Jeep Wranglers are amazing vehicles, but why are Jeeps so expensive for a lot of people? It's sad that the cult following that is Jeepers, have been priced out of the new models.
Diehard Jeep owners have always been resourceful and mostly built their off-roading rigs. They have always been able to stretch their dollar to build and perform their own modifications.
Are new Jeeps worth the money?
The new Jeep Wrangler models are overpriced, and they're not even that much better than the used models. That's just my opinion.
I bought my first new Jeep Wrangler in 1995, while stationed in Fort Drum, New York. The brand-new price set me back $13,995. I had sticker shock back then. Oh, how I wish I could find a brand-new Jeep for that price now.
True Jeep fans have been longing for a V-8 powered Jeep since it was discontinued in 1981. Jeep did the honorable thing and eventually gave in to their loyal customers wants. That gift of a powerful Wrangler comes with a hefty price of $85,585.
The 1981 CJ-8 Scrambler was roughly $7,288. Ouch. That's a screaming deal by today's standards. A CJ-7 was around $5,600 on the low side.
Cost of upgrades-
When I bought the 1995 Jeep Wrangler, you had to pay a premium to get the upgraded full doors with hardtop. What Jeep didn't know back then, was that Jeep owners loved the half doors for visibility off-roading.
With the latest generation of Jeep Wrangler, the half door is an upgrade option. The two doors model will set you back $2,350 while the four doors cost $3,995.
For my used Jeep Wrangler TJ, I can still find half doors for $500 to $800.
Are new or used Jeeps better?
Is a new Jeep Wrangler nicer than the used ones? That's debatable. If you're looking for comfortable features with cup holders and the like, then yes. If you're a purist and minimalist like me, then no.
If you test drive a new Jeep Wrangler, it will undoubtedly have better handling. This is especially true with the unlimited models, due to the longer wheelbase. The newer Jeeps have a wider track width than the previous models.
I agree that the new Rubicon model is a far cry better than even the Jeep Wrangler TJ Rubicon in performance. This is mainly due to the axle strength of the newer Dana 44s.
For climbing hills and carrying passengers plus gear, the longer unlimited models are the cat's meow.
The older and reliable 4.0l engine in the used Jeep Wrangler TJ is for the most part, bullet proof. Many people have complained about the newer "mini-van" engines in the newer models.
Both have had their fair share of complaints, but overall, the inline six of the older Jeeps is a extremely solid engine.
All of the comfort creatures of the newer model Wranglers come at a cost. The more complicated a vehicle is, the more there is to break. Just a fact. The saving grace for this is the factory warranty. Don't have that on a older used Wrangler.
To compensate for a lack of warranty, there are numerous companies than provide warranties for used Jeep Wranglers that aren't too old.
Why buy a used Jeep Wrangler?
Used Jeep Wranglers are a great value. You can get one that's already been customized by other drivers, and there's a huge following and support system for these vehicles.
Used Wrangler Modifications-
The aftermarket support for Jeep as a whole is incredible. You can build your used Wrangler or Wrangler JK as wild or as mild as you would want.
Have everything you wanted in a Jeep Wrangler and not a bunch of stuff the factory thought you wanted. The options for your Jeep are unlimited.
Looking for a Rubicon without the price tag? Maybe you dream of owning the new 392 Wrangler Rubicon. With the aftermarket products, a little time and sweat equity you could have a Jeep Wrangler that will honestly outperform either for half the cost.
With modifications performed on a used Wrangler you get the suspension, tires, lockers, engine, transmission and performance that you want. The best part is being able to repair it because you will ultimately become familiar with your Wrangler after adding your modifications.
Before buying a used Jeep Wrangler
No matter what Jeep Wrangler you are looking at, take it for a test drive. When I say test drive, I mean run it through the paces. Test everything on it. You have to inspect it closely when buying a used Jeep.
Here is a list of things to look for just short of being a Jeep Wrangler Buyers Guide.
Under the hood-
During your inspection, you should pay attention to any strange noises coming from the engine compartment.
You may also want check that all belts and fluids are present in correct amounts for proper operation of various components throughout its lifespan; however, it's important not just focus on these aspects but how well they work together while driving too!
Inspect radiators on all models- if they're plastic ones (and there aren't many), then make sure none of their seams have split because this will lead to leaks later which can quickly wear out an expensive part before it needs replacing!
On Rubicon models, operate the lockers to ensure they work.
Check that steering is tight, and functions properly. Have your dealer, or an expert turn the steering wheel back and forth. Watch for anything loose or damaged while listening out on power steering pump.
Inspect the exterior and interior of your vehicle to make sure it's safe for travel.
Check all lights, body panels, and skid plates for dents, rust and cracks.
Make sure there aren't signs off-roading such as scratches or dents anywhere near suspected problem areas. (axles, skid plates, rocker panels)
If it has a soft top, drop it and put it back up. Check for tears and that zippers work properly.
Check that all interior lights and gauges function properly.
Ensure that all of the required bolts that secure the hardtop to the body are present. Look behind any trim pieces such as kickboards on bumpers; they're often where water will hide first!
Final thoughts- Why are Jeeps so expensive?-
Buying a used vehicle can seem nerve-racking at times. Especially when searching for the right Wrangler. If you take your time and inspect it carefully, you'll make the right decision on which Jeep is "the one".
Whether you go for the regular Wrangler or the Wrangler Unlimited, you'll have a solid vehicle to start with.
Buy a Wrangler with half doors if you think you'll want that down the road. Full doors are plentiful, however 1997 - 2006 half doors are getting harder to find.
I'll always be a Jeep fan; however, I'll probably never buy a new Jeep again. They're just out of my price range. Luckily for me, I've got the skills to build a great Jeep from any of the used offerings.
There is great value in a used Wrangler. In my opinion, the 1997 - 2006 Wrangler TJs will increase in value over time.
When you're shopping for your next Wrangler, consider buying used. You'll save money and with a little reading, and YouTube, you could build a Jeep to suit your needs.
Happy Jeep hunting and good luck.