Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Belleville, Illinois
Thanked 22 Times in 17 Posts
I think LEVE is a might harsh. The carburetion is especially flaky, but in Illinois you can replace it with anything you want, as long as you pass the emission test before you start changing things. The Motorcraft 2100 is a very popular replacement, works exceptionally well, is not expensive and the swap is well documented.
The transmission is known to be weak, but again, there are lots of swaps that will work well and aren't difficult or especially expensive. The rest of the Jeep is a very sturdy and reliable piece.
Some things to look closely for: Rust. I'd be very suspicious unless the owner can prove that he just moved from Phoenix or San Diego. Look closely at the inside of the frame rails on the forward downslope in front of the rear wheels. Look at the rearmost crossmember beneath the tailgate, where it attaches to the frame rails. Look at the top of the frame rails at the top of the rear wheel arch where the crossmember ties in. Look at the frame where it's sandwiched between body mount biscuits. Poke around with an awl or sturdy icepick in all those places.
Then look at the body - the double panels in the sides of the front fenders, the vertical reinforcement in front of the door opening, the corners of the tub below the tailgate, under the roll bar attachments, the windshield hinge attachments, the lower third of the windshield frame, and any place where two body panels are welded together.
What you're looking for is any blisters in the paint or bulges in the metal. If you see one, push the awl into it. This is serious business - a rusty Jeep is a nightmare of the first water. The problems might look minor, but they'll vex you forever. And they just get worse, quickly.
An other thing to examine closely is the wiring harness. There are lots of Jeeps that have been butchered by Bozos. Look closely under the hood, under the dash and at the tail light wiring. If you see splices, tape, loose wires, non-factory connectors, or wires run in odd places, figure that you may have to replace the harness. It's not a deal breaker, but a long weekend of work and a couple hundred bucks. A garfed up harness can cause lots of headaches and weird problems.
If you find no rust anywhere, buy it! The other problems aren't too difficult to deal with.
As for using it as a daily driver, not my cup of tea, but possible with a good one. Keep in mind that older Jeeps are expensive to operate and high maintenance compared to a modern vehicle. There are lots and lots of moving parts that need cleaning, lubrication and replacement much more frequently that a modern car. Expect gas mileage in the mid teens, oil changes at 3K, cruising speed of 60 or so, poor braking, wobbly steering, a bouncy ride and poor cornering.
I love my old Jeep, but I recognize that it's old and built with even older technology.