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Talk me off the ledge ... thinking about buying an LJ

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I've been looking at Wranglers for a while.  I'm "consumer" educated, but not a mechanic and I'm in unfamiliar territory (not XJ/MJ).    

Found one that I could pull the trigger on and need some counsel on what to look at/for when I see it in person. 

 

It's a 2005 Unlimited, 6 speed, 4.0, 163K miles with a Teraflex 4" lift and 35" tires.  The seller cops to "bubbling paint" on the fenders (I know what that means)

and other typical imperfections you would find in a 14 year old Jeep.  Claims the floor and frame are "mint".  He's negotiable from $10K.

 

Thoughts?

 

1

 
 
 
 
 

 

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TJs are as bad as YJs with frame and floor rot.  Notoriously bad.  I would closely inspect both prior to purchase.  $10k is a decent price for a running, well maintained, clean TJ, however it's not a great price.  It might be a great price for an LJ of that condition, though, I don't know. 

 

The thing that would worry me about this particular rig is that you say it's running 35s but don't mention any type of axle upgrades.  Unless it's a Rubicon, I'm pretty sure it will have a D30 up front and a D35 in the back.  The D35 will only handle 35s for a limited time, with a light foot.  Those appear to be JK rims, with possible wheel spacers - or they could be aftermarket Quadratec rims.  Hard to tell from the pic.  It looks like the transfer case may have been dropped for the lift, rather than going the (better) SYE route. 

 

For reference, last year I bought my wife a beat-around 2004 TJ (regular size, not LJ).  It's got frame rot I didn't see during inspection (snow on the ground, should have looked closer).  It has some fender rust, but is altogether in good condition, besides the frame.  It's a 4.0L automatic and had 189k miles on it.  It's not lifted or modified in any way.  It's engine was rebuilt at 179k, and it's transmission was rebuilt at 187k.  I spent $7500 on it, and it runs like a champ.

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In southern states $10,000 for that mileage LJ is a good price.  Assuming the rust situation is fine I would buy it.  An under 100,000 mile clean LJ can easily sell for $15,000.  All of them have a D44 in the rear with disc brakes.  I recommend buying one that already has a hard top since they cost $2,000 to $3,000 used, but soft top only LJs on the used market are priced the same as hard top LJs.

 

For comparison I paid $10,000 for my 95,000 mile LJ in 2008 with a book price of $14,000.(Discounted due to needing tires, minor cosmetic damage.)  The value of my LJ has appreciated over 11 years.  I broke the original hard top on LJ and purchased a replacement for $1,300.  If I was stupid enough to sell it I could potentially make a 100% profit on it.

 

I am actually in the market for a second LJ right now to simply buy and keep around as a spare because I enjoy driving mine so much.  Speculating on future valuable vehicles is difficult, but I do not wish to have to spend much more on an used one if they sky rocket in price in the future.

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The only Wrangler I would be tempted by these days is an LJ, 2-door Unlimited. But the caution about the frame is very accurate. I have a friend who owns a late TJ. His frame cracked last summer while he was just driving it home from work. He spent several weeks and quite a few $$$ welding in a frame reinforcement kit over the rear wheels.

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Nearly every ad I've seen for Wranglers speaks to the frame when describing the condition, so, clearly a concern.  Is there an obvious place to look, or is it the entire frame?

 

The seller is two hours away from me, so I can't pop over and look.  Spoke with him on the phone last night. It's not a Rubicon. The frame has gone from "mint" to "some scaling". He's going to send pics today.  The lift has the t-case drop, not SYE.  Because of the drop, he says he keeps the shifter boot off because it pops out of 6th and reverse with it on.  They are JK wheels with 1.5" wheels spacers!  Yikes!  Seems excessive to me. 

 

The other concerns include; a leak in the seal for the top over the drivers side windshield. A need for rotors because the vehicle has been sitting unused and outside for a year (driven about once a month).  Reinforced tailgate hinges to support the weight of the spare.  He keeps the spare in his garage. 

 

On the plus side, the tires are like new and the interior is super clean.  Best of all, ice cold AC! 

 

 

 

 

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Many years ago my mother bought a Corvette for status and 'investment'. The car sat covered in their garage for 11 years. 

 

When it came time to move and sell....they had to install a complete new braking system, new battery, new tires and a few other things. 

 

They lost about $5K on their 'investment'.

 

Same applied to a speed boat and a couple of motorcycles they owned. 

 

 

I'm not suggesting you are buying for investment. 

 

 

 

 

What I am suggesting is-

 

Buy what you want and be willing and able............then use the $#!& out of it. Or, don't buy it. 

 

If you are not 'willing and able' then buy a turnkey. 

 

 

The fun is in the hunt anyway. 

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2 hours ago, Jeep Driver said:

The fun is in the hunt anyway. 

 

Truth!   

 

When it's right, I'm ready.  This particular vehicle has the right "look", but is it lipstick?  

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