Jeep TJ - Daily Driver / Adventure Rig

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Thelgord

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I am considering a Jeep TJ as a daily driver / adventure rig. Can current Jeep owners let a “never owned a Jeep ... ever” person like myself know what the pros and cons are? Thanks for any response.
 
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Graeman

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Anxious to hear what they have to say, as well. Looked at a 2003 Tomb Raider edition with just original 64,000 miles on it for $15,500. It was super clean and had the 5speed manual.
 

toxicity_27

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What are you driving currently? How long is your commute? What are your expectations of a rig?

TJs arent the softest ride, or best gas mileage but are extremely capable.
 
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Thelgord

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10-15 mile commute, depending on what gates are open (some close for holidays). Currently driving an Isuzu Vehicross, that I like, but maintenance costs on such a rare vehicle are starting to hurt.
 

toxicity_27

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Storage on a TJ is minimal. Make sure you find a rust free one. Aftermarket options are quite abundant and most are relatively affordable. The 4.0L is a fantastic engine, though some might not like the amount of horsepower. They still demand quite the price depending on what you look at.
 

Graeman

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Yes they do demand the top dollar. The 4.0 is a great engine and reliable. I would like go Rubicon so that I can get the lower gearing of both the axles and transfer case. I think that buying a TJ in Arizona is one of the best places to find a rust free vehicle.
Thelgord how much on average are the TJ's out there in Ga? Here they run from $10k to $23k and that is low mileage stock to mildly modified ones. That Tomb Raider model that I looked at today was bone stock, except for replacement bumpers front and rear.
 

Arailt

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I drove a 2001 TJ as a daily driver and wheeler for six years (2007-2013). It was pretty much stock with bigger tires. Really fun to drive with the top down and doors off, unstoppable off road, but it was not great on the highway. When I bought it, my commute was less than 4 miles each way, but eventually changed to ~18 miles each way on the interstate (which was the nail in the coffin and ultimate reason I sold it). Driving at highway speeds on windy days was a real PIA and the mileage was terrible. My wife referred to it as the kidney killer because of the harsh ride.

Off road is where it shined. I wheeled it pretty hard almost every weekend for many years and it never let me down. Lots of weekend camping and wheeling trips. I will say they’re really small and you can’t carry a lot of gear. You can completely remove the rear seat fairly easily; which is what I did most of the time. That’s probably the best way to gain interior space. Still, super compact, so I’m not sure that it would be a great “overland” vehicle.

Probably not an issue in Georgia, but compared to other trucks and SUVs I’ve owned (XJ, Tacoma, GX470), it was not great in the snow.

They do have great resale. I sold it in 2013 with 63k on the ODO for $4k more than I paid for it in 2007.
 
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toxicity_27

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If I were to look for a TJ, I would go for the Unlimited (LJ) for the extra space, and the marginally better ride. The other thing to think about is how well you can deal with squeaks and rattles. They definitely have some noises, but turn up the radio and you'll be fine!
 
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Plasmajab

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And if i'm right, unlimited's have a higher cargo rating, dont they?

Gotta think back to my TJ. It was a while ago. It was a 1998 Sahara I think... Key word.. Think. I know it had the 4.0 and 5 speed.

Jeeps squeak, and they rattle. The ride isnt great and they are noisy, and eat gas. But. It is part of what they are and if your fine with that, I recommend a TJ to anyone. Plus the aftermarket for them is HUGE! That makes them easy for modifications.

The older ones leak with age. Self-undercoating. But not a huge deal. If someone were to trade me my escape for a jeep they would have to dodge the keys coming at them.

As frustrating as my jeep was, I miss her dearly.
 

toxicity_27

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I believe they did, but can't be certain. I personally never owned a TJ, but my brother and a friend of mine did(his was an LJ Rubicon).
 

Doc Rey

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I bought a ‘04 TJ Rubicon as a “toad” for my r.v. several months back. 4.0L (62K mi.), 5 spd manual & lift kit. Other than that, pretty stock. I’ve managed to put on 3K mi. & I think it’s pretty decent on pavement & off-road.
After several Jeep YouTubes I’ve added a few mods & contemplating overlanding.
Now what to do with my 37’ Winny Class A? LOL!
 

toxicity_27

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One thing to remember about the TJ is that Dan Grec (currently traveling around Africa in a JK) did Alaska to Argentina in a stock TJ..
 

Jeff B

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I have a 2005 TJ (194,xxx miles) and a 2015 JKU (72, xxx miles). I love my TJ. I think it is the most comfortable vehicle I have owned. I drove it daily and did some wheeling with it and loved it. It was good in the snow, but the JK outshines it in that category. The downfalls are the lack of space (which is a huge downfall), the gas mileage, and all of the smog equipment on it (which does fail and is expensive to replace). I agree with the previous posters in looking for an unlimited. They have a 3500 tow rating and can handle weight and steeper trails better. The advantages of the TJ are the ease of parking, a very tight turn radius, and it is just fun to drive.
 
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Supernaut

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We have a TJ. I practically wrote a love letter about it in the Jeep registry thread. Like others say, get the 4.0L. It’s common for those to go for 200-300k or more with decent care. I like the 5 speed. Be prepared to pay 15k for a nice one. Do your best to find one that doesn’t leak. May not be easy.

If you do the right things it may actually start to appreciate. As tough as jackass and nimble like a mountain goat.

Not sure I’d daily a TJ though. I’m not as tough or nimble as the Jeep these days, tbh.
 
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Supernaut

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I drove a 2001 TJ as a daily driver and wheeler for six years (2007-2013). It was pretty much stock with bigger tires. Really fun to drive with the top down and doors off, unstoppable off road, but it was not great on the highway. When I bought it, my commute was less than 4 miles each way, but eventually changed to ~18 miles each way on the interstate (which was the nail in the coffin and ultimate reason I sold it). Driving at highway speeds on windy days was a real PIA and the mileage was terrible. My wife referred to it as the kidney killer because of the harsh ride.

Off road is where it shined. I wheeled it pretty hard almost every weekend for many years and it never let me down. Lots of weekend camping and wheeling trips. I will say they’re really small and you can’t carry a lot of gear. You can completely remove the rear seat fairly easily; which is what I did most of the time. That’s probably the best way to gain interior space. Still, super compact, so I’m not sure that it would be a great “overland” vehicle.

Probably not an issue in Georgia, but compared to other trucks and SUVs I’ve owned (XJ, Tacoma, GX470), it was not great in the snow.

They do have great resale. I sold it in 2013 with 63k on the ODO for $4k more than I paid for it in 2007.
The above is correct truth.
 
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Thelgord

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Thank you all for the replies! Having never owned a Jeep, I am trying to learn what I can before I get one.
 

smritte

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I have an 04 Rubicon, auto. Second owner, bought it with 12k mileage in 06. Daily drove it for 5 years. I have a 4 inch lift and have done many long range trips on 33 BFG A/T's. My only regret is selling the hard top. In my opinion, that would have made things way more comfortable and quieter. The extra weight will smooth out the ride too.

First thing right out of the box is, change the steering and the front track bar. They did a poor job with them. I have Currie for both. If you get an auto, add a trans cooler. Again, poor design. Last, Change the injectors to the 4 nozzle ford. Lots of U-Tube video on it. I got a rebuilt set on E-Bay for $120. The injectors netted me a bit more fuel mileage and smoothed out the power band.

I now use my Land Cruiser for my trips. More room, smoother ride. My TJ went literally anywhere I pointed it and had a nice power band. My off-road trailer weighs 1600 pounds and the Jeep tow's it well. I have driven the Jeep with the 33's on the Rubicon and the Dusy trail towing my trailer. I would not do that with the Cruiser without a ton of work involved.

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I don't think there is a perfect rig. What I look for is aftermarket support and parts availability. Jeep is top and Toyota is second for aftermarket.



Good luck with your decision.

Scott
 
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Enthusiast III

Cons:
  • Terrible ride quality.
  • Loud on the freeway (hard top helps with this a lot) and have a tendency to wander due to the lift and short wheelbase.
  • Little to no cargo capacity.
  • 4.0L engines tend to leak oil to the point where if it isn't leaking, it's empty. Misfire issues are common too which can be very frustrating to track down (ask me how I know).
  • Even with 33" tires and 4.56 gears, the 4.0L is still a dog and gets bad mileage.
  • There are several poorly designed pieces (e.g. nutserts) that will drive you nuts (ah, pun).
  • Even the newest TJ (2006MY) is still 13+ years old. I love old jalopies but many TJs were rode hard and put away wet - not a great recipe when you aren't the first or second owner.
  • In California, they are made out of gold (i.e. expensive to buy even old ones).
Pros:
  • In California, they are made out of gold (i.e. high resale value).
  • It's a Jeep.
  • Parts are cheap and plentiful.
  • Generally easy to work on for a DIYer.
  • Huge aftermarket support for mods and replacement parts.
  • You'll smile every time you get to drive it.
  • It'll go anywhere (when it decides it wants to).
I tend to have a love-hate relationship with my TJ. Once I start to fall back in love, it'll decide it doesn't want to start or develop some new mysterious condition that I'll spend the next four months trying to diagnose and fix.