Newbie Questions - Getting ready to take the plunge

I know that nobody here has ever experienced this but recently (like for the past 3 months or so) I have this urge to buy a Jeep. Now I am
a fairly sane down to earth guy but this damn thing is like a monkey on my back now. I spend my days reading wants ads and lurking on discussion boards. I have been trying to be patient and let my knowledge build over time before I plunge right in with both feet. But my patience is wearing thin and I'm starting to realize that I could be wheeling around this summer if I begin to move now.
Anyway after much consideration I am thinking of looking into a 1998 - 1999 Used TJ. I kind of landed here by process of elimination. Originally I wanted to get an old beater with a carb and make it a bit of a project vehicle for me so was thinking maybe an old CJ7 or something. Then a friend of mine started talking up her YJ which still had a carb and so would fit the project vehicle criteria and she also was telling me about the old CJ's having a little less wheelbase and so not being quite as sturdy. Then when I read about TJs and the coils springs and some of the other safety/comfort improvements they have made, I kind of moved up in my thinking. I know I won't be able to do too much of the engine work myself but then again maybe I'll surprise myself and be able to do more then I think. I'm sure I can handle a lot of the non engine mods anyway, which will serve the purpose of keepin my hands dirty. I will definately take the Jeep offroad but nothing too serious, just some mud and hills.
Anyway I guess my questions are specifically around 98&99 TJ's. Is there anything that I should look out for on them. I read previously about the exhaust manifold cracks and the steering column wiring harness problems, but just wanted to know if there were any other known bugs. Also are there specific features to get or avoid? I read something about the rear ends and gearing, how can I tell if I have the better rear end & gears? Also I am hoping to only spend in the area of $5,000 (initially) so I know that I will need to be very patient or else get a very high mileage model. Is there anything inherently wrong with high mileage? Could it indicate that it has been well taken care of if it has 150K+ miles on it?
I would be open to any advice or opinions and I appreciate y'all lettin me lurk on here.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Wanted to add that I have decided to get a 6cyl, 5spd most likely with A/C probably because it's 100 degrees here today in NJ and also because part of the selling of this idea is that my wife can drive this to work sometimes. I would also be looking to put a small plow on it for the snow, just to do my driveway and a few of the neighbors.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The 6 cylinder is a good idea, the transmission choice is a personal preference. The 4 liter I-6 can last 200-300k before major engine work is needed if you keep the fluids and filters changed regularly.
I agree with your choice of a newer Jeep, the older ones need regular wrenching and there is always the body cancer issue (rust) .
The TJs with the Dana 44 rear end are the preferred models for strength, gearing depends on what you intend to do..... with plowing in mind you want the numerically highest ratio you can find for that extra low end power.
Welcome to the dark side.....

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
.

And here I thought you just flicked the switch on me again...
:-)
K.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Bill thanks for your quick reply I appreciate your help.

When I look at a Jeep how can I tell the difference between the Dana 44 and the less preferred ones. Also how can I tell what the gearing is, is it on a plate somewhere?

Thanks, I'm sure this is an ominous warning
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
There is a small plate under one of the pumpkin cover bolts, that says which ratio it is.
Earle

want
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Axle ID
http://www.nationwideparts.com/differentials.htm

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Take a look at:
http://www.off-road.com/jeep/tech/axle / or http://coloradok5.com/axleguide.shtml

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I am on my 4th Jeep. In the past I have owned two CJ5s and now am the proud owner of an 06 TJ.
As far as the techincal stuff, I cannot tell you much but my experience so far is this: Get one that is as new as you can afford.
The older ones (and some of the guys in here know all the models and their specific nuances) are in fact more labor inten$ive. Some will say that the TJ is a Tigger Jeep, because of the coils. I LIKE the coils. I can go for long distances and it doesn't leave me crippled for two days when I get home.
My thoughts on one that is high mileage are: Get the lowest miles you can get. No matter how well maintained it may be it is still as old as it's odometer and stuff is wearing out a little more with each and every mile it is driven. Anything that moves, will be wearing out If it's been out playing in the boonies, (as it should be) then they are worn a little more.
If you crawl under it, you will be able to see some evidence of off road use. Scratches on belly pans, mud jambed up in places where you cant see it from above, you'll see it. One that has been babied won't have many battle scars.
Good luck to you! Like Billy Ray said... welcome. Oh.. and bring a flashlight.
Kate

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Kate,
Thanks for the advice. What you say kind of echos what my thinking has been so I fee like I'm on the right track at least.
Hope you are enjoying you 06'
Kev
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Well, remember, this is only MY opinion... your mileage may vary. As for my 06... There aren't words to tell how crazy I am about this Jeep. It's better than Burt Reynolds, Sean Connery, Robert Redford, Sam Elliot and Tom Sellick all rolled into one. Ok, well maybe not THAT good, but if you left out only one of them it would be a close match LOL.
Last summer I traded in my 98 Cobra convertible and bought an 06 Liberty to haul my grandson in. He (with his momma) moved back across the country after just three months and I was stuck in an SUV. After 6 months I couldn't stand it another minute, and even though it was a very nice rig, I traded it in. I Hated having a hard top more than anything and I really wanted a Wrangler. I took a helluva hit $$$ but here I am and all smiles. I will be in debit for years making payments so high I shudder at the thought BUT - I love my Rubicon, and I would not trade it back for anything else - period. I don't regret it a bit.
I'm like you in that I don't do any really harsh off roading, some hills, and I definitely like to stomp in mud puddles. I got him stuck the first time just last week in fact. Sittin on his belly pans, all four wheels spinnin. We had to walk out to get the truck.
http://www.selby.ws/images/Dangit.jpg
I hope that you find something that really makes you happy, having the obsession and no resolve will make you crazy after awhile.
When I had the Liberty I started collecting little white Rubicon diecasts.. I laughed later telling my husband it was easier to buy a Jeep to match the collectibles than it was the other way around! It must have been my subconscious nagging at me all along.
Kate
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'd leave out Burt, throw in some Tom Berenger, and you got it!
Seahag
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Perhaps we need a proper list of hottie girls....
wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Kevtrane wrote:

After three years of driving a Wrangler "X" with the Dana 30 (3.07 ratio), last month I upgraded to a 2006 Sport with the Dana 44 (3.73). What a difference -- I'd NEVER go back to what I had before! I was always downshifting and wondering how all those other Jeeps went up the hills so easily. Now I know.
I first looked at upgrading to the Rubicon, but in the end opted for a Sport with limited-slip. I don't do much rock crawling -- mostly forest trails, so I concluded that the Rubicon with its lockers and added weight (gas prices!) would be overkill. To me, the Sport seems to offer the best balance for someone who uses a TJ as the daily driver, but also hits some fairly rugged trails and requires good winter performance.
Mine was the last of the 2006 "Golden Eagle" editions available at my local dealers. That screaming chicken gets A LOT of attention and nice comments. I'd guess that there are far fewer TJ Golden Eagles around than Rubicons even, and I'm enjoying it. Mostly I wanted to get one of the last of the late, great I-6's before it goes out of production, and hopefully keep it 'til I die, heh.
Mike
--
(for email address, change 'XX' to 'bb')

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have a '99 Wrangler Sport purchased new in the spring of '99. 114,000+ miles now, and the only mechanical failure I've had is the exhaust manifold you mentioned. Replaced by myself and a buddy with a Thorley header. Also had a little plastic fastener on the clutch break which I replaced with a cotter pin. Oh ya, cigarette lighter went out, too, but I haven't bothered to look into that yet. :) It's been great. As others have mentioned, look for the 4.0L engine with Dana44 axle (3.73 gearing). Preferred setup, but by no means required. The 4cyl with the 35 is still a good rig.
Dave http://mysite.verizon.net/dmoller/jeep
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.