Well, it feels like only a month ago we bought our first Jeep. Wait. It was LESS than a month ago that we bought our first Jeep! So what happened?
We took our first Jeep in a couple weeks ago to do some regular maintenance and get a baseline of what needed to be repaired in the future. That's when we got a call asking us to come down and check out the Jeep - we had a major issue.
This is what he showed us. The passenger-side back corner of the frame was completely rusted away. That oval piece connects to the leaf spring which holds up the WHEEL. The only thing keeping that oval piece in place was the pressure of the body and the wheel (ie, gravity). If we hit a large enough bump, it's very likely that oval piece could have fallen off. Needless to say, this was a major safety issue.
It gets worse.
We didn't see this when we bought it for one big reason. Someone had gone ahead and put mesh with bondo over the spot (think of it as paper mashe for cars - looks pretty, but zero structural strength). See what looks like white scratches along the frame? That's where the paint from the bondo is coming off - yeah it's a solid 18" of false repair work.
Crazily enough, they actually make a part to fix this section of the frame. I guess it's a common occurrence for the frame to rust away here because of the wheels kicking up debris. Unfortunately, the Jeep is just old enough that the cost to replace that section is SIGNIFICANTLY more than the whole Jeep is worth. This, I guess, is because it's old enough that when they start messing with this section, adjacent sections will also likely need to be fixed.
It gets worse.
Since we bought the Jeep from a private party, there's very little we can do (there's still one thing we're looking into). So that's a bummer.
OK. Now it gets better.
Instead of wallowing in our failed purchase, we decided to go test driving for a new Jeep. We came across this one and decided is was what we wanted. This time we went through a used car dealer, and the whole process felt much more official. We were also able to trade in our "old" Jeep. So it will be properly documented and dealt with.
So, now we have a 2002 blue Jeep with a hard top, air conditioning, and an AC plug for our phones. We were also able to keep the wheels off our "old" Jeep because we like the logo rims. Jessi also won her first eBay auction to replace the door mirrors (they were moved, and we're putting them back to the factory location).
From this, there's one major lesson we learned and wanted to share:
When buying a vehicle, no matter where it's from, have it inspected. Our issue was something we never would have caught ourselves. However, a trained professional looking at the vehicle (jacked up 4 feet in the air) was able to catch it. It costs about $100 to do, but is worth the insurance of knowing your vehicle is safe to drive.