- Battery died in May 2013. Can't complain, it was 7 years old and I left the lights on while it was at work.
- Cracked the 6 speed manual transmission drain plug housing (my fault, overtightened the bolt changing the fluid) around 48,000 miles - required dropping the transmission to fix it, so I had a refresh and clutch replacement done - $2,200.
- OPDA started squeaking around 54,000 miles, common issue with 05-06 Wranglers - replaced with a Dorman unit ($85) myself, then replaced that with a Crown unit in 2014 ($125), only because the Crown was designed a bit better.
- Factory Goodyear GSAs were toast at 36,000 miles, replaced with Firestone Destination A/Ts, but inherited a new set of wheels and tires (Definity Dakota A/Ts) a few months ago.
- Broke the map sensor ($35), fixed myself.
- Factory CD player would skip relentlessly, replaced with a Chrysler RAZ headunit ($102), and I use a PIE Aux Adapter as well myself.
- Broke a sway bar link in the front during the winter of 2013. Fixed myself ($45).
- Jeeps are prone to rust, in particular on their frames. I had to use Eastwood products inside the frame and thoroughly paint the outside of the frame, as my frame and body were clean and I wanted to keep it that way. The Jeep is still rust free years later, which is good.
- Soft tops simply don't last. The original soft top lasted 7 years, and a cheap replacement had too many issues too. I like the soft top, but the noise, difficulty of putting up/down the top at times, and fragility have been a sore point. I have had a hardtop on since September of last year, and am debating on taking it off ever again at this point.
- Half doors are fun in the summer, but finding uppers that work well is a challenge for the winter. The factory plastic uppers scratched easily and were difficult to see out of, making night driving incredibly difficult. The Bestop Sliders I replaced them with leaked and kept falling apart constantly. The current Bulldawg hard uppers are nice but drafty sometimes in the cold, and the hardware did not bolt down as easily as it should have, plus the window only opens a small amount.
- Replaced front/rear brakes around 45,000 miles.
- Replaced front shocks at 58,000 miles.
When I bought my TJ in the summer of 2011, I absolutely loved it. The Jeep Metallic Green paint job, the cool-looking wheels, the 4.0/6 speed combo, the ability to go topless with ease, the 4WD system combined with the ride height, and the general fun/cool factor made the purchase worth-while. My father owned a CJ when I was little and drove a 99 Jeep Cherokee Sport since it was new, so I knew buying a Jeep Wrangler would be a good purchase, especially as I was in my mid-twenties at the time.
Since then I added small upgrades including:
- Gentex auto-dimming compass/temp mirror.
- Rigid Dually LEDs on KC windshield mounts.
- E-Autogrills Rockcrusher rear bumper, JCR Off-Road front brush-bar, Body Armor Rock Crawler sliders.
- OEM fog lights, aftermarket LED back-up lights.
- Windstar cowl intake, BBK 65mm TB, High-Flowing catalytic converters/exhaust.
- Hardtop, hard uppers, soft upper sliders, soft top, Spiderweb Shade safari top.
- Instatrunk, aftermarket alarm with motion sensor.
- Chrysler RAZ headunit, PIE aux adapter, 6.5s in the soundbar, LED interior and Gauge lighting.
- American Racing wheels with Definity Dakota A/Ts.
- Recovery strap, D-Rings, portable high-power air pump.
- Sound-deadening material in the doors and under the carpet.
- Fun in the spring/summer, fun in 4WD off-road and in the snow. No complaints there at all.
- Handling is better than expected. The turning radius is excellent, it handles really well for an SUV, and the manuverability is outstanding, especially in small spaces.
- Huge aftermarket support for Jeeps, and the TJ has supposedly the most support currently beside the JK. You can literally build on or replace every little part in your Wrangler with new, used, or custom-fabricated materials.
- Decent spartan interior. The seats are pretty comfortable, the dash is laid-out nicely, plus you don't have to worry about failing power windows/locks as there are none.
- It's gotten me through incredibly harsh winters, hot summers, Hurricane Sandy (yes I had to work during it), and much more without a single complaint. It just wants to keep going, the 4wd system combined with the 4.0's torque curve, the off-road suspension, and the manual gearbox make it a great vehicle for when the weather is not.
- If you are single, guy or girl, it's easy to meet people and be more social. I've had several girls give me their phone numbers simply by driving around topless in my Jeep. Friends love to go out in it in the summer and winter, plus there is a likely a off-road community near you that you can join to meet people as well.
- It's incredibly easy to work on and maintain. With the exception of the brakes and the transmission pan, I've done tune-ups, oil-changes, installed upgrades (above), and much more with ease.
- It's dead-stone reliable; the only time it left me stranded was when the original battery died. It has started in -15 degree weather and 105 degree weather without a problem.
- A breeze to park and maneuver tight city streets. I've literally fit in parking spaces that small economy cars struggled to do and had to park elsewhere.
- Looks of it are timeless. I've had people ask if their kids can have the picture taken in it, and you'll get waves from Jeeps and non-Jeeps alike.
- Cold A/C and very HOT heat. I do wish it had a bi-level heat setting though.
- Noise. There is carpet, but there is no sound-deadening material under it stock. There is no sound-deadening in the doors, tailgate, under the hood, or behind the dash. Then you have poor aerodynamics, large tires, a large old-design inline 6 engine, and either a soft top or SMC-molded hardtop. Even with 2-3 layers of sound-deadening material under my carpet and in the doors, my Jeep is still noisy. Liveable? Definitely. Tiring after daily-driving it for years? Absolutely.
- The ride is harsh, even stock. I have soft-compound A/T's at 30 PSI with Bilstein shocks and it's still jarring at times. Short-trips you can barely notice, but if you commute often or drive long-distances constantly, take a car if you have one available. The suspension has coil springs, which make it more tolerable, but due to the short wheelbase and SOA design, it is still harsh for a daily-driver.
- The performance is just adequate on the X model, largely due to the gearing (3.07), which isn't great, and partially the 4.0, which is very responsive, but still seems underpowered IMO, even with the 6 speed. The cost to re-gear to even 3.73s is expensive, typically $1500-2500 depending on the shop rates in your area. Re-gearing is necessary for tires larger than 31 inches in a TJ.
- Gas mileage is abysmal at 13-15 city, 16-18 MPG highway. I get it "it's a Jeep with poor aerodynamics", but it's still terrible IMO, especially for the size of the vehicle. Driving like a grandma or like a 16 year-old after drinking 29 Redbulls makes no noticeable difference in this vehicle, as I used to religiously track my gas mileage.
- The hardtop provides better security, warmth, a rear wiper/washer, and a slight noise reduction. It is heavy and awkward to install, requires 2 people, one of whom is going to be mad likely after removing/installing it. The hardtop has no insulation so it tends to "echo" noise inside, and I swear the soft top seems to warm the interior up faster sometimes?
- The soft top is excellent when it's down and is great at keeping you dry in inclement weather. Nothing beats being able to put the top down on a nice day and enjoying the weather. Visibility with the top up in the rear is poor, with limited side visibility as well. The soft top is terrible noise-wise on the highway, in the wind, and is fragile (easy to break the zippers or to scratch the windows). It is also difficult to put the top back together when the weather is cooler out; the material shrinks when cold.
- Half doors. Fun in the summer with the soft top down, mediocre the rest of the year. Full doors seal better and have a roll-up window, wish I had a set. Sliders are nice, but have a small opening and tend to leak in the rain.
- Modifications are very expensive. Re-gearing, lifting, adding larger tires, and adding armor can end up costing thousands of dollars. Changing the gearing and suspension geometry of a Wrangler can have some positive and negative effects as well; usually the more off-road friendly it gets, the worse it gets as a daily-driver, especially reliability-wise. Fine if you are older with lots of money and it's a toy, but a bit daunting for budget-minded individuals who use it as a daily-driver.
- The short-wheelbase has some great advantages, but on ice or hard-packed snow, it's not at an advantage. A XJ (99 Jeep Cherokee Sport) I drove would drive easily in 2WD through hard-packed snow, while the TJ tends to require 4WD and slightly more finesse to keep the rear-end under control. The rear-end likes to kick out in icy conditions, and it can be dangerous at high speeds in snow/ice conditions as well if you're not paying attention. I made it through several winters with ease and actually had fun doing it, but I would not recommend this vehicle for a new driver in wintery conditions; it's simply not stable enough.
Overall, a Jeep Wrangler is a great vehicle. It's reliable, looks great, the drive-train/suspension are excellent, and it makes a great, fun daily-driver on and off-road for the most part. However, it's kinda like college to me where it's fun for quite a while, but after time passes, you find yourself ready to move on to something better and more practical. I don't plan on getting rid of mine, but I have started to consider buying a second vehicle that will be more practical for daily-driving.