Ah, yes, the vaunted Jeep Wrangler. We could spend days tossing hosannas at this legendary SUV that remains wildly popular some 80 years after its forefathers served as WW2 workhorses. In fact, preowned Wranglers hold their value very well. If you’re interested in getting in one, you need to know how to find a good, clean used Jeep Wrangler. Here’s info about that.
Jeep Wranglers are very much in demand, and for good reasons. They’re ridiculously competent off road, as is well known. They’re also versatile and reliable. But if you want to buy a used one that’s more than a few years old, there are a few things you must look for.
Things to Check
Rust. Largely because of the way they’re often used, Wranglers are apt to rust. Excessive rust can be pricey to get rid of and can threaten the vehicle’s operation, particularly if it’s underneath. In addition to the undercarriage, look over the vehicle’s exterior and as well as around the hinges of the doors and hood, where moisture gets trapped. You should also peek under carpeting or floor liners.
Undercarriage. How the undercarriage looks will tell you tons about how well – or not – the Wrangler was cared for. Beyond looking for rust – which is very important – you want to check the condition of any skid plates and heavy steel plates that help shield the ride from stumps, rocks, and other trail hazards.
Exterior. Check for dents and chipped paint. These may not be deal breakers, but you may be able to negotiate a lower price if you think the repairs you’ll make will add up. You’ll also want to be sure all frame rails, brackets, and windshields are in good shape.
Engine bay. A clean engine bay usually says that the engine and transmission have been well-serviced. You should also listen to how a running engine sounds, as anything irregular could mean a problem.
Leaks. You certainly want to know if any fluids are leaking, since hoses or cables could be cracked or there could be a hole in the fuel filter. On a dry day, get ahold of a blacklight and point it at the undercarriage of the vehicle in which you’re interested, as well as under the hood. Look for liquids on the ground. The best used car websites will be honest about their offerings, including whether there are leaks.
Tires. On the surface, tires may not seem such a big deal. After all, they can be replaced. But really, their condition can give you insight into how well the Wrangler’s been maintained. If the tires or wheels are in rough shape, odds are that other maintenance was let go. In addition, wear around tread edges could mean alignment issues.
Modifications. Wranglers are known for being mod friendly, and many people who buy them love to take advantage of all the accessories and customizable options. So, check for any mods on the Wrangler you’re eyeing because you may not want them, and they may not have been installed properly. You may want to bring along a friend for your inspection who knows about modifications.
Service history. Be certain to request a service history of the Wrangler you’re considering. You want to see how well the vehicle was cared for.
How it drives. Do not forego a test drive, as you want to see how the transmission shifts, how the suspension is faring, how the Jeep accelerates, and how well the brakes work. And avoid playing music while you’re putting the Wrangler through the paces on a variety of terrains.
Mileage. We’re all conditioned to covet low mileage, right? Well, in some cases, a Wrangler with low miles and a nice price may mean that it was driven very roughly on harsh terrain for short distances. If everything above checks out, you may very well have a gem. Just be wary.
As you can see, you’ll need to take some real steps to find a good, clean used Wrangler. But such Jeeps are out there. Resist the temptation to grab the first ride you see that has a price you can afford.