Getting burnt out on Xj's?


NAXJA Member
NAXJA Member
Hey dudes.

I've been doing some thinking lately- I got my jeep in 2007, it was stock, I was a kid, and I have been building it ever since.

I think I have had this particular xj for longer than a significant percentage of NAXJA guys have had their rigs. 8 years? I actually took my driving test in this thing. Got it with 124,000... now has 190K.
More progress by Sean Mitchell, on Flickr

More progress by Sean Mitchell, on Flickr

I have seen so many members come and go. Many of my friends who left the xj scene went to something newer, or at least with a frame.

My question... At what point do you say... enough is enough? I get 200 miles/tank. (12 mpg... yes, I have calculated it.) I know mpg is always going to be bad in a jeep, but if i can't even make it to the areas where I want to wheel because of poor fuel mileage, what is the point? Isn't range important?

I had it on the rack today at work... Wow. So many issues underneath. Bent shit, rust, worn suspension parts, exhaust issues, leaks...

It drives well but no where near the driveability that my wj had. ( I sold that, sadly.) I want to go for an ARB in the front, but do I really want to drop yet another $1000? I'm also wanting to upgrade away from the low clearance Rough Country long arms... There would be another 1000 on the TNT kit I want.

These upgrades won't fix my unibody which continues to gain more corrosion, metal fatigue, and wear as time goes on. The paint is shit too. Rust starting everywhere. (Don't let the pics fool you.)

Is this why guys build TJ's and LJ's? It just seems like my jeep is tired and no matter what I upgrade, it will always be a unibody, not to mention all the broken plastic inside, and the tired engine and trans. (Axles, drivelines, tcase are all new, or rebuilt/swapped.)

End of rant... Surely I'm not the first to have this dilemma... Life after xj?I feel like the only thing that could replace my rig, would be an LJ.



New member
I have experienced some of the same thoughts as you. I haven't driven an XJ daily for years. If WJs were more reliable, I would gladly replace one of my XJs with a WJ, but they don't have durable drivetrains. I have one XJ I keep garaged in the winter, and will not see salt ever again as long as I can help it and I have one that I flog on. I will never burn out on them completely but as I have picked up other daily driver's and projects, there is no denying my interest has faded slightly. That being said, I believe I will always have atleast 1 XJ and 1 MJ.

Beautiful rig by the way, I hope you get through the thoughts you're having now and keep her for a long time :)

Last edited:

Johnnie Walker

Piece of Fish!
NAXJA Member
Maybe consider purchasing a "better condition XJ" to swap your parts. Make this one more mild/stock and sell it?

In a way I feel what you are going through. My XJ has always been budget based. Overall reliable and "decent" mileage. 15+ MPG average for DD duty, high teens to low 20s hwy pending conditions. I have owned my XJ for 7 years as of October, and it's not near as nice as yours. I know mine isn't worth shit, but it's been many places. Including driving to and from Moab. Even though it needs work, I wouldn't hesitate to drive it anywhere. Except maybe where functional A/C is a necessity.
Having my MJ to DD, especially being a manual, some times makes me sad when I look at my XJ.
Even when it had 4.56 gears and 235/75 tires it averaged better mileage, and was more fun to drive in the DD aspect. With my current 265/70R17 and 3.73 I net ~20mpg in my daily driving. Will soon be doing a 4WD swap, but I do not see that affecting mileage much. I am willing to put money into this MJ to get it where I want it.

I know you have your DD, and that you had a nice WJ, so that leans you away from the XJ a bit. I do understand wanting a TJU, as at least you know that the 4.0L is reliable. Auto trans, not so much. But a manual TJU Rubi with a 6 spd sounds like fun. Spendy, but can be worth it.

I have always thought your heep was one of the better looking XJ's. Don't waste that JCR Tire carrier bumper! But, in the end, I think if you feel like you have gotten your use/money out of it and want to let it go then do it.


NAXJA Member
having a YJ, TJ, or LJ (TJU) is a great platform to make into a wheeler. the frame helps a lot, the extra fender room, and the massive amount of aftermarket support are all great for that.

I have a lot of friends that I wheel/hang with that have them, certain parts of them are easier to deal with when it comes to building for wheeling; however they don't do anything else nearly as well.

they suck ass to drive. even around town sucks in anything other than perfect weather. Climate control is useless even with a hard-top, its gonna be too damn hot or too damn cold. they are loud inside. most of them are louder than my XJ with no headliner and hacked up rear fenders.

they have no space inside. even the LJ can't carry enough to make a long trip as comfortable as an XJ.

The XJ is quite possible the best expedition style platform ever made. yes there are some downsides, but overall I can't think of a better one.

I've run the Rubicon twice from San diego in my XJ with stops before and after making a 6-10 day trip out of it. yes it was full, but 2 people were able to be comfortable and wheel decently hard the whole time. none of the Wrongler people I hang with could or would do that. they all have to have tow pigs/RVs to get their rig to the trail and carry enough stuff to be comfortable.

IF having a more hardcore wheeler than your XJ is the goal, they can be a better option, but be warned, these are just some of the issues I've helped friends deal with on their wronglers.

I have a close friend that builds TJs and LJs for hardcore wheeling. they are no walk in the park to setup well. there is a lot that goes to building a wrongler into a good wheeler, the wheelbase sucks, even the LJs are a bit short. so you'll get to spend time and money stretching one their suspension geometry, especially the rear sucks. you're going to spend a ton of time and money making those rear links work well, and even more money dealing with the absurdly terribly ground clearance of the stock TJ/LJ/YJ skid system. and until you stretch them you'll be fighting rear pinion angle problems forever.

YJs are spring under with short ass leafs so that's gonna have to change. and the leafs in the front bring lots of issues: hanging up on front shackles, dialing spring rates for a good ride/wheeling. steering with them is garbage.

even though they aren't as cool as links, at least the Leafs in the back of an XJ are easily setup to wheel reliably.

not that Wronglers can't and don't make good rigs, but its not like you won't work just as hard as you did on your XJ. and that platform of wrangler is getting any younger but their used prices are still abnormally high, good luck finding one in as good of shape as your XJ without the price being 2-3 times what you think it should be. my neighbor just picked up a TJ thats 3 years newer than my XJ and the body is in way worse shape, the frame has a ton of rust and the front axleshafts are completely ruined from rust, but it was the only TJ within a 200mile radius for sale that was remotely affordable.

all the issues you seem to be worried about are age-related issues that won't go away simply by swapping to a platform that's barely newer. the grass is always greener on the other side and the TJ platform is going to and does face all of those issues. its a fact of having a wheeler that isn't brand new.


New member
I'll never go back to a XJ.

Why? its just too small. I never thought it was too small, even when loaded to the gills driving cross-country, until I moved to a bigger truck. Also, the platform is old and they have a reputation for putting up with neglectful maintenance and abuse while staying reliable. This makes for a pretty shitty used market, especially where rust is a thing... bc these trucks are rust magnets now. I put nearly 60k on my first XJ in 5 years, and then built a monster of a do-it-all XJ afterwards... and hated it. I was just over the platform and the lifestyle of DDing a really built up rig. And I'm kind of over the rock crawling thing, and into more light wheeling/camping/exploring.

Of course I'm an asshole and driving something "known" to be supremely unreliable and calling it better than my XJ, but my Disco have proven itself to be pretty damn good. Albeit, it was bought from a well-off older dude, original owner, who always had it dealer serviced. I just spent a good amount of money on maintenance this year and I think it should last me a good while now.. bought with 118k now at 142k. I really love the thing. Not much bigger than a XJ but its body on frame so its way bigger inside... and it is HUGE inside. Coils front/rear make for a great riding truck. I just got myself an old boat to fix up, so that will take my project bug. I put 31s on the Disco, trimmed the fenders a bit and I'm done.

That being said, I bought it cheap as a "holdover" truck until I'm ready to buy something new/almost new. Nothing out there really gets me going... the Colorado is great but its expensive for what it is. If someone put a gun to my head and told me to pick a 2016 truck, it would be a Tundra.

XJs are amazing little SUVs. But thats it. In my experience with a LOT of buddies building and wheeling and driving them for over 10 years now, once you start going over 33s and adding lots of armor and THEN wheeling hard.. they die. And not die like not work or fall apart.. die as in they lose what makes them special. They were light, fast, and compact. You take all of that away when you start building a big wheeler.. so you add more power, then bigger axles to handle the power, then a cage.... its a never ending circle bc the platform can't handle it. My XJ on 33s was awesome. My 3/4 ton one on 35s and a cage was a 5000lb pig.

Figure out what you want to do first, then choose the vehicle second. If you want another wheeler, I'd skip everything older than a Pentastar-powered JK. Everything else is just.. old.


Only Slightly Psychotic
NAXJA Member
Volunteer Leader
Chapter BOD
Bought mine new in 2001 and still love it.
I agree with what was said that it's not the XJ that is the problem. And if you do switch platforms it's still going to be the same dance with compromises that you have with your current rig.

If you decided to sell your XJ and buy a crotch rocket or a stanced rice burner that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. It may just mean that your tastes have changed. But if you are not enjoying your rig because you're a little burnt out on wheeling then buying another jeep to build may not be the answer.


NAXJA Member
NAXJA Member
Pretty common feeling of despair when any car hits this age. After a certain point you gotta make a decision on what you're going to do with it. My DD is a 30 year old Cadillac, I still dump $2k into her every year or two. A few years ago it got new paint, then a new engine, this year I put in a new transmission, next year I'm replacing the interior upholstery and rebuilding the exhaust, and so on. I can buy another one for the same $$ that I spend in maintenance, but I would also have to start all over again. For me, its a hobby that's using money that would otherwise go to a new car payment.

My XJ still serves a role as a winter beater / work truck that is easy to work on. I found some places where it had rusted through and am demoralized, but I'm going to fix it. There's just not really anything else comparable on the market now, maybe a WK or a 4-Runner, but you gotta disable half the shit, swap in good parts again, herculine the tub all over again, etc. You're basically looking to buy new every 5-10 years and rebuild. Not a bad strategy really, just a lot of money and work involved, and I'd rather put that into a house than another truck I'm just going to beat on.

BTW, Wranglers fall apart too. Last weekend I helped a guy install new sheetmetal on his TJ because the frame spacers had punched through the rotted body panels. A girl in the local club had her frame rust through at the control arm brackets--axle fell off the damn jeep on the trail.


New member
I come from a heavy drag racing,muscle car background have done it all my life. About three years ago I had enough. I covered up both my cars and walked away. In comes my Jeeps having an xj has breathed new life into my automotive habits. My point is if you are burned out unless you have to have the money just put it to the side and do something else that's is fun. I have had so much fun building my xj that my boy wants to build one now (mj). And come back when your ready, Just my two cents.


NAXJA Forum Supporter
Nice XJ!
I can relate. I basically sold my last XJ to get rid of it. i like the platform, I just needed to move on.

I wanted a JK Unlimited, but I couldn't find one with the options I wanted and could afford.
Instead I found a nice LJ that was used behind a camper and put a suspension lift on it. No hassle and the wheelbase is the same as a XJ.

Will I get another XJ? Not for what they go for now.
It was fun when you could buy a good one for $3k and put that amount into it in build parts ( or in tools to make your own parts).
Last edited:


New member
I basically burnt myself out and built something to the point where I no longer had fun taking it out anymore. I loved my MJ, but it was so custom/modified that it was a large time investment for something that I enjoyed for like 2-3 times a year. Prep time, dealing with the trailer, cleaning everything up, putting it all away. Started getting old fast.

Sold it about 2 weeks ago now and don't regret it. Got a good amount of cash for something that I learned a lot on, enjoyed for several years, and get to see someone else continue to enjoy.

I plan to build a muscle car that I can enjoy daily for much less time invested and have just as much fun with. Will I be out of the jeep scene forever? I guarantee I'll be back. I've met far too many good people to disappear.


I Jeep, therefore, I am..
I stopped building up my '98 up years ago, yet I'm still happy with it.

Mine was one of those decisions where I seriously thought out what I want out of my XJ, early on. Of course, I was enamored with a seriously built XJ's, but to what end? I didn't want a trailer queen, which would involve yet another rig and trailer to haul it around. Yet I wanted something a step or two above a stock XJ to get me a bit further on the trail and with more confidence. You and I live in the same area, so you know what I mean.

I went the route of a 5 in lift, 32's, 4.56 gearing, and Detroit TruTac's front and rear to safely handle highway rain and snow conditions. This is a mild build by most standards; yet I can drive my XJ to local trails, and at the same time use is as my daily driver. Perfect for my needs and situation.

I'm at 186,000 miles right now, and I'm pretty confident I can get another 100,000 or so. I thought about getting rid of it at that point, but honestly, I cannot replace the set up that I have, for the cost of a rebuilt engine. The rest of my rig is solid, and I really don't like my current market options of a newer & comparably built vehicle.

So, that's my short term plan for now. I keep in perspective that at the end of the day, it's still just a car to get me to and from places; only more places than your typical car can. And for me that suits my bill, and I'm at peace with that.... I have other interests to throw my money at as well....

Besides, I bought my XJ new, so I'm hoping to see if I can make it a full 20 years with the same engine


NAXJA Member
NAXJA Member
I've had my '91 since '98. I took my drivers test in it as well. I have the same dilemma too. Fortunately I don't have nay money right now to invest in a new project vehicle so I mainly do necessary maintenance to keep it drive-able. My rocker panels and floor are starting to rust but I'm not too worried about patching that so I have no plans to part with it anytime soon. Your rig looks great. What rear bumper is that? I'm looking for when I'm not poor...


NAXJA Member #15
NAXJA Member
I've had my 90 since 92. I'll have it until someone takes my driver's license away. I am getting the itch to build something else, but first I need to build a garage. :)