Buying A Used Jeep Wrangler JK (What To Look Out For)

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Last Updated on January 30, 2023 by Rose Morah

Buying a used Jeep Wrangler may be a good idea if you are looking for a cheaper option. However, there are a few important things that you need to know before buying one.

This article has lined up the tips for buying a used Jeep Wrangler. Tips that I wished I knew before buying a Jeep Wrangler.

These tips will not only save you from buying someone’s problems but will actually help you when negotiating the price.


The Best Jeep Wrangler Build Sheet For Beginners (A Complete Guide).

14 Cheap Off-road Vehicles (For off-road & Overlanding Adventures).

So, here are the things to know and look out for before buying a Jeep Wrangler JK:

1. Nice-looking interior

If you are looking for a nice-looking interior then I would recommend going for Jeep Wrangler JK which is from 2011 and above. 

Of course, this is assuming that the owner did take good care of its interior. 

2. Fuel economy

Buying a used Jeep Wrangler JK that has an upgraded 3.6-liter engine will give you a better fuel economy and more horsepower compared to a Jeep Wrangler that has a 3.8-liter engine.

3. Ask maintenance questions

One of the best ways to know the vehicle is in good condition is by asking how the owner routinely maintains the Jeep. 

You need to ask when and after how long they change the vehicle fluids and air filter. 

A good fluid routine maintenance is a good sign that the Jeep is in good condition.

You may also like:

Common Issues To Check Before Buying 3rd Gen Toyota 4Runner.

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4. Inspect the wiring of the mounted accessories

If the Jeep has some mounted accessories under the hood such as the lights, winch, supercharger, and so on, you will need to check whether it is properly wired. 

If you are not well familiar with any of that, then this is where you will need the help of a good mechanic, especially if the used Jeep has a Supercharger installed.

Some buyers experience problems with the superchargers installed by the original buyers after purchase.

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5. Inspect whether it has a manifold leak/crack

A manifold crack is a common problem experienced by Jeep owners, especially those with the 3.8-liter motor Jeep Wrangler JK.

Therefore, I highly recommend that you properly inspect it by doing a test drive or opening the hood and starting the Jeep. Then pay attention to a “tick tick “sound. 

The sound is usually an indication of the manifold leak/crack.out

Also, note that they often crack under the heat shield that is attached to the manifold.

Going off-road?

Check out these 10 Best Off-Roading Tips For Beginners.

See also: How to Find Overlanding Trails (Best Tools & Resources).

6. Check for oil cooler leaks

Used Jeep Wranglers that come with a 3.6-liter motor are very prone to oil cooler leaks. This is common in used Jeep Wranglers JK from the year 2012 to 2018.

Therefore, I recommend checking underneath the hood to see if you can spot any oil leaks.

You can use a flashlight down and around the Jeep’s oil filter hose neck to see if you can spot a sign of oil leakage.

If it does not seem to be a critical leak, I would recommend you negotiate the price because some of these fixes can be easy DIY, especially when you like getting your hands dirty. 

You can use online video tutorials to help you fix it.

7. Check whether the radiator and water pump are leaking

Used Jeep Wrangler JK usually has common issues with the radiator and water pump.

In order to check whether the Jeeps radiator is leaking, the vehicle needs to be parked at the same spot for quite some time.

If it does leak, you will notice the leak right under the Jeep’s radiator.

You may also like: How to Start Overlanding on A Budget 

8. Check for rubbing of the tires on the inside of the bumper and the sway bar

When shopping for a used Jeep, you will come across many that are lifted. This can be great especially if that’s what you want. However, you should properly inspect if the job was well done. 

Some of the most common signs that will help you spot a jeep that was not properly lifted include checking to see whether there is tire rubbing:

  • On the inside of the bumper.
  • At the sway bar.
  • On the upper side of the inner fenders.

If you spot any, this could mean that the tire is too big for the lift kit or the wheel well. Additionally, it could be that they have the wrong offset tires.

9. Check if the Jeep has been lifted more than 2.5 inches

One very important thing to note when buying a used Jeep Wrangler JK is checking whether it is lifted for more than 2.5 inches. 

If that’s the case, then you may experience problems with the driveshaft because of the wrong angling.

However, if the owner has added an aftermarket driveshaft after lifting it more than 2.5 inches then that’s okay.

See also:

Best and Worst Used Lexus Models (Buyers Guide).

Tips For Buying A Used Lexus and the Pros And Cons.

10. Don’t be afraid to go underneath the Jeep

I have come across lots of buyers who regret why they never went under the Jeep to check what it looks like before buying.

Note, you don’t have to be a mechanic to go under the Jeep. Additionally, if you are going to spend cash on that Jeep why not see what you are buying without being afraid of what the buyer or anyone thinks.

Why is this important?

This will give you a clear picture of how well they have been off-roading the Jeep Wrangler.

Therefore, you will need to check:

  • If things are really beaten up down there.
  • Are there things that are bent and pretty scratched?
  • Are there things that are scrapped?
  • Has it been painted?
  • Have they added any skid plates? (a good sign of proper maintenance)

I recommend looking for pictures that give you a rough idea of what the underneath of the Jeep should look like.

This will help you to familiarise yourself with some parts especially if you have never been underneath a vehicle.

Check out also these 11 Best Cars To Sleep In (Tips From Avid Campers).

11. Inspect the exterior parts of the Jeep Wrangler

Some of the issues that you may find on the external parts of the used Jeep may help when negotiating the price. 

A few good examples of what to look out for include:

  • Paint scratches.
  • Paint bubble.
  • Rust around the hinges and bolts.

If you are a good negotiator, you could take advantage of these things in case you spot them. 

12. Check the Jeep’s rooftop

Jeeps have two types of rooftops; the hard and soft top.

If the used Jeep Wrangler is a soft top, you need to properly inspect if it is in good condition by checking if it has rips/tears (which is common in used soft top Jeeps).

On the other hand, if it is a hardtop check if it has any leakage. Most used Jeep Wrangler hard top rooftops tend to have roof leaks. 

But, how do you check for leaks?

  • Check if you can see any sign of water damage or crack around the door seals. 
  • Check under the floor mats and floor plugs for any signs of water or rusty jack.

13. Check the Jeep’s tailgate and tire carrier for cracks or any other damages

At times you will find the Jeep, especially the Jeep Wrangler JK developing some cracks on the tire carrier and the hinge of the tailgate. 

This is because the owner upgraded to a heavier tire but failed to upgrade the hinge on the tailgate and the tire carrier. 

This leads to a lot of load stress on the hinge and the tire carrier thus causing damage to these parts of the vehicle.

14. Pay attention to the bumper behind the Jeep

This is extremely important, especially if a trailer hitch is a must-have for you when purchasing a Jeep.

Often, when the owner upgrades to an aftermarket bumper, most of them tend to have no trailer hitch, which means that you will not be able to tow.

15. Check for issues with the transmission overheating

Some buyers who have bought the 2011 Jeep Wrangler JK, have issues with the transmission overheating while they are towing.

Therefore, you need to find out about this from the seller just to be sure, and to also know if you will have this problem when towing.

At times this problem can be solved by using inexpensive aftermarket trans coolers, which should not stop you from getting a good deal on a used Jeep.

16. Plastic parts of the Jeep may cost you extra

You may need to spend extra cash on a used Jeep Wrangler that has a plastic bumper, fenders, door handles, and side mirrors.

Plastic tends to fade over time and you may need to get plastic restoration products to fix it.

17. Test drive it

This is also an important part of the inspection. Test driving the used Jeep Wrangler will help you know-how:

  1. How it brakes when you are driving.

One thing to note especially if the owner has lifted the Jeep is that when the Jeep takes too long to brake, it may mean that they never upgraded the brakes.

  1. How does the steering wheel feel?

Does the steering wheel feel weird or unusual? It is wobbling and keeps drifting from one side to the other and so on? 

Whatever the problem it might be having, it may end up too costly to fix.

So, be sure to ask questions whenever you feel like the steering wheel does not feel comfortable when driving. Remember that you need to make the right decision before the purchase.

  1. How does it accelerate?

18. Make sure everything in the interior works

Many buyers only realize that some interior features don’t work after purchasing the used Jeep Wrangler. 

They hence end up digging deeper into their pockets to repair those things. 

Therefore, when you are test driving, make sure that everything in the interior works fine.

19. Know what to expect from a 4-door and a 2-door Jeep

When you are looking for a Jeep Wrangler to buy, you will find that the 2-door Jeeps are cheaper than the 4-door Jeeps. 

So, to help you figure out the best one for you, the following are the main differences between the two:

You may also like The Difference Between a 2-Door and a 4-Door Jeep Wrangler.

2-door Jeep Wrangler4-door Jeep Wrangler
1.Rides can be bumpy.Smoother rides because of the longer wheelbase.
2.Storage is very limited.You get extra storage at the rear.
3.Has a great turning radius.Not a great turning radius compared to the 2-door Jeep.

All the best!

Hey, I'm Matthias. I am passionate about adventure travel, EVs, and tech in general. I am open-minded and pretty curious. But you know what they say, blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures!