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Old 02-07-2013, 08:08 PM   #1
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question for Jeep Wrangler owners

Freinds:
We are planning on buying an older Jeep Wrangler 85-95 as a toad. Can you educate me as to what to look for or stay away from. We need it mainly for around campground transportation, trail head, grocery, church etc. We camp in National and State parks mostly, so we might enjoy its off road capabilities but would not plan any crazy stuff.

Many of the models I have seen have added large bumpers/deer gaurds/winches will these items interferre with towing equipment?

most are 6cyl with manual tranny some are auto, does any of this matter for 4-down towing?

Having never owned a jeep, are there any issues or year models I should avoid?

We are buying older to keep costs down and to try and fit it in the garage with the DW's pride and joy corvette (not a good toad)!!

Thanks in advance,

Dave
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:19 PM   #2
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Dave, the '85-'86 would be a CJ, probably with a Dana 300 transfer case, not a good choice for towing as the case doesn't oil properly for long distance tows.

The YJ ran from '87 to '95 (there was no '96 year model) they have leaf springs and the ride can be a bit rough to say the least. They make great toads as they have the NP-231 transfer case with an internal oil pump, just put the transmission in gear/park and the transfer case in N and go.

Bumper may or may not interfere with tow equipment, I'd look for a stocker myself if you can find one. Personally I don't like the huge bumpers, went that way when I first started rock crawling, got rid of them quickly in favor of lighter, higher clearance home built bumpers.

Transmission has no bearing on towability, buy what you like, Keep in mind all auto box Wranglers up to '04 had a 3 speed with no overdrive, the AX-5 5 speed is a nice unit and keeps the revs down on the highway.

The earlier TJs ('97-'06) are coming down in price and would have a smoother ride, still have the ease of towing, and in general are a bit more refined.

Be warned once you've been off road a bit you may get bit by the bug, it starts getting expensive if you do
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:25 PM   #3
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With that vintage Jeep look for rust. The rear tail gate area is a commonplace for rust to be and if it's there you will probably find it at the body mounts. Plan on replacing all of the bushings in the springs. You may also have to replace spring after 18 to 28 years of service. Most Jeeps of that vintage have seen a fair share of abuse.
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:27 PM   #4
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Fuel injection didn't become standard till after 1991. Stay away from the computer controlled Carter carburetors.
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:29 PM   #5
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X2 on staying away from the dana 300 transfer case. I read people destroying them. There is a pdf about towing jeeps saying not towable without driveshaft disconnected.
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:31 PM   #6
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Many thanks, great advise! I definately want to get one that is towable, so I will adjust my year range. I live in Houston and I am seeing many with mega miles, does that mean that they are fairly reliable or just project cars? My wife drives corvettes and these things go forever.

thanks so much Dave for the detail answer!!
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:34 PM   #7
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Go to jeepforum.com to learn everything you ever wanted to know about jeep.
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:42 PM   #8
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The Jeep engines will run many miles. I have had jeeps with 150k+ miles that run fine. As commented above, one with fuel injection is recommended. The four cylinder vs. the six cylinder - the six is preferable for highway power, and demand a higher price. The four would be ok for toad use. Either works ok off-road as the gearing does most of the work and speeds are low.

One of the beauties of a Jeep wrangler is that they never die - they just get rebuilt over and over. You can litteraly build a jeep completely with no Jeep branded parts - the aftermarket support is that extensive. There are several very good Jeep forums where you can get great help as you do here. There is a huge amount of tribal knowledge readily available to you. They are old school and easy for DIY service and fix.
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotter View Post
Go to jeepforum.com to learn everything you ever wanted to know about jeep.
Agree

Another of my faves is
Wrangler Forums Group ('07 JK, TJ & YJ) - JeepsUnlimited.com Forums
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:52 PM   #10
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As far as Wranglers go, avoid '87s as they were were the year Jeep went from AMC to Chrysler ownership, and are considered un-towable 4 down because of the transfer case (np207) used for that year, or at least a good part of it. The 4.0 straight 6 that came out in 1991 is a more powerful and slightly more efficient engine than the 4.2 that came before.
...and in '92 they extended the roll bar, and on and on.
If you can find a nice clean one with reasonable mileage, and hasn't been modified too much you should be fine! And they are fun!
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:23 AM   #11
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Great information thanks. We are going to look at a few this weekend to begin to understand what is what! I have actually never driven a Jeep.
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Old 02-08-2013, 10:05 AM   #12
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Dave, you're in for a treat! My first Jeep was a '56 CJ-5 that my family bought new in late '55. I got it in '71 and drove the legs off of it 'till the mid '90s. It will be way different from your sedan and especially the Vette, I had '68 and '71 convertibles which of course are primitive compared to the later ones.

First off, it feels like you sit on it not in it Vehicle should go where you point it with no wandering but handling is noticeably different due to the solid front axle and somewhat primitive steering. Ride will be rough but a stocker is livable, aftermarket springs vary widely so all bets are off on modified vehicles. All steering parts (and parts in general) are readily available and Jeeps are a shadetree mechanic's dream so use any deficiencies as a negotiating tool. Other than that it's pretty much like any other vehicle, tight/quiet=good, loose/noisy bearings=bad.

You got good advice on the carb models, there are aftermarket throttle body injection kits but why spend the $$$. As stated rust is a problem on earlier rigs, look for hidden fixes, use the old magnet over a thin cloth trick, sometime before the start of the TJ the rustproofing was improved, sorry don't know when.

I'm a big fan of half doors, keeps the dust/rocks out of the cab on the trails, but still gives the open feel when the top is off, aftermarket doors are available from Bestop and others but the stock metal ones are cool, Full hard doors do not require the replacement uppers every few years but are confining IMO, down in Texas a hard top probably is not a plus except for possible security issues, up here lack of one would be a deal breaker for me.

Look carefully for "owner fixes" I'm not a big fan of kludges and with older vehicles they're all too common. You would not believe some of the "stupid previous owner tricks" I've seen in my years with the club. If you're a car guy I'm sure you know what I mean.

I second the Jeepforum.com advice YJ tech forum here, Wrangler general discussion here. JF is the 800lb gorilla of jeep forums and if you can't find it there it don't exist. Spend some time searching on the site, not sure if the guest search works well but the annual membership isn't that much and you can either cancel after you get your information or keep the membership for a great resource like irv2.

Good luck in your search.
Dave
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The above post is just my experience/opinion which is worth exactly what you paid for it.

'05 Lance 845/'06 F-250 or '99 Alpine 36SDS Usually towing an '01 Wrangler locked on 35"s or moderate '98 Cherokee on 33"s (rear locker only)
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Old 02-08-2013, 10:16 AM   #13
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Wife's Jeep is an 05 Sport Wrangler with the 4 cylinder. Plenty of torque for off-road use, she gets 22 mpg out of it.
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Old 02-08-2013, 10:37 AM   #14
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Dave,
Almost forgot, some YJs ('91-'95?) have a vacuum disconnect front axle, this can be a pain but there are repair kits and cable activated replacements. If when testing 4wd you have issues it's a strong possibility that it's toast. You can also replace the 2 piece axle shaft with a later one piece and install a block off plate where the actuator is.

The YJ is kind of the red headed step child of the Jeep family to some but they're good solid vehicles, if they'd come from the factory with round headlights like "real" jeeps they'd not have gotten all the bad press .
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The above post is just my experience/opinion which is worth exactly what you paid for it.

'05 Lance 845/'06 F-250 or '99 Alpine 36SDS Usually towing an '01 Wrangler locked on 35"s or moderate '98 Cherokee on 33"s (rear locker only)
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