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Buying a Salvage Jeep Wrangler From an Auction

By Mike Richards Posted: 01/26/2020

The Jeep Wranger is a safe, reliable American vehicle. How can you get one cheaply? How do Salvage Jeep Wrangler auctions work? We will explore.

The Jeep Wrangler has historically been seen as a hardy off-road vehicle that is great for both urban and rural dwellers. Very few brands have been able to appeal to people living in both urban and rural settings, people with different interests, and even have varying interests in what they expect in a car. However, the Jeep Wrangler has successfully managed to cross the divide and has stayed the course over the years. This car offers buyers features they expect, and some surprisingly pleasant comfort and safety features.

The Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler has been in the market since 1986. This could explain its popularity with American auto consumers who prefer consistency. The Wrangler JL is the most recent generation, with the 2018 model being the first. The past generations were Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-2018), Jeep Wrangler TJ (1996-2006), and Jeep Wrangler YJ (1986-1995).

The Jeep Wrangler borrowed some features from the 1945-1986 Jeep CJs. Some of the similarities, especially in the early models of the Jeep Wrangler, include a separate body and frame which was a popular feature of the Jeep CJ. The suspension and interior of the Jeep were also borrowed from the Jeep CJ.

The Jeep Wrangler sales in the US have been impressive with 491,053 units of the YJ, 895,618 units of the TJ, and 1,559,183 units of the Wrangler JK sold throughout the production years. The trend of the sales of the Jeep Wrangler shows demand has not wavered, with the latest generation showing the same di with over 280,000 units of the 2018 model Jeep Wrangler already sold.

The number of new cars in the market naturally affects the used car and salvage sector. The more the number of vehicles, the higher the opportunity to buy the vehicle used or a salvage.

Depreciation Trends of the Jeep Wrangler

The depreciation rate is a great consideration for both new and used car buyers. Given that the first vehicle owner bears the biggest burden of depreciation, how does the resale value of the Jeep Wrangler influence purchase?

The used Jeep Wrangler retains a significant portion of its value. This could be for various reasons, including its ruggedness, iconic design, and durability. The demand for the Jeep Wrangler also surpasses supply in the used car market, and this results in high resale values. Compared to other cars in the most populous states in the US, the Jeep Wrangler was one of the few cars that had the least amount of depreciation. The Jeep Wrangler loses approximately 30% of its value over five years. This is a great deal for first-time buyers who get to retain at least 70% of the vehicle’s value after driving it for five years.

This is bad news for used car buyers, especially people with a tight budget. Yes, they still get to resale the Jeep Wrangler at a great price after buying it used and driving it for some time. However, a used Jeep Wrangler may not be affordable for most people. This is why more people are drawn to a salvage Wrangler because they only pay a much lower rate than they would have had they bought it used, with a clean title.

Tips to Buying a Salvage Jeep Wrangler at Auction

Be Financially Ready to Buy a Wrangler

When looking for a Jeep Wrangler at a salvage auction, it is critical to remember that this vehicle has great demand. You need to know how much salvage title Jeeps cost, the model you want and have a budget for repairs. This way, once you identify a great Jeep Wrangler with a salvage title, you bid on it immediately or even buy it outrightly if you don’t want to haggle over the price. If the deal is excellent, and the condition of the car acceptable, buy it. Otherwise, the vehicle may be gone while you are wondering where to get the financing.

Which Model do You Want?

The Jeep Wrangler has undergone significant changes, especially mechanically. The newer models are faster, safer, and more costly when compared to the older models. If your budget is your guide when buying a salvaged Jeep Wrangler, can you comfortably drive the earlier models which are more demanding on a driver than newer models which have features which improve comfort when driving? If the older models are physically too demanding for you, which model are you willing to compromise on?

How Bad is the Damage?

Most salvage titled vehicles get the title because the repair costs were not worth the value of the car. The insurance companies, therefore, choose to replace the vehicles instead of repairing the damaged vehicle. Can you afford the cost of repairs? Besides the price, you need to look at the damage. For example, the body of a salvage Jeep Wrangler can easily be fixed, but is the frame still solid or was it damaged during the crash? A damaged structure can affect the vehicle’s stability and roadworthiness. A flood damaged Jeep Wrangler can have problems with its electric systems.

A Video of Wrangler Restoration

YouTube video

The Vehicle’s History

Looking at the vehicle’s history is critical, especially when buying a car with a salvage title. This is even more critical for a Jeep Wrangler given the adventurism of Jeep enthusiasts. Although more and more city dwellers are being drawn to the Jeep Wrangler, a significant number of drivers choose to test how well this car performs on rough terrain. This eventually wears out critical parts of the vehicle. If the Jeep is not maintained, chances are you will have trouble restoring it.

Jeep Wrangler Potholes Nigerian roads

What are the Salvage Jeep Wrangler to Buy at Auction?

Jeep CJ (1945-1986)

These are mainly classic vehicles, which unlike other models, appreciate. This was a post-world War II vehicle, where CJ stands for “civilian jeep”. The body of this car is eerily similar to military vehicles, with a few exceptions, such as the tailgate, canvas top, and lower gearing. The CJ is not very different from the present-day wrangler, at least physically. The major difference was that the spare tire was on the side of the vehicle.

The 1948 model was available in Picket Gray, Normandy Blue, Michigan Yellow, Emerald Green, and Potomac Gray. These names were symbolic of hope in post-war America. Unfortunately, in the early 1980s, a documentary showing that the CJ could roll over ruined its reputation. It was later discovered there were only eight rollovers out of the 435 trials conducted. Even worse, four of those rollovers were from the same vehicle and the cause was terrible tires. Unfortunately, the CJ name was forever smeared, and so the Wrangler name was chosen for the next generation of Jeeps.

Jeep Wrangler YJ (1986-1995)

This vehicle debuted in 1986. The most evident change from the Jeep CJ was its rectangular headlights. The body and frame remained the same. Since the rollover scandal of the Jeep CJ, the YJ Wrangler came fitted with anti-roll bars. Comfort was also a priority in this car, and this appealed to drivers who were interested in a vehicle they could drive into town every day.

In the 1991 model, an AMC inline 6-cylinder engine was introduced. This significantly increased horsepower and torque. The 1993 model was the first to get anti-lock brakes, while the 1994 model was the first to have the option of an automatic transmission. This was a changing point for Jeep Wrangler which now became more appealing to those who were interested in comfort and smoother driving experience.

Wrangler TJ (1996-2006)

By the time this generation was unveiled, Jeep had undergone various challenges and was ready to use those wins and losses to produce the perfect car. Although the TJ Jeep Wrangler was seen a redesign rather than a relaunch, the features included made this vehicle safer and more enjoyable to drive.

The frame was made stiffer and safer, coil springs were introduced for a smoother ride, and the original round lights were returned. Most Jeep lovers loathed the rectangular lights. It was so bad that a lawsuit was filed against Jeep by an enthusiast, who later chose not to proceed with it. The engine choices were the same as the older generation, but the smooth ride increasingly made this car attractive as a day to day vehicle. The impact of these changes was reflected in the increased demand for the later models of this generation.

Wrangler JK (2006-2017)

All the past generations of the Wrangler Jeep were two-door. It was not until 2007 that a four-door Jeep Wrangler was introduced. This was one of the best decisions Jeep made. The sales skyrocketed, and today, almost 75% of JK Wranglers are four-door. Unfortunately, this vehicle was launched in the year when the US economy crashed. However, the sales were not so bad, with about 80,000 units sold annually until the recovery period.

Jeep added some safety features to this vehicle, including stability control and traction. The features that made this vehicle a rugged off-roader were retained. These include the anti-roll bars, fold-down windshield, removable doors, and soft top. Even as technology keeps changing the functions and attractiveness of a vehicle, Jeep has remained true to its roots.

Wrangler JL (2018 to date)

The JL Wrangler is the fourth and current generation of the Jeep Wrangler. This car still boasts of excellent off-road capabilities, while at the same time embracing the benefits of features available in modern vehicles. Some of the distinct additions to this model include Bluetooth capability, eight-speed manual transmission, parking sensors, and blind-spot monitoring. Six-speed manual transmission is also available as an option. Some of these features distinguish the JL from the JK, but the body still serves as a reminder of the first military-like vehicle post-WWII.

How do you Repair a Jeep Wrangler Salvage Car?

The Frame

When buying a salvage titled Jeep Wrangler, you need to remember that its hard body does not always protect the hidden parts. A low impact accident may not be as damaging as a high-impact one. Look at the extent of the damage and where it is situated before deciding if the vehicle is still in good shape or not.

The frame of the Jeep is critical to the stability of the vehicle. Always lookout for a bent section of the structure and analyze the significance of that damage to the car. If it is not terribly twisted, you can have it straightened. However, if the damage is massive, consider working on the entire frame.


You can quickly tell how much life a Jeep has left, if any, when you look underneath it. Check for signs of rusting or rotting. Jeeps are driven on some tough terrains, including through floods, on stumps and other hazardous objects. Jeeps have skid plates to protect the car from damage, even on rough terrains. However, even the most protected vehicle will take a beating when regularly exposed to harsh conditions. If the skid plates look like they have seen better days, chances are the car is worse than it seems. Scratches, dents, scrapes, and fresh paint are all clues to dig deeper. If possible, replace the damaged parts so that you can drive confidently knowing the critical parts are not worn out.

Are there Modifications?

The Jeep is one of the vehicles that undergoes significant modification. This is mostly done by enthusiasts who want to increase its capabilities. To most Jeep owners, a Jeep Wrangler is like a Christmas tree. They get to decorate it as they wish. Although these modifications are fun to do, they make life harder for future buyers since there are more parts to check.

When buying a Jeep Wrangler, you need to know the essential features added by the manufacturers and the modifications. You need to confirm if the adjustments were poorly made, or if they had any of crucial parts of the salvage Jeep Wrangler. Mistakes are common when vehicles are being rebuilt, and now it is up to you to identify these errors. If possible, get a professional to help you identify the modifications and find solutions.

The suspension of the Jeep Wrangler is one of the most common modified areas. Look at the bushings, ball joints, and control arms. If you intend to use the off-road functions of this car, a revised suspension may affect the car’s performance, and you will not enjoy your off-road adventures.


Check for engine oil or engine coolant leaks. Check all the hoses to confirm none have any tears. Once you start the car, see if any of the seals are leaking. You should also check under the vehicle to prove there is no fluid leakage. Remember, Jeeps are exposed to conditions that make it vulnerable to oil leaks. For example, a boulder can find its way into the oil tank and cause damage that will result in a leakage.

Are the Tires in Good Shape?

You have to check the condition of the tires when buying used or salvage vehicles. It is even more critical to do so with Jeeps considering the terrain they move on. A little wear here and there is expected, but if you have to replace all the tires, you may need to reconsider the purchase, especially if the cost is prohibitive.

Besides the cost, you need to appreciate that worn tires are indicative of a deeper problem. For example, if the tire threads are wearing out unevenly, it could mean the front tires have been taking on the entire weight of the engine. You’ll, therefore, not just spend more on tires, but you’ll also need to spend on wheel alignment.

Rust Spots

Rust is a common problem that buyers of salvage vehicles face. It is not unique to the Jeep, but it is a possibility you should consider. The vehicle’s history will give you an idea of where it has been and the kind of weather it has been exposed it. It is normal for used cars to have a few rust spots. However, when the rust starts forming holes on the frame of the Jeep Wrangler, the problem might be more profound than you think.

Can You Insure Salvage Title Jeep Wrangler?

Before you can drive your vehicle, you need to re-register it. Once you do that, it will be issue a rebuilt title. A Jeep Wrangler with a rebuilt title (like other rebuilt vehicles) is difficult to insure. Most insurers don’t provide comprehensive cover for cars that once had a salvage title. This is something you need to have in mind when buying a salvage Jeep Wrangler. Are you purchasing the vehicle hoping to drive it for years or to flip it for a profit?

In both cases, insurance matters, but sometimes it is easier to find insurance if you don’t intend to sell the car, even though some times you get the bare minimum coverage. If you are buying to sell at a profit, chances are the buyer will have the same questions regarding insurance, and this may affect your ability to sell at a high price, or selling it at all.

Car Repairs

Find out from your insurers if you can get coverage. Some insurance companies make an exception for their existing clients, especially those with whom they have built rapport. Large established insurance companies are also flexible.

Are Salvage Auctions Good for Cheap Jeep Wrangler Parts?

As stated earlier, various things push the price of the used Jeep Wranglers up, including demand and limited supply. This also affects the spare parts market. When repairing a Jeep Wrangler, it is best to consider the possibility of getting parts from a salvage auto auction. Some salvage Jeep Wranglers for sale are in such bad shape that they cannot be repaired. Investing in such a car means you get the parts at a bargain.

Should You Buy a Crashed Jeep Wrangler?

It depends on the condition of the car. How bad is the damage? Can you afford the repairs? Will the vehicle be roadworthy once the repairs are complete or will it be a waste of time and money? How much time do you have to work on the repairs? All these are critical questions that will influence the response to your decision to buying a wrecked Jeep Wrangler. If you have the money, time, and believe that the vehicle can be restored, then you should buy a crashed Jeep. However, if the Jeep is likely to spend a lot of time in storage because you don’t have the funds or time to repair it, buying a crashed Jeep may not be a great idea.

How to Find a Salvage Jeep Wrangler Auction Near Me?

auction flag

The Jeep Wrangler is a trendy vehicle. For buying a Jeep, an auction is probably the best place to go. At auctions, you can find a Jeep Wrangler for sale at a very attractive price. You can easily find it in public and dealer-only auctions. The only difference is the condition of the salvage titled Jeep Wrangler. Most auctions give dealerships priority when it comes to purchasing, including those that are open to the public. Dealers get salvage vehicles that are in better condition and at a great price.

Fortunately, some dealers, like Auto Auction Mall, can help you access the private inventory as your proxy. This is done at a fee, but the savings you make from the purchase is worth it. Online auctions have also made it shopping for a salvage Jeep Wrangler easier since you get to do at your convenience, wherever you are.

How To Get Started Buying a Salvage Jeep Wrangler

Take a look at some of our current auctions here:

Salvage Jeep Wrangler Car Auctions

Use the menu on the left to create an advanced search by filtering condition, model and location.

Example Jeep Wrangler Salvage Auctions

[auctions query=”Jeep Wrangler”]