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Tips & Pointers Before You Buy Your Next Jeep

Bringing Home a Used Jeep

Pete TrasborgPhotographer, Writer

This is one of those “do as we say, not as we do” kind of stories. We recently had a chance to grab a ’98 5.9L Limited Grand Cherokee ZJ. We’ve been chasing this particular Jeep for about seven years now.

We got it from Jeeps R Us in Laguna Beach, California, and basically picked it up sight unseen. Obviously, we saw it, but we didn’t really crawl under it, look at anything but the interior, etc. The owner’s wife had been driving it, and at 150,000 miles, it was in amazing shape. It actually still is. Ham-fisted Trasborg still hasn’t managed to kill it (yet).

However, the Jeep hadn’t been driven in a while, and we just didn’t care. It was a low-mileage, cream-puff, 5.9L Limited. Who would care?

Well, we brought it home, and once we started driving it—or Trasborg started beating on it (whichever way you want to phrase it)—some issues showed up, and here’s the do-as-we-say part: It’s nothing wrong with Jeeps R Us; they sell great Jeeps that are often hard to find anywhere else and do great work restoring a Jeep. However, not driving a Jeep might be worse for it than letting Trasborg take it and run over a medicine-ball-sized boulder at 60 mph.

OK, maybe we’re exaggerating a bit. We bent the control arm on that 60 mph stunt, put the upper control arm mount into the oil filter housing, drained the engine of all its oil, and spent a total of 18 hours and 60 miles on a strap getting the Jeep home. The point: Drive your Jeeps if you don’t want them to die.

To clarify, we didn’t wreck this Grand, but once we started driving it again, we noticed some issues that wouldn’t have happened if it had been driven by anyone but Trasborg. You know, also known as “driven it normally.” Simply put, if you don’t drive the Jeep every day, it is easy to forget about some issues it may or may not have. Thankfully, Jeeps R Us offered to take care of any issue we had. Most normal people wouldn’t even call some of these things issues.

But us being us, we took them as “excuses” to upgrade the Jeep. So, here are some common Grand Cherokee issues and some of the things we did to take care of them. Oh, by the way, never buy a Jeep from us. We have so many of them they sit for years sometimes. We’ve been thinking of hiring someone just to drive our Jeeps so they don’t die.