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Old 10-27-2015, 06:28 PM   #1
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Please educate me on Jeep Wranglers 03-11

We're looking for a Toad to pull w/ our Class C Minnie Winnie (31' Ford V10). Done quite a bit of research and aware of the downsides of Wranglers but darn it, we still lust for one! Our budget and wanting to keep weight down has us looking at 2 door models from about 2000-2011. I know that newer ones have the 3.6 (we own that engine in our van), but I don't know as much about the 4.0 engine or 3.8. I guess what I'm asking is: are there certain ones to avoid or certain ones that seem to have less issues etc. ANY help is much appreciated. FWIW, wife found and loves a 2008 Red Wrangler with manual tranny and low miles . .
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Old 10-27-2015, 06:47 PM   #2
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Mike,
We towed our 2008 Wrangler when we had the class A, It's a automatic, 4wd and worked well. We had the stay-n-play, battery disconnect with a charge line and blue ox tow bar. It was around $3000 to get everything installed. The only issues we had was putting the jeep drive train in neutral. It was tough to get it in and there was no real indicator it was in neutral. We just checked the roll before we headed down road, I've read it's a common issue and sometimes the shifter bushing can fail. We have friends that had towed a older Jeep for years, and it was a manual, don't forget to apply the parking break! Jeep is a common toad and you should have no issues with the towing no matter the year. I can only say our 2008 worked fine.
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Old 10-27-2015, 10:14 PM   #3
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Go with the 2011 or newer if you can. They have the new 300hp V6 engine and 5 speed transmission. If you can't go that new, try for anything after 2007. Around 2007 they did away with the locking steering wheel so the newer ones don't have to be towed with the key in the ignition. I towed a 2005 Wrangler for four years and now a 2012. The newer one is head and shoulders over the older in comfort and handling. They are very easy to hook up and tow. Just put the transfer case in neutral, transmission in park, set your braking system and go. Check in your area for lease returns. I found a three year old with only 35,000 miles for less money than some six and seven year olds with 150,000 miles. I see you are looking at a manual transmission, which I thought I wanted for the mountains. The 2005 automatic did not have very good transmission braking, even in low range. The 2012 5 speed automatic is outstanding at maintaining a low speed descent on the trails with very little braking.
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Old 10-28-2015, 01:18 AM   #4
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We have a 2010 Model - 2 dr. Makes a great tow vehicle. My only issue is that they are not real comfortable on the freeway. Short wheelbase makes them a little " darty " at higher speeds.
I think 2008 was the change over year to the JK model. I've heard that the 2008 models have more than their share of issues, but have no personal experience.
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Old 10-28-2015, 06:38 AM   #5
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Hi MikeD1,

I have a 2010 JK (3.8 V6, two door, manual/standard tranny, no steering wheel lock). I am not aware of any "downsides". All vehicles are a compromise - the Wrangler is no different. It is a fantastic tow vehicle and, in my opinion, is a lot of fun to drive on nearly any surface. I continue to be amazed by what it is capable of off-road. I understand that it is not for everyone though. Mine has become my garage; fishing gear, kayak gear, mountain and road bikes inside and kayak on top.

My suggestions for purchasing are: 1) Make sure it does not have a steering wheel lock. 2) If a standard trans, make sure there are no throw-out bearing/clutch pre-load issues (or get a dealer warranty on this for a few thousand miles). 3) Avoid the aftermarket accessory catalogs - you can quickly spend a large fortune with them.
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Old 10-28-2015, 08:12 AM   #6
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The early 2000s Wranglers were outstanding Jeeps if equipped with the 4.0 litre engine. The 4 cylinder engine though reliable, is considered by most folks to be underpowered. In 2007/8 the JK Wrangler came out with a new 3.8 engine, wider track, and a 2" longer wheelbase.

In 2012 the JK got the newer 3.6 liter motor and the Wrangler really woke up. Better fuel economy, higher horsepower.

I've done extensive off roading with the 4.0 and 3.6, and only a little in a 3.8. The 4.0 was an outstanding off road motor! Full of torque from idle. The 3.8 I wheeled was a rental to see if was interested in buying a 4 door. I didn't like the automatic transmission for wheeling, and the 3.8 seems very underpowered to me, but again it was just a one day drive in the Colorado mountains on back country trails. I think I'd be happy with the 3.8 and a standard transmission.

My '13 is my favorite of all the 7 Jeeps I've owned over the years. The 3.6 has plenty of power, the Jeeps handles every off road situation I've wanted to tackle (We're pretty serious off roaders), the the highway ride is outstanding for a vehicle of this type in my opinion.

As far as towing it, our class C does the job just fine though I had a custom modified hitch installed to compensate for the heavy weight of the JKU. Some 2008 models have a steering wheel lock, but not all. Climb in and yank on the wheel and see if it moves. If so you are golden to tow with no key in the ignition.

I'll add this link to an article you may find helpful about towing... Towing A Vehicle With An RV
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Old 10-28-2015, 08:34 AM   #7
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Agree with many of the statements made so far--we have owned an 06 Wrangler for about a year now. We are not into rock crawling so cant speak to that but as several have mentioned, the Wrangler has incredible capability for off-roading [with just a few modifications--eg tires, lift and shocks, swaybar disconnects, etc.][stay away from after market if you can--JEEP=Just Empty Every Pocket].

For me the 4.0 is a good engine and I prefer the auto tranny for both off=road and hi-way driving. As you alluded to, the short wheel base is great on the trail, not quite so much fun on the hi-way. The 06 was the last of the in-line 6s, gas mileage is not so good but seems there are a lot of "rebuilt" 07s and newer out on Craig's List--not sure what that means. Overall--agree the Wrangler is a bit of a compromise on the hi-way but for moderate back-country travels, its a riot!!!!!!
PS--yes, the ignition key lock is an issue but not a big deal......
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Old 10-28-2015, 08:55 AM   #8
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GREAT info so far and much appreciated! Would love to have a newer unit w/ the 3.6 engine, but so far they seem to be way up in price. The red 2008 w/ low miles and manual tranny my wife drove yesterday is starting to look like a real possibility.
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Old 10-28-2015, 09:12 AM   #9
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We have been pulling around our 2001 Wrangler with the 4.0 for 12 years now. Has never been in the shop. I have only changed the front brake pads and a couple of batteries. I use a $50.00 base plate that needs to be taken off every season because it is is also used to snow plow during the winter and has hard miles on it. Ours is a 5speed stick. Transfer case in N stick in 3rd gear key in the unlock position.
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Old 10-28-2015, 09:53 AM   #10
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I agree with most above..If you can't afford the new model with 3.6 you have to choose between better ride/refinement but less power (3.8) or better engine/tranny combo (4.0).

You haven't said if this will be a daily driver or just strictly for toad duties...if just toad duties and your getting a 2 door I'd get an older 4.0 period..less depreciation and a SOLID vehicle. If you're going to daily drive it then I'd get the newer model for the increased ride refinement and creature comfort.
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Old 10-28-2015, 09:58 AM   #11
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I hope this isn't hijacking, apologies if so...

The discussion of "more power" is somewhat confusing to me. I am new to the world of off-roading but my 3.8 V6 in 4-low has climbed things that I am scared to walk up (well, sorta.. :-) ). So, I can't see more power being a real issue there (it seems that traction and clearance are the limiting factors). Or, are we talking about climbing steep-ish hills at highway speeds? Mine is most certainly weak in 6th gear going uphill. 5th gear is better but still a bit weak. 4th gear seems to work just fine but not going 75 mph in that gear (75 mph is the Interstate speed limit where I am).
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Old 10-28-2015, 10:15 AM   #12
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Speaking of after market, there is one thing I would have done differently while getting my 06 ready to tow. Rather than buying a stand alone base plate from the tow bar manufacturer, I would have used the money to buy an after=market front bumper with tow tabs built in--better looking, doesnt interfere with approach angle, and is a better foundation to mount a winch [......in the future??????].
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Old 10-28-2015, 12:01 PM   #13
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Anybody know the weights of the (2008-2011) 2 door vs. 4 door? Google hasn't found it for me yet . . .
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Old 10-28-2015, 12:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeD1 View Post
Anybody know the weights of the (2008-2011) 2 door vs. 4 door? Google hasn't found it for me yet . . .
My door's weigh about 30-40 lbs each. So, I'd guess at less than 100 pounds difference.
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