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Picking a Jeep Wrangler

I have never owned a Jeep, but am looking for an affordable, dependable off-road vehicle. I have started looking at Jeep wranglers and quickly became overwhelmed. I was wondering if anyone had any advice on a particular year/ model for a good bang for your buck wrangler. I am only trying to spend about $5000.

A dependable Jeep Wrangler for $5000.00 . I don’t know where you are but in this area that kind of money will not get you much of a Jeep Wrangler.
And as for getting advice you will just have to search on your own because each used vehicle is a gamble. Just have what ever you want inspected and hope for the best.

I prefer the 1997-2006 Wranglers, these have coil spring suspension and the old 4.0 liter engine. The 5 speed manual would be my choice. Vehicles of this age may be classified as a hobby however, don’t expect years of trouble free driving from a vehicle approaching twenty years old.

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Jeep wranglers keep their value and they have a cult following. This is a negative for you when you want to buy a used one, esp with a limited budget.

Nowadays, $5K doesn’t get you much even if you are willing to buy some make/model that is less desirable.

You might have to look at some other make/models. I think you can easily get a 10 yr old Tahoe with 100+ K miles on it for that budget. I have suggested it to a few friends, they have put lift kits/all the toys on it and have gotten good service out of the car. A prepurchase inspection is always a good practice.

+1 to @Nevada_545, the pre 97 Wranglers have leaf
springs in the front and are more prone to rollover. The coil springs give a better ride with better stability. These are a labor of love, you will need a lot of time and tools to keep an older Jeep on the road. They are a heck of a lot of fun though. Pay a mechanic to check it over before you buy it, watch for rust on the frame.

Jeep Wranglers (CJs) can be a lot of fun but they are toys and the learning curve for new owners is $teep.

May I suggest a Jeep Liberty instead? 4WD, Jeep cred and there are tons of 2005 - 2007 models out there for $5000 and less. Actually I’m shocked how many are out there with 130K, 150K, 180K miles. Came with 4 and 6 cylinder engines (but not the rock-solid 4.0 straight 6, unfortunately) Search hard and you may find one below 100,000 miles.

In my opinion, the best Jeep Wrangler would be an older model with a Chevy or Ford crate engine in it. They’ve never been known for reliability, so I would want to modify mine to make it more reliable. I would want to drive mine around with a no doors and a bikini top to keep the rain out, so it wouldn’t need working air conditioning.

When I start envisioning putting a crate engine in an old Jeep Wrangler, I start dreaming about assembling a street legal dune buggy with an open frame design and a rear-mounted liquid-cooled engine.

The cheapest fun I ever had with a vehicle was in a Korean War surplus M38A1. I bought 3 junkers for scrap iron price and pieced together a good one, rebuilding the engine and replacing the brakes, clutch, etc. was part of the process. I had 3 boys who wanted 3 wheelers at the time and I opted for the Jeep instead. With seat belts and a roll bar installed it was ~relatively~ safe. Of course above 45 mph it was dangerous but it was only on the road long enough to get to the dirt. The Jeep was on its side several times but no one was ever injured beyond bruises and scratches. All the leftover parts were sold for more than I paid for the 3 to begin with and after years of fun I sold the running jeep for a good price.

Because I was able to do all the work the toy was cheap. These days replacing the clutch in any old Jeep would likely cost more than $1,000. Bills like that can take all the fun out of having a toy.

Sorry, Jeeps aren’t very dependable, and a $5,000 Jeep certainly will need a good amount of work and repairs. Fun, yes. How much do you know about working on cars?

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I would recommend a 1984-2001 Cherokee XJ. My 1991 4.0L I6 AT was 100% dependable for 10 years 150,000 miles. Zero out of pocket repairs. ABS was repaired under warranty and again under recall. They are quite capable of any reasonable off roading. Due to their age it may be difficult to find a really good one but I still see many of them on the road.

By ‘‘off road’’ . . just how ''off road do you mean ?
Check out ‘Jeeps West’ on youtube.
Two of my co-workers are in that club.

I’ve had six Jeeps with the last three being Wranglers–two TJs are in my driveway (06 Rubicon, 02 Sahara) and I wheel them on weekends as well as daily drive whichever one is the last one out in the driveway on a 40 mile daily commute.

I would look at the 1997-2006 model Wranglers (the letter designation you’ll see associated with them is TJ). The TJ series will give you coil springs – as opposed to leaf springs on the earlier YJ --and airbags (I’m speaking in broad strokes in terms of features–you can go on for tons of details). Parts are cheap and plentiful, and there’s a ton of how-to information on them in forums and on YouTube. As for pricing, you can find a TJ in the 5k range but you may have more repairs or rust than you want to handle. Around $10k can get you into a decent TJ, while $7500 can still buy a bargain. That said, 5k isn’t out of the question.

Go lurk on Wrangler Forum. Contact a local Jeep club that has a forum; you can sometimes find good leads on a “known” Jeep there. When it comes time to buy one, see if someone will go with you to take a look. They’re very straightforward vehicles with well-documented quirks and issues. Plan on doing a lot of your own repairs. Good luck and welcome to the addiction if you so choose.

In todays market, $5,000 would not get you into anything reliable. However it could be used as a nice down payment.

After 2 years a choice has probably been made by whoever started this thread.

Agreed, but at least I said my peace.