Of all Jeep models, Jeep Wrangler is considered the true off-road model that features tough timeless design and excellent off-road performance that might be suitable only for a specific group of car enthusiasts. Jeep Wrangler may not be for everyone. If you expect smooth and quiet ride on highways while sitting on luxury seat, you might be disappointed when driving this car, but if you are an adventurer looking for a real off-road monster, you will definitely love this vehicle and be proud of it. The pros and cons section of this article can give you clearer clue of whether Jeep Wrangler is the best car for you.
So far, three generations of this vehicle have been released: the YJ model that was released between 1986 and 1995, the TJ model between 1996 and 2006, and the JK model that has been around since 2007. Despite being the oldest, YJ model with its distinctive rectangular headlight is still considered popular today. 1988 was especially a special year for this model as it saw several upgrades for this model, including the release of Jeep Wrangler Islander that introduced some cosmetic features and optional engines.
1988 Jeep Wrangler Buying Guide
If you plan to buy this model, 1988 Jeep Wrangler is currently available in most Jeep dealerships around the country. You can also buy it from car enthusiasts who happen to collect it. As this car is almost three decades old, upgrades to some of its components are mostly necessary upon purchasing it. Therefore, after you buy any available 1988 Jeep Wrangler for sale, you will mostly want to proceed to buying some accessories for it, be they OEM or custom. Before you go into the details of your purchase, you need to know first why you need to buy this vehicle (and why you should not).
The Pros and Cons of 1988 Jeep Wrangler
There are some advantages that you can reap and some disadvantages you might suffer if you buy Jeep Wrangler of the YJ model. By understanding its advantages, you can picture in your mind everything that you can expect from this car. By understanding its disadvantages, you will have a better clue of whether to buy this car or whether to buy anything else.
1. Jeep Wrangler is a true off-road vehicle that features versatile 4×4 capabilities, higher frame that offers better ground clearance, short wheelbase that effectively overcomes tight and sharp turns, powerful drivetrain that ensures efficient transmission of power, compact and lightweight body that elegantly dances with tight spots, and strong and durable interior and exterior that will last for decades and thousands of miles. Water, mud and snow can hardly damage its interior components as the vehicle is designed to be an all-season one. Everything that you want from an off-road vehicle can be found in Jeep Wrangler.
2. Jeep Wrangler has distinctive look that is timeless and appealing for off-road enthusiasts. The 1988 model is especially unique as the model of this era is the only Jeep Wrangler model that features rectangular headlights. The unique styling of this vehicle as well as its sturdy interior components allows it to be used as both an SUV and a convertible.
3. Jeep Wrangler gratifies car lovers of all age. Both young and old off-road enthusiasts love this car and in every Jeep fraternity, Jeep Wrangler will mostly stand out due to its distinctive style and performance. No one can hardly resist the temptation of its intimidating yet charming look.
4. Of all features that this car offers, 1988 Jeep Wrangler value is considered among the most widely acclaimed. Jeep Wrangler is always relatively cheap to buy due to its simple design. Its components are also affordable and the vehicle itself always has excellent resale value. Budget-wise, Jeep Wrangler will never be a disappointing car.
5. Jeep Wrangler is highly customizable and is easy to repair. Almost every component of it can be replaced or upgraded for cosmetic or performance reasons. OEM and custom components are plentiful and mostly affordable. Even the recently upgraded 1988 Jeep Wrangler parts for the old vehicle are currently available on the market. If you are a fervent car modder, you will undoubtedly love this car as you can play with it anyway you want. Due to the car’s simple design, its components are relatively easy to repair.
6. Jeep Wrangler is American made. Its predecessors played an essential role in assisting American troops in the World War II. When you drive this car, you are actually driving the real American hero. Even cars that are assembled in other countries by foreign manufacturers must be licensed by Jeep. Being an American car, it can guarantee that the quality of its frame, body and components is beyond question.
1. Jeep Wrangler is rather awkward to board on. The height of its frame means you need to wear trousers or pants in order to get into it. Wear a skirt and you will have problem when stepping in. The height of its frame means that only tall people can comfortably use it, right? Wrong. Tall people will still have problem sitting on its seat, which is not ideally designed for them. Besides, due to the way its rear-view mirror is installed, tall people will have problem looking ahead as the mirror mostly stands in the way.
2. Comfort is the last thing you can expect when you ride this car. Almost all features that ensure comfortable ride, such as backseats and carpet, are mostly optional. Even the steel door of the car is also an optional feature. If you decide to get the backseats, they are far from being comfortable as the rear seating area feels so cramped and uncomfortable. Getting into the backseats poses another problem as the door is very small and narrow. As the roof is uninsulated, cold day can leave you freezing and hot day can be stiflingly hot when you ride this vehicle. Nevertheless, this all is actually normal as the 1988 Jeep Wrangler YJ is meant to be abused by tough people who hardly think about comfort.
3. Safety can be a challenge for an inexperienced driver. If the door is removed, you can rely only on your seatbelt to keep you secured to your seat. The absence of doors also means the absence of side mirrors, which further complicates the safety of the car. If you keep the top on, the rear-view mirror is almost useless as the top gives almost no opening that ensures adequate level of rear visibility. In fact, even the latest model of Jeep Wrangler has poor crash-test rating.
4. Jeep Wrangler offers poor storage feature. This car barely provides you with enough space to store your luggage. And the only place in the car that you can use to store your stuff cannot be locked. Unless you manually add locked storage unit to this car, there is no place that you can use to store your stuff securely.
5. Jeep Wrangler might be powerful, but it is definitely not fast. Acceleration and steering are somewhat slow when you drive this car on highways. The tall and boxy profile of the vehicle is not considered aerodynamic. Strong wind will prevent it from running fast enough and cause too much noise. It doesn’t offer great fuel economy as well.
6. Driving this car on highways will hardly be comfortable. In addition to the extra noise caused by the non-aerodynamic profile of its body, its noisy engine and tires will also bother you and other drivers who don’t like noises. Because its suspension is designed to be firm for off-road use, riding this car on smooth road will often feel too bumpy and stiff.
By reading the pros and cons of Jeep Wrangler, especially the 1988 model, you should be able to pick the best position you should be in. If you expect a rugged car that offers smooth ride, other SUVs and even other Jeep cars, especially Grand Cherokee, might be better choices for you. If you like this car despite all innate flaws that it has, Jeep Wrangler is the right car to buy. In fact, all flaws that it has actually make it one of the best vehicles for off-road driving. When you go off-road, you definitely want to ride a car with firm suspension and slow steering, don’t you? If you are sure that you want to buy this car, you can proceed to reading the 1988 Jeep Wrangler specs below.
1988 Jeep Wrangler Specifications that You Should Inspect
We are not going to be too exhaustive when outlining Jeep Wrangler’s specs. Only the most defining components of the car that you can physically inspect when you buy the car will be discussed here.
Before you open the hood, you definitely need to pick a trim level that is suitable for you. The YJ model of Jeep Wrangler is available in seven different trim levels, not all of which were available in 1988, though. Sport and Rio Grande trims, for instance, were not available before 1991 and 1995 respectively. If you are looking for the original trim for your 1988 model, besides the Base trim, your choices include 1988 Jeep Wrangler Sahara, Laredo and Islander. Of the three available trim levels, Sahara is considered the best one for off-road purposes as it introduces some special off-road accessories, such as fog lamps, that enhance the car’s off-road capability.
The signature component of 1988 Jeep Wrangler is undoubtedly its engine. The original model of this vehicle uses 2.5L AMC engine, but if you expect real power, you definitely need to replace it with the optional 4.0L engine. The 4.0L six-cylinder engine of this car is considered one of the best Chrysler’s 4×4 off-road engines that continue to be used until 2006. Upgrades for this engine are available if you think that the engine of the car that you want to buy is too noisy, harsh and vibrating.
When checking the engine, you will definitely check the carburetor as well. If you find that the 1988 Jeep Wrangler carburetor that you see under the hood is the lousy Carter BBD carburetor, which is notoriously known to cause engine hiccups, you may want to replace it with more stable carburetor. The Motorcraft MC 2100 carburetor is widely considered the best swap for the inferior computer-controlled carburetor.
In terms of transmission, all available variants of 1988 Jeep Wrangler transmission are considered generally reliable. As you are going to buy a used car, you definitely need to check the fluid level or the clutch fluid reservoir level of the car’s automatic or manual transmission respectively.
Next, you certainly want to check the vehicle’s top. Deciding whether to buy 1988 Jeep Wrangler hard top or soft top is important. While soft top is reliable choice for a convertible Jeep car, there are many reasons why you should pick hard top instead of soft top. To start with, soft top is noisy whereas hard top is silent. Soft top is also prone to theft. With hard top, you can install crossbars or racks on the roof of your car. Hard top also boosts the resale value of your Jeep car as it is considered a valuable accessory. Last but not least, hard top is obviously stronger and more durable than soft top.
If you are happy with all basic components of the 1988 Jeep Wrangler that you want to buy, you can now add some accessories to enhance its appearance and performance. There are some recommended accessories that you may want to look into. To enhance the mean look of your off-road monster, you can add custom aftermarket bumper, seat covers, fender flares, floor mats, and nerf bars. If you want your Wrangler to perform better, accessories like custom muffler tip, performance chips, custom suspension system, and custom air intake system, are definitely accessories that you should look into. All of those 1988 Jeep Wrangler accessories can be added when you buy the vehicle. Therefore, you may need to talk with the dealer about their availability and whether the dealer can help you install them.