Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Macomb, IL
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Re: Your thoughts on CJ7 safety vs. other SUVs?
I'm not sure how helful I can be but I'll throw in my 2 cents. I guess I'll make a pro and cons list of keeping your CJ over another SUV...
1. You already own it, so no vehicle payments. If you repair it yourself then you'll save on mechanic bills as well.
2. Easier to repair yourself than a modern SUV
3. Depending on the year, as I understand it, later model CJ-7's had a collapsable steering column for safety.
4. It has a sturdy frame, assuming its not rusted out completely, which in a high speed accident would hold up better than some unibody vehicles.
5. Has a roll bar, and if you wanted you could put a full roll cage in, including a front hoop and spreader bars to connect the front hoop to the main roll bar. You could then connect that to the frame of the Jeep and you will be greatly protected in a rollover at any speed assuming you are wearing your seatbelt correctly.
6. It looks darned cool.
1. May get poor gas mileage.
2. May require A LOT of maintanence.
3. Higher, narrower stance makes it slightly more tipsy than other SUV's.
4. Doesn't have air bags or anything remotely similar. I don't count the dash pad as a safety device if you still have the dash pad.
5. Doesn't have anywhere near as much of the bodywork to take the brunt of the force in the case of an impact. I know you said you don't believe in crumple zones much, but I assure you they exist and they do have an affect on how badly the crash affects the occupants.
6. Not as much storage room as other SUV's.
If it were me and I had the money, I would buy a newer vehicle to use as my daily driver. I'm looking at getting a Cherokee as my next vehicle because they have more space inside, are just as capable of being lifted, and the newer ones are a lot safer than my CJ-5, at least in my opinion. But you are wanting a short wheelbase SUV, so why not look at a '97 or newer Jeep Wrangler. I'd consider that leaps and bounds safer than a CJ-7.
With the concern of a roll over, I've seen photo's of CJ's without full roll cages as previosly mentioned where the driver died. Then there are people like H8Monday who roll 6 times down some rocks and walk away a little dazed because of the added protection of the full roll cage. The newer SUV's are designed to withstand a roll over so that the occupants can survive.
As to the materials they use to make vehicles today, they are built to withstand a wreck, but not built to last. For the most part, vehicles are still made of steel like your CJ. Some are moving to a dent-free, scratch resistant plastic which although not steel are pretty sturdy. Many members (including myself) on this board have CJ's with fiberglass bodies. They hold up to the abuse just as good if not better than steel would in similar situations.
I'm not sure what kind of response you were hoping to hear, but if I had the funds to purchase a different, newer vehicle I would. I'd keep the CJ as a primarily off-road vehicle and build it accordingly. Now take everything I've stated with a grain of salt because most of it is my opinion even if it seems like I'm stating facts. Others on this board will definately chip in with their 2 cents as well. Good luck with your decision.
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