1. #1
    volaredon's Avatar
    volaredon is offline Senior Member
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    TJ frames junk? (sorry; long)

    Hi there; 1st post here, but not new to Jeeps. Been an ASE certified Master tech, where I spent 18 years making a living from beneath an alignment rack. then on to Ind. maintenance in a steel mill for a few years then hurt (Will tell the details later) so now on disability.
    I have 2 Jeeps at present (01 XJ also) but this pertains to my '97 TJ.
    I bought it in Y2K fresh off of a lease with 19K miles. Now only has 87K. 4.0, stick (love that combo), Godawful 3.07 ratios. (5th gear useless)
    Now honestly the closest this think has been to "4-wheeling" is thru the snow and salt in Chicago winters, and an occasional "assist" to pull out someone who ran off in a ditch.
    It has been sitting 18 mo in the garage; (Dr request NOT to drive a stick while I was in the stupid "Moon boot" (air cast) from a BAD leg injury. that means it has missed out on the last 2 winters!
    but the frame went to He!!; my son and I just got done swapping everything over to a replacement frame. Never wrecked, but it is THIN on the driver side, just ahead of the rear axle arch. Yet the body is perfect; isn't frame steel heavier than sheetmetal?
    OK back up about 2 years, pre-injury when I was daily driving this thing (which I miss doing badly, BTW)
    My cat went bad so I took it to the local exh shop to have a new cat and muffler installed. (I put 5K on it between then and getting hurt/parking the Jeep) While it was on the rack, the muffler guys, in having to pull the skidplate to access the old cat, came in to tell me that we had a problem. All 3 nut serts in the frame stripped upon them removing the 'plate as well as the middle one on the pass side. WTF? I can't remember how many times they asked me, "WHAT year is this"? because they could not believe it either. I looked at it the best I could while it was on the lift, and found the frame packed with scale about 1/2 way up as seen thru the "chaindown" holes, on the frame sides. I could understand this on maybe a 77 or a 67 vehicle but a 97? C'mon, now!
    Fast forward to late last summer; I finally lost the moon boot, so would have been able to start driving it again.
    I decided that I wanted to remove the step plates and wheel flares to have them repainted, as we all know how they fade, so I wanted to dress it up a bit. In the process the nut serts spun in doing this, and I found a "soft spot" in the frame rail near the back step plate mount.
    I actually cut this spot out (Right by a "chaindown") with a grinder, so I could get inside there with a Shop Vac to suck out all the accumulated scale to at least minimize the "sponge effect" of the scale, holding moisture, and welded a patch in on that outer rail. I ran the Shop vac hose all the way into the rail as far as I could and beat on the outside with a ballpein to knock the stuff off that was hanging off the insides.
    Well I finally got my painted parts back last month. (didn't realize it would take the guy 5 months that I took them to, in "getting to" my stuff.)
    Well I go to reinstall my plastic and see that more scale has come loose and feel "piles" adjacent to all the frame's holes. The metal right under the bottom 4 link attatching point (frame itself not the added bracket the 4 link actually bolts to) I noticed the hole to the inside wall of the rail (behind the 4 link mount bracket) was rusted even with the bottom wall of the rail! Hit it with a hammer and the frame dents easier than sheet metal in that spot!
    My son is 16 and about to get his license, so I gotta make this Jeep safe. so I found a '99 frame on Craigslist that was supposedly parted in 01 and was sitting inside a garage ever since. big difference in the cond. of the replacement makes the story at least somewhat believeable.
    I just set the body onto the frame last night (been sitting on sawhorses for about 3 weeks as I found, retrieved, painted the new frame, and swapped the powertrain and such over to it. I even got pix of it hanging by 2 chain falls from the ceiling joists of my garage! The 10' ceilings come in handy, after all!

    so is frame rust on a TJ common? Anyone else have trouble with this?
    had a brake line blow while sitting in the garage over last summer so I replaced all the steel ones at that time (cut/flared/bent my own)

    pass side rail, crossmembers and at least the front 1/2 of the drivers rail appear solid. I've seen front or rear frame sections on the junkyard search sites going for $300-350. good start for maybe a buggy where youre gonna cut and modify the frame anyways. I'd let the old one go, best offer to anyone that needs one.

  2. #2
    jps4jeep's Avatar
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    Re: TJ frames junk? (sorry; long)

    well seeing as you live in Il. and it snowes and I am sure they salt the roads, so... Yes some rust more than others, if you park it on a dirt driveway, that will speed up the process, if you live near a body of salt water, that will speed up the process, if the vehicle is driven in mud and snow and stuff and not cleaned afterwards it will speed it up. Metal rusts, it happens The vehicle is 12 years old.
    It used to be a jeep Thing,
    But all that stuff broke

    -Johnny-


  3. #3
    Crazy4diesels's Avatar
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    Re: TJ frames junk? (sorry; long)

    Someone might have stored it in a damp location while salty. I've seen this happen before. Someone might have driven it "just once" during a wet salty winter day and parked it under cover but in humidity (like in a car port or outside garage). The humidity will condense on the salt and keep the metal salty and wet continuously (salt "pulls" humidity right out of the air). The sheetmetal has been treated with better primer and I'm pretty sure is galvanized - but the frame is not. How do the aluminum parts look? Are the transmission and transfer case badly corroded too? Of all the Jeeps the TJ seems to hold up to rust pretty well. There are lots of old TJs on the road here in MA (and we use tons of salt... every week during the winter they cover the roads in gravel size salt just because we get a little sneeze of snow). You might consider spraying rust inhibitor inside the new frame while you're working on it. And... coat your bolts with marine grade grease (just be sure to check tightness now and then). Skid plate bolts often rust in place. Best of luck - John

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    SteelHeadz's Avatar
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    Re: TJ frames junk? (sorry; long)

    Yyyuupp! Johnny can tell you all about frames. How to break AND fix it.
    Confucious says: Don't eat the snow where the huskies go!

  5. #5
    volaredon's Avatar
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    Re: TJ frames junk? (sorry; long)

    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy4diesels View Post
    Someone might have stored it in a damp location while salty. I've seen this happen before. Someone might have driven it "just once" during a wet salty winter day and parked it under cover but in humidity (like in a car port or outside garage). The humidity will condense on the salt and keep the metal salty and wet continuously (salt "pulls" humidity right out of the air). The sheetmetal has been treated with better primer and I'm pretty sure is galvanized - but the frame is not. How do the aluminum parts look? Are the transmission and transfer case badly corroded too? Of all the Jeeps the TJ seems to hold up to rust pretty well. There are lots of old TJs on the road here in MA (and we use tons of salt... every week during the winter they cover the roads in gravel size salt just because we get a little sneeze of snow). You might consider spraying rust inhibitor inside the new frame while you're working on it. And... coat your bolts with marine grade grease (just be sure to check tightness now and then). Skid plate bolts often rust in place. Best of luck - John
    Amen on the skidplate; the exh shop was wanting to weld it solid when they put the cat on it, but I said NO WAY. What if I gotta replace the clutch again? No marine grease but I Anti Seized every one heavily. Aluminum parts look great. I 1st noticed the frame being packed with scale 6 months BEFORE it was parked due to my injury. (at the time of the cat repplacement) Why did they NOT put any drain holes in the bottom wall of the frame? I used to hose it out when I still was making payments on it.
    On the replacement frame (which is like brand new) I sprayed the Hell out of the inside of it (what I could access anyway) with POR 15, before I swapped the drivetrain over to it. and I put 2 coats on teh outside of the new frame too. and I undercoated the WHOLE underside of the body (up behind the wheelwells, such as where the fuel filler is, and pulled the heat shields off of it (yeah theyre back on now) with DupliColor's DIY truck Bed coating since I happened to have 2 gallons of it collecting dust here on the shelf; oughtta be as good an undercoat as any. (only used 1 gallon) got from the firewall/floorpan seam, back; some places got 2 coats (like the rear wheelwells; yeah I know those plastic wheel well liners gotta go back in)and I sprayed that Rubberized undercoat (the spray bomb stuff that never seems to dry) in all the little holes where I could not get to with a brusk and the Truck bed stuff.

    This was (1) the newest vehicle I ever had, 3 years old and 19K miles on it in Y2K when I got it
    (2) the single most expensive vehicle I have EVER bought; 24K by the time i got done with 5 years of payments and all the bank interest; 3 months later they started the 0% for 60 months; 1st time any of us had ever heard of that deal. I coulda bought a then-new 2000 Sahara cheaper ,decked out just how I wanted (hard and soft tops, 3.73 or lower gear,etc) than this then 3 year old 97 cost me; To add up the cost of ALL the rest of the vehicles that I have owned these last 25 yrs won't add up to what I pd for this Wrangler. so i have not yet gotten my "money's worth" out of it/ with the economy as it is, I'd lose my azz if I were to sell it. (which I don't want to)
    (3) only 87K miles on a straight-6 is not even broke in yet; that's funny; the original drums hoses T stat, water pump, are still there, outlasted the frame!
    (4) I have a kid who's gonna be 16 next week and figured i'd be better to go thru all this, than to sell it and buy who-knows-what POS to replace it with for him; I know how this one's been taken care of and "what's been done and I finally "own it" with no payments.

  6. #6
    volaredon's Avatar
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    Re: TJ frames junk? (sorry; long)

    Quote Originally Posted by jps4jeep View Post
    well seeing as you live in Il. and it snowes and I am sure they salt the roads, so... Yes some rust more than others, if you park it on a dirt driveway, that will speed up the process, if you live near a body of salt water, that will speed up the process, if the vehicle is driven in mud and snow and stuff and not cleaned afterwards it will speed it up. Metal rusts, it happens The vehicle is 12 years old.
    I KNOW how old the thing is, thanks.
    I also have a 83 Dodge 3/4 ton pickup (26 years old) that came out of Wisconsin with no such problems. I drive that 83 EVERY DAY! and still use it as a truck was meant to be used hauling towing and such.
    and as I said I've been an alignment guy 18 years (switched jobs, away from auto repair 4 years ago) so I have a pretty good "feel" for how long it takes certain parts/vehicles to rust out around here,

    My point of this, is that I was wondering if there were any "insiders", working for Chrysler/Jeep, that could chime in about such things as maybe a "bad batch" of steel that went thru the line, etc. My brother got his '84 Monte Carlo repainted several years after he bought it because they admitted that his was one of several that went down the line with clogged primer jets on the paint line; paint on bare steel; never a good thing.

    My thinking is this; I despise Toyota Nissan Honda Hyundai and the like; they are UN American. I prefer to Buy American. Always have. but even (ugh)Toyota admitted a problem with their trucks for this very problem and recently extended the warranty to 15 years on their Tacoma frames and are offering to repair at n/c, or to buy back your Toyota truck if it shows frame perforation. I mean Toyota had a rep for rusting away prematurely for years, and even they are finally acknowledging this; too little too late; but it is SOMETHING. So I'm wondering if I got ahold of the "right" person/department at Chrysler if there would be any chance of the same result; though I doubt it seriously I thought it would be "worth a shot". or if anyone here might know who that "right" person might be.
    as I said i've had other vehicles what have included other Jeeps, in the 25 years I've been driving, the total of wich did not add up to the price of this one vehicle by itself; and never a frame problem with any of the others; and most of them have been older than this one is now, when I first got them! Had I taken this one off roading, thru creeks, etc in the time I've had it, I could "almost" understand it. But I have NOT done so.

  7. #7
    SteelHeadz's Avatar
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    Re: TJ frames junk? (sorry; long)

    If there was any " Bad Batch" that would have pointed out to a defect on the frameworks structural integrity that may cause a safety issue, then a recall would have been sent out along with the Vin breakpoints of the involved vehicles. No, there is no "Bad Batch".
    Confucious says: Don't eat the snow where the huskies go!

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