So, you’re hoping to pick up a used Jeep. Wise choice, since Jeeps hold their value well and are built for thrilling off-roading, among other attributes. But, as with any other preowned vehicle, you still must thoroughly check the ride out before forking over the cash. But Jeep has some areas that need a special going over. Here’s what you should know about inspecting a used Jeep.
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Are Used Jeeps Any Good?
They certainly hold their value. In fact, on average, Jeeps have a significantly slower rate of depreciation than most vehicles. Take the Wrangler, for instance. After five years of use, perhaps being thrashed by punishing trails, the venerable SUV usually retains a whopping 60% of its sticker price.
Further, a study of four million new and used vehicles found that the Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited depreciated at a slower pace than comparable rides such as runners-up Toyota Tacoma and Tundra.
And why do Jeeps depreciate so slowly? It’s chiefly because they’re extremely durable. After all, they are expressly constructed to handle harsh conditions and rough terrain. Further, compared with a whole lot of vehicles, Jeeps are easy to repair.
Checking Out Used Jeeps
Having said all that, you still want the best Jeep you can purchase. So, here are some pointers when it comes to identifying prospective hidden issues.
Take It for a Drive
And we don’t mean around the block a few times and with the owner yammering or the radio on (and by the way, if a test drive is refused, turn on your heels and check out the best used car websites for a different vehicle). Take a test drive of between 15 minutes and a half hours, concentrating on transmission shifting and the Jeep’s suspension.
After that, check braking and acceleration, trying a variety of speeds. This will also give you an idea of how the Jeep steers and handles rough roads, turns, and curves. You also want to make sure the axles and transfer case are in shape, especially if you plan to do off-roading. Also, don’t forget to ask the owner about any repairs and vehicle warranties.
Rule Out Common Problems
If you’re still interested after the test drive, now you want to focus on mechanics. Check maintenance records and cough up the $150 or so for a professional inspection, which can provide an assessment of the Jeep’s condition.
Make sure the mechanic checks fluids and looks for leaks, including in the cooling system, and checks the shape of the ride’s suspension. If the tires indicate uneven wear, that can mean an alignment issue. The brake pads and rotors also require inspection.
Engine-wise, you’ll want to determine whether the engine’s idle is rough or smooth and whether there’s any knocking. All belts must be examined, and the mechanic inspects the air filter and ignition system. If the Jeep is older, have the distributor cap and rotor checked.
You also want to make sure there are no oil leaks, which are typically caused by a gasket or seal that has seen better days. In terms of the transmission, check leaks there, too. Also, you want a tranny that shifts smoothly and sans hesitation. If the ride is a stick, there should be no grinding while shifting. Make sure the 4WD is working properly.
When evaluating the Jeep for a possible purchase, use your olfactory senses as well. An exhaust smell in the cabin could indicate a leak that needs repairing.
There’s a good chance that your Jeep has been put in many miles off-road. Thus, you want to be sure the vehicle is safe and reliable. And in any case, the state of the vehicle’s undercarriage can give you a good idea of how well the ride’s been cared for, cosmetic dents, scratches, and scrapes notwithstanding.
Lastly, checking for rust is a must since excessive corrosion can render the ride unsafe to drive.
In summary, as you can see, there are some distinct things you should look for when inspecting a used Jeep. After all, you want the best one you can find. Then when you do, you can join the legions of happy Jeep owners everywhere.