Home » Was This 12,700-Mile Jeep TJ Wrangler A Deal For $12,100, Or Is The PT Cruiser Engine Just Not Worth It?

Was This 12,700-Mile Jeep TJ Wrangler A Deal For $12,100, Or Is The PT Cruiser Engine Just Not Worth It?

Four Banger Jeep Topshot
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Deals are returning to the used car marketplace, but it still takes expertise and personal stance to call good buy or goodbye. Case in point? This 2006 Jeep Wrangler recently sold on Cars & Bids for $12,100 with just 12,700 miles on the clock. It’s a manual, it has half-doors, and it’s even blue. It should be a great deal, except our David Tracy thinks otherwise, and for one main reason.

The TJ Wrangler was a big deal for Jeep fans. Hell, it still is. To anyone who hated the rectangular lights of the YJ, this was a return to form, with round lamps up front masking a significant technological change underneath. Instead of the fairly agricultural YJ’s leaf springs, the TJ learned a thing or two from the ZJ Grand Cherokee and sported coil springs at all four corners for improved ride comfort. Best of all, the TJ was still quite small, especially when compared to its JK successor. As such, these things are at home in the city and on the trails.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

On the face of things, this certainly isn’t the most pristine TJ out there, having seen its fair share of scratches. The seller claims it was a working ranch vehicle for the first few years of its life, so short distances but hard miles. However, TJs are built to be beaten-on, and this one’s lived its entire life in California. Rust is an absolute kiss of death for these things, so for this thing’s frame to look properly nice is a huge win.

In addition, this TJ Wrangler is tastefully specced, with half-doors, Midnight Blue paint, and cloth seats. Sure, it doesn’t have air conditioning, but that just means fewer parts to break.

Jeep Tj Wrangler Four Cylinder

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So what might be the hang-up on this particular Jeep TJ Wrangler? Well, it’s a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (it’s shared with a number of Chrysler products, including the Chrysler PT Cruiser. In the Wrangler, the engine replaced the AMC 2.5, which was related to the legendary 4.0 offered as the top engine during the TJ’s entire production run) that is best described as beach-grade. We’re talking about 147 horsepower and 165 lb.-ft. of torque, figures that are probably capable of technically moving an entire Jeep. Tilting the scale back a bit, this TJ has a six-speed manual transmission, which sounds infinitely less sucky than an automatic.

Jeep Tj Wrangler Four Cylinder Engine

Now, David Tracy has a very firm opinion on four-cylinder TJs, which goes as follows:

Admittedly, those aren’t the exact words he used the first time around, but the initial reaction probably isn’t fit to print.

Jeep Tj Wrangler Four Cylinder Interior

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However, most Jeeps don’t see trails, and I’d argue that the best Jeep is always the one that best fits your use case. To an urbanite, the reality of a TJ is that visibility is fantastic, parking is a cinch, and going top-down and doors-off in the summer is an absolute blast. If you’re looking for a city Jeep, I reckon you could do a whole lot worse than this low-mileage four-cylinder TJ for $12,100, scratches and all. Sure, you trade a lot of torque for an extra tbree MPG city, but when you’re talking about a vehicle that gets shitty fuel economy, three MPG is a lot. Plus, unlike a Mini Cooper S convertible, this thing will run happily on 87 octane.

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So, what do you say? Does this low-mileage four-cylinder TJ Wrangler have you running for the hills, or would you entertain something like this as a city Jeep? As ever, sound off in the comments below.

(Photo credits: Cars & Bids)

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Chuck Brand
Chuck Brand
29 days ago

I respectfully disagree with David.

No; this is not a gung-ho off-roader. Instead, it is a Wrangler best suited to being used in the manner most Wranglers seem to be driven. Which kinda makes this the most honest, noble of all Wranglers…????‍♂️

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
1 month ago

I’m with David, with one exception- if you’re planning a V8 swap.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
1 month ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

this is the way

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

I have nothing against the 4 cyl Wrangler and I would prefer the better fuel economy as long is it has the manual.

Now having said that, $12K for this one is way too much. I agree that this is more of a $5000 vehicle.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
1 month ago

You don’t find any car with a clean title under 20,000 miles at $5,000, much less a Wrangler.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

I don’t care. It just means I won’t be buying it. I know what it’s worth to me. If someone else wants to pay more, they can go ahead and (in my view) overpay.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
1 month ago

Finding such six cylinder snobbery here is a huge surprise.

Original Jeeps are 4 cylinder. Anything larger is a luxury. So the 4 cylinder won’t spin your 33 inch mudder tires. Big deal. Tires like that are a luxury, too. A luxury not necessary on a simple offroader. You want that luxury, buy it.

Sometimes the fun of off-roading is the challenge of doing as much as you can with what you brought. If bringing Jeepzilla makes the trail you’re on seem like child’s play, you’d probably have a lot more fun on that trail with something more like this basic Jeep.

The 4.0 is unquestionably better for many buyers. But there’s nothing wrong with any 4 cylinder Jeep, and this one was well-priced for its condition. It’s a great starting point for someone who wants to modify it, but also a good buy for someone who likes it the way it is.

I am so disappointed by the whole attitude that some Wranglers are beneath a guy who drove the world’s crappiest Postal Jeep at Moab. You would think he of all people would remember how much fun it is to make do with less.

Piston Slap Yo Mama
Piston Slap Yo Mama
1 month ago

I am just sitting here eating popcorn, awaiting the replies to this provocative comment that I’m kinda sorta agreeing with.

Angry Bob
Angry Bob
1 month ago

The 4 cylinder engine is just a placeholder for where the LS belongs.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago

TJ Wrangler is best Wrangler.

The 4 cylinder is a little disappointing, but I live in the northeast, and any TJ without rust regardless of powertrain is valuable. 12k is pretty brutal, but it’s not like you can buy anything even remotely close to a TJ new at any price. I can understand why DT hates the 4 cylinder, but that level of disdain is surely more appropriate for the Dodge Nitro (which was a bad product in nearly every way) versus a TJ with a sort of crummy powertrain.

Last edited 1 month ago by Taargus Taargus
Harvey Park
Harvey Park
1 month ago

> This 2006 Jeep Wrangler recently sold on Cars & Bids for $12,100 […]. It should be a great deal

No price with 5 digits left of the decimal is a “good deal” for a 2006 Jeep of any kind.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
1 month ago

Run for the hills
-Iron Maiden

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  Freelivin1327

Run *to* the hiiiilllllllsss
Riff
Run for your li-i-iiiife

CTSVmkeLS6
CTSVmkeLS6
1 month ago

Clean little rust free six speed manual jeep with the four banger. Put some 31 inch all-terrain on it and it’s probably like driving a late 80s Tacoma with the 22 RE which is annoyingly wonderful I think someone got a good deal.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  CTSVmkeLS6

$5k maybe. $12k is madness. There are so many better options for that money.

Last edited 1 month ago by Harvey Park
Jim Washam
Jim Washam
1 month ago

I call BS on 4 cyl. TJs. My 97 that I had for 21 years was no speed demon but was trouble free. 0 to 40 worked. Highways required some drafting to keep at above 65. Had Auto and A/C. It worked great on the sand dunes at Silver Lake. Broke my heart when I sold it for $5,000 in 2018 when I bought new JL.

Eric L
Eric L
1 month ago

Overpaid. But at $12,100 I think it sold around that new. Even with that many low miles. My buddy had a 97 TJ with the 4 cylinder (different engine than that one) and it left a lot to be desired. The 4.0 really was that much better in those. My 2003 X is a 4.0 with 5speed manual and has a cleaner frame with 62k miles, makes me contemplate putting mine on Cars and Bids and get crazy money for it but I love it too much.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric L

Base price for a Jeep Wrangler in 2006 was $18,760, over 50% higher than you suspected. And they weren’t being discounted much, if at all. Even a stripper with no options, $20k out the door with tax, title and transport would’ve been a good deal.

Last edited 1 month ago by PaysOutAllNight
Eric L
Eric L
1 month ago

In the early 2000’s, I recall seeing newspaper sales ads for Jeep Wrangler base or a Dodge Neon base for the same price, I recall they being $13-14k. That was 20+ years ago, damn I’m old now. I could be misremembering or thinking of the late 90s. Prob late 90s, cause I bought a 96 Pontiac Sunfire new for only $13k.

Green_NGold
Green_NGold
28 days ago
Reply to  Eric L

I sold Jeeps in the early 2000’s. You would occasionally see those prices on “ad cars” in the paper, but they weren’t really transacting at those prices. And those ad cars were also missing basic things like rear seats and carpet.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
1 month ago

I learned something today, the AMC 2.5L didn’t make it to the end of the TJ production. I always figured it did like the AMC 4.0L.

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
1 month ago
Reply to  pizzaman09

Same!

Zelda Bumperthumper
Zelda Bumperthumper
1 month ago

After looking at that shot of the engine bay, we can call this a mid engined convertible, right?

Last edited 1 month ago by Zelda Bumperthumper
Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago

The original Willys was actually based on a
British convertible sports car

Thxcolm
Thxcolm
1 month ago

If nothing else that engine bay is comically oversized for the 2.5 that is in there. Hopefully that would make for easy wrenching.

Gubbin
Gubbin
1 month ago

I like how y’all are scoffing at the HP/tq figures for this engine, my current truck is around that and it’s the most powerful of any truck I’ve owned.

Also: my local shop is swapping a VW diesel into a Jeep to replace the toasted M-B unit. I’ll see if I can get pictures.

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