What Do You Wish You'd Known About Your Car Before Buying It?

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I’ve made some bad purchase decisions in my life, usually because of sheer enthusiasm to own a vehicle I’ve always lusted after. But sometimes even rational, thought-out purchase decisions like my 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle end up delivering nasty surprises. Like my front frame horns, which have been hacked off.

My 1985 Jeep J10 was a questionable purchase; I paid $3,500 for a vehicle that ended up having a messed up transmission and a significant rust hole in the back of the cab. Because of all my excitement to own this pickup, I didn’t notice these things until I brought the vehicle home and began wrenching.

The same story holds true with my 1948 Willys CJ-2A. My friend and I looked at the vehicle in a dark barn, noticed that the frame looked okay, and that most parts were there, so I pulled the trigger. Little did I know that my buddy and I would be rebuilding the engine, transmission, transfer case, steering box and a whole lot more.


So when it came time to decide whether I wanted to buy a 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, I went in cool and calculated, and even drove home to have more time to think. I even asked readers what I should do.

After inspecting the truck and getting opinions from others, I went for it. But a few weeks ago, after buying a factory-original bumper from a junkyard, I received a nasty surprise: I noticed that the frame has been chopped off. Particularly, it’s the two frame “horns,” which jut out an extra five or so inches in front of the leaf spring shackles, that are missing.

For reference, here’s a look at how the bumper on my Jeep Grand Wagoneer mounts; the three bolts arranged in an equilateral triangle in front of the leaf spring shackle go through the frame horn, and three nuts on the back side hold the bumper in place.


Apparently, the winch bumper that the dealer put onto the Cherokee back in 1978 was designed for a 1978 and back full-size Jeep frame, which didn’t have frame horns. So instead of getting a bumper that worked for the new 1979+ frames like mine, the dealer apparently just hacked off my Jeep’s frame horns off.


So yeah, now I’m going to have to cut the frame horns off a Grand Wagoneer at my local junkyard using a Sawzall, and weld those badboys in place to fit my new bumper.

How many times will it take for me to get the horns on there perfectly straight? Probably a million. But eventually, after endless tack welds and realignments, hopefully I’ll be able to finally replace that hideous winch bumper before the Toledo Jeep Fest next month.


That cut frame would have been nice to know before I bought this thing (not that it’d have changed my mind, I don’t think). What do you wish you’d know before buying your car?