Buying any large purchase can be intimidating, especially when it comes to a new vehicle. Finding something that is reliable, is mechanically sound, and will last for the long haul can be difficult. It’s important to do your research to make sure the vehicle you are buying is right for you.
When buying a used Jeep Wrangler there’s specific things you should always check and look for. If you’re like me, I’ve wanted a Jeep for most of my life and buying a Jeep Wrangler was a huge accomplishment for me. When I made the decision to buy a used Jeep Wrangler, I wanted to buy the first one a saw. Even though in reality Jeep Wranglers are everywhere and are really a dime a dozen. Take your time, do your research, and make sure you get a good deal! Great used Jeep Wranglers are out there and are easy to find if you know what to look for!
**These tips and advice are for the person who is looking for a used Jeep Wrangler as a daily driver. If you are looking for a used Jeep Wrangler for a project build, ignore everything I am saying. I’m sure you have a solid build plan and will be replacing most parts that come on the used Jeep Wrangler you purchase.. You’ll probably be hacking it apart with a sawzaw as well (I know I would be).**
Know the difference between models.
Before committing to buying a used Jeep Wrangler, make sure you do your research on the year, make, and model. Each model comes with its own features and standard parts, so it’s important to know the different. I won’t go into the details on this post, but know that Sport is the base model and Rubicon is the highest model. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon comes with a Dana 44 front axle (larger than the other models), electronic front and rear differential lockers, electronic sway bar, and other features that make it extremely off road ready upon purchase. The other models do not have these features included. Rough rule of thumb – If you are looking for a vehicle that is stock ready to go on and off road, a used Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is for you. If you are looking for a used Jeep Wrangler that will be a used on pavement only, any of the models will work for you.
Not all used Jeep Wranglers are created equal.
This might be an unpopular opinion but it is important to consider. Yes, Jeep Wranglers are incredibly reliable vehicles, but not all are created equal. Not all used Jeep Wranglers are the same, even the ones that look alike. You might know where I’m going here.
Between the years of 2007-2011 (JK), Jeep Wranglers were built with a 3.8L engine. This engine is notorious for over-heating and burning oil. The reliability is also always in question. If there is no proper upkeep on these engines, disastrous things can happen. They typically do not last much longer than 100k miles. Even though some have lasted longer, I would be careful if looking to buy a used Jeep Wrangler from 2007-2011.
Starting in 2012, the 3.6L engine was used which gave the Jeep Wrangler much better gas mileage and efficiency. If you are looking for a used Jeep Wrangler JK, I would recommend looking after 2012.
In some articles, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler is considered the least reliable year ever. There were 9 recalls on this specific year for various problems. Granted there are many recalls on all vehicles. The catch here is that each recall on this year averages over $1,000 in repairs. I think the overall theme here is do your research!
If you are looking for a newer used Jeep Wrangler, I’d stick to 2012 and later for the 3.6L engine. Regardless of what year you are looking at, there are some things you should always be aware of when shopping for a used Jeep Wrangler.
Rust is the enemy.
This goes out to all the people in the Northeast, look out for rust! Between all the salt on the road and salty air from the ocean, rust is bound to happen. Buying any vehicle with rust is a big issue, same goes for used Jeep Wranglers.
Make sure you look closely at the undercarriage and frame before you buy. Rust damage isn’t one of those things you want to discover at a later date. Plus if you find rust damage before a sale, you might be able to use the cost of fixing it (if major) in negotiating the price!
Make sure modifications are installed correctly.
This is super important. Buying a used Jeep Wrangler opens up the option to buy a Wrangler that was kept stock or to buy a Wrangler that has been heavily modified by the previous owner.
Owning a lifted vehicle is awesome, personal opinion. It may be tempting to pull the trigger and buy a Jeep Wrangler with a big lift and tires. It’s important to learn where the work was done and what parts were used. There are a lot of driveway mechanics out there, and when it comes to changing major suspension components on a vehicle, I would only trust a professional or someone with an insane amount of experience. The last thing anyone would want to happen is to have a part fail while driving.
Do your due diligence, and have a mechanic check out the Jeep Wrangler before a purchase. Not only can install be in questions, but there are a lot of other parts that get shifted when lifting a Jeep. There may need to have updated steering components added, re-gearing, and other updated drive train components that need to be added for the vehicle to operate correctly. If the previous owner as driving around on a vehicle that was not built properly, there may be other underlying issues that resulted from an improper lift that will fall into your hands and responsibility. Buying a used Jeep Wrangler with inherited issues can lead to a high cost to correct or repair when things inevitably fail.
Don’t get intimidated by prices.
Just a little bit of real talk here – there are a lot of people out there who have their used Jeep Wrangler for sale for an exorbitant amount of money. Most of those people have an unrealistic view of what their rig is actually worth. Research. Research. Research! Check out Kelley Blue Book and look at dealerships for an average cost for the year and model you are looking. Most people will be obnoxious and not budge on price, so do not feel discouraged. Used Jeep Wranglers are a dime a dozen. You’ll find one that’s perfect for you. I feel like a relationship counselor but for a Jeep, this is what my life has come to.
Find out if the used Jeep Wrangler was used off-roading and how often.
This is so so so incredibly important for a few reasons. It’s a well known fact that Jeep Wranglers are vehicles capable of driving through terrain on all seven continents (hence the seven slots on the grill). With that being said, people use them to do just that. When looking at a used Jeep Wrangler make sure the previous owner didn’t beat the living crap out of it!
If I were to ever sell me Jeep, which I never will, I would feel so bad for the next owner. The beating that my Jeep has been through is insane and quite frankly, the next person to own it will have so much on their plate. So with that blatant confession, make sure you don’t buy a used Jeep Wrangler that was put through the ringer. Lord knows what problems will fall onto your plate. If you are planning on using the Jeep as your daily driver, the last thing you want is to buy a Jeep Wrangler that was someone’s weekend warrior getting beat up.
Owning a Jeep Wrangler is owning something that is capable of doing so much. A Jeep Wrangler stock can do so much! Customizing it is a whole different animal. There are so many amazing companies that make incredible products to help you build your dream Jeep! It’s an awesome vehicle that comes with an incredible community. Making sure you are investing in the right used Jeep Wrangler is so important!
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