According to an online consumer report on automobiles, reliability appears to be the most desirable aspect that drivers look up to from a car. That does not sound surprising since reliability translates to quality, among other things. That’s because one of the underlying reasons that deter people from rooting for a specific brand.
One such brand that has been struggling with issues on reliability is the Jeep. As surprising and strange as that sounds, this iconic American off-road classic has its quirks and hiccups despite its tough features. According to most owners, the problems lie in its electronics. On the other hand, some complain that the transmission appears to be its main source of concern.
Though that does not mean that the Jeep is a defective brand, these issues sound like a tough pill to swallow for this off-road savvy automobile. Even with these concerns, the Jeep enjoys a considerable client base.
The premise of the Jeep is a flawed product raises the question: “What makes the Jeep an unreliable automobile?” This report does not mean to dishearten or upset potential buyers or current patrons of this off-road four-wheeler. Instead, we mean to enlighten and inform the public about the product.
The Inconvenient Truth — What Makes Jeeps Unreliable?
1. Fuel Injector Problems
One of the common complaints that Jeep owners raise are clogged fuel injectors. This issue is prevalent particularly to the Jeep models with the 4.0-litre inline-6 engine, namely: the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, Wagoneer, Wrangler, and Comanche. Clogged or dirty fuel injectors would lead to engine misfires and rough idling, among other serious concerns.
Resolving this issue could be performed through the use of additives. However, if the problem persists, Jeep owners may have no other choice but replace the fuel injectors. To avoid recurrent issues, hire a qualified professional to do the task for you. Though it might be costly, you may likely avoid dealing with the same issue in the future.
2. Wheels Wobbling Uncontrollably
There have been reported cases wherein the owners would experience their Jeeps wobbling when driving at high speeds or after running over a bump or pothole. Fortunately, no disastrous accidents have been reported related to this occurrence. This mechanical after-effect had been coined as the ‘death wobble’ and is prevalent in a few models, specifically the Grand Cherokee.
Unsurprisingly, this condition is not exclusive to a few Jeeps but also occurs to pickup trucks, such as the RAM, Ford, and GMC. This mechanical glitch is caused by an issue with the wheels and suspension, particularly in the wheel hubs, tie rods, and ball joints, among others.
Make sure there are no signs of looseness at the track bar, including the bolt hole where the bolt hole connects to the frame. You will be wise to replace any part deemed to be loose or worn out. Also, always ensure that every bolt is tight according to its recommended torque specification recommended by the manufacturer.
Another factor that may contribute to the wobbling is a faulty lift kit installation because, often, this incident affects the models with suspension lifts. So if you are planning to have one installed, enlist the expertise of a mechanic instead of installing the kits yourself. In this way, you will prevent any untoward incidences that could affect the efficiency of your wheels or suspension.
3. Grease Leakage From the Transfer Case
The transfer case is one of the most valuable components of the Jeep because it enables the driver to shift from 2WD to 4WD. However, there are instances when the seals inside this component start to wear out, causing the grease to leak out. If left unchecked, the leakage could cause the gears to break down. When that happens, you will either have a hard time engaging the vehicle’s four-wheel-drive capability or not at all.
While regular checkups are an ideal and proactive way of keeping the transfer case in good condition, have the fluid replaced periodically. However, if you have detected leakage, have an expert check the transfer case and perform any replacements, if necessary.
4. Dysfunctional Throttle Position Sensor
The throttle position sensor helps the engine accelerate properly every time you step on the gas. One of the tell-tale signs is that you have an issue with this component if the Jeep fails to respond when you put on more power to the accelerator. Unfortunately, some Jeep Cherokees, especially those manufactured from 1990 to 2002, have this problem. Even the 1990 Wranglers and onwards also experienced this drawback.
The concern typically stems from a dirty throttle sensor. Thankfully, a bottle of throttle body cleaner can resolve this issue. If you decide to do the cleaning yourself, make sure you clean the throttle body regularly or if needed, especially if you need to replace the air filter.
Be careful not to spray the sensor with the throttle cleaner directly to avoid complications. If this method does not work, you might have to replace the throttle position sensor instead.
5. Faulty Electronic Power Module
Jeep’s electronics are controlled by its power module, which is also known as the Totally Integrated Power Module or TIPM. This device, which is present in newer Chrysler automobiles, serves as a relay command for every electronic button or switch inside the Jeep. Therefore, every electronic component—the power windows, wipers, and door locks, among others—are connected to the TIPM.
A malfunctioning TIPM would cause any of the abovementioned electronic devices to activate on their own. This same incident occurred in several Jeep models, particularly Grand Cherokee and Wrangler, specifically those manufactured in 2007 and up. The whole issue resulted in a partial product recall in the 2011 Grand Cherokee models.
6. Issues with the Fuel Filler Neck
Some Jeep owners, specifically 2005 – 2011 Liberty and 2005 – 2012 Wrangler, have reported issues with the filler necks. According to the reports, even before the owners could fill up the fuel tanks with gas, the fuel would start to leak out and overflow.
According to car experts, the problem might have stemmed from a loose rubber tube inside the filler neck, which comes off as a result. This dilemma could occur to any vehicle, not just the Jeep. Regardless, this issue had owners replacing the filler necks, which got rid of the problem. Others, however, could not resolve the issue and have remained confused and learned to adapt to this dilemma instead by being careful not to overfill their tanks with gas.
7. Cracks in Exhaust Manifold
This issue is well-known in several Jeep models with the 4.0-litre inline 6-cylinder engine, such as the Cherokee (years 1987 – 2001), Wrangler (1993 – 2006), and Grand Cherokee (1993 – 2004). The 1999 to 2009 Grand Cherokee models, specifically those with the 4.7-litre V8 engines also experienced a similar problem.
Typically, cracks could form around the exhaust manifold over time. Anyone could only imagine the stress this component undergoes after subjecting it to countless cycles. If left unfixed, a broken exhaust manifold could cause extensive problems in the engine bay, which could lead to costly repairs. In that case, replacing the exhaust instead would be ideal, particularly since this component does not fall on the costly side.
Other Minor Issues Worth Mentioning
Apart from these issues, Jeep owners have also complained of other minor issues which are worth mentioning because these problems have caused more than just a nuisance to these drivers. With that said, these said mechanical dilemmas are the following:
1. Other Electronics Issues
- Tail Light Circuit Board Malfunction
There have been reports of Grand Cherokee owners who have had encountered this problem. What was mostly considered as a faulty bulb problem from the start would turn out to be something else entirely because the dilemma persisted even after replacing the defective bulb. Some drivers even resorted to getting brand new taillights, which fortunately resolved this concern
- Faulty Window Motors
The glitch with the window regulator was also another issue that has plagued Liberty and Grand Cherokee owners as well. The regulators are devices that enable the driver to automatically control the windows.
When these components break down, the windows would drop own without warning, even while the vehicle is moving. Experts pointed out that the problem could have been a burnt-out window motor. Sometimes, the issue could be attributed to a misaligned or dysfunctional window regulator. In the case of the latter, Jeep owners are left without another solution but to replace both the motors and the regulator.
There were reports in which Chrysler imposed warranty extensions to ’06 and ’07 Liberties for regulator replacements. Intriguingly, though installed with new regulators, the owners complained that even those devices also malfunctioned.
- Water Leaking Inside the Cabin
The issue of water leaking inside the cabin was a prevalent occurrence among the Cherokee and Wrangler models. For the former, the issue is connected to worn out door and window seals. This is a standing concern that also causes wind noise when the vehicle is in motion.
Regular checkups and maintenance are crucial in avoiding this problem. However, if you are currently dealing with this dilemma, replacing the seals would be the ideal solution to this issue.
In case you own a Wrangler with a soft top, you would be wise to store your vehicle in a garage all the time, especially if you have tough weather patterns in your area. Exposing your soft top to extreme temperatures could wear it down immediately, and that might contribute to unwanted water seepages or wind noise.
The Real Score — Average Lifecycle of 9 Jeep Models Compared
To use the marketing parlance, Jeep’s unique selling proposition is its off-roading capability. That’s what the brand is known for. It’s this aspect of the vehicle that owners love to subject them to all sorts of punishment.
Considering what these rugged, outdoor automobiles go through, there’s no doubt some of these vehicles encounter different problems halfway through their lifecycle. In that sense, the lifespan of a Jeep, regardless of the model or year, depends on how well you take care of it. Below are 8 of the known Jeep models and their respective average lifespan and mileages.
|Cherokee||15 to 20 years||200,000 to 400,000 miles|
|Wrangler||15 to 20 years||100,000 to 280,000 miles|
|Rubicon||10 to 20 years||90,000 to 300,000 miles|
|Commander||10 to 15 years||150,000 to 200,000 miles|
|Patriot||15 to 20 years||100,000 to 200,000 miles|
|Liberty||15 to 20 years||200,000 to 300,000 miles|
|Compass||10 to 15 years||150,000 to 200,000 miles|
|Renegade||7 to 10 years||100,000 to 150,000 miles|
|Wrangler Unlimited||More than 20 years||More than 400,000 miles|
Based on the table above, we could see that the Jeep Cherokee outperforms the other models in terms of mileage, while its lifecycle matches most on the list. However, we have to note that some vehicles could reach their limit even before reaching their lifespan. That’s because the Jeep is a glutton for punishment as that is what this vehicle is built for.
Having said that, it all depends on how often you take it to conquer mud holes, swamp bogs, and other extreme terrains. However, preventive and proactive maintenance and regular checkup to an experienced mechanic can help extend its lifespan beyond your expectations.
Have a Jeep, Will Drive Off-Road — Why People Still Love the Jeep?
Despite its flaws, the Jeep still maintains a good following. Those who currently own a Jeep would even attest to how well this vehicle performs on any type of terrain, given its outstanding off-road capability. Even with the standing issues, some Jeeps encounter to this day, this vehicle remains a popular brand. All biases aside, here are some of the factors why the Jeep still retains its place on the pedestal of success:
1. Tried-and-Tested Brand
Ever since Jeep started with the Civilian Jeep, a design based on the humble WW2 relic, the brand has created an exceptional reputation that far exceeds its capabilities. The vehicle has been one of the first vehicles that carried out the off-road trend in the US, and the automobile has continued to evolve ever since.
Besides, if you are looking for a vehicle that can be fitted with large, off-road-capable tires with aggressive treads, has stock skid plates and water fording capabilities, isn’t a Jeep Wrangler the first thing that pops in your head? In other words, its shortcomings notwithstanding, Jeep has proven that it is a worthy brand and—as long as there is still room to grow—would continue doing so in the future.
2. Wide Selection
What makes the Jeep an engaging brand is that there you have a lot of options to choose from. We all know that variety makes an excellent marketing strategy because it enables the consumer to find a product that fits his or her preferences. For instance, while an individual prefers the Jeep Wrangler because of its customizability, another may prefer the Cherokee because of its sleeker yet rugged aesthetic. This scenario sends a clear picture that Jeep can cater to your taste, whatever it may be.
3. Exceptional Manoeuvrability and Handling
Because of their sizes, the prospect of driving a Jeep can make some people intimidated. However, that’s not the case for most people because these vehicles are highly manoeuvrable and easy to drive. Typically, this feature is partly attributed to Jeep’s excellent turning ratios and short wheelbases, among other reasons.
4. Off-Road Ready
The Jeep is both an off-road and on-road vehicle. Therefore, if you need to cross a region with harsh weather conditions or traverse a seemingly impassable, the automobile can get you from origin to destination regardless of whatever terrain you have to pass through. Moreover, with this vehicle, people have gotten to places where a few would have gone because of the impassable terrain.
Costing somewhere around $30,000, Jeep may not be the affordable brand in the market. However, these vehicles are just right on the price considering what they are designed for. Other SUVs, such as the Land Rover, which also markets the same off-road capability, would have cost you roughly thrice the price.
Besides, both the Land Rover and Jeep fall behind the reliability score rating, so technically the only difference would be the price tag. Despite these negative raps, however, the Jeep can live up to its costs or well beyond its supposed lifespan if provided with the proper upkeep.
6. Massive Cult Following
For several people, particularly its patrons, the Jeep is more than just a brand or vehicle. The vehicle is a symbol of an adventurous lifestyle; it characterizes the mindsets of its supporters in colourful adjectives like ‘rugged,’ ‘outdoorsy,’ ‘off-road,’ and a lot more. For them, the Jeep is a culture in itself that deserves to be recognized, one that extends beyond the fact of owning the vehicle.
Final Takeaway — Is the Jeep an Unreliable Vehicle?
It is undeniable that the Jeep, as a product, is riddled with flaws. However, to say that the Jeep is not a good vehicle because it is unreliable because of its defects does not give justice to the brand, which has come a long way.
Surely, anyone can dismiss the vehicle considering there are several SUVs and 4x4s in the market today. However, it’s important to note that imperfection is not a concept exclusive to this classic workhorse. Dozens of other automobile brands have had similar problems at some point in the previous years.
Besides, despite its drawbacks and shortcomings, the Jeep is a brand that will not go away instantly. Instead, it will keep on coming back with lots to offer to its devoted clientele as it has done countless times in the past. What matters is that, like any vehicle, proper care and maintenance is an essential factor in keeping the Jeep in top shape, especially since this vehicle is not impervious to mechanical failures.