Daily Driver or Project Jeep

agarber5687

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After 11 years since my first Jeep Wrangler, I am ready to get back into the community. However, over those 11 years a lot has changed with a wife and 2 kids (possibly 3 in the future). I have had a lot of questions and this forum has been great for answering most of them. My current and biggest decision to make first is, do I get a daily driver or a fun project Jeep to scratch the itch?

Summarizing my considerations,

A. Buy a new JLU that can fit the entire family (and possibly a 3rd kid) and use it as my daily driver for my commute. It does not need to be the most family friendly car because we have our Pacific for that. But something that is fun for me and works for the family. I do plan to enjoy some off-roading but mild overall, mostly Midwest Forrest trails, at least to start.

B. Buy an older 2-door TJ for a fun weekend car and sometimes for daily commutes when the weather is too nice to pass up. I would then keep my current car and upgrade to a different larger new SUV if/when the 3rd kid arrives. This would be a fun project Jeep to really build into a strong off-roader. My biggest fear with this option is that I will not be able to drive it as much as I would like and it couldn’t fit our entire family if we do expand in the future.

Option B is more of my ideal Jeep (2 door + off-roading specs) but option A feels much more practical at the current moment.

Thoughts?





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D60

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I'm really confused why a mild build on the JL is not an option?

The 2 options you present are apples and oranges.
 

dsgrey

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Option A. I did option B at one time with a convertible I owned. It was my pretty day car, bought it distressed, fixed it up, etc. Sometime later after child #3 arrived and with expenses I decided to sell it since I was paying upkeep on two cars and insurance just for myself. Priorities won. Maybe you won't be in that situation but with option A you've only got the one vehicle.
 

cosine

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option A would be the best choice, since you have another car to use. and you can build it to your liking.

option B why not go for a 2 door jl vs tj. the jl have improved over the tj. and you can build it to your liking.

here are my views if i was in your status. 4 door jl would be best suited for family activities and daily commute, where as a door door would be more fitting for one person or a couple for activities or commuting.
 

Maverick909

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Imo depending on your commute I’d go jlu I love everything about it. And you can “mildly build it” and still driver everyday with it
 

InvictusManeo

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I faced a similar decision. I chose option A, but, I already have the 3 kids. I'm also on this forum so, probably JL biased. I was really thinking of building an LJ though. The biggest reason for me was that I saw the 4 door as a way for me make memories with my kids/whole family.
 
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agarber5687

agarber5687

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Do you wheel alone or does your family go along? If they go along, your 2nd option isn't an option at all really....at least as the children get older.
Not sure honestly. They are pretty young currently and I’d expect to mostly go alone, but that’s not to say for the future as they get older.
 

Arrowhead

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I went through a similar thought process. Don't have kids to carry though (they have their own off road vehicles). Bought the Jl last year and wheeled it a bit, did the Rubicon wheel/tire/suspension takeoffs for 2-1/2" of overall lift. Got the itch to do more and was debating about building up the JL or just buying an older TJ and building that. The more I looked the more I appreciated the JL and it's capability. No offense to the TJ owners, but it would take a few thousand to get a TJ to the level of my JL that already had 33's on it. So I decided to do a mild build on my JL with skids, rock rails and winch. It's mild enough to stay as my daily driver and get over 21 mpg, but capable off road with protection and self extraction ability just in case.
 

shekmark

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I chose option 1 as well. thought about buying an old two door and playing around. I realized I am getting just as much out of my JLUR. I am not gonna mod it too much. I tend not to keep things too long and it's pretty cool the way it is. Bumper, sidesteps and 35's is probably gonna be it.
 

mgroeger

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After 11 years since my first Jeep Wrangler, I am ready to get back into the community. However, over those 11 years a lot has changed with a wife and 2 kids (possibly 3 in the future). I have had a lot of questions and this forum has been great for answering most of them. My current and biggest decision to make first is, do I get a daily driver or a fun project Jeep to scratch the itch?

Summarizing my considerations,

A. Buy a new JLU that can fit the entire family (and possibly a 3rd kid) and use it as my daily driver for my commute. It does not need to be the most family friendly car because we have our Pacific for that. But something that is fun for me and works for the family. I do plan to enjoy some off-roading but mild overall, mostly Midwest Forrest trails, at least to start.

B. Buy an older 2-door TJ for a fun weekend car and sometimes for daily commutes when the weather is too nice to pass up. I would then keep my current car and upgrade to a different larger new SUV if/when the 3rd kid arrives. This would be a fun project Jeep to really build into a strong off-roader. My biggest fear with this option is that I will not be able to drive it as much as I would like and it couldn’t fit our entire family if we do expand in the future.

Option B is more of my ideal Jeep (2 door + off-roading specs) but option A feels much more practical at the current moment.

Thoughts?
Option B and a vasectomy.
 

RubiSc0tt

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TL;DR: Short Answer: Consider your situation and your plan. Look at the costs involved for both options and weigh them out. Go with the option that is more cost effective (both money and time).

Long answer + experience:
I've been in a similar position a few times. I've always had a Wrangler since 2003. Since then, this has been "my thing". Pretty much the only black hole I throw time and money into (other than being in a band). I bought a couple daily drivers when I was younger (and dumber with money). My 98' TJ was built, but I needed to get down to one vehicle (to save money). and that Jeep needed frame repair, pinion bearings, and a host of other repairs (plus upgrades. I wanted to do a bunch of really dumb stuff. Like, Hemi-swap-and-dual-ARB's-with-1-tons-on-37+'s dumb). I didn't have the room or skills (or money) to do that, and needed something with AC that i could daily drive- So I traded my car on my 04 TJ Rubi (63k mi, 9 years old, well maintained), and sold my old Jeep to help recoup the cost.

I did OK, At that point it was just me and my then-girlfriend-now-wife. So, I built it. Small build, 33's and just transferred all my skidplates and bumpers over. Saved est $2-4k in parts cost alone. It was on 33's within a year. Paid it off a couple years ago, was daily driving and weekend warrioring. Still doing dumb stuff, just like with the old Jeep: following bigger guys on bigger trails, Northeastern Forest Rock crawling (lots of big, sharp rocks, damp soil/ mud in between). We got married, found out we had a kid on the way. We had a second car seat in the TJR for emergencies but my wife's Rav4 took most of the family transport duties due to lack of space and all of the safety features. The day my son was born, we had 24" of snow and my wife wanted to drive the Rav to the hospital. I told her absolutely not, We were taking the Jeep if the snow didn't let up and get cleared, and I would come back for the Rav later on. But, that got me thinking: What happens if we get dumped on like that again? Eventually, we went to a larger car seat and that didn't really fit in the TJR. I went almost an entire year of not being able to drive my kid around- and when you're a gear head with terrible cabin fever, and you want to be able to "play cars" with your kid- this weighs on you; or, at least it did on me. At this point, My TJR had 120k mi, and was quickly heading down the path of my old '98 (rust, needed everything replaced and was breaking down weekly). Working totally opposite schedule of my wife and having a son I really wanted to spend time with, I didn't have the time to always be fixing an aging Jeep after just daily driving- let alone some of the hardcore rock crawling I was doing with a seriously underbuilt Jeep.

The way I see it, I had 3 choices:
1). Fix the old Jeep and buy a new(er) vehicle
2). Fix the old Jeep and lease a new(er) vehicle
3). Trade the old Jeep on a 4 door something (JK or JL Rubi)

I went back and forth a lot. Ran all the numbers. Buying another vehicle meant adding another vehicle to our insurance policy (hidden cost beyond monthly payments). Turns out leasing a new vehicle not only meant adding a vehicle to our insurance policy, but changing our entire policy for the lease- and we already had good, full coverage on both vehicles (more hidden cost beyond monthly payments), and leasing would lock me in to trading every 4 years and just extending the debt cycle. I was planning on a truck, and trailer, to tow the old Jeep with too, but once I started looking at how often I was getting out (roughly once a month, before our son). and how much money was tied up in insurance, registration, and maintenance on the truck, trailer, and now Jeep, as well as our apartment situation with limited storage space, it seemed insane to even consider it. I looked at other vehicles but we were still left with the added insurance cost and the issue of not having the space for a 3rd vehicle that just sat there most of the time, anyway.

That left option 3. Admittedly, this made a ton of sense. So I started looking used. I found out quickly Prices on 2012+ low mileage JKU Rubi's were stupid- REALLY Stupid. by the end of the loan cycle with some of them, I would have ended up with a 10 year old vehicle around the same mileage and I'd have to go through this whole thing again. No thanks. So, I started building and researching JLUR's. I ran all the numbers, financing options, found a dealer to work with, everything. It was expensive, but it would get the most longevity and usage for that money I was spending. Ultimately, the deciding factor was time. I wanted to spend more time with my little boy and my wife. i didn't want to be out in the garage, freezing my ass off in the middle of Feb because the old Jeep decided something else needed to be replaced... again. Also, I wanted to be able to take my son out in the Jeep, eventually. We talked about having a second kid, and there is no way in hell we'd fit 4 people and all of our stuff for a day trip (off road or otherwise) in a TJ, let alone longer (like vacation, for example). That's what did it for me. Luckily, 2018 JLUR had just shown up in the parking lot at work, so I parked next to him. When we all left, I ran up to the guy, introduced myself told him I'd been looking at them and wanted to get a closer look. Thankfully, he didn't think I was a crazy person and he let me crawl around, checking it out. We quickly became friends. It was already at the same clearance level that my 3" short arm lifted TJ with 33's sat, and it came with 33's from the factory plus all the upgrades and creature comforts and room that I would need to fit my family. That was all I needed to see.

I placed my order a few weeks later and brought it home in December. No regrets. I love it. sometimes I miss my TJ's for being old, and being that i could bang them off rocks and do all sorts of stupid stuff with them, but playing that hard comes with a price tag, and it's not just in dollars, but in time as well. I've taken a couple steps back.in terms of chasing after tackling badass trails. I'm ok with it, though. I ran both my TJ's stock for a time before putting in a lift and tires. I never ever broke down, or wrecked (thankfully. I might have been close a few times). I've only ever come home on a trailer twice in over a decade of hard wheeling. It's because I knew the limits of my rig, and how far I was willing to go. I knew as long as I was smart, I'd be more than safe with a JLUR.

I've ordered a bunch of parts to make it safer, more capable, and more comfortable. I've been working my ass off to get them installed around work and child care schedules. We've already taken a few road trips. My son loves it. Whether we are going to the store, on a road trip, or on an "adventure", he asks to take the Jeep. He loves playing in the Jeep. He loves "helping" me work on it. I'm hoping this is something we can do together as he gets older. My wife likes it better than the old Jeeps- mainly because it's safer and has more room.. And there is room should we decide to have a second kid. This stuff alone makes the cost of the JLUR and the build parts worth it. I know I'll get back out there eventually, so I'm not worried, nor am I in any rush. I'm hoping with proper corrosion resistance, I'll be able to build this Jeep and keep it even longer than the last two.

Sorry for the long post, but I know how the thought process goes. Once I put numbers into a spreadsheet I was actually shocked at the overall cheaper option.
 

mgroeger

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