With its superb off-roading capability, the Jeep Wrangler is a powerful and reliable favorite of off-road enthusiasts. But the Wrangler’s performance isn’t the only thing that makes people love it. The Wrangler also has an excellent resale value, depreciating only 31% after 5 years, which is incredibly impressive, according to CarEdge.com. A hefty ride and a good investment, indeed.
Is the Jeep Wrangler Reliable?
Overall, the Jeep Wrangler has an above-average reliability rating. In fact, RepairPal gives it a reliability score of 3.5 out of 5.0, ranking the model 25th out of 26 compact SUVs. With an average annual maintenance cost of $694 and a very low repair frequency, maintaining a Wrangler is fairly easy on the wallet.
In fact, you can typically reach 280,000 miles with your Wrangler before experiencing major problems. With great care and maintenance, Wranglers may even last you for more than 20 years and over 400,000 miles.
Top Jeep Wrangler Problems
While the repair frequency is low with Wranglers, when they do have issues, the problems tend to be severe. Here are some of the most common Jeep Wrangler problems for different year models:
Oil Housing Leak
According to owners of 2014 Jeep Wranglers, the oil filter housing on their vehicles would crack and go bad. This often resulted in leaks that would reach the engine and the transmission housing. This is a very dangerous issue and a serious fire hazard. Replacing the oil filter housing typically addresses the issue and may cost you anywhere from $114 to $122 for the part alone.
So far, Jeep hasn’t issued a recall for this specific problem. However, they did release a technical service bulletin (TSB #SB-10058301-5939) for the 2014 Jeep Wrangler. This bulletin details what should be done before performing normal diagnostics in case of oil loss, low oil, oil weep, or oil consumption.
Jeep has also issued a TSB (#S1809000007) regarding engine oil leaks/consumption last March 31, 2021, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to upload the document on their website. But drivers of the 2014 Wrangler may request their local Jeep dealer’s service department for a copy of this bulletin.
Engine Stalls/Dies While Driving
Some owners of the 2013 Jeep Wrangler have reported that their vehicles suddenly jolted and lost power while driving. This error registered no trouble codes, and so many of the affected drivers had to resort to diagnosing and fixing the problem on their own, as some shops couldn’t service their vehicles.
While most of the reports say that they never found the source of the issue, a few owners have solved the problem by replacing their crankshaft position sensor. Jeep hasn’t issued a TSB or recall addressing this specific issue.
Cylinder Head Issues
One of the more severe 2012 Jeep Wrangler problems is the need for the cylinder head to be replaced. Some owners have reported a sudden lack of power coupled with cylinder misfires. The issue seems persistent and recurring and has cost many of the affected owners thousands of dollars in repairs. The cost of aftermarket cylinder head replacements for the Jeep Wrangler ranges from $200 to more than $600. Some owners were forced to replace their entire engine to fix the problem. The issue is supposedly caused by compression leaks from defective cylinder heads.
A TSB (09-002-14 REV. B) released by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) dated December 15, 2014, suggested a cylinder head replacement to fix this issue. According to the bulletin, affected owners may be entitled to reimbursement within the provisions of their vehicle warranty.
This is another significant issue, specifically for the 2011 Jeep Wrangler, as it resulted in very expensive repairs. Many of the affected owners did not report an illuminated check engine light when they encountered this issue. According to them, their vehicle suddenly made unusual noises. Upon checking, their vehicles had severely low oil levels. Some have noticed the issue too late and their Wrangler’s engines had sustained significant damage, requiring engine block replacement.
FCA issued a TSB (09-001-13) on February 6, 2013, that provided a procedure to determine whether the gas engines on some of their vehicles needed repairs or replacements. The document detailed diagnostic procedures that directed technicians on what to do in case of engine noise and unusual oil consumption. The 2011 Jeep Wrangler was included in this list, along with the 2012 and 2013 model years, as well as other models under the FCA brand.
A faulty Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) may not allow the vehicle to start and prevent the normal functioning of essential vehicle features (i.e., headlights, fuel pump, and windshield wipers). To put it simply, having a faulty TIPM may make the driver feel like their vehicle is possessed.
TIPM failure is a common 2008 Jeep Wrangler problem. In fact, it’s been a persistent problem with hundreds of thousands of FCA vehicles produced from 2007 to 2015, including the third-generation Wranglers (2007-2015). Faulty TIPM repair typically ranges from $900 to $1300 but the price can go way beyond that range, depending on the severity of the issue. Affected owners filed a class-action lawsuit, prompting FCA to take action regarding the faulty TIPMs in Wranglers and their other models.
FCA released a few recalls trying to address the TIPM issue with their vehicles. In July 2007, they issued a recall specifically for the 2007 Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Nitro. Affected vehicles were stalling and the root cause was determined to be a timing error within the TIPM. The recall allowed affected owners to have their TIPM reprogrammed at the dealership. Unfortunately, the recall only covered 2007 Wranglers.
The death wobble is perhaps the most well-known issue among Jeep owners. It’s not just a 2007 Jeep Wrangler problem. But despite its name, no one has actually died, according to NHTSA reports. The issue is characterized by a violently shaking and vibrating steering wheel as the vehicle hits a bump at high speeds. The shaking is said to be so severe that the steering wheel becomes very difficult to handle. Although the issue typically resolves itself once the driver slows down or stops altogether, affected drivers are understandably concerned for their and their passengers’ safety.
In fact, a lawsuit was filed versus the FCA, alleging that the company doesn’t acknowledge the potential risks caused by the death wobble. The lawsuit also claims that rather than address the issue, FCA was said to have claimed that the death wobble isn’t a safety issue and that it can happen to any vehicle with a solid front axle.
Thankfully, as of August 2019, FCA has finally come up with a fix, which involves replacing the old steering damper/stabilizer with a new/redesigned component that will eliminate vibrations coming through the front suspension. FCA has sent notices to its customers regarding this campaign.
Being aware of the potential problems you may encounter with the Jeep Wrangler enables you to make an informed decision when purchasing your own. So if you’re looking to buy a used Wrangler, make sure to do thorough research on the year model you’re interested in. Also, make sure that the seller has repaired any problematic parts before you seal the deal.