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Unread 10-10-2013, 09:31 AM   #1
ncblue311
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1st Time Wrangler Buyer - Deciding Betweeen 2003 & 2010

Looking at buying my first Wrangler, I've been wanting one for a while.
I'm trying to decide between two used Jeeps. One is a 2003 (manual, Sport) and one is a 2010 (automatic, Rubicon). Both have about 45,000 miles and hard tops. The 2010 is about $7k more.
This will be a second vehicle for us and we'll use it for some off-roading and a little driving around our small moutain town. It probably won't get more than 5,000 miles put on it a year.
We're leaning towards the 2003 just because we like the lower price, but I'm a bit worried about buying a ten year old car. Any thoughts on how Jeeps age, especially since this one hasn't been used much in the first ten years of its life?
I've heard talk that the 2003 probably has the better Jeep engine, but that the 2010 has better safety. We're only moderately concerned about bells & whistles (power windows, locks, etc.).
Any advice on this first Jeep purchase would be appreciated!

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Unread 10-10-2013, 09:36 AM   #2
biffgnar
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An 03 with only 45k on it probably still has new car smell.
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Unread 10-10-2013, 09:57 AM   #3
jokerchief462
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Buy the 03. If it is unmolested all stock you can save the extra and make it the way you want it.

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Unread 10-10-2013, 10:08 AM   #4
bobjp
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I would save the money and go with the 03. Don't worry about the age at all.

The Rubicon is the better vehicle if you care about axles, transfer case, and lockers.
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Unread 10-10-2013, 12:49 PM   #5
JoonHoss
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if the '03 is 'only' 7K less than the '10 Rubicon, it's probably overpriced, even for that low of mileage.

thinking in terms of Value, it really depends on what the prices are, and how equipped, as the TJ and JK are totally different animals. there could be $7k difference in the 'value' of a TJ sport and TJ Rubicon, depending on how they are equipped. (disclaimer: I've had both a TJ and a JK)

low mileage, in and of itself, does NOT a good deal make, especially for a 3rd vehicle which will see limited mileage/use. since both are out of warranty, you might find a (much) better deal on a JK sport with slightly higher mileage than even on the TJ sport. it really depends on what you want/need, and if you are willing to look, or are in a hurry?

if the '03 sport is $18k, and the '10 Rubi is $25K, neither might be 'good deals'.

also, where you anywhere near the recent floods? beware low mileage (anything's) 'suddenly' for sale (not saying this is the case, but something to consider)

More info, please.

Hoss
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Unread 10-10-2013, 01:09 PM   #6
ncblue311
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2003 Jeep Wrangler Sport (manual) is priced at $16.5K. One owner, 42K miles, seems to be in good shape, I'm guessing it was towed behind an RV. It looks like the vehicle spent most of its life in Southern California.
2010 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (automatic) is priced at $23.8K. One owner, 48K miles.
I don't think either vehicle has had much done in add ons.
What other details should I give?
They have a 2005 Sport on the lot, but it has closer to 100K miles for $15.8K, but the mileage made us lean towards the 2003.
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Unread 10-10-2013, 01:14 PM   #7
biffgnar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncblue311 View Post
2003 Jeep Wrangler Sport (manual) is priced at $16.5K. One owner, 42K miles, seems to be in good shape, I'm guessing it was towed behind an RV. It looks like the vehicle spent most of its life in Southern California.
2010 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (automatic) is priced at $23.8K. One owner, 48K miles.
I don't think either vehicle has had much done in add ons.
What other details should I give?
They have a 2005 Sport on the lot, but it has closer to 100K miles for $15.8K, but the mileage made us lean towards the 2003.
Can't speak to the JK, but those prices for both TJs seem way high.
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Unread 10-10-2013, 01:18 PM   #8
LilyBayXJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncblue311 View Post
2003 Jeep Wrangler Sport (manual) is priced at $16.5K. One owner, 42K miles, seems to be in good shape, I'm guessing it was towed behind an RV. It looks like the vehicle spent most of its life in Southern California.
2010 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (automatic) is priced at $23.8K. One owner, 48K miles.
I don't think either vehicle has had much done in add ons.
What other details should I give?
They have a 2005 Sport on the lot, but it has closer to 100K miles for $15.8K, but the mileage made us lean towards the 2003.
Just food for thought, I paid $16.8k for my super-clean LJ with 60k miles, a hard top, and a plow. In my opinion that's fairly overpriced for an '03 TJ Sport, even with the miles.

If the seller is willing to negotiate, I'd still go after the '03. If not, I'd actually lean towards the '10 despite the less-than desirable engine. My father has a '13 Rubi... It's seriously awesome.
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Unread 10-10-2013, 01:27 PM   #9
ncblue311
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I am looking at dealer cars, which make partially explain the high prices. When I checked blue book on both, the 2003 was right at blue book (for dealer sales) and the 2010 was priced about $5K lower than blue book (again for a dealer sale).
I certainly don't want to overpay for a 10 year old car...
(I live in a small town and so my inventory options are a bit limited unless I'm willing to drive 4 hours or wait.)
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Unread 10-10-2013, 01:33 PM   #10
LilyBayXJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncblue311 View Post
I am looking at dealer cars, which make partially explain the high prices. When I checked blue book on both, the 2003 was right at blue book (for dealer sales) and the 2010 was priced about $5K lower than blue book (again for a dealer sale).
I certainly don't want to overpay for a 10 year old car...
(I live in a small town and so my inventory options are a bit limited unless I'm willing to drive 4 hours or wait.)
I had similar problems with the small town thing. Drove 13 hours round trip (twice!) to buy my LJ
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Unread 10-10-2013, 03:08 PM   #11
frenchy206
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Negotiate a price on the TJ. Save the $ for mods. The JK has a less than desirable motor. The newer 3.6 is vastly better. But, my favorite is, hands down, the tried and true, 4.0.
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Unread 10-10-2013, 03:36 PM   #12
hustler905
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Both 2 doors?
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Unread 10-10-2013, 03:44 PM   #13
the59sound
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I went from an 01 TJ (manual) to an 07 JK X (auto) and am perfectly happy. Yes I gave up my I6 to go to the "undesirable" 3.8 but the thing is my JK has been a muuuch better rig off road and is much more comfy on road. I ended up paying $14K AFTER my 6K trade in. so for a 2010 rubi at $23.8.....isn't bad in my neck of the woods.
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Unread 10-10-2013, 04:20 PM   #14
AJSRedJeep
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About 5 years ago, I bought a used 2000 TJ. I knew a little bit about jeeps and wanted one to tow behind our motorhome. As a retired professional automotive technician, I thought I recognized a vehicle in excellent condition. The jeep came with a 4" lift, aftermarket wheels and tires and visually still looked pretty good. After a quick test drive, I paid 15k for the jeep and took it home. I knew that I was paying a premium.

In the 5 years since, the jeep has become my pride and joy. It's never caused me any grief, still looks good, I drive it every day, many trips 4-wheeling in the desert and the beach, including 5 times at TDS (terra del sol).

In short, it was worth every penny and it's still the best vehicle I've owned. I don't think I could ever sell it. Not sure what the moral of the story is other than if you choose carefully you may end up with not only a good vehicle, but a new lifestyle.

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Unread 10-10-2013, 06:19 PM   #15
jjvw
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I vote for the '03 Sport for all the reasons above. However, a few months ago I paid just a hair less for my very clean & very stock '03 Rubicon with a few more miles on it. Being in Durango, you should definitely buy a Jeep; but maybe these two aren't the ones to look at.

As far as buying a 10 year old Jeep, mine has been nearly problem free. So far I have only needed to rebuild the front drive shaft. I did knock the exhaust loose at the manifold on the trails, but that was just a matter of loose bolts. Beyond the expected routine maintenance, I can't identify anything major that I will need to address in the near future.
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