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Jeep-Short Wheelbase All discussion of short wheelbase Jeeps: CJ, TJ, YJ and JK

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 10-09-2007, 04:33 PM
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Newb here, Vets enter.

I making the change from the need for speed world, to the need for mud. I want to get into 4x4 off roading a little bit, for now I am looking into getting in a wranglerish jeep. I am wanting to put on a lift, tires/wheels, and maybe a few other goodies to enjoy the jeep while I start out. Right now I'm wasting gas in a 99 saleen mustang, but need something for winter. What kind of wranglers are out there around the 2000-newer years, and what are their modability, reliability, and upsides and downs.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 10-09-2007, 05:54 PM
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CJs are cool, work very well. They suffer from rust damage anyplace where there is water, salt, air, sunlight . . .

YJs are very similar to CJs mechanically. They also work very well. They're wider than early CJs, have square headlights and the front differential on the wrong side. They have the huge advantage of a galvanized tub so they're often in much better condition than CJs.

TJs are back to round headlights. Their suspension uses rigid links and coil springs instead of the leaf springs of earlier Jeeps. They are computerized and therefore more difficult to modify.

As you would expect, newer Jeeps are in better condition, are more reliable, get better gas mileage, cost more money, and are trickier to work on and modify, unless you're going to completely replace almost everything but the body and frame. In that case they're no more difficult to modify than an old one.

Our standard advice here is to shop around for what you can afford. Then bring the candidates back to the board for opinions. There are too many powertrain combinations to make much more than the generalizations above. But if you are looking at two or three specific vehicles we can tell you what to look for, what their weaknesses are and what to expect.

Our second standard piece of advice is to get a fair amount of experience with your Jeep before considering any modifications. Most of the things you read about in the magazines are big on glitz and short on real improvements. A box stock Jeep will astound you with what it can do. With the typical offroad terrain in the K.C. area, you can spend a lot of time looking for something that a stock Jeep can't handle if you get your driving skills up.

And if you're thinking of things like a lift and tires to drive on the street and impress chicks, you're barking up the wrong tree. They're not impressed by that crap and we don't endorse it - it's too detrimental to the stability and safety of the vehicle to put on if it isn't really needed.

EVERYTHING's easy for the guy who doesn't have to do it.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 10-10-2007, 11:54 AM
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"CJs are cool, work very well. They suffer from rust damage anyplace where there is water, salt, air, sunlight . . . "
More truthful words were never written!

What you are looking for can be summed up on one word.


Early jeeps have Dana 30 front ends and they don't live in mud pits or with really large tires.

Dana 30 is fine for a trail rider that is going to keep control of the skinny pedal on the right, but absolutely NO ONE can keep one together in any sort of 'Extreme' environment.

Mid style or late 'Barbie' jeeps not only have the weaker Dana 30 fronts, but Dana 35 Rear diffs that fall apart for no apparent reason.

Rubicon Jeeps came with reasonable transmission, will accept good transfer cases, have Dana 44 axles front and rear, have fuel injected engines.
They are also coil spring suspension that are much easier to modify for 'Extreme' usage.

Everyone (aftermarket) makes something for the new Rubicons, and most of it works.
You can get a few catalogs and get nearly everything you need for making it a mud bogger right out of the boxes.

Having said all that...
I'm a trail rider. I'm not into rock climbing or mud bogging, so I don't need to start with 37" tires and move up to 47" tires.

I need stability over monster ground clearance, so I don't have a monster lift.

I need good low speed driveability over sheer horse power, so I run a stock engine that has been tuned for low speed operation.

Just like most things, it's in the application...
There are four basic types of off roading (and tons of overlap combinations)...
1. Rock Crawling. Rocks and vertical, lots of low speed wheel articulation.

2. Mud Bogging. Flat, fast and wet.

3. Desert Racing. Flat and Fast with a lot of very fast wheel travel.

4. Utility Transportation/Trail Riding,
You encounter a bunch of different obstacles.
This isn't how treacherous of a single obstacle you can get through/over, in a single, purpose built vehicle,
It's how much skill you and your vehicle have over a multitude of different obstacles...
Team work counts in trail riding also!
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 10-10-2007, 06:41 PM
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What the others have said is true. But one thing that they forgot to mention is to stay away from the 4 cylinder engine. Ive only had 2.5 in my CJ, Cherokee & Wrangler, adn a 4.0 in my Grand Cherokee. they all got the same mpg but the 6cyl had far more power. the 4's are cheeper.
Also if you plan on using this as a daily driver look for full doors (not 1/2) and a hard top. they are much quieter and you will pay less to buy a jeep with tim allready on it than to buy a 1/2 door soft top jeep and then upgrade (trust me I know). Also do a lot of shopping Ive seen lifted Rubicons for 12K.
good luck, welcome to the board and let us know what you find
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