Which Jeep YJ Years To Avoid and Why? (Explained)

The first generation of Jeep Wrangler four-wheel-drive compact off-road vehicles was the Jeep Wrangler YJ. If you want to save money on a used Jeep Wrangler and are comfortable working on your car, the YJ is a decent choice.

Of course, not all are perfect, and there are a few Jeep YJ models to avoid. Five model years 1987 to 1991 as well as a few others are not acceptable due to engine overheating, lack of comfort, noisy driving, and so on.

Continue reading to learn more about the Jeep Wrangler YJ and make an informed choice on whether or not to buy one.

Jeep YJ Years to Avoid (List of Years)

When it comes to off-road capability, the Jeep Wrangler is undeniably a beast. All YJ model years, however, were not the most dependable in the Wrangler series, with early electrical, mechanical, and body corrosion concerns.

Certain years are avoided due to starting troubles, transmission problems, engine problems, misfires, oil leaks, and electrical issues.

Avoid the following Jeep YJ years if you’re looking for a used car:

  • 1987 Jeep Wrangler YJ
  • 1988 Jeep Wrangler YJ
  • 1989 Jeep Wrangler YJ
  • 1990 Jeep Wrangler YJ
  • 1991 Jeep Wrangler YJ

1987 Jeep Wrangler YJ Problems:

The ’87 Jeep Wrangler YJ is one of the earliest models of the YJ series. This model is deal with several issues like the issues.

For this model year, the most important consideration would be the location. If you live in the northeast, look for rust everywhere.

A power steering line broke out, which costs $200 to replace, according to users who had an ’87. Some of their ignition wiring problems required $350 in repairs.

Jeeps can be difficult to start at times, have choke problems, and have heater core leaks, all of which are bothersome.

1988 Jeep Wrangler YJ Problems:

This model year is dealing with way more problems. Some users reported that their jeep’s running lights began to blow, and that they changed the harness and rear lights, but that the lights still wouldn’t turn on.

The radio and heating did not function for some of them, and the starter kept overloaded.

Sometimes it acted like total crap according to the customers as it misfired issues can be seen also.

1989 Jeep Wrangler YJ Problems:

Some users claimed about the transmission problem and drivetrain problem. With the noisy off-road tires, the jeep with the top and doors off grabbed everyone’s annoying attention.

One user said that when he placed his 1989 Jeep Wrangler YJ in reverse, the blinker light fuse blew.

Other users have reported a stuttering problem, which occurs largely when the jeep is turned backward.

1990 Jeep Wrangler YJ Problems:

Users have complained about oil leaking. The bottom of the bell housing appeared to be dripping with oil. It usually came to a halt when the engine turned off.

The model also has issues with starting problems. When you try to shift gears or accelerate, it sometimes chokes, as if it is running out of gas. Users had also tried cleaning the throttle body, changing the fuel filter, and cleaning the air cleaner, but the issue remained.

Also, it may occasionally die when you start it, then restart with a lot of cranking, almost as if it is flooding.

1991 Jeep Wrangler YJ Problems:

This ’91 Jeep YJ does have an engine problem. It is difficult to start the 1991 Jeep YJ. The engine will occasionally restart. Changing the gasoline pump and purchasing a new battery will not address the problem.

Users completed all necessary formalities, such as inspecting the spark plugs and wires and spraying starting fluid into the carburetor, which caused it to start but then die.

The fuel pump problem cannot be ignorable. Sometimes fuel is not reaching the rail line and so the engine is not getting any fuel.

What Is The Worst Years of Jeep Wrangler YJ?

1990 And 1991 are the worst according to the complaints of NHTSA.

There are about 91 complaints regarding the model 1990, including faults with the electrical system, engine cooling, defective fuel system, parking brake, and so on.

When it comes to the year 1991, it has around 93complaints which is more than the previous model. The problems are very similar to those in the 1990s.

Most Common Problems of Jeep Wrangler YJ:

1. Starting Problem

After an average of 160,000 miles, the 91 automatic 1991 YJ had trouble starting. It will start, but it appears to be having some difficulty doing so.

In the model 1989 and 1990 when it first started, it made grumpy noises. Shake it as though it were attempting to start. When this happens, turning off the ignition can be a poor solution as it doesn’t always work.

Year ‘89 operates smoothly once it is started. The crankshaft position sensor, throttle position sensor, fuel pump, fuel filter, and vacuum lines were all recommended to be replaced by the professional.

2. Transmission issue

When the transmission failed, the vehicle would not move. But there’s a big problem.

The weirdest problem in 1991 is, that it shifts nicely into gear, but as you accelerate, the transmission bucks violently and makes a loud clunking noise. The knocking may be felt via the gearshift when driving.

Low transmission fluid is a common cause of transmission difficulties in 1989 YJ Jeep vehicles, including erratic shifting, slippage, delayed shifting, and no shifting.

3. Oil leaks

The bulk of leaks from 1990 is caused by broken engine seals, oil leaks, oil seals, and faulty connections. From underneath the vehicle, inspect the oil pan seals.

The most obvious symptom of an oil leak is a puddle of oil or stains below your Jeep. If oil spills at the proper location, it can flow onto the exhaust manifold(s) and cause a smoky scenario.

Your Jeep YJ leak might get worse, and you could run out of oil before you realize it. It can infiltrate your ignition system and spark plugs.

4. Electrical Problem

Many customers report that their ’88 and ‘89 running lights have stopped working, even after replacing the harness and rear lights.

The radio and heater are both broken, and the starter keeps overloading. The expense of repair is not low. Users are dissatisfied with these major electrical problems.

Which Jeep YJ Years are Safe to Buy Used?

The Wrangler, which debuted in 1986 under the “YJ” suffix, went down in history as not only the first of its kind, but also as possibly the most divisive Jeep model ever made.

  • 1992 Jeep Wrangler YJ
  • 1993 Jeep Wrangler YJ
  • 1994 Jeep Wrangler YJ
  • 1995 Jeep Wrangler YJ

The federal government mandated stricter collision safety criteria for the 1992 model year, and Jeep reacted. A permanent four-wheel-drive indication light and an electronic speedometer were also installed to the center console.

In order to comply with new government standards, Jeep fitted a third brake light. For the first time, they included an updated all-wheel braking system.

A twin diaphragm booster and bigger 297X U joints were standard on 1994 YJs with anti-lock brakes. They share the same master cylinder and reservoir, which is made of plastic. A galvanized tub to prevent body rust and the addition of a third brake light were two more modifications for 1994.

The 1995 model is ideal for putting everything together for one more run before the Wrangler is handed over to the TJ series. The 1995 Jeep YJ has the most powerful fuel-injected engine in its class. Dual-diaphragm brake boosters and external clutch cylinders were standard.

Despite its square headlights, the Jeep Wrangler YJ is a popular vehicle and an important part of Jeep’s history.

This YJ models were intended to appeal to more casual everyday drivers due to its off-road capability. They increased the comfort and enjoyment in the cabin while lowering the ground clearance from prior versions.


After reading this article, I hope you have a better understanding of the Jeep Wrangler YJ good and bad years. Although there are several wonderful years to choose from for this big Wrangler, you should avoid the less desirable models because they are difficult to maintain and demand extra care.

If you opt to buy an older model, keep in mind that it will need extra maintenance to last a long time.

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