How to Buy an Older Jeep

By:  Steve Wolf


The Question:

What does one look for in buying a mid 80's CJ?  What are the possible problem areas.  What upgrades are worth paying for and what are not?

My Answer:

I've just completed this task.  As a matter of fact, today, July 27, 2000, I bought my first Jeep.

I'll let others advise you about what to look for.  There are certain mental aspects I was unaware of.  I hope sharing them with you helps in some way.

First go to and order about $100.00 worth of Jeep books.  Read them CAREFULLY.

1.  Look at all the Jeeps you can afford.  Within the first ten you'll find every major Jeep problem you can imagine.  You'll hear how a throwout bearing sounds.  You'll hear transmissions whine.  You'll hear engines knock.

Add another thousand to what you thought you were going to spend. 

2.  Look at all the Jeeps at the new price.  Add the cost of the new top to the first one.  The fiberglass body was butchered in the next one.  The gas tank was leaking in the other one.  Notice you're no longer hearing sounds that indicate a major overhaul.  This is good news.

Add another $500.00 to your figure

3.  People tell you that you don't really need hubs in the front wheels.  Another tells you that he'll even throw in a sway bar while you desperately fight to keep his Jeep on the road.  "All Jeeps leak like that" is a popular phrase.  "You can get it through E-Check but you have to lean it out a little" is another great phrase.  Open headers are met with "DOESN'T THAT

Add another $1,000.00 just to see what a decent Jeep looks like.  At this point you're convinced there's no way you're going to find one for what you can afford.

Isn't it BEAUTIFUL? About this time you're going to run into a really nice looking Jeep.  You fall in love with it.  It's obvious that the fellow loved his Jeep and does NOT want to part with it.  But, he wants more than you can afford.  Having a hubby just as interested in exploring as you are, she demands this is the Jeep you should buy.  Try to get him to come down.  He won't.  He doesn't

You pay too much.  You bring it home.  You agonize.  Your friends and family love it.  You smell gas.  "Damn!", you say, "I'm going to have to replace the gas tank."  No one else in your family smells gas.  You see a drop of antifreeze.  "Damn!", you say, "Bet a freeze plug is going!"  You patiently wait for another drop to fall.

Your hubby comes out.  She says, "Let's go for a ride!"  You get in the Jeep.  You have an ABSOLUTE BLAST.  You pull back in the drive well past dark and your hubby is about frozen solid.  You don't care if you have to work another job.  You're really glad you bought a Jeep.


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