need advice on purchase

Hi all I'm new here, but I must say that while browsing through the previous topics, I can see a good number of you know your stuff. I'm considering
buying a 91 Cherokee Laredo (from what I can tell it's an XJ, but please feel free to correct me). I've tried best I can to find out the things to look for, but a direct or at least specific response is usually much more reassuring.
OK, here's the details. 91 Cherokee Laredo, 152k miles, 4L In-line 6 (I've read good things about this one, which is why I'm cosidering one with that many miles). Body is in pretty decend condition (a little fading, but no rust- par for a teenager). It's got power windows, locks etc (only reason I mention is because I understand that the wiring in these things can be... "fussy"). No leaks, standard wear in the engine compartment (appropriate wear for older car, no powerwashes, hehe). The front diff. doesn't show any signs of leaks, and the transmission it pulls strong. I did notice that it took a second to switch from nuetral to reverse, and it seemed to shift hard, not a lerch, but you can tell it's harder than a car would feel. I've not driven a 4wd or variable drive vehicle before, so this might very well be normal in these, again, imput is highly appreciated. Here's the tricky part, I can't drive it. It doesn't have tags on it at the moment so a test drive would be illegal. I drove it around the fellow's yard a little and the power steering seems to do just fine. I could tell it hadn't been started in a while because it took a turn or two before it caught. I'm going to look at it again tomorrow and will take notice of how it starts up when I get there. White smoke from the exhaust the exhaust, but not thick like a coolant leak, and it was mid 30's, so I expect a little is ok. That went away after it warmed up. It's has not been lifted, or altered in any way that I is apparent. It has a brand new inspection. All fluids were in the proper ranges and the oil, although needing to be changed wasn't thick like the 20w50 that I understand is not so good for these engines (or more commonly used when the engine starts to drink it). I'm not a certified mechanic, but I learned how to work on my cars since day one owning one (couldn't afford mechanics, but I could afford the Chilton/Hayes manuals, hehe).
I can get a destination pass from the DMV that will let me drive it around, so that might releive a number of my hang-ups about this one...
The fellow is selling it because he is a mechanic and he has too many cars already. Story made short: One of his customers had work done on a Dodge Truck, couldn't afford the bill so he signed his Jeep to the mechanic for compensation. The title is clear and signed over, he hasn't transferred it to himself, hence the lack of tags and the cause of this little dillemna. He's said that he's looked over it and all is well, he just wants to reclaim his losses from work done. He's asking $1500, I've got him down to $1200.
Here's where you folks come into play. I'm looking for any advice you might have on it, things to look for, quirks, and things that ususally fail at around this mile range. From what I can tell, the inline 6 on these things have a reputation of being bullet proof, and the trannies (assuming they aren't run in 4wd while on solid asphault) are pretty tough too.
I want to be a little reassured that I can depend on this vehicle. I don't really mind having to replace things like a starter, alternator, etc, etc; Engine and Transmission problems have caused me headaches like nothing else, though (GM's grrrr!!) I walk to work, but I occasionally do side work and need something I can haul tools, materials etc around in but still be comfortable driving. I don't expect Hybrid gas milage with this engine, but do they do ok, considering the size/power?
OK, I think that about wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to look over this and again, any opinions, advice or the like are very welcome and greatly appreciated. Have a good one!
~J
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I've got a 99 xj. Before that a 96 and before that a 89 all in a year and a half. The 89 was cheap so I bought it. The 89 had stick shift and 2 doors. Fixed it up and sold it to my son and got the 96. It's a 4 door automatic with power windows and locks with mag rims. Wanted a newer one to keep for a long while since they're not making them anymore. Sold the son's 89 for him, he got the 96 and my "new" one is a 99. Since you can't drive it on the road should get you a better price unless it's really nice. However if they use the slightest bit of salt on the roads where you are the floors are most likely gone under the seats and where you put your feet. the metal is/was thin and it didn't take much for it to rust through. But there's replacement panels available in two length. Front seat/footwell area of front footwell to rear seat. They drink gas. In the winter and short trips 12 mpg is what I get. Highway in warm weather 20-22 mpg. They're real handy vehicles. The fellow across the street has a 95 and earns his living doing small remolding/fixit work and his xj works out fine.
JoBo

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It is an XJ. 9 times out of 10 they are good solid trucks. Be sure the heater and AC work well. I can't think of any common expensive problems for an XJ. I've had two, both were awesome, dependable trucks.
Carl

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Price is right, that's for sure.
I am 'VERY' wary of a 'mechanic' selling 'extra' vehicles with no plates so you can't test drive them! That is the biggest scam going and they are commonly called 'curbers'. They are illegal up here in Ontario Canada.
Also be warned that 'mechanics' dumping vehicles usually means the thing is 'waaaayyyy' to much trouble to keep running.
As noted power everything can be 'fun' to say the least. I have figured from what I have seen that old XJ's with power everything cannot be off roaded and still be expected to function.....
'I' turned down one like you described a few weeks ago. It was nice looking, but power everything just won't work for us because we bush run both our Jeeps. The guy also liked it way too much by the price he was asking. Price not withstanding, the power windows are a deal breaker. It is still sitting there too....
Other than that, check the driver's side floor panels to see if there is any metal left. Check the air filter to see how much blow by or oil is being blown into the filter. If the air filter is new, run away fast. (air filters get changed with oil changes, the oil is old, if the air filter is new, it is a cover up) With 150K, expect 'some' oil in the filter.
I also highly recommend you spend $50.00 or so and have an independent mechanic give it a once over. Could be a well spent fifty bucks.
Mike 86/00 CJ7 Laredo, 33x9.5 BFG Muds, 'glass nose to tail in '00 88 Cherokee 235 BFG AT's Canadian Off Road Trips Photos: Non members can still view! Jan/06 http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id !15147590 (More Off Road album links at bottom of the view page)
Jay wrote:

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Hello again,
First off, many thanks for the great input here. I didn't even think to mention the rust thing. I checked it over (without knowing the troublespots for the Jeep line) and could not find any rust. If I had, I probably would not have given it a second thought. I have to admit that the mechanic selling it is my biggest cause for pause. I hate that I have such a distrust for mechanics.... it should be the opposite way around, but that's cause for another topic altogether. My biggest concern is the milage and the mechanic. I gave it a look over and all seems well.
The price (I'm in Virginia, not much snow, not much salt- and on the rare occasions where we do get snow everyone buys their bread and milk and enjoys their day off of work.... such wimps!) has me stumped. It's a good price in my opinion, with the going rate for Jeeps in the area, I could resell it with no problems (or so I think, judging the average for simular Jeeps at or well above $2000). But I'm not a dealer, I just want a good hauler, heh.
A little more on the mechanic thing.... The vehicle is at his house, his house has a good number of cars at it. They all have plates. It makes sense that the vehicle was a trade for work performed. But I could look at it from a thousand different perspectives, who knows. Hence the waivering on the decision. ugh! I'm due to go check it out again today and I'll look over the areas you folks mentioned. It's good to know the trouble spots for these vehicles. Being the weekend and having a holiday tomorrow means I can't take it to another mechanic for a few days. Of course, getting it there could be a problem, haha. Seems I have a little more thinking to do on this one. Again, thanks for the great input here. And keep it coming. I still have a little while before I head over there. Have a good one!
~J
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Jay proclaimed:

Check the title as well. It may be a mechanics lein car, or it may be a watersoaked refurb with a washed title from New Orleans. If the title is at all new or out of state, pass.

Was it a trade or was it a case where the owner didn't want to pay for repairs after they were done and let the mechanic have the title?
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