unless you have lockers on it ...

I myself will eventually get a rubicon if this allante deal falls thru .....but thats when i move to cali ....

Playdrv4me
11-13-05, 10:01 PM
Thats some terrific info Nightwolf... I really appreciate it! I will certainly take my time before I jump into one.

I actually used to own two Grand Cherokees, one ZJ and one WJ so I know all about the disasters with rear-ends, both the D35 and D44AL (I was extremely active on JeepsUnlimited.com for a few years). I had the D44 in both of my GCs and in both of them it began howling soon after I purchased it, but never went completely. Id probably still stick with a 97 or 98 just because they will be the cheapest for a quick and dirty quick swap out of my that Elantra Im driving right now. Ill certainly be able to afford most any modification I want to do later on.

Also I found out there are two different Xenon kits. Both are by Sylvania, one is the X6024 and the other is the XP6024, the boob looking ones are XP and are insanely expensive because they are full Bi-Xenon units in addition to being projectors. The X6024 is less than half the cost of the XP and looks more traditional. I know alot of the H2 guys have used the X6024 with mixed results.

I will steer clear of the 4 cyl however.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
11-13-05, 10:06 PM
For Jeeps, I really like the 87-91 Grand Wagoneers (random)

I~LUV~Caddys8792
11-13-05, 10:07 PM
Was the 2.5 I-4 used in the '98 Model Throttle Body Injected? If I remember correctly, that was an AMC motor that was a little behind the times.

Playdrv4me
11-13-05, 10:55 PM
Stoney... I convinced my buddy in San Antonio to trade his Mitsu Galant for a Red Wrangler Rubicon last year, he has loved every minute of owning it, its a really cool truck.

DopeStar 156
11-14-05, 12:59 AM
I'd prefer an old K5 Blazer over a Jeep.... Those trucks you just can't hurt....

davesdeville
11-14-05, 02:31 AM
The K5s are cool. So are the Jeeps. I agree the 4.0 is pretty awesome. A friend of mine had a Cherokee with it, it was actually fairly fast, judging from a couple street races we had I'd guess it's only about a second slower than my ETC in the 1/4. Of course they weren't made for the 1/4.

Oh wait it's Playdrv4me... so what's it gonna be next week? A Trans Am? GMC 3500 dually? AMC Pacer?

Night Wolf
11-14-05, 06:42 AM
Was the 2.5 I-4 used in the '98 Model Throttle Body Injected? If I remember correctly, that was an AMC motor that was a little behind the times.


yes, thats why they replaced it with the 2.4L that Chrysler puts in everything.

Night Wolf
11-14-05, 06:49 AM
Thats some terrific info Nightwolf... I really appreciate it! I will certainly take my time before I jump into one.
I actually used to own two Grand Cherokees, one ZJ and one WJ so I know all about the disasters with rear-ends, both the D35 and D44AL (I was extremely active on JeepsUnlimited.com for a few years). I had the D44 in both of my GCs and in both of them it began howling soon after I purchased it, but never went completely. Id probably still stick with a 97 or 98 just because they will be the cheapest for a quick and dirty quick swap out of my that Elantra Im driving right now. Ill certainly be able to afford most any modification I want to do later on.
Also I found out there are two different Xenon kits. Both are by Sylvania, one is the X6024 and the other is the XP6024, the boob looking ones are XP and are insanely expensive because they are full Bi-Xenon units in addition to being projectors. The X6024 is less than half the cost of the XP and looks more traditional. I know alot of the H2 guys have used the X6024 with mixed results.
I will steer clear of the 4 cyl however.

Thats cool! I am over at www.Jeepforums.com My posted only a bit, but i have been reading up like crazy, I want to learn everything about my next purchess as I can.

the "half" kit you talk about isn't well liked... alot of people complain it dosn't do much in the way of lighting...

'97 or '98 is fine 9'98 had the newer climate control system IIRC) but yeah, just make sure you get a Sport model, D44 and I6.... if you don't get the D44, it'll be another $1,000-$2,000 to swap latter down the road.... which you will end up doing at some point.

Rubicon Express makes a 2" "buget boost" it is basically 2" coil spacers, includes 4 new long-throw shocks and 4 new bumpstops, it effective gives you 2" more articulation and ground clearance, it is about $250 total so it isn't expensive, it is kinda the first mod everyone does and very much worth it. That, with a 1" body lift (no more though) and some 32" tires would be really nice.

The Rubicon is a solid Jeep.... but atleast for me, being that the Jeep would be my daily driver for a loooong time, and stay somewhat stock to be road-freindly... the Rubicon gets even worse mileage, 12mpg town and about 16mpg highway.... I swear it would be like I never stopped driving the '79 DeVille.... I don't want to deal with that.

Also because of the tires/suspension and gearing, the Rubicon is more noisy, rides more rough and such.... I like them alot, and it would be sweet to own one.... but for my uses, it wouldn't be very practical. That isn't to say I wont be 4x4'ing... gosh, I'll be doing that every chance I get :)

I've been researching these things like crazy, so I have a good understanding.... glad I could help ya out :)