Thinking of crossing over to an xj... My cj5 is too small for me and my wife to take on weekend camping trips, so I need something bigger for gear and our two dogs. So, I've always loved the 4dr xj and love the 4.0ltr motor...
What year is best to get when it comes to an xj?
Which is better, auto or manual?
Any common problems or things I should stay away from???
What is a good price? Miles don't really concern me as it will only be a toy, weekend warrior.
There's going to be a guy who shows up in here and posts his reasons why people who say "buy a 99" are lazy.
Yep, because I think that your answer is lazy. "94 or 99?" Really? Back that up. Tell me why not 95 or 96 or 98 for instance? I'll grant you that 94 was a little more sturdy than previous years. You probably don't like 95 because...what?...it has an airbag? That's the only significant change from 94-95 I can think of. An airbag rules 95 OUT for you? Most people consider that a plus. You another one that rules 96 out because it's a "transition year?" I owned a 96. There was nothing transitional or mysterious about it; it was made in Sept 95 (you can know this simply by looking its VIN up through Jeep or even a Carfax service), so maybe the later ones were a bit mixy-matchy, fine. What's wrong with 98? No 99 intake? So what? After years of periodically researching and re-researching the topic, I've seen proof of NOTHING regarding the 99 intake other than it gets in the way of fitting the APN header. Lots of speculation, but never any actual proof.
I'll accept not wanting to call pre-91, 00/01, or even 97 (hard to find accurate wiring diagrams) the "best," but nit-picking further than that starts to get a bit absurd.
Originally Posted by mschi772
Guys whose only advice to you is "buy a 99" aren't really helping you much. Some of them just blindly regurgitate that because they read it somewhere when researching Jeeps, and they don't even know why. There are some reasons that 99 is a particularly favored year, but it might be that NONE of them matter to YOU. I mean, what do you want to do with your Cherokee? Is it just going to be a daily driver? Will you wheel it? If so, how often? How hard? What kind (mud, sand, rocks)? Are there any particular modifications/upgrades you'd want to do to it?
I think some people's obsession with 99 is a bit disrespectful to how great all the other XJ's are. Even the 00 and 01 XJ's are worthy of respect that is often denied to them by many. You really can't lose. Many minor and some major changes were made between 84 and 01. I'm sure you can find a list of all the changes out there somewhere; I know I found that info myself once upon a time.
Aside from the normal stuff to look out for with ANY used car, be aware that 84-86 XJ's had GM engines that pale in comparison to the 4.0 of 87-01 (I'm just ignoring the 4 cyl engines that some XJ's had). The pre-91 Renix systems are a bit ... "special" and simply something to be aware of and ready to work with if you're looking at one. 00-01 4.0's have a head with a casting flaw that may or may not crack between cyl 3 and 4. Many of them never crack (or at least haven't after hundreds of thousands of miles), but many do. It's something to watch-out for but not something that should keep you away completely, and you should be aware that identical heads without the casting flaw are out there should you have a crack. The manual trannies are solid as are the autos. The two possible transfer cases are both great. There are a variety of rear ends each with their own advantages and disadvantages, and unless you're planning on doing lots of wheeling, even the weakest of the bunch (D35) will be just peachy. The floor pans are easily the most susceptible to rust on all years. Because of the limited space for a radiator, XJ's are just barely able to maintain their operating temperature, so you have very little room to slack on maintaining the cooling system; luckily the cooling system is a reliable as any other part of the 4.0, so it's not likely to require much work (and any work will be relatively cheap). The stock exhaust manifold cracks easily which can impact the performance and efficiency of your engine negatively. APN makes a replacement header that is a very affordable replacement should you ever need/want one (there are other header options out there as well).
It is my opinion that if you get an XJ with a 4.0 from 91-99, you have virtually nothing but cheap regular maintenance to worry about. If you get an 00 or 01, you just have to make sure to never overheat it (as if you'd ever be OK with overheating any engine), and to pay closer attention to the oil and coolant "health."
Price is very variable with geography, and common problems you may see immediately are header crack, rust, overall neglect from ignorant previous owners, rust, and oil leak from oil filter adapter. And rust.
Autos and manuals: neither is better. They'll both survive the apocalypse. Manuals will get you better MPG, but autos have the simplicity/ease of being an auto. It's just up to you (or fate since you can only buy what you find).
I will say that you should make sure that an XJ is big enough for what you need before you buy one. 2 people, 2 dogs, and gear...might get a bit cramped in an XJ depending on the people/dogs/gear. ZJ's are a bit bigger, and WJ's are even bigger. Yeah, I know the looks are dramatically different, but the guts are all basically the same especially if they all have the 4.0 (ZJ's 5.2/5.9 V8 is also quite great, but I'm not a fan of the WJ's 4.7 V8 at all). Just food for thought.
In general, the 97-99 most will probably say we're the all-round bestXJ years. HP D30 front axle, Chry 8.25/29 spline rear axles, aren't known for the "Potential" cracked heads that the 00 & 01 have been known for.
My XJ is an 01, it runs great, but does have a crap load of cat's, 02 sensors, and the engine light goes on once a year for mysterious miss fires in all the cylinders but, code clears & it passes inspection.
Biggest killer of our XJ's is rust. Check under the jeep, behind the rear bumperetts. My XJ looked great, pulled the bumperetts off to put on a bumper & Huge holes on both sides, just did a cut & fold and it's good to go.
If you're gonna look at a 00 or 01, check the oil. If it's milky looking walk away, that typically tells you it's been over heated and may have a cracked head. Also, if it is a00 or 01, and has ABS, it'll most likely have a D35 & as you may know they aren't anywhere as strong as the 8.25. Axles are easy to swap in if need be. ( just put in a HPD30 & 8.25) Front axle will have a LP vs the HP.
I paid $5K for my 01, 95,000 miles, bolt is/was good condition. XJ wasn't touched besides a aftermarket head unit.
Just recently went through this when I purchased my 2000 auto XJ classic this spring. I must have driven and looked at 15 XJs before I purchased this one and I am 100% happy with my purchase. What you need to do is find a Jeep that meets what you need it to be for a certain price then consider the year it is and see if that matters to you. Mine was well cared for, not a spec of rust in the rockers, had a lot of options and the owner who was the second owner has had it since 2002. Motor was solid and had 140K on it, had 2" suspension lift done right, custom nerf bars to protect the rockers, hitch and 7 wire plug, truck needed:
-Aux fan gone
-pass window regulator
-driver door combo window switch issue (they all have it)
-hood release cable broken (using hood pins)
-stereo wiring in front doors broken
These were alot of things I knew I could fix cheap, where as fixing rust and trying to get a 4.0 that was abuse new again were not. After all the searching I picked this gem up for 3K and have dumped less then 1K into it including the tires. It runs great, looks great with the 16" Classic wheels, all the electronic stuff works flawless now, and it will do what I need it to do. If you are not going to go tearing up the trail then what difference is it what axles are in it or if it has a LP front diff? If the head aint cracked and you take care of your vehicles find one that isnt flush the coolant, change the thermo and make sure the fans work and it wont crack.
To me the year that fits your needs when buying a used car is the best year for you, unless you have unlimited funds and time to search for the perfect jeep.