Keep the Jeep ?
May 18, 2012 10:28 AM   Subscribe

Keep the jeep?

Through a friend who wanted to get rid of it, I have acquired a 1994 Jeep Wrangler 4cylinder, 5 speed for $750. I put $170 for a tune-up and $60 in a new clutch master cylinder.

The transmission is shifting rough and will eventually need replacement/rebuild. $1800.

The tires have some dry rot and I don't feel safe driving with these tires.

I have a friend who got in a serious wreck on the highway in his '95 and is in a coma. I don't know if it was his fault or not. Both of our jeeps do not have airbags. I am told an airbag would have helped his case greatly.

In the little driving of the jeep that I did, it was immensly fun. In my eagerness to go offroading, I broke one of the front leaf springs.

So the question is, is it worth it? Should I spend the money for a driveable jeep? I have a close friend who'll give me $1000 as it is right now.

posted by toastchee to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not worth it. Sell it while you can.
posted by The World Famous at 10:33 AM on May 18, 2012

Yep, sell it to the friend. Right now.
posted by TinWhistle at 10:35 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

In the grownup world we sometimes must trade what is fun for what is good.

Take the $1000, and then buy a newer Jeep with safety features.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:40 AM on May 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

I just sold my 1995 Wrangler for $200. (It was a complete beater and needed a new clutch.)

Take the $1000.
posted by gnutron at 10:45 AM on May 18, 2012

You have the opportunity to sell it without taking any sort of loss? Go for it.

All else aside, if you want a Jeep you can do better for only a bit more money if you wait around. Get one configured for off road use if that's what you really want to do, and don't use it as your daily driver.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:46 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Until you said $1000, I was ready to say keep it. And if you had said $1000, but had also said something like "I've always wanted one", then I would still be saying keep it. But it makes you nervous, and you're already thinking about the repair costs instead of getting excited about it, so take that $1000 and run.
posted by davejay at 10:49 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Keep it! An early 90s Jeep is a fantastic project; I've sunk $10k into my 1999 Cherokee, and it's the most solid, useful, fun vehicle I've ever owned. You need to drive it intelligently, and not treat it like a car, but if you have a desire for something that can drive in almost any weather, will last forever, and can handle off-road conditions, you can't beat a Wrangler.
posted by ellF at 10:54 AM on May 18, 2012

If you hadn't said 'transmission,' I'd be saying 'keep it.'
posted by box at 10:55 AM on May 18, 2012

I'd keep it as a project/offroading truck, myself. If it's not a daily driver, you can drive the tranny till it grenades and then get an upgrade.

That chassis is incredibly versatile and parts are easy to come by; and those things are just a blast to take off road.

But you could make a good case to take the grand and run, too, I guess - especially if it's your DD and you want something more reliable.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:00 AM on May 18, 2012

I'd budget about $1,200 to replace that transmission entirely, in terms of parts. Labor yourself is "free", otherwise, another $500-$800.

Worth it.
posted by ellF at 11:10 AM on May 18, 2012

You should sell it to me for $500.

Seriously, it sounds like it needs a fair bit of work and isn't a passion for you. To get it safe and running will will take some cash and some effort; if that doesn't interest you, sell it to your friend and move on.
posted by Forktine at 11:11 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

The friend has a parts jeep he can use to repair this thing. I'm not at all convinced my little kids are safe in the jeep. Really, boating is my passion...
posted by toastchee at 11:23 AM on May 18, 2012

Your kids are not even remotely safe in the Jeep. Sell it.
posted by The World Famous at 11:23 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's hard to judge without actually taking a look at the thing. If the body is good and rust free, then it's definitely worth fixing up and hanging onto, IMHO. If you have a parts jeep, then you can get a lot done for cheap.

From what you've said, it sounds like a the kind of vehicle I'd hang onto, but I don't have all the information. You're talking reasonable prices, but the unknowns are what sneak up and sting you.

Option B of course is that you buy a second vehicle for your daily driver, and keep this thing as a project. Learn to do a lot of the mechanical work yourself, and slowly rebuild the thing. Have fun with it, and then you have your toy for off roading and going for cruises on hot summer days, but still have your daily driver family car for you and the kids.

Again, none of those prices would phase me much if the body is in great shape. Check the underside for rust, the broken spring might be a warning sign -- then again, even steel gets pretty stiff after a decade or two.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:46 AM on May 18, 2012

I would see what I could find for the money if you sold the Jeep and taking into consideration that it needs around 2200 dollars worth of work. That gives you around 3200 dollars to see if you can find a newer (better) Jeep. I did a quick search and it looks like you will need to spend more. In my opinion it would make an excellent 2nd vehicle fun car that you can fix at your own pace!
posted by v1sual.3rr0r at 12:46 PM on May 18, 2012

Are you sure the transmission is bad and it isn't just a clutch issue? the 5 speeds in these are rock solid, especially with a 4 cylinder (the 6 is a better engine but the 4 cylinder doesn't put out enough power to strain the transmission). Jeep Wrangler (and jeeps in general)are really rugged, really primitive vehicles by todays standards. The suspension dates back to horse and buggy days (really) and is really, really tough. Just how did you break a leaf spring? A broken leaf spring and broken transmission makes me think this thing is either really rusty and/or really abused/neglected. If so take the 1000 and run. If it is solid and you were just over exuberant (once again not sure how you break a leaf spring unless doing something really stupid) then it is worth fixing up.

If you don't have the mechanical appitude to judge if the vehicle is solid or not, you are probably better off selling it anyway. Paying somebody else to fix up and maintain a old YJ wrangler is not going to be a financially sound decision. Also this is not the vehicle for towing stuff, it has way to short a wheelbase to tow anything bigger than a jet ski safely and it is really to top heavy also.

My last thought is that maybe it has been lifted and had big tires put on (would also explain the transmission and leaf spring) in which case you want to get rid of it. Lifted vehicles almost always require more maintenance and are far more likely to tip and roll than a stock vehicle, and I also think lifts are kinda useless in a wrangler unless you are building a rock crawler or some other kind of specialty machine. They have lots of ground clearance, can fit large enough tires under them stock and the running gear can't really take much without stressing components when modifying it. OTOH when you don't mess with the way the engineers designed it you have a really tough little vehicle.

Hope this helps. BTW i brought a 1990 islander back to life and sold it for about 6500 (it was pristine except for a badly done fuel injection kit, blown rear axle and lots and lots of manifold leaks). I also did the same for 1995 cherokee-this are awesome and far, far more comfortable for daily driving and about 90% as capable as a stock wrangler.
posted by bartonlong at 1:37 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

You don't enjoy it or trust it, so sell it.
posted by theora55 at 2:31 PM on May 18, 2012

You have kids? Sell it. Jeeps are notoriously unreliable and (at least in that era) primitive vehicles. The $2200 is probably just the beginning. CJ's roll over a lot more than other cars. I have owned and rented Jeeps, and would not willingly do so again.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:47 PM on May 18, 2012

Kirth: I realize that we're meandering a bit, but the idea that a Wrangler -- a 1994 is a YJ; the CJ was the original Willys model from the 40s -- rolls over more frequently than many cars may be true, but that requires one to drive it in an unsafe manner, and/or treat it like something it is not. It isn't a car, and it isn't trying to be; one drives a Jeep with respect to its higher center of gravity and wheelbase properties, both of which are advantages when taking it into an off-road situation. That "primitive" engine will likely outlast the owner, assuming he or she remains on top of any body rust. These are machines built to last, and elegant in their simplicity. (Also: Jeeps should never be called "cars" by their owners.)

However, to the OP, the idea of Jeep ownership should excite you; if you want a fuel-efficient daily driver for the kids, it's unlikely to be your YJ. Just don't make that decision based on an inaccurate set of statements about Jeeps as being inherently unsafe.
posted by ellF at 9:17 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


You do not want. I have seen first hand (by seen i mean "have been") the rat hole a person can piss a fortune into trying to restore and maintain a 1990's era jeep.

posted by roboton666 at 11:42 PM on May 18, 2012

Take the money and run. Seriously. Someone else wants to throw money into their jeep project, and you don't even like the idea of driving this jeep around with your kids? Get a newer jeep without all the problems. It'll be safer and better.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:34 AM on May 19, 2012

Oh. And the coma thing just makes it even harder to justify keeping this vehicle.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:38 AM on May 19, 2012

It isn't a car, and it isn't trying to be...

Which is an excellent reason for the OP to sell it. It really doesn't look like he has the resources to keep two vehicles, and since he needs a vehicle to use as a car, the Jeep is a bad choice.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:06 AM on May 19, 2012

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