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Old 02-04-2010, 12:17 PM
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BayshoreBlues BayshoreBlues is offline
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Help & info on purchasing '88 Wagoneer, opinions needed

Well, stopped yesterday and asked about an extremely straight looking ’76 Cherokee I had spotted and it’s not for sale at this time (see thread on “Differences on trim levels of Cherokee” for details on that). But, I owe a brief (hah, what does that mean) back story here first of my "irons in the fire", so please stick with me and read through.
In November, I purchased a great house, but in need of updating (which we are attempting to do as much of ourselves as possible), for my soon to be new family of a wife and her two boys, just sold my daily driver ’99 Grand Cherokee LTD day before yesterday, have been working on getting my trusty ole ’85 Mustang GT 5 spd back on the street for semi-daily driver use (stopped driving daily back in ’05 and started driving '99 GC due to buying now ex-wife new car and aiding in recovering from bad blown disc flare-up, clutching was very painful), have a ’72 Javelin SST w/88K orig miles that is also an ongoing project that I do not want to mile up, a ’70 Javelin w/232 6-cyl that I’ve had to get donor roof for cause the cancer there was so bad and it’s nowhere close to being on the road (believe me), a ’74 Wagoneer with original, running 401 that I bought as donor for the ’70 Javelin before not being able to pass up the ’72 Jav, and now borrowing my elderly dad’s truck for daily duty till the Mustang can start taking up the slack. So, long and short is, I really used the ’99 GC’s cargo area to haul around stuff all the time and still need that capability, plus I want V-8 power, do occasionally tow a trailer and try to always save mechanic labor dollars by working on my own vehicles. My fiancé has an Expedition, but that serves to haul school backpacks, sports equipment, groceries and WallyWorld trips all the time, so not an option for my needs. My ’74 Wagoneer has rusted out rockers, quarters, various other rust throughs (spots on top of cowl, kick panel areas inside, etc), a huge hole in the windshield and unknown condition of the transmission (I only drove it up on trailer, off trailer and around field before parking it under a shed about a year ago), suspension, steering, braking systems. I hate to part out a rare ride like the Wagoneer, but it might be the best solution in the long run, as it will take a conservative $1,000 or more just to get her rolling legally and safely and that’s not counting unforseens nor making her more comfortable or pretty (umm, yeah). Heck, that’s not even counting tires.

So, we drop back and punt (and get to the point of this post). I looked at an '88 Wagoneer locally a week and a half ago with 141,000 miles that was a cross between a dog and a pig and rattled inside like mad on the cobbled up black top they lived off of, but then drove smooth as could be when I got it up on a nice Farm Road. It actually shocked me as to how nicely it drove/rode (plus it was my first actual drive in a Wagoneer). Vacuum leaks under the hood audible (seems like could hear from inside too), some kind of knock in the exhaust (the girl thought a loose muffler was making the noise, but the sound seemed to come from the catalytic converter or the pipe just in front. Never run into this before, but did not sound like motor oriented), rear doors stubborn and those pwr windows stuck in up position on each, grimy on top and greasy under the engine, burgundy interior (which is a big turn-off for me) is filthy with the driver seat torn up pretty well, someone attempted a radio install and now no audio working, some stray wires under dash area (surprise), blower motor not working and/or wiring was monkeyed with, not sure the wipers were working, did I mention it rattles inside on rough pavement really, really loudly?, body straight for most part with badly faded dark blue paint and rust free other than just beneath front vent windows and those areas are very, very crusty there for some reason. Ok, they are now down to $1,300 asking price, the girl just left to go to college 1,200 miles away leaving the tank behind and I'm thinking of offering them $500 and not a cent more (they have zero use for it far as I could tell). Sound insulting or like a stupid "investment" on my part that I would regret before getting home in it? Figure with extensive tune-up/clean-up this could be driven until it comes apart and still have parts left (the 360 in particular) to go toward my other AMC's. Advantage here over my '74 is that it can be driven legally (and seemingly safely on short test drive anyway) right now. This girl had been using it as a daily driver for the last year (saw her on the highway driving it a couple of nights after I looked at it). Before that I know it sat at a little car lot for almost 2 yrs, because I passed by it every day. They wanted something like $2,800 for it then. I sold my ’99 GC because I had gotten tons of use out of it and it was not something I could easily enough work on (i.e. computer systems, sensors, electrical everywhere, all those inherit problems with the ‘99’s and believe me it’s had them all and then some). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily love mechanicing, far from it on some repairs (drum brakes were invented by the Devil...), but the FSJ’s fit the bill for my needs and can be worked on without complex knowledge for the most part, so that’s why I’ve focused on them for an on-the-cheap replacement.

Sorry, long-winded as usual, can’t help it though. For those that were brave enough to read through all this, thank you. I’m interested in what your experiences have been with similar Jeeps and what I should have looked for and possibly missed, what the usual problem areas are with this year range or what I could realistically expect out of this Wagoneer? Thanks in advance, Reagan.
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Old 02-04-2010, 01:40 PM
DerekTJeep DerekTJeep is offline
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It took me a lot of energy to read through this post. What I can say about my experience owning plenty of FSJs is that they won't go that fast if even you decide to put a turbo engine in them.

1988 is cool. You probably won't have a working rear wiper. I never cared about that when I had 1989, 1990, and 1991 Grand Wagoneers. It depends on the wow factors. I decided that I can survive without rear wipers working.

Yeah, my only FSJ right now is a basic 1977 Wagoneer and I wish it was as advanced as a 1988 Grand Wagoneer, but I can live with that.

Have fun!!
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  #3  
Old 02-04-2010, 03:59 PM
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BayshoreBlues BayshoreBlues is offline
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I appreciate your perseverance . I do tend to ramble on from time to time. I really would prefer a ‘70’s era FSJ due to their lack of (or simpler) emissions systems and much simpler electrical (and honestly, lack of vinyl siding), but only know of one more in my area. It’s been sitting behind a muffler/repair shop for I know better than a year (stumbled across it when checking on a U-Haul trailer; otherwise, would still not have seen it.). It’s a’78 P code 360 4bbl Wagoneer, but is bound to have been back there for a while for a reason. Will stop Saturday if I get time and inquire about it. I do intend to throw a battery back on the ’74 this weekend if possible and see if I can get it cranked and evaluate as much as I can without getting out on the public highway (hole in windshield and other unknowns, plus the cooling system is probably dry…).
I have about decided to go give the ’88 another look, but be much more thorough this time and I know I still won’t offer them more than 5 bills for it even if everything else I didn’t check the first time checks out .
Would still like input on what specifics folks have run into most often going down after this many years.
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Old 02-04-2010, 04:35 PM
twmattox twmattox is offline
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Well, I am working on my '88. Blew the motor 6-years ago...and it fell to the bottom of the priority list. Got the money and need last year..so started the rebuild. It seems like every little thing that can go wrong has/will. Didn't want to half way do the rebuild...so I decided to replace/rebuild everything. Hit money issues and just had the alternator and starter tested. Ended up needing to replace both anyway...

So, in the last 6-months:
engine rebuild kit
rebuild carburetor
rebuild charcoal canister
all new vacuum lines
new starter
new alternator
new water pump
new fan clutch
new power brake booster
newer tires

and that doesn't take care of all of it. This summer I am planning on
new u-joints (all the way around)
new brakes/calipers/wheel cylinders/rubber hoses
most likely new steering gear (it now leaks)
possibly new tie rods and ball joints
finding/repairing the leaks in the transmission and t-case
fixing the slow windows and non-functioning door locks
fixing the non-functioning passenger side mirror
fixing the non-functioning AC
fixing the non-functioning cruise control
fixing the speedometer and ill reporting gauges
replacing the driver seat bottom skin
and trying to figure out why the wipers only work on high

In short, they can be a lot of work getting running again...especially after they sit for a long time. This thing worked significantly better than it currently does when it was parked...
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:51 AM
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BayshoreBlues BayshoreBlues is offline
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Ouch . Yes, I'm a bit afraid that once I get my '85 Mustang back on the road (hopefully by the end of this weekend) I'm going to run into some items wanting to lay down on me from sitting up so long (oh please don't let it be the heater core ).

This '88 I've looked at has some definite issues, but seemed mechanically sound. I base that partially from my test drive and that the girl was using it daily for about the last year (did see her driving it on the highway at night). I will say, despite the cruddy looking engine and vacuum leaks, it cranked up immediately and idled smoothly without a miss. That odd knocking sound does have me concerned, but again, I did not detect it as coming from the engine, but the exhaust pipe did not seem loose either. In fact, the cat and the muffler were very clean, almost too clean come to think of it... Can a clogging cat cause a backpressure effect in the exhaust system that would generate what I heard? She didn't have a lot of pick-up, and I contributed that to vacuum leaks, need for a tune-up and possibility that the cat was starting to clog up. Despite this, it did run smoothly, especially on the nice, smooth Farm Road. I cruised down the Farm Road at up to about 60 mph for a couple of miles before turning around and doing the same back to the terrible blacktop. I was surprised with how nice it road and ran from one environment to the next.

I do have the '78 Wagoneer 360 I need to inquire about and I have a neighbor coindentally only 2 doors down from the house I just bought that has a mid 80's Wagoneer in his driveway that looks almost new. I haven't detected that it has been moved in the last six months since I first started looking at the house I bought, but I seriously doubt that this one can be purchased as it has personalized tags and they frankly don't appear to need money in the least. I am overdue to introduce myself to my new neighbor though and I'm not shy about asking .
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Old 02-05-2010, 10:51 AM
MischiefMan MischiefMan is offline
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I also have an '88 that needs lots of love. It's a good, solid truck, but also has numerous little things wrong with it. I keep toying with the idea of getting rid of it, but every time I start to, I decide that I like it to much and here it sits.
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Old 02-05-2010, 11:23 AM
twmattox twmattox is offline
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The knock could be as simple as the heat riser. Located on the passenger side, just above the "Y" in the pipe. It is a small flap intended to force exhaust air through the intake to warm up the choke system faster. If the spring isn't working correctly...it will just flap around and make quite a racket. Just lay down and see if the weight is swinging around and making the noise. You can replace it (about $80 and my new replacement one didn't even work) or you can just wire it open...
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Old 02-05-2010, 03:31 PM
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BayshoreBlues BayshoreBlues is offline
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Hadn't even thought about a heater riser on this thing. The sound was not a constant, but more of a bump, pause, bump, pause, bump sort of thing. I suppose the heat riser might be more detectable from underneath than under the hood, but you could hear this from inside the vehicle, though I really only remember hearing it at idle (cause there was so much rattling inside once on the terrible black top) and do not remember it once up on smooth Farm Road. I would think if it were an engine knock, it would have been obvious and would have been apparent while driving as well.
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:51 PM
joe joe is offline
 
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If the later generation fluff auto tissue dispenser GW is your thing start out with one that the electrics etc aren't pre-broken. You'll get the joy of those issues soon enough. Buy one in better shape and deal with it as needed rather than jummping into a hole with a shovel and the best of intentions.
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:55 PM
twmattox twmattox is offline
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Yes, you can hear the heat riser inside the rig. And it would be kind of like you say...bump...pause...bump...pause...etc. Once your RPM increases, the exhaust pressure should keep it forced open and remove the noise. Crawl under there and take a look...
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Old 02-09-2010, 03:40 PM
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BayshoreBlues BayshoreBlues is offline
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Thanks for all the input. Called them back up and they had just sold it. Well, ya snooze, ya lose . Still on the look-out. Suppose now I have no excuse not to go introduce myself to new neighbor where I bought house and see if they are ready to part with that great looking Wagoneer in their drive-way .
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Old 02-09-2010, 04:01 PM
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710 Burner 710 Burner is offline
 
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Well since yer still lookin'...
The only thing I can think of that would be an '88 type problem over the others is more vacuum leaks, flex tracks breaking, and brittle wires in the door jams. Other than that, pretty much the same issues as the other Jeeps. Since you are in Tejas, you should have no trouble finding a fairly rust free rig.
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