Is The Engine Going in 5-Speed 98 Jeep Wrangler?

I bought my 17yo daughter a '98 Jeep Wrangler (because she wanted one). My ex-husband would not go with me, nor do I have any close relatives that could have. The Jeep was in great condition (I thought). He had replaced the engine with a rebuilt long block from Advance Auto Parts at 124K, new water pump, new thermostat, new alternator, new radiator, new clutch. I got him down to $4K.

I guess he seen I had my “dumb woman” shirt on, because I found out that the “knocking” wasn’t in the transmission, but the engine. I was told it was the rod bearings and would need a new engine. Took it down to my cousin, an hr away, and he ran some kind of gunk through it and it does seem better. We’ve since replaced the tires (needed them), fixed the lighting system, replaced the skid pan, replaced sway bar links, shocks. With the exception of the engine, almost everything has been replaced–and the outside and inside are in great condition.

When the engine does go, what will happen? Is it even safe to drive? I’ve put about 2,000 on it just driving around for the past 5 mos. Is it worth putting an engine in? We have a huge replacement parts Jeep dealer in the area. I can get a used engine from him for about $300-400. I know that doesn’t cost for the labor to replace it. What about Jasper rebuilt engines? Not sure if we should just put it back up for sale, try to get $4K for it, and lick our wounds for the $1,500 we’ve put into it. Any suggestions would be appreciated! It’s a “hoot” to drive, but my daughter is still learning. Oh, and the heater is barely working. I don’t trust my mechanic anymore, because he tried telling me it would cost $700 to replace. He said he could try flushing it, but with it being the original heater, it may end up leaking–then, of course, need to be replaced. I’ve been told $700 is ridiculous. Help!

Yeah, teenagers love these Wranglers, but they’re not safe for a 17yr old “still learning” driver. In fact, they’re not really safe for anyone. Plus, they’re unreliable, as you’re finding.

I wouldn’t let one of my kids drive one, and I wouldn’t own one because they’re mechanical junk, to be blunt.

My advice: cut your losses and sell the thing. It’s only going to get worse from here.

There’s no reason an engine should fail that quickly. It may have been abused or neglected, or the “long block” the seller put in it may have been inferior quality.

How long can you drive it? It depends on how bad it’s knocking and how good the oil pressure is. If you use the thickest oil the manual recommends you will get more miles out of it than the thinnest. Some motors can go tens of thousands of miles like this if the knock is very quiet.

Is it safe to drive like this? More or less. Eventually it will throw a rod or seize up if driven until it destructs. When that happens, you wouldn’t want to be far from home, in a lousy neighborhood, or merging onto an expressway. What will happen if it throws a rod can vary from it suddenly losing a lot of its performance at the least, to a catastrophic failure where the rod goes through the block or oil pan and oil sprays everywhere causing a hazard to the driver and anyone behind them. Power steering will be instantly lost, though you will still be able to steer the vehicle. Power brakes will probably give you enough to stop the vehicle before the vacuum that runs them is lost. You would still be able to use the brakes, you’d just need to press much harder. A lot of oil spraying on hot components can cause a fire, but usually will just make a lot of smoke. That much oil being dumped can cause you to spin out and mayhem behind you.

IMHO, probably not what you want to happen to your 17-yo, though it is certainly a learning experience :slight_smile:

I have owned and enjoyed several Wrangler/CJs and in their narrow range of practical use they are are a lot of fun but they are toys unless used by park rangers and prospectors. I would advise cutting your losses and moving on while that Jeep is sellable.

I agree with selling the Jeep. I have several friends and family member that own Wranglers and they all have one thing in common. That one thing is that they are “projects” that get worked on nearly every weekend. I’ve owned several Jeep Cherokees and they rarely needed to have a toolbox anywhere near them.

This may not be a rod knock. I have a Jeep Wrangler. Have some take off the dust cover at back of the engine between the engine and trans. I had what sounded like a rod knock and it was this cover. If it is not this cover Just have a real mechanic drop the oil pan and check the rod bearings and crank. If the crank is ok , you can put the right size bearing back in and you will be good to go. As for the heater I would try the flush. I do not agree that with what others say that there are toys. If left stock I would not have a problem with anyone driving one, even a kid. No worse than any other small car. Non stock (ie lifted and big tires) are best left to people who can drive them.

@mrmartin6…If you don’t know how to use the rating system and can’t comprehend the meaning of the word “Spam” then I think you need to leave the flagging to people with at least some intelligence.

It was a mistake plain and simple. But you decide to attack me personally. Ridiculous.

I agree it was ridiculous @mrmartin6 but not for the reason that you state. It was ridiculous because I’ve been on this forum for many years and have yet to make as mistake such as yours. Besides…you have to select flag then select the type of flag you want to give. Nice try though.

Believe what you want

My son has a 98 5 speed 4 cyl Not sure what engine you have, but the 4cyls are not known for long life. It is not unusual for the engine to fail @ around 100K, my sons needed to be replaced (from a junk yard) The engine started to knock one afternoon, took it to our independent mechanic the next AM, when he took it for a test drive the engine failed completely. Went from normal engine to knocking to failure in a few hours. Not sure how reliable the seller was when he told you the engine had been replaced.

If the heater core is bad, it is a PITA to replace, the price quoted seems high, but they do have to rip the dash apart to get to it.

Wranglers are a lot of fun to drive, not the safest vehicle around, do not take corners well and are noisy, but if you get bit by the Wrangler bug there is no going back.