Scrambler or LJ

AJ2393

Scrambled in the Head
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Westport
State
MA
#1
Looking for opinion. I have looked for quite a while for a decent Scrambler in my price range for some time. Had a deal for a few worked out only to fall through because of seller remorse. I don't have $20K+ to drop on a Scrambler, then add in shipping, tax, etc. Seems to me there is a lot of rusty Scrambler projects for $12K+ that still needs years of work and thousands in parts/labor. Basically I feel I am getting priced out of the Scrambler market because I don't have a wad of cash to dump into one. I was looking for something more road ready and not another 3 year + project, I've done that before with my 81. Locally a 2006 LJ came up for sale at a reasonable price, 70K low miles, good condition. I guess I'm not sure if it s just time to let go of the idea of finding a decent priced running/driving Scrambler for like $10K and move onto something more modern so that I can enjoy our limited summer jeep weather here. And if I decide to go with an LJ, what type of things are good or bad that I should look for? The one that I am looking at is an automatic, not thrilled about that. You guys are always full of great insight, so let me know what your gut tells you.
 
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bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
Staff member
SOA Member
City
Dexter
State
MI
#2
Looking for opinion. I have looked for quite a while for a decent Scrambler in my price range for some time. Had a deal for a few worked out only to fall through because of seller remorse. I don't have $20K+ to drop on a Scrambler, then add in shipping, tax, etc. Seems to me there is a lot of rusty Scrambler projects for $12K+ that still needs years of work and thousands in parts/labor. Basically I feel I am getting priced out of the Scrambler market because I don't have a wad of cash to dump into one. I was looking for something more road ready and not another 3 year + project, I've done that before with my 81. Locally a 2006 LJ came up for sale at a reasonable price, 70K low miles, good condition. I guess I'm not sure if it s just time to let go of the idea of finding a decent priced running/driving Scrambler for like $10K and move onto something more modern so that I can enjoy our limited summer jeep weather here. And if I decide to go with an LJ, what type of things are good or bad that I should look for? The one that I am looking at is an automatic, not thrilled about that. You guys are always full of great insight, so let me know what your gut tells you.
@spankrjs is going to say he loves his but I despised that automatic after less than 3 minutes of driving one. We were getting the LJ for my wife and she didn’t drive stick so we went for the auto first. After feeling it with her driving I told her we needed to go back and let me test drive the 6-speed so she could feel the difference. It didn’t take long at all before she agreed and she ended up learning to drive stick on it. I am far from the only one that feels that trans is a dog if you ask around and read up.

Be sure you drive it before you decide.

Scrambler and LJ are completely different animals, still a Jeep but nothing close to the same. Ride is smoother and it’s a modern vehicle vs a vintage rig. Obviously I love them both and there’s nothing you can’t do with the LJ that you could in the Scrambler. More aftermarket stuff and people still dig them.

Also, 05-06 LJs have an OPDA and potentially cam problem, so you’d want to know if the OPDA has been replaced and when. There was a recall on the 05s. I’m fighting this right now on my 05.

Finally, the gas tanks in these have a faulty vent design that can make the pump fuel cutoffs fail and you’ll overflow the tank. Can be worked around but it’s annoying as hell and Jeep refuses to warranty the tank replacement that’s needed to fix it.

With the budget you’re talking about and the prices of LJs, I’d be a bit skeptical of an LJ in that price range. Not impossible, but just a word of caution.
 

designerRob

CJ-8 Member
CJ-8.com Member
City
Allen Park
State
MI
#3
I'd be skeptical of finding a nice Scrambler or LJ for 10 grand. Imo they're both great vehicle but you'll have to decide what's best for your situation. I see that you're from MA. My only advice is to buy something from the south / as rust free as possible. Good luck.
 

AJ2393

Scrambled in the Head
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Westport
State
MA
#4
@spankrjs is going to say he loves his but I despised that automatic after less than 3 minutes of driving one. We were getting the LJ for my wife and she didn’t drive stick so we went for the auto first. After feeling it with her driving I told her we needed to go back and let me test drive the 6-speed so she could feel the difference. It didn’t take long at all before she agreed and she ended up learning to drive stick on it. I am far from the only one that feels that trans is a dog if you ask around and read up.

Be sure you drive it before you decide.

Scrambler and LJ are completely different animals, still a Jeep but nothing close to the same. Ride is smoother and it’s a modern vehicle vs a vintage rig. Obviously I love them both and there’s nothing you can’t do with the LJ that you could in the Scrambler. More aftermarket stuff and people still dig them.

Also, 05-06 LJs have an OPDA and potentially cam problem, so you’d want to know if the OPDA has been replaced and when. There was a recall on the 05s. I’m fighting this right now on my 05.

Finally, the gas tanks in these have a faulty vent design that can make the pump fuel cutoffs fail and you’ll overflow the tank. Can be worked around but it’s annoying as hell and Jeep refuses to warranty the tank replacement that’s needed to fix it.

With the budget you’re talking about and the prices of LJs, I’d be a bit skeptical of an LJ in that price range. Not impossible, but just a word of caution.
This is the exact insight I was looking for, thank you BW. I had no clue about these recalls or potential other problems. The knowledge base here on this forum is top notch.
 

AJ2393

Scrambled in the Head
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Westport
State
MA
#5
I'd be skeptical of finding a nice Scrambler or LJ for 10 grand. Imo they're both great vehicle but you'll have to decide what's best for your situation. I see that you're from MA. My only advice is to buy something from the south / as rust free as possible. Good luck.
Agreed... New vehicles here are rusty just from sitting on the lot, especially on Cape Cod.
 

don87401

Scrambler Junkie
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
SOA Member
City
Farmington
State
NM
#7
I own to 2006 LJ's Rubicons. One bought new 100.000+ miles still stock wife's daily driver and road car for trips we don' take the camper. The second is a built rig I bought used with 8400 miles on it. Yes they have the OPDA issue but changed both out. They both have run fine, do not they have the response of dumping a clutch and taking off no but they drive fine. I have had very little maintenance issue with either Jeep. A/C on wife went out leaky condenser, They have both been regularly services. The built one has been on many trails that My Scrambler has been and performs as well as the Scrambler. It is built similar to the Scrambler. 4" lift, 35s, locked both ends, LJ gear are 4.88 Scrambler 4.56. I like the LJs just fine. Way smother ride, preform well and have so far mostly trouble free.

20180422_085346.jpgresized.jpg

PS I daily drive mine as well. I rotate between driving the Scrambler or LJ every few months.
 
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spankrjs

Scrambler Junkie
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Biloxi
State
MS
#8
I have both, an 05 LJ Rubicon and Scrambler(s). I like both, but they are two totally different vehicles :twocents:

My Scramblers are used as SMALL trucks. I can haul stuff in the bed, work around the yard with them. My Scrambler's ride/drive great, I regularly drive them across the country, but they are still 1980's Jeep CJ technology, which is fine. You sit higher up in the Scrambler, a bit more spartan interior.

My LJ is a daily driver. It rides more car like/planted/comfortable. The dash is like a car, the seats sit down low like a car, not up high like a CJ. The HVAC system works great, unlike a CJ, even one with AC. My LJ has a full soft top, full carpet, and is a daily driver, so I don't throw the lawn mower, chainsaw, transmissions and what not in the back.

I like both, but prefer the look of the Scrambler better. The front grill of LJ's/TJ's is shorter then a CJ, turn signals on the face of the front fenders. Not terrible, but not as cool as a CJ :twocents:

As for the auto vs 6 speed, I have owned both, both long term. I bought an 05 TJ Rubicon 6 speed brand new in 2005. I sold it in 2013, it had 165,000 miles on it when I sold it. A manual transmission will always feel sportier then an automatic transmission, especially behind a six cylinder :twocents:

I traded/bought my 2005 LJ Rubicon automatic when I got rid of my TJ. Traded/+cash the TJ for the LJ. I have daily drove it since 2013. When I bought the LJ, it had 20,000 miles on it. It now has 115,000 miles on it. The transmission is still functioning perfectly.

Like Big Walton, when I first drove the auto vs 6 speed you can tell a difference. In my opinion, I am happy with the auto's 1,2,3 shifts. The overdrive ratio in the automatic is VERY deep, cuts the RPM way down. So, if you drive easy on the gas, the auto will shift into overdrive around 40 MPH, and the RPM's drop to around 1,500 RPM. Then it goes BLAH. If you stay on the gas, not floored or anything crazy like that, it shifts later in the speed/RPM range, and is fine. I am used to driving it now, have no issues with the automatic.

The tan Scrambler that I sold had a TBI 350/700R4 automatic transmission. It would do the same "shift early into overdrive" as the LJ. It would shift onto OD at 35 MPH. But, it had a V8, so the overdrive BLAH factor was not as great as the six cylinder BLAH factor.

With a standard, you don't normally shift into overdrive so early, so it feels sportier. With the tan Scrambler, I would leave the Lokar shifter in "Drive" for around town/interstate on ramps, so it could not shift into overdrive early. With the LJ, you can either hit the "OD OFF" button, or learn to drive it with your right foot so it won't shift into overdrive early.

People will complain about having to turn the OD Off/put the auto shifter into "Drive", but wont complain about downshifting a manual transmission :twocents:

NOTE - my LJ/TJ has/had the STOCK 4.10 gears AND STOCK tires. If I were to put even 33" tires on it, I would swap in 4.88 gears. Two reasons:

1) The Overdrive ratio is so deep, it cuts the RPM way down on the interstate, even with 4.10 gears/stock tires.

A. Six Speed Rubicon/Stock Tires/4.10 gears/80 MPH = 3,000 RPM
B. Auto Rubicon/Stock Tires/4.10 gears/80 MPH = 2,500 RPM

That 500 RPM makes a HUGE difference with a 4.0 :twocents:

2) The 4.0 likes to rev higher then a 4.2. So, what works with a 4.2 won't necessarily work the same with a 4.0 :twocents:


Both my TJ and LJ have been reliable, each one has only had one "major" issue.

My 2005 TJ, I had the OPD issue. I was lucky. It happened somewhere north of 100,000 miles. I got a check engine light on the interstate, would not go faster then 55 MPH. The upper bushing came apart, allowing the sensor to flop around at high RPM. At lower RPM. it was fine. Anyway, no cam or gear issue. I bought a new OPD from the dealer, they installed it for free, not other issues when I sold it, 50,000 miles later.

Other then the OPD, I think I put two batteries in the TJ, one starter, two sets of tires, a few blower motor resistors (kind of common problem with TJ's), and a headlight switch under warranty, maybe front brakes once. When I traded it off, it still had the OEM clutch, u-joints, tie rod ends, shocks, everything. It still drove like new. It was a very good vehicle.

I have had more issues with the LJ, but even though it is the same year as the TJ, I got it when it was "older". The only "major" issue with the LJ, the PCM went bad. It would throw all kinds of engine codes, transmission wouldn't shift right. This happened around 50,000 miles, I think. New dealer installed PCM, no other issues. I have had to do more work to the LJ, but I chalk that up to it being close to 15 years old now. A short list, besides the PCM:

1) headlight switch
2) need to change blower motor resistor (no low speed on the fan currently)
3) the plastic tank radiator started to leak, swapped in another cheap plastic tank radiator
4) the OEM water pump started seeping, was swapped out
5) the valve cover gasket/grommets started seeping, were swapped out
6) a battery or two
7) front and rear brake calipers (the factory interior coating flakes off and will make the calipers stick randomly, this happened to my GF's '04 also)
8) front rotors
9) shocks
10) front track bar/rear track bar bushings
11) under hood vacuum lines
12) throttle position switch
13) AC evaporator/condensor, heater core all started to slightly leak, were swapped out (have to have AC down here)

Besides the PCM, none of that stuff was expensive, or really hard to fault on a close to 15 year old vehicle :twocents:

My girlfriend Tiffany has a stock 2004 TJ Rubicon, automatic. The 2004 models use separate engine/transmission computers, not one big PCM like the 05-06 models. The 2004 model also had a different OPD/cam positions sensor thingy. Her 2004 model feels way more sporty then my 2005. I guess the transmission computer difference causes this :twocents:

Her 2004 has been very reliable. Besides front brake calipers, one leaking rear axle seal, and an oil pressure sending unit, no problems at all.

Anyway, my long drawn out experience.

I agree with BigWalton on some things, others, no way 'Jose :thumbsup:

I love my CJ's, BUT I think the 1997-2006 TJ/LJ's were the best/most reliable/still easy to work on Jeeps ever built. After 2006, they get way more complicated/expensive/harder to fix/more issues :twocents:

I still flirt with the idea of selling my current 05 LJ Rubicon, buying another low mile TJ/LJ, and using it as a daily driver. I did it once, worked out OK. If I do it now/again, if I can find a low mile TJ/LJ, I think the age will work against them, as far as being a super reliable daily driver. It would still be a good Jeep, but an almost 20 year old daily driver???????

Anyway, food for thought :cheers:
 

FLCJ8

Legacy Registered User
City
Palm Bay
State
FL
#9
You'll really need to decide what's right for you and your wants/needs.

Transmissions aside, the TJ/LJ's stated known issues are just that... known. Either live with them or correct them.

Most of the automatic transmission examples stated are for the Rubicons. They have numerically higher axle gears but larger tires.
If you get a non-Rubicon automatic TJ/LJ and run any tire size larger than stock you will need to change the axle gears, just size accordingly.
Also, the extra weight of the LJ affects the acceleration which shows up more with the auto.
If you increase the tire size it will also compound the effect of the additional weight on your braking performance.

These are just random thoughts to hopefully help in your decision.

All this being said, I recently sold my '06 LJR and kept my '83 Scrambler because I felt it was right for my situation.
Like I said, you need to determine what fits YOUR situation.
Good luck.
 

Ornj Krush

New member
City
Lake Country
State
BC
#10
Great discussion. A scrambler is a scrambler and they are stand alone! I had an 06 LJ as a daily driver....excellent vehicle other than a few small things but sold it in 2010 and is one of those rigs that I wished I had kept.
Definitely wasn't over powered with the 4L
but really liked the extra 10" length for driveability over previously owned TJS.
My 2 bits🐒
 
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