How to Identify Jeep JK, TJ, YJ, CJ and XJ Models and Years
Car and Truck manufacturers use designations, like a code, to readily identify a vehicle, or what it's based on. Typically, the chassis, or "platform" has a code number, or a name. This will pertain to the chassis, no matter what's built on top of it. This makes it simple to quickly identify what you're working on, and what parts you might need. Before we get into get into the Jeep codes, we can mention a few others for reference, and ones you may be more familiar with. For instance, Ford pickup trucks use different designations on their trucks: F150, F250, F350. That primarily identifies the chassis. The body is secondary, because an F150 might be a 2-door, 4-door, long bed, short bed, or in the case of an F350, no bed at all (a Chassis Cab). But when ordering parts, you have to know the chassis. Saying you have a 2-door Ford pickup won't help. GM does the same on their trucks, using the older C1500, C2500, and C3500 for 2WD trucks, and K1500,K2500, and K3500 for the 4WD trucks. Dodge used to use D100, D200, and D300 for 2WD, and W100,W200, W300 for 4WD trucks. See how simple that is? By saying D100, you can immediately convey what kind of truck you have. (Cars do the same thing: third generation 1979-1993 Mustangs are a "Fox" platform and older GM cars could be a "W-body"). The chassis designation is normally important (as a guide) for all parts BELOW the body. Some chassis, or "Platforms" stay the same, while the body could be anything. For instance, the new Jeep Renegade uses a version of the "Small Common Components and Systems platform", which can have a body of a Renegade, Alfa Romeo, Opel, or Abarth car on top.
What The Jeep JK, TJ, YJ, CJ or XJ Platform Codes Mean
So now onto Jeeps. For the most part, it won't matter if it has a sticker that says "Golden Eagle", "Super Jeep", "Renegade" or "Golden Hawk". If you have a CJ series Jeep, the CJ will identify what kind of Jeep you have instantly. It can also determine a range of years, if it's CJ-2A, CJ-7
, or CJ-8
. If you just say Renegade, that won't narrow down a range of years, or what chassis your personal Renegade is. Luckily for Jeep owners, another way to identify a Jeep (if it's still stock) is by the grille. While not as accurate as the chassis designation, Jeep grilles changed over the years, and can almost always be associated with a certain year range. Similar to a 1955-56-57 Chevy. You can tell the year of the car just by looking at the grille.
How to Identify Jeep JK Models and Years
So to make this easier, lets start with the most current Jeep Wrangler platform, the JK model
. A JK can be a 2-door model, or a 4-door. But a 4-door model is known as an "Unlimited". So whenever you see "JK Unlimited", you immediately know it's a 4-door JK Jeep. A JK can say many things on the body: Unlimited, Polar Edition, Willys, but it will still be a JK. If you try to order a part for a Polar Edition, it's almost impossible, but try and get a part for a JK, and you're going to see a lot of great products. JK Wranglers range from 2007 to 2016 (so far). To help identify a JK, the grille is slightly slanted back with a rake, with the bottom sticking out more than the top.
How to Identify Jeep TJ Wrangler Models and Years
The next chassis, going back in time, is the Jeep TJ
. These were produced as a 2-Door model. The TJs were produced from 1997-2006. The Unlimited TJ models are also known as a Jeep TJL
, because their wheelbase is longer than the regular TJs. Another way to identify a TJ is the grille. On a TJ it's vertical, but has a slight "bend" to it, just a little more than halfway up. Notice the TJ also has 4 marker lights in front on the fenders.
How to Identify Jeep YJ Wrangler Models and Years
Our next Jeep is the-- dare we mention it-- the Jeep YJ Wrangler
. If there was ever a Jeep that took more insults than any other model, it's probably this one. It's known as the Jeep with the square headlights. Making it probably the easiest to identify out of any year Jeep, but marking it as the black sheep of the family as far as some Jeepers are concerned.
YJs were only available as 2-Door models, as were all previous Jeeps. The YJ's were produced from 1987-1995. This was the last Jeep with leaf springs front and rear, so to some, it is also considered the last "real Jeep". YJ owners usually defend their choice of Jeep, and in some sense, they dare to be different. No one has to guess what kind of Jeep it is, because with the square headlights, everyone knows it's a YJ. The Jeep YJ's have a similar grille to the later TJ, they have a bend molded into the, but the bend is almost exactly halfway up.
How to Identify Jeep CJ Models and Years
Now we're going back to what most would call the classic Jeeps. The almighty CJ series. The CJ designation was used from around 1945 all the way up to 1986. (CJ actually stands for "Civilian Jeep"). The first being a CJ-2A, and the last being the CJ-7 / CJ-8 models. The range is CJ-2, CJ-3, CJ-5, CJ-6, CJ-7 and the CJ-8 Scrambler.
While they are all very similar, and even shared some parts over the decades, you still need to have an idea of what CJ chassis/ model you have. It takes more detective work to figure it out if you're not sure. A stock CJ Jeep would be rare today, as they are so popular, and most have some modifications at one time or another during their long life.
How to Identify Jeep Cherokee XJ Models and Years
While we've covered the best known Jeep vehicles, as far as the other Jeeps in the line, they use chassis designations too. The most popular is the Cherokee, with the XJ
being known as the nearly indestructible model that's built like a tank and seems to last forever. They refuse to die.
Here's a quick list of the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokees:
Other Jeeps use designations as well, and here are some of those -
The end result is to identify your vehicle to you can get parts quickly and easily. Most Jeep owners are big fans of their vehicle, and usually know the model. But if you're new to the Jeep family, take the time to get to know what kind of Jeep you have. What size is the engine? What axles do you have? Transmission? You'll be glad you did. Hook up with other Jeep fans, they will be glad to help you. See ya on the trails ! Read More: Social Media: