Off Roading Forums banner
1 - 10 of 10 Posts

Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone, I just got my license today! And I would like to get a Jeep wrangler, I'm just wondering, when buying a used one, are there some thing's I should check for to make sure I'm not getting ripped off? And is there any particular year I should stay away from? I can't get anything newer than a 92' but to be honest I love the older ones, like 81 wranglers. Are they pretty reliable? I see lots of them on the road so I assume they are, thanks for your help.


Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well.... first, the wrangler did not come out til '87. The 81
would be a cj5 or cj7. Anything 18-20 years old will likely need some
work just make sure you don't buy someones messed up aborted project
and it should be fairly reliable and simple to work on.
If you are looking for a Wrangler the best are 91 and newer with the
efi 4.0 I6. The worst are 87-88 imho.
hth, Gibby

~Someone's got to keep the bastards on their toes~

· Registered
4,438 Posts
The Wranglers began in 87 those are the YJ Wranglers through 95/96(they are the only models with the rectangle headlights). They have leaf spring suspension and reliable motors. The drive train(tranny, transfer case and axle) are reliable, for mild to moderate off roading. For the most part they are a very good vehicle. If yoiu can find a 6 cylinder from a 91 or newer it will be a 4.0 HO they are very good motors, but the 4 cylinder 2.5 is reliable but a little under powered. From 86 and earlier the CJs reigned they have a variety of different engine options from V8 to 4 cylinder, with the 6 cyl 258 very abundant. In General they are equipt with slightly stronger drive train than the YJ, but may also lack some of the ammenities, even including Power steering. Dollar for dollar you will find some of the best deals on a CJ. The CJ5 is shorter than the CJ7 but they all have round headlights. The newer Wranglers are the TJ they have awsome coil sprung suspnsions and very good motors, but no V8s (in any of the Wranglers,YJ or TJ), they also have round headlights, and a big square hood latch instead of the simple T latch on the YJs and CJs, they are also a bit expensive, but well worth it if you can afford the big bucks or find a great deal. They all have their own attributes, and will take on the owners personality anyway. Jeeps are not like any other car that you put gas in and drive, they become a freind, once you really get out and enjoy one, its likely youll own one the rest of your life.

89 Wrangler
If at first you dont succeed, your replacement will try and try again.

· Registered
961 Posts
Do you have tools? I mean lots of them!!! A Craftsman Mechanic's tool set with at least the 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" drive will do for now. Get a set of torx bits also!! Very important!!
If you don't have any, get some quick!!!!!!!!
You'll understand why once you buy any Jeep./wwwthreads_images/icons/tongue.gif/wwwthreads_images/icons/wink.gif
Over all you haven't just made a transportation decision, you've made a lifestyle decision. Enjoy it!! Jeeps are incredible and tempermental machines and owning one will teach you to rely on your ever increasing knowledge of engines and other Jeep parts.
We'll help you as much as possible whenever you have a question about which ever model you purchase. For beginners, I would suggest a YJ with a 4.0. IMO.
Welcome to our world and good luck!!/wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif
88 YJ

· Registered
7,901 Posts
The motor configuration was hard to keep tuned and reliable. The base motor is good enough, but the supply setup is terrible. Also, they had terrible trannys prior to '91 that were prone to breaking and cost a lot to get fixed. YJ's are nice jeeps, but I wouldn't settle for one prior to '91.

As to the CJ's, There were CJ-5's (until 1983) which had an 83" wheelbase. They came with a variety of motors and drivetrains, some of which I would stay away from (SR-4 transmission). They were nice off-road but the short wheebase tends to kick them around on the road a lot, making for a harsh ride.

The CJ-7's were produced from '76 to '86, also in a variety of configurations. They have a 93 inch wheelbase and are nicer on the road. More parts are also more readily available for them (tops, doors, etc, new and used), IMHO, but the used the same drivetrain and motors. They are a little easier to lift due to the extra length of the wheelbase, which makes the driveline angles less steep.

There were also CJ-8's, or Scramblers, which are a little rare. They have a 103" wheebase and were basically a lenghtened CJ-7 in the form of a pickup. They were produced from '81 to '85 and came with the half cab (pickup) and the full top. They also had the typical jeep drivetrain of the era.

As to which one to get, I'd personally look for a CJ-7 (or CJ-8 if you can find one) or newer Wrangler. Look for one with a 6cyl motor (straight 6), the 4 cyls tend to be a little underpowered. Also, avoid the SR-4 transmission of the early '80's CJ era, they're junk and won't last. The 1986 CJ-7 had the strongest rear axle, but the others will hold up well. My personal preference is the earlier ('82 to '78) CJ's as they had no emissions crap on them, easier to work on and less restriction on the motor.

As to what to look for, check out the rear frame for rust, behind the rear wheels and on the inside. If the frame is going to rust, it starts there first. Avoid something that has been heavily modified, you never know if the person did a good job or a hack job. Unless you have tools and place to work (sounds like you're looking for one to drive), look for one in decent condition with little wrong with it, don't settle for "Well, it only needs..."

Most people tend to modify their drivetrain, putting new motors, transmissions, axles and such, but the stock jeep is a decent vehicle. We modify them to match our needs and wants. My Scrambler is somewhat modified, but it sees very little street use, it has terrible road manners and beats me to death when I drive it. Off road is what I built it for, I have other vehicles to drive on the road. A lot of us also have tons of spare parts lying around due to all these mods, so if you find a jeep that needs something, ask or check out the Wanted Board, you might find it. Good luck in your jeep search, I love looking at jeeps but the wife cut me off after our 5th.

'81 CJ-8 Scrambled!
GM151/SM465/NP205 twinstick/7"Lift/33"TSL's/IHC D44's 4.10's Lock'd

· Registered
401 Posts
You'll probably get more opinions than you want here. /wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif In general the CJ's are simpler to work on, the more so the older they are (CJ5's have been made since the 1950's). The Wranglers (YJ & TJ start to get complicated, what with emission controls and computers and whatnot (though 1980's CJ's started to get that way, too), but they're more civilized onroad if you care about that kind of thing (I don't).

Personally, I prefer the CJ5 (mine is a '79) to the CJ7, both for the looks and for the shorter wheelbase-- it can get through tight spots on the trail-- but sometimes the short wheelbase can be a disadvantage, too. The shorter wheelbase is definitly worse on the highway, too, but I just don't care. If you're tall you won't find a CJ5 too comfortable (I'm 5'8" and I have the seat all the way back). CJ7's and Wranglers also give you more storage space.

No matter what Jeep you get, the gas mileage will suck compared to most cars..... accept that fact BEFORE you buy. And no matter what Jeep you get, you'll have one of the neatest vehicles ever built! But look around, test drive the different models if you can, and look for an offroad club in your area and see if you can go on a trail run as a passenger..... you'll learn a lot.


He's dead, Jim. Grab his tricorder and his wallet.

Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I got a CJ-7 for my first car. Buy tools! Mine was in great mechanical sk=hape and I still need them to do many small things. The Jeep is a learning experience. Get up in the Jeep Thing, change your own oil, get greasy, don't care what it looks like, and wave! The Jeep wave seperates the Jeepers form the Jeep owners. I have had so much fun in my CJ, I can't imagine owning any other car.
There are many Jeeps at my school, but I have the only CJ. I don't have a lift and is about the same height as the TJ's with a 3" bodylift. Nothing is cooler looking than a CJ.
Girls don't like it. Ohhh well, I do. That's probably the biggest problem.


I live, I breath, I Jeep

Discussion Starter · #9 ·
i agree with ed.
i turned 16 3 years ago and i picked up a cj7 for dirt cheap. it ran great. before i knew it, i was sucked in. i couldnt help it, but the jeep became my life. i actually lost hours of sleep each night thinkin about what upgrade or off road mod would be best for my jeep. definatly get tools, next to my jeep, tools are my best friend. learn to do it yourself, get dirty..i always try to advoid paying somebody to do shop work. there is no better feeling than taking my jeep wheelin, climbing up stuff i couldnt walk up. jeep is a life style. live, eat and sleep jeep. although i do think jeep stands for just empty every pocket. and there is nothing cooler than a cj, well willy's are great.
good luck in your search for a jeep

81 cj-7,360,SOA,35's,locked rear,fullcage

Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Poste wrote,"GIBBY, why are the 87-88 the worst? and would CJ5 or
7 be good?"
the 87-88s had terrible trannys and some quality problems The 6 cyl
is carbed til 91. The 5 or 7 would be great but won't be as good for
daily driving as a wrangler. If you are in the rust belt it is hard to
find a rustfree CJ, btw and early wranglers had a minor frame rot problem
if exposed to heavily salted roads. Also, let me second everything in Jeepn's

~Someone's got to keep the bastards on their toes~
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.