Jeep Grand Cherokee

  • 4 CYL
  • 130,000 MILES

I'm looking to buy a nineties style jeep grand cherokee but am fairly clueless about the pros, cons and what to expect with the car. I am willing to pay about 2,000 and am not sure what to expect. I have done a fair amount of research and have gathered that their engines last up to 50% longer than most cars, but they are also known for eating gas. What else should I know. Are these things even correct?

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Thursday, August 25th, 2011 AT 7:45 AM

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I'm not into Jeeps myself but for some reason, people who have them seem to like them. In my opinion, the older a vehicle you can find, the better. As they get newer, the insane engineers added more and more extremely unreliable computers to do things we never needed computers for before. That includes running all the outside lights, door locks, dash gauges, and things like that. My daily driver is an '88 Grand Caravan. It has no anti-theft system to prevent me from driving my own van. No Body Computer to turn on my dome lights. (My '95 Grand Caravan has no interior lights due to a defective Body Computer). All I have is a very reliable Engine Computer that hasn't skipped a beat in 228,000 miles.

One thing to inspect is the wiring between the door hinges. They are for anything in the door, obviously, such as power windows, power locks, power mirrors, speakers, and courtesy lights. Frayed wires are a common problem on any brand and model of car, but on some Jeeps that harness can be unbolted and unplugged to be repaired on a workbench. That's a lot easier than sitting by the door replacing one wire at a time. If you find what appears to be some wires starting to fray, that might give you some bargaining power. It can take years yet before a wire breaks completely.

Do a search in other forums and this site under "Jeep" to see what other people have found to complain about. That will give you an idea of what to look closely at when you find a vehicle you like. Keep in mind you will be reading only negative things. People don't jump on the internet to post something about a vehicle that isn't giving them a problem. When you get discouraged, read some of the posts for other brands, especially 2002 and newer models. Remember too that for every complaint you read, there's a few hundred of the same model that don't have the problem you're reading about.

What would make me really happy is to hear you did not buy a General Motors or Ford product. GM and Volkswagen are the two best companies at costing you money after the purchase. I don't mean they designed their vehicles to break down. I mean they designed them to force you to go back to the dealership. I've written five-page articles about the customer-unfriendly things GM does to force you to go back to the dealer instead of independent repair shops, or doing the work yourself. Ford just does some ridiculous stuff that unfortunately, other manufacturers are copying. For example, they involve two computer modules, including the most complicated one, the instrument cluster, in blowing the horn. Not sure what problem they found a solution to, but the typical repair bill for a dead horn is $800.00.

The three most customer-friendly companies are Hyundai, Toyota, and Chrysler. Another advantage to owning an older car is it's easier to find used parts and they cost a lot less than for newer models. You're right about the lack of engine problems. As for fuel mileage, that's always an issue with four-wheel-drive vehicles. Even when it's not in use there is still all the added weight you're moving. That's a benefit though when looking at used car prices. A friend of mine bought two really huge late '70s model cars in the mid '80s when gas prices shot up real high, for less than $300.00 each. Both were in real nice condition, but they were gas hogs. To get twice the fuel mileage he would have had to pay about $2000.00 for a small tin can of a car. He saved more buying the cars than he spent on gas for the years he owned them, so he was a lot of money ahead and he rode around in comfort. Insurance cost less too. When you find a nice Jeep, mention you're also looking at a little four-cylinder car. The seller has probably heard that many times before and will be more willing to come down in price.

Don't get suckered into a smaller engine thinking it will give you better fuel mileage. Often they have to work harder to get going. It takes a certain amount of fuel to move a certain amount of weight. Smaller engines just take longer to do that. If you're happy with the power on a test drive, fine, but if you find it hard to catch up to traffic, and you drive on expressways a lot, you're going to be disappointed or frustrated. If you live in a rural area, you might be satisfied with a smaller engine.

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Thursday, August 25th, 2011 AT 9:01 AM

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