Go Back  Jeep Cherokee Forum > Technical Discussion > MJ Comanche Tech. Stock & Modified.
89 Jeep Comanche, old and dirt cheap, is it worth it? please help! >

89 Jeep Comanche, old and dirt cheap, is it worth it? please help!

MJ Comanche Tech. Stock & Modified. MJ (86-92)
All discussion regarding the Jeep Comanche, the pickup truck related to the Cherokee platform.

89 Jeep Comanche, old and dirt cheap, is it worth it? please help!

Old 02-21-2017, 09:56 PM
  #1  
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 7
Model: Cherokee
Question 89 Jeep Comanche, old and dirt cheap, is it worth it? please help!


First off this sale will be taking place in the northern U.S., incase anybody is familiar with the sort of issues cars in this area can have such as rust and pothole wear.

I was on craigslist actually looking for a cheap, reliable, if albeit quite ugly potential daily driver when I stumbled upon a 1989 Jeep Comanche, 2WD, 5 speed manual, 4 cylinder for sale for a whopping $625 bucks. however, its been relegated to "putzing around the farm with" and admittedly needs some work to be purty again.

This isn't an old garden-variety Chevy that I can just ask my dad about in terms of how reliable X engine was or how long Y tranny will last, so lo and behold, here I am on this forum as a new member hoping somebody can help me out.

I have some pictures the seller emailed me and am mostly concerned with the underbody rust in the one picture. Its a bit vague as to what everything is so I'm hoping somebody can tell me if anything is structurally compromised. I cant seem to upload attachments as I post this but ill try to upload it in an edit.

Otherwise, I'd love to hear any knowledge anybody might have about the particular engine/tranny, ease of repair, reliability, availability of parts, common problem areas, and simply whether or not this can be trusted to get me from A to B and C as well.





Last edited by [email protected]; 02-21-2017 at 10:07 PM. Reason: uploading images
Johnny762x51@gmail.com is offline  
Old 02-21-2017, 10:11 PM
  #2  
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 7
Model: Cherokee
Default

the seller lists exhaust leak, sticky rear drum, rust spots, a dent here and there, etc and says a little tlc will be needed to get her road worthy for a daily driver. also leaves the buyer responsible for inspecting the frame and mechanicals before buying. says the truck starts, has solid drive train, clutch was replaced a number of years ago, and has 166k on it.
Johnny762x51@gmail.com is offline  
Old 02-22-2017, 07:55 AM
  #3  
CF Veteran
 
WyoCherokee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Gillette Wyoming
Posts: 1,296
Year: 1990
Model: Comanche (MJ)
Engine: 4.0
Default

it doesnt "look" structurally compromised. depends on how much floor patch welding you want to do. the "exhaust leak" is the completely disconnected system right behind that cat. the ax-5 and 2.5l is a stout combo, mine was still running at 275k miles when i sold it.
WyoCherokee is offline  
Old 02-22-2017, 07:18 PM
  #4  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: rural northern Illinois
Posts: 61
Default

I recently bought one in about the same shape (northern Illinois) with a much worse paint job for $600 w/a few extra bits & pieces (trans, TC, drive shaft, front diff, etc). The muffler is around $30, plus pipe & clamps. It looks like they used plumber's tape to hold up the gas tank. You should be able to buy the correct parts for less than $50 (the bolt costs as much as the strap). Drum brakes are pretty simple. The big question is "Do you drive a stick now?" This is a good rig to learn how to drive a stick, but 'learners' usually put a lot of wear & tear on the clutch. From the looks of the door, you may have a hinge problem developing. It's fixable. In the long run, can you afford the vehicle & the level of maintenance to make it a DD? if yes, go for it. BTW have you checked the front end, steering linkage, bearings & ball joints. Those can add up pretty quick. It just gets down to time & money available. If you got it, go for it.
Charlie Foxtrot is offline  
Old 02-23-2017, 09:02 AM
  #5  
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 7
Model: Cherokee
Default

I am expected to catch a ride to go see it and potentially buy it tomorrow about 30 hours from now. The suspension will be tested during the test drive and I'm going to give it a shake down and have somebody jar the steering back and forth while I look underneath the front to see if any loose spots come up. But otherwise my biggest concern is if these trucks are prone to having any finicky little problems that lead to either unreliable drive trains or expensive and extensive repairs. All the little ugly bits I have no problem with jury rigging, like the gas tank straps you mentioned, worst case scenario I can might weld my own bracketry to bolt in place beneath the tank, or fabricate my own tailgate or exhaust, etc.

as far my driving experience I've only ever driven autos when it comes to passenger vehicles but have driven manual dirtbikes/three-wheelers/etc which did have rider-operated clutches so it won't be so much like pulling teeth. I suppose it'd be more like a refresher course than anything once I get used to the stop and go type stuff.
Johnny762x51@gmail.com is offline  
Old 02-23-2017, 06:43 PM
  #6  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: rural northern Illinois
Posts: 61
Default


renix adapter

You should be OK, but be sure and set aside/budget for replacement of wear out items like BJs, steering linkage, and maybe plan on a clutch after a couple of years. These are pretty durable, and the four banger gets pretty good mileage. Just don't plan on dragging a car hauler with it. Read up on Renix fixes (most are pretty straight forward) if you start having drive ability issues. Before you do you first oil change, check the filter number. If you can't find a replacement filter, Mopar has a conversion adapter for about $12 that allows you to use the same filter as the 4.0L 6 cylinder (see photo). That filter is more common, than the 4 cylinder filter. Otherwise you should be able to easily find all the routine maintenance parts.
Charlie Foxtrot is offline  
Old 02-23-2017, 09:13 PM
  #7  
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 7
Model: Cherokee
Default

Thanks for the tip, I'll keep that in mind as the first thing I'll be doing if I get it is a refresh including an oil change. Off hand are you aware of a good repair manual for this vehicle? I know Chilton and/or Haynes probably makes one but I know they can be hit and miss as far as quality. For instance I have a 97 dodge RAM for which I own both manuals, and found the Haynes manual to be far superior due to its method of explanation as well as the fact that Chilton bundled the ram trucks with the Durango SUVs into one book and traded detail for universalist coverage in doing so. Any recommendations?
Johnny762x51@gmail.com is offline  
Old 02-24-2017, 07:55 AM
  #8  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: rural northern Illinois
Posts: 61
Default

Chilton's and Motor both publish 'Professional" series of manuals. They tend to be oriented towards the pro's rather than the DYI crowd. Mitchel Manuals are excellent & very thorough. As for 'complete-ness' nothing beats the factory service manuals. The only issue is that you could spend more for manuals than the truck - haha. I've had good luck with library book sales, garage & estate sales.
Charlie Foxtrot is offline  
Old 02-25-2017, 05:40 AM
  #9  
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 7
Model: Cherokee
Default

Update: I met with the seller and began my inspection of the vehicle. The radiator will need to be replaced soon and there is some (hopefully minor) electric work since the hazard signals work, but the turn signals do not. I ended up holding off on the vehicle for now after observing the rust under the body. Aside from misc holes in the body and some patchwork it could use in the floor pan, I noticed this small hazard on the leaf spring mount. Where the bracket for the bushing is mounted to the chassis, a large rust hole has developed, mirrored on both the driver and passenger sides. When I had somebody else rock the truck back and forth, I could see the mounting bracket moving relative to the chassis so I know some major reinforcing is going to have to be done ASAP. But my father believes it could be a relatively simple fix given some time and love with gramps's MIG welder. I may ask the seller for a cheaper deal if I go back for it. I know this isn't quite a full "body on chassis" construction and that keeps are notorious for vulnerable unibody style construction techniques. Opinions?
Johnny762x51@gmail.com is offline  
Old 02-25-2017, 12:17 PM
  #10  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: rural northern Illinois
Posts: 61
Default

You can get a radiator cheap (less than $80 new if you search) plus coolant, hoses, clamps, t-stat (DYI), and if you took it to a shop, the welding might run you $200. Open question about the turn signals - could be a flasher ($1) or (worst case) you may have to tear apart the column. All fixable, but the rear spring perches are a "must do" before driving. period. its a safety issue. See if you can push him down $300, maybe settle somewhere in the middle. Be sure and understand you won't catch everything in the pre-buy inspection so have some cash in reserve to fix what crops up. On the other hand, have you looked around for other MJs? How about XJs? Depending on where you are located, you should be able to find other vehicles that don't need frame/spring repair or other major surgery at reasonable price. Happy hunting!
Charlie Foxtrot is offline  
Old 02-25-2017, 01:12 PM
  #11  
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 7
Model: Cherokee
Default

Unfortunately the situation at hand has led to me looking for the cheapest daily driver i can possibly muster, this just happened to fit the bill. I haven't had the opportunity to look specifically for Jeeps, and in fact most of the vehicles I've looked at were Ford Rangers or Chevy S10's, but opted out of the S10 as an option due the Dex-Cool used in relevant model years on the market that makes the engines officially trash. And the Ford Rangers in the area are only within budget if they need a new engine or tranny. This particular Comanche just happens to fit the bill for me AND look like a good idea in theory: a Chrysler pickup with a four cylinder and a manual transmission. But as for seeking a more structurally sound vehicle, anything within a reasonable budget is liable to have rust issues where I'm located. I've yet to find more than 2 vehicles on the local Craigslist that didn't have some moderate to major degree of rust damage.

Ill look into the local parts stores and suppliers and price out a cooling system overhaul. The inside of the radiator looked quite gunked up anyways so it could probably use a flushing and maybe a new water pump if theyre cheap enough. If all else fails though its not out of the question to retro-fit a more common, cheaper radiator.

In the event of a purchase I will be doing the welding and bracing myself, not least to save money but also so I can make myself more familiar with the truck. A clever idea I've considered lately is a suspension upgrade. I currently own a 97 Ram with a finicky power plant that has turned into a project truck. Its getting a carby 408 stroker V8 and some secondhand one-ton axles. So I thought, what better to do with the half ton axles, then to give them to this Comanche later down the line as hand-me-downs?

Last edited by [email protected]; 02-25-2017 at 01:18 PM. Reason: forgot section
Johnny762x51@gmail.com is offline  
Old 02-28-2017, 07:42 AM
  #12  
CF Veteran
 
WyoCherokee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Gillette Wyoming
Posts: 1,296
Year: 1990
Model: Comanche (MJ)
Engine: 4.0
Default

i think the question comes to hand, as to how soon you need a reliable vehicle and how much work you are willing to put in to it. I think you can find a better vehicle for sub $1,500. Seeing that spring perch loose warrants me to keep loooing for whatever else is wrong with it. I wouldnt even test drive it with that perch broken.
WyoCherokee is offline  
Old 03-01-2017, 04:32 PM
  #13  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: rural northern Illinois
Posts: 61
Default

Just a couple of thoughts. Why do you think the cooling system needs an overhaul? Or a replacement radiator? Is it leaking? Or is the coolant a muddy brown mess? If the latter, make sure you don't have an issue causing combustion gases to get into the coolant (head gasket issue, cracked valve seat, etc can turn glycol based coolant into a rusty mess).
Charlie Foxtrot is offline  
Old 03-01-2017, 06:02 PM
  #14  
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 7
Model: Cherokee
Default

The radiator is damaged. It holds tight and didn't seem to leak at all during the 20 mins the engine ran during a warm up, but there are portions of ventilation fins missing from rust/trail brush/who knows what. If in the still-plausible event I decide the chassis work is worth it, I would still proceed with as extensive of an inspection as possible, and would intend to give it an endurance test, ideally for at least 45 mins to an hour of running time, with as much of that possible being driven, to observe any quirks or abnormalities such as exhaust, throttle response, power output, fluids checks, RPMs at closed throttle, etc. Including some checks such as spark plug pulls and maybe a look inside the chambers, diffs, water jackets etc if I can track down a bore scope and convince the guy to let me.
Johnny762x51@gmail.com is offline  
Old 03-10-2017, 03:23 PM
  #15  
CF Veteran
 
WyoCherokee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Gillette Wyoming
Posts: 1,296
Year: 1990
Model: Comanche (MJ)
Engine: 4.0
Default

i wouldnt even test drive it with those leaf spring perches cracked like that. TBH.
WyoCherokee is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

© 2019 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
 
  • Ask a Question
    Get answers from community experts
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: