The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the older midsize SUV nameplates that’s still on the market today. Despite its age, it remains a contender in its segment thanks to its superior off-road performance and improved dependability. Models from older generations are also able to maintain their resale value fairly well, outperforming rivals like the Ford Explorer.
Are Jeep Grand Cherokees Reliable?
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is considered average in terms of dependability. It received a reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5 from RepairPal and ranked 15th out of the 26 midsize SUVs reviewed based on data from different model years.
Although considered more reliable than earlier generations, J.D. Power and Kelley Blue Book (KBB) rated the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s reliability as only slightly above average. It did, however, fare better in the former’s consumer surveys.
Drivers who own the model gave it an average score of 83 points out of 100 for the same criterion. Approximately 54% of the surveyed vehicle owners identified quality and reliability as their top considerations in purchasing a Grand Cherokee.
Top Jeep Grand Cherokee Problems
Although performance and reliability reviews for the automaker’s more recent offerings are somewhat positive, the Grand Cherokee remains one of the most problematic Jeep models because of the electrical issues that plagued its earlier model years.
The four most common Jeep Grand Cherokee problems are erratic electronic shifting, engine stalling while driving, alternator failure, and ignition switch malfunction. Let’s take a closer look at how each issue affected specific generations.
Erratic Electronic Shifting
In 2016, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) issued a Jeep Grand Cherokee recall for approximately 32,000 units in the US to address reported transmission problems. A faulty brake transmission shift interlock solenoid caused vehicles to be stuck in ‘park’ or ‘neutral’ despite shifting gears. The malfunction was due to a manufacturing error that resulted in the part having a loose electrical connection.
The 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee also suffered from similar transmission problems. The root cause was later identified as a flaw in the gear shifter design, which made it difficult for drivers to confirm that the vehicle had been put in ‘park.’
Problems with the model’s electronic shifting resulted in multiple reported incidents of the vehicle rolling away after the driver has exited the vehicle. In some instances, this issue even resulted in personal injury as a result of people falling from the Jeep or running after it.
Engine Stalling (TIPM Problem)
First-time vehicle owners are often warned to steer clear of this model’s fourth generation. The 2011-2013 Jeep Grand Cherokees are known to suffer from engine troubles caused by a faulty fuel pump relay in the totally integrated power module (TIPM).
The TIPM acts as an electrical command center that powers the operation of the vehicle’s power windows, door locks, headlights, radio, fuel pump, and more. A failed module may cause the engine to crank but not start or stall abruptly while driving.
Thousands of drivers have lodged complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about their Jeep suddenly dying and leaving them stranded on the road. Some were lucky enough to be driving near their homes or in low-speed areas where they could easily pull over to safety.
FCA later recalled all vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2013 to address this issue. However, the automaker refuses to admit any liability and continues to deny any fault in the TIPM. Vehicles included in this recall must have the faulty fuel pump relay and wire harness replaced immediately to avoid causing road accidents, which may lead to serious injury and vehicle damage.
Jeep Grand Cherokee starting problems can also be attributed to a failed alternator. In some cases, the alternator is simply shorted and the problem can easily be fixed. However, models from 2012 through 2014 may be fitted with a faulty alternator that may catch on fire while the vehicle is being driven.
Owners of affected vehicles complained of whining noises, smoke, and burnt odors coming from under their hood. This is a problem that must not be taken lightly. A blown alternator is a significant safety risk, as it may be difficult for drivers or their passengers to detect the electrical fire from inside the cabin. Vehicles driven in this condition may stall on the road without warning and cause a fatal crash.
Alternator failure will cause power in the electrical system to drop and force critical vehicle systems to shut down. This may disable the anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic stability control system (ESC), electronic control module (ECM), and/or the central body controller (CBC). FCA later issued a recall and cited the need for these vehicles to get an alternator replacement.
Ignition Switch Malfunction
The 2005-2007 model years of the Jeep Grand Cherokee were among the 800,000 vehicles that were recalled by FCA due to a faulty ignition switch. It was discovered that the ignition key switched to the ‘off’ or ‘accessory’ position at the slightest contact with the driver’s knee while the vehicles were running. Almost 650,000 units of this model were affected by this problem.
Driving with a malfunctioning ignition switch may keep the airbags, power steering, and power braking features of a vehicle from functioning. Some vehicle owners reported engine stalling while cruising at highway speeds and losing control of their vehicle while completing a turn.
The manufacturer warned drivers to take extreme precautions and avoid contact with the key until the ignition switch is replaced. A replacement Jeep Grand Cherokee ignition switch may cost you anywhere between $15 and $100 exclusive of labor costs.
It’s important to be aware of these common problems if you currently own this model or plan to purchase a Jeep Grand Cherokee. You may also find it useful to ask for feedback from other vehicle owners of specific model years. More importantly, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from a mechanic, especially if you’re in the market for a second-hand vehicle.