Jeep Talk on Purchasing a Used Wrangler in Norway
by Jan Aarberg
I began receiving the following email questions (followed by my responses) from Jan Aarberg of Norway. I am Larry Morton, owner of www.4-The-Love-Of-Jeeps.com website.
Jan wanted to know if a used Jeep Wrangler was a good or bad purchase option for him in Norway.
Friends and mechanics alike were trying to discourage him from getting the iconic Jeep reportedly due to poor quality and workmanship. This is what followed:Jan's initial email question (4-7-10):
My apologies; this is probably an awkward question or maybe even a stupid one.
I'm seriously considering a Wrangler. However, all my friends (two mechanics included), strongly advise me against it, claiming the quality is sub par, compared to Japanese 4x4's.
Funny thing is, when I bought my Harley nearly 25 years ago, I was told the same thing. After 160,000 miles she's still going strong, and in daily use.
I'm a Norwegian, and since cars (like everything else in this snow hole) are horribly taxed, I'll probably have to go for a 1990-2000 model (priced at between $15,000 and $25,000 USD, and no, this is not a misspelling).
Parts and repairs are also very expensive in Norway, so I simply can't afford a vehicle in need of high maintenance.
So, this is my stupid question:
Can I trust the quality of a 15 year old, well-kept Wrangler?
And while I'm at it:
Any particular weaknesses in the nineties Wrangler lineup?
I'm not locked into either the YJ or TJ although I'd prefer the round TJ headlights, but I like the dash panel on the YJ far better. But I suppose the TJ is a better vehicle, also in terms of build quality and reliability?
Last but not least: I want an American made Jeep, not Canadian (which is a nice country!) or from any other part of the world. But I assume the VIN number will address this.
Thank you so much for answering.
Oslo, NorwayMy Response (Larry 4-8-10):
Definitely NOT a "stupid question". It is a very valid question.
I don't know the availability of parts for Jeeps in Norway, so the risk to reward of owning a vehicle with low availability (or higher than normal expense) is a critical factor to consider.
It is common knowledge to Wrangler owners here in the USA that maintaining, tinkering and upgrading is often a given.
Are they poorly constructed to break easily? That most often depends on how hard they are driven/used...like any vehicle.
In most cases if you start out with a used Wrangler that was never abused and well maintained...and you take good care of it...it will perform in kind.
In my opinion the 1992 to 2000 Wranglers were some of the best models built...especially with the 4.0L straight 6 cylinder motor. The 4.0L is one of the toughest motors ever built and is capable of withstanding many miles, and even some abuse. Capable mileage on this engine is upwards to 300,000 plus.
The Japanese 4x4's are no doubt quality built vehicles, but owning a Jeep is something special (to most Jeep owners). It's sort of like you and your Harley. There are a lot of Japanese bikes that can perform as well and often better than the Harley...but they will never be Harleys.
Ultimately the choice is yours...and I wouldn't blame anyone for not wanting a vehicle too costly to own and operate. The repair costs on Volvos, Jaguars, Mercedes and even the high end Japanese vehicles are often prohibitive here in the USA.
Maybe that is why most Wrangler owners do their own repairs when possible...even though parts are readily available here. It's a Jeep Thing!
The YJ is the least complicated Wrangler when compared with the TJ. The YJ has the 4 leaf spring suspension while the TJ has the 4 coil spring set-up. The TJ has a better on pavement ride and better articulation off road...but the simplicity of the YJ makes
for easier repairs. Both perform well in snow, mud, dirt and inclement weather conditions.
The VIN should address the factory origin.
I hope this helps some Jan...and let me know what you decide if you don't mind.
Larry Jan from Norway replies (4-8-10):
Thank you so much for your thorough answer, and for all the effort you're putting in your great site.
I'll be happy to let you know what the outcome will be. First, I have to get rid of my '02 Mitsubishi Carisma (probably the #1 boring car worldwide, bought during a "sensible" whim last year).
There are a few used Wranglers for sale in Norway for the time being, and if you're curious about the "exotic" (or rather abnormal!) Norwegian car market, you'll find them at:
You have to divide the price by 6 to get USD. Chilling, isn't it..?
I'm in no rush, but hopefully, I'll be the lucky owner of a Wrangler sometime before winter.
All the best,
JanMy reply (Larry 4-8-10):
You are quite welcomed Jan.
So if I have used your calculation adequately of "divide by 6", a new Wrangler Unlimited will sell for around...gulp!... $70,000 USD?
I hope and pray that our government policies don't go the way of European economics...unfortunately our new regime is trying to take us in that direction. Taxes and more taxes. Looks like another Tea Party is brewing to combat "taxation without representation" again.
Sorry for the political rant. If and when you get your Wrangler I would be happy to feature it on the website.
Take care Jan, and be safe.
LarryJan from Norway replies (4-9-10):
Your estimate for a new Wrangler Unlimited was pretty good, although a bit high. It sells for $64,000 USD here in Norway...BUT: that's the TWO-SEATER version.
If you want a REAR seat, you'll have to double that amount. A five-seater Wrangler Unlimited with 4-doors will set you back a total of $112,000 USD!
Yes, one-hundred-and-twelve-thousand American dollars. The sales tax alone amounts to $64,000 USD. I'm not joking (wish I were!). And I won't even tell you what the gas price is; it's all just too depressing.
So regarding taxes, we beat you easy! Sales tax are 25% in general (but of course, much higher on everything with engines such as cars, motorcycles, boats), and I pay 35% income tax on top of that.
And there's additional, very high tax on gas, annual tax for owning a car, substantial taxes for transferring ownership on a used car, even an annual TV (or radio) tax, with expensive and pretty common toll stations along the main roads as well.....
BTW; I called my local, friendly Jeep dealer earlier today, and his reaction was: "A 15 year old Wrangler?? Are you kidding me? I'd never buy a Jeep that old! Are you planning a new hobby spending your time in the garage, repairing all the time? Stay away from Jeeps older than 5-6 years! And the parts are also very expensive!" (The latter, I believe...)
Strange reaction from an official dealer, I must say. But then again, he had no Wranglers to sell, neither used or new. He could order a new one for me, but I'd have to wait 3 to 6 months, possibly longer.
I've also contacted the Norwegian Jeep Club, but with no luck so far. I will pursue this though.
I wish you a nice spring and summer, Larry - hopefully my next mail will include a Wrangler picture!
JanLarry's Comment: Jan and I exchanged a few more emails (not included)...but I wanted you (especially the North American reader) to get an idea of what someone must endure to even consider purchasing a used Jeep in another part of the world. Truly an "eye-opener" for yours truly!
I want to also thank Jan Aarberg for such a candid conversation, and his willingness to allow me to publish our exchange here on 4-The-Love-Of-Jeeps.com