Best vehicle

Discussion in 'Vehicle & Transportation' started by J&J, Nov 13, 2008.

  1. J&J

    J&J Member

    I have a 2003 Jeep Rubicon. It is well built for trails, rockcrawling and drives well on the road. My worry is that While I am a decent garage mechanic, I cannot and have no clue regarding the repair, etc of the computer control systems.

    My thought is that I could sell this and get an older vehicle that runs mechanically (carb/points and all) and renovate to a nearly new status. I want to maintain some 4wd capability, but am getting out of the extreme stuff.

    I am thinking and older Jeep CJ, Wagoneer or Cherokee (full size) or an older Chevy blazer or suburban.

    Keys being durability, availability of parts, able to run in extreme weather conditions...

    Any other thoughts?

  2. saintsfanbrian

    saintsfanbrian Liberty or Death!!!!

    Considering JCWhitney is full of parts for all Jeeps I would say you can't go wrong with an older CJ.

  3. mcbob

    mcbob Member

    I love Jeeps, but couldn't consider them kings of the apocalypse cars. Instead, I'd give that title to 80's - early 90's Toyota trucks and 4Runners with sticks and 4-bangers. Granted, I'm talking about stockish vehicles, since if you're building from the ground-up, you can make just about anything into a bastardization of the best parts you can source for whatever purpose you need. But stock, I think the mini trucks are the best compromise between reliability, capability, ubiquity, utility, and size.

    Anyway, some justification:
    - Tons of them out there, and cheap to stock up on spare parts. Jeeps bring a premium because they're more trendy.
    - Lots of parts interchangeability, easy to work on. Many of the drivetrain components are the same or easily adaptable from ~'79-'95. Say you're in some rough driving and strip your ring & pinion; because of the drop-out 3rd-member, once you find a suitable spare, removing and replacing the 3rd is maybe a 4-hour job with simple hand tools. On solid front axle models, the front and rear 3rds are identical.
    - sturdy, stout, reliable, and still get reasonable gas mileage (~20mpg). Toyotas benefit from being underpowered in stock form; you won't get anywhere quickly, but you'll most likely get there. You really have to try to snap something when driving them hard offroad. They typically don't have half the battery-draining electrical gremlins that pop up in old (or new) Jeeps. Most models of Jeep usually have at least one glaring Achilles-heel - rear axles on CJ's and Wranglers, nearly every drivetrain component on early YJ's, electricals on SJ's, transmissions on early XJ's and other models - that has a reputation for shuffling off its mortal coil with a much greater frequency than desireable. Junkyard spares are getting fewer and fewer; meanwhile even current Toyota trucks still share some parts interchangeability with their ~30-year-old ancestors.
    The only electronic things to worry about (even on later versions) are a fuel pump, a few sensors, and an easily accessible and replaceable ECM. Grab some spares and throw them in a Faraday box if you're worried.
    If you need more justification on this particular topic, Google Youtube for the 3-part "Top Gear - Killing A Toyota" series.
    - "Enough" space. For 1-2 people, the cab and bed of a mini truck should be enough for most scenarios. When we were only a 4-person family, we still camped comfortably from my '85 4Runner. CJ's and Wranglers have always been woefully short on space for people and gear. Even our XJ got cramped before the 4Runner did. The larger Jeep models get attrocious gas mileage and aren't anywhere near as maneuverable.

    Granted, CJ's have a ton more style and "coolness," but that's why I'm building a '68 CJ5 with a complete Toyota drivetrain.
  4. Jerseyzuks

    Jerseyzuks Well-Known Member

    I agree with mcbob, an older toyota truck would probably be my first choice

    A suzuki samurai would be a good choice if space wasn't a concern, as they are extremely nimble offroad, can be inexpensively modified, and get good gas milage.

    With a suzuki, they were originally designed to be shipped to remote areas, and 95% of the vehicle can be disassembled and repaired using the tiny little tool kit that it came with (10mm, 12mm, 14mm, 17mm sockets and wrenches)
  5. phr0zen

    phr0zen Guest

    Do you know what the most extreme angle an offroad vehicle can climb up without rolling backwards?
  6. Jerseyzuks

    Jerseyzuks Well-Known Member

    Depends on the vehicle. One of the reasons that a Humvee is so short and squat is so that it can ascend and decend very steep angles.

    lower center of gravity = steeper an angle that can be climbed or decended
  7. gumby

    gumby Guest

    Does this mean that old suburbans might not be the best choice for offroad hill climbing?
  8. Jerseyzuks

    Jerseyzuks Well-Known Member

    Bone stock an older suburban would probably do pretty well.

    When a vehicle is lifted, you are raising the center of gravity, making it more prone to rolling over
  9. solaceofwinter

    solaceofwinter Guest

    they used the 4.0 forever so parts should be real easy to come by. I miss my rubicon i had one of the same year as yours.
    with the reliabilty of that thing you shouldnt have to worry too much about replacing engine/tranny etc too much. some parts from TJ's will fit the same, remember rubicons only had the different t-case, axles and some of those things. its a good Vehicle man. I really wish i still had mine.
  10. noodle

    noodle Guest

    Wouldn't gas efficiency go out the window if you bought a big and old car
  11. mcbob

    mcbob Member

    Probably. If you're getting something like a Suburban, though, it's because you expect to have a lot of people and stuff to carry, which is easier to do in one vehicle rather than maintaining two+.

    Everything's a compromise
  12. JeepHammer

    JeepHammer Well-Known Member

    I own a BUNCH of old jeeps, AMC built CJ's, Trucks & FSJ's, and I've been a mechanic for 30 odd years, so I can speak with some authority on the subject of vehicles.

    I'm also a student of history, so I will probably be able to shed some insight on that also...

    So, here goes.
    First of all, CJ jeeps are VERY simple to work on and maintain if you an auto mechanic.

    First of all, CJ parts are scarce, and when you do find the parts you need, they are usually made by some fly by night outfit or import company, so they are junk,
    And since they are 'Special Order' parts, they are EXPENSIVE!

    CJ's are just as difficult to work on if you have never rebuilt an engine, transmission or axle, or build a wiring harness from scratch as any of the new vehicles...

    Fuel injection is a GOOD THING!
    Although you don't know what you are specifically looking at under the hood, aside from recognizing the carb, you wouldn't know what most of the stuff did when it was on the engine in mechanical form...

    I like Rubicons, they are sturdy, well built vehicles that have VERY FEW PROBLEMS!
    Read up on some of the Rubicon 'Issues', and plan for those problems.

    As for the 'Apocalypse Car' theory...
    That is just SILLY!

    There have been religious cults
    (Including the current Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions)
    That have predicted the end of the world for as long as there have been men able to comprehend the idea....
    The proof is, you are here, so all in the last 100,000 years have been WRONG!

    It's a pretty good bet the guys right now, in your life time are WRONG too!

    Your time, effort & money would be much better off if you were to adjust your goals, and make you life less complicated right now...
    Instead of wasting money on, and dwelling on, an 'Apocalypse'...

    Do something about your ravenous Consumerism!
    Don't try and 'Buy' your way out of problems, find solutions that are at hand!

    Do something about your carbon footprint.
    Global warming IS an issue that might threaten the human race with an 'Apocalypse', but not in YOUR lifetime.
    You are sowing the seeds for pain and suffering for your KIDS & GRAND KIDS!

    Do something about your government officials and community officials that like to throw money away on anything but Infrastructure.
    Constantly update the infrastructure, much like PROFITABLE PRIVATE COMPANIES DO,
    So the city/county isn't loosing money on leaks, failures and trying to keep long outdated hardware up and running.

    Do something about you personal space and community.
    If YOU endow or maintain the road right of way next to your property, then that is money and effort the state/county/city does NOT have to spend, and in direct cause and effect, can spend on infrastructure updates, like actually FIXING the road way it's self!

    You guys spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME thinking of ways to make your area melt down and blow up!
    Start thinking of ways to help out and keep that from happening!

    Friends and neighbors DO NOT burn each others houses down, they don't riot and attack their neighbors.
    Go out and make some friends and act like neighbors!
  13. mcbob

    mcbob Member

    It's not the "end of the world" we're really worrying about, because we wouldn't be around long, anyway. A titanium spork surely won't be the saviour of the human race. Yet, there have been multiple "mini apocalypses" throughout the world's history: Katrina, Wiemar Germany, Great Depression, the wars of West Africa, and on and on. Society as a whole will most certainly endure, but for that short time of indeterminate duration, your main concern is the well-being of your family and your neighbors. Supplies and services will become unavailable. Food will become scarce. Your safety will become less certain than it ever has. At least SOME basic preparation for an extreme situation (like, say, big hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, civil unrest, warfare, massive power outages, fuel embargoes, etc.) is always a good thing.

    I spent some time in Liberia just after the civil wars "officially" ended, and in that area at that time, a majority of the population WAS in "apocalypse survival mode." NOTHING was available, there was no work, no money, no utilities, little food, and little else other than hope and faith. Many people never had time, money, or motivation to prepare for such a situation: a situation that lasted 14 years. Yet some still had homes, vehicles, and food without having to resort to corruption and marauding. It's those people we're seeking to emulate.

    Certainly, do all you can do now - simplifying your life, fixing what you can, supporting like-minded individuals and policies. Surely you'll notice how "preparing for the apocalypse" coincides EXACTLY with about every recommendation on what we should "rather" be doing; choosing a sturdy, long-lasting, economical, practical vehicle could scarcely be a hindrance in either scenario.

    Last note, returning to Liberia, hopefully stirring up no hornets' nests: you mention the wrong-mindedness of end-time religions. Many of the religious groups with "apocalypse" views, in particular the Christian church, endured the hardships best. This was due in no small part to not only preparing their spiritual conscience, but also their physical world. Because they were prepared, they were able to begin helping others immediately. How instant is any governmental response?
  14. J&J

    J&J Member

    Whoa big fellas....

    Back to the vehicle at hand...

    I love my Rubicon... I do occasionally get frustrated at how complicated the engine, etc... is.

    I have rebuilt many carbs in my day from cars, to trucks, to motorcycles,etc, so I do in fact understand them... I do not understand how much of the electronics/computer works in the rubi... hence my question...

    Just pondering the thought as I mentioned above of selling the Rubi and building something else that is just as reliable, but is also simple....

    McBob, I like your thoughts on the Toyota (hard for a jeep guy to say!) and will research some more...


  15. N8EPE

    N8EPE Member

    Chrysler fault codes

    Hi John,

    I've been driving MoPigs for quite a while. I don't know if you're familiar with the onboard diagnostics of Chrysler products since the late 80's or so. If this is old news for you, maybe it'll help some of the other members.

    On many Chryslers, you can get the computer & sensor(s) fault codes by cycling the ignition switch in the following manner.

    Start with the ignition switch in the off position, then without going all the way to the start position, cycle the switch to 'on, off, on, off, on' and leave it in the on position. On electronic odometer models, the fault codes should display on the electronic odometer. I think the newer Chryslers use 'P codes'. When the codes are finished, or if there are no fault codes to display, you'll see a DONE on the odometer display.

    My disclaimer is, I don't have anything as new as your 2003. I drive a well worn 95 Dakota, with the pre-digital odometer. On pre electronic odometer models, you watch the 'check engine' light, and it will blink the codes. You just need to count the blinks and pauses between blinks, to get the codes. It's a 'learned process' with the older models. Once you get the rhythm of the blinks and pauses, it's a piece of cake. On the older ones, you get a '5 5' to signal the end of the codes or no codes to display.

    Some years / models might vary a little in their ignition switch sequence. It may require 4 on-off cycles, or 5 on-off cycles. On others, the parking brake needs to be applied, so YMMV.

    I learned this method when I worked at Chrysler HQ in Auburn Hills, and was shooting the breeze with an engine engineer, while having a smoke break in the 'Butt Hut' as we called it. I was trying to diagnose an old 88 Omni that was giving me fits. I've used that method many times on a number of different MoPigs and it's saved me a lot of frustration and money, in the diagnostic process.

    Take a look at this site...

    Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge computer fault codes

    ....and read through it closely and check out some of the different methods needed to extract the fault codes. Hopefully you'll find the one that works on your 2003.

    This list is listed as 2004 codes, but should also apply to the 2003, I believe.

    Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep Computer Error Codes

    Hope this helps, and if it's old news, perhaps it'll help other MoPig drivers.

  16. xj35s

    xj35s Guest


    If the codes don't help it could be something obvious. Talking about the vehical at hand, the jeep has a crank shaft position sensor. It is attached to the bellhousing and can come in contact with the body. It breaks and the jeep quits. It's hard to see down there.

    Many times on newer cars it's something physical and can make you think it's electrical. Like broken or shorted wires.
    You really have to be patient and look, touch, and wiggle.
  17. dksac2

    dksac2 Member

    In my opinion, a late 80's GM or Ford pick up or Blazer style 4WD is the best to have. They are easy to work on and have a minimum of electronics. These old vehicles are all over the place, so scrounging for parts would be far easier than a Jeep or other less popular vehicle. I have a 90 Blazer. I keep an extra electronic used distributor, keep used but good belts and hoses etc. Gas mileage is not great (15 mpg), but I know I can find parts almost anywhere.

    Just my 2 cents, JK
  18. 10101

    10101 Guest

    IMO the best vehicle would have to be a non turbo diesel 4x4 quad cab pick up. I would choose a late 80's model ford 1 ton with the 7.3 liter.
  19. styx

    styx Member

    Ok, I have a question. How would an EMP blast effect fuel injection systems??? From what I hear it will render the car a road block, true?? If so a carbed engine might be a better over all vehicle for the real die hard SHTF people. ;)
  20. Magus

    Magus Scavenger deluxe

    EMP dosen't effect diesels. :)