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Why Are Jeeps Considered Unreliable Cars?

Jeep Wranglers parked at a dealership lot with a blue Rubicon in the front

Many young people love the style and look of the Jeep, making it their vehicle of choice. On the other hand, people say that Jeeps are unreliable and that there are better vehicles. Sometimes these realizations are factual, however, whether or not a car is reliable can be a matter of personal preference. So, why are Jeeps considered unreliable cars?

Jeeps are considered unreliable cars because they have poor gas mileage, the number of recalls has increased, they are bulky and lack technological features, the body does not have integrity, and they have significant performance issues early on.

Even with these problems, the Jeep is an iconic car that holds a soft spot in the hearts of many. So, read on to find out more about the reliability issues Jeeps have and how they can be prevented,

What Makes Jeeps Unreliable?

The Jeep’s design has been praised because of its uniqueness and functionality, but when it comes to being worth the money and dependable, it ranks low on many ratings, such as 29th out of 40 car brands evaluated. Many factors cause people to think Jeeps are unreliable vehicles. Let’s go over each of them in detail.

Poor Gas Mileage

Jeeps do not have good gas mileage compared to other cars. For example, the Jeep Wrangler takes 77 cents of gas per mile, which is on the pricier side of gas mileage. Although the cost to operate a Jeep is not high, its value is lower because of the poor fuel economy and high selling price for what you get with the vehicle.

The reasoning for the poor gas mileage includes that Jeeps have poor aerodynamics due to their boxlike shape and heavyweight design, which makes it harder to push against the air when traveling at high speeds causing it to consume more gas as it travels. This means that Jeeps need to be filled up more often than most cars.

Air also gets trapped in the hood latch of the Jeep which slows it down even more when combined with the aerodynamics problems. The lifted body creates an air vortex that further lowers the aerodynamic capability to drag the fuel economy down more. The more extra features that are added to a Jeep, the less aerodynamic it will be.

There are many other reasons, but these are the most common.

Grey Jeep Wrangler parked at a rally event in 2019 Rome, Italy with a Sparco tent in the background
Jeep Wrangler

Chassis and Electronic Features

The chassis is the frame that a car is built on, Many Jeep users say that the chassis is far bulkier than other car brands. It is also weak and does not hold up well against damage. Users report that the body crumbles in contact with another car or object in a crash. This means that your Jeep could be totaled in any accident.

Regarding the electronic features, past and current Jeep users say that the features offered in the infotainment center could be a lot better based on the price of owning or leasing one. The electronics will often have performance issues and break down, creating the need for repairs that are expensive and or take a long time to complete.

If the repairs are more expensive than the cost of selecting another vehicle to own or lease, consumers will choose another vehicle, driving the reliability of the Jeep down even further.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon interior
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon – Interior

Further Structural Integrity Issues

Jeeps have been reported to have other structural integrity issues with the build and the body. Let’s explore each of these.

Shaking When Traveling at High Speeds

Jeeps shake when going anywhere between 40-66 mph. This can occur for a variety of reasons:

  • Unbalanced tires- the tires become unbalanced when they have uneven pressure or have repeated and frequent contact with potholes and other imperfections in the road, which causes the center of gravity to shift and unbalance them
  • Misaligned tires- the misalignment of the tires is a side effect of them becoming unbalanced. One of the first signs of tire misalignment is that you have to keep shifting the wheel to one side or the other to drive straight
  • Tire damage- tire damage will cause a vehicle to wobble at any speed. Not all tire damage is visible at first, so be sure to check them for any damage at all if your Jeep starts to wobble
  • Bent tire rims- The rims of a tire can be bent when potholes and speedbumps are driven over at high speeds
  • Bad wheel bearings- the wheel bearings hold the entire weight of a Jeep. They go bad when they have multiple high-impact collisions with obstacles, which causes them to fail. You can reduce the rate at which they fail by driving carefully.

Whatever the specific issue is, this shakiness results from tire issues. Cars cannot move without their tires, so it’s crucial to have the tires checked regularly along with all their parts.

This shaking is termed the death wobble, but the death wobble originates from changes in the front axle. When the axel oscillates too much, it causes the whole Jeep to shake and makes it hard to control. Loss of control means a higher probability of an accident. To correct it, you have to take it to a car garage unless you have the mechanical skills to fix it yourself.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara driving fast in the cityscape side view in motion
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara

Exhaust Leakage

Exhaust leaking is a problem that many cars have, but it appears to happen more often with Jeeps. It is a serious issue that cannot be ignored. Some of the signs that the exhaust is leaking include loud rumbling, a potent smell, the check engine light suddenly coming on, bad fuel economy, and shaking of the gas pedal.

It is unsafe to drive with leaking exhaust because it could expose you to carbon monoxide, which is lethal to humans. The leak happens when the exhaust tank becomes damaged in some way. To repair the exhaust tank, you will have to bring it to the shop.

Automotive mechanic doing an exhaust inspection on the under side underbody of a vehicle car while the car is on a hydraulic lift

Clogged Fuel Injectors

When a car’s fuel injectors get clogged or blocked. Typically you have to clean them every 30,000 miles to prevent them from getting clogged. When they are clogged, your Jeep’s performance will be negatively impacted. Signs the fuel injectors are clogged include:

  • The vehicle vibrates when it is still
  • The RPM needle is bouncing from place to place
  • The engine does not start
  • Poor fuel economy
  • The engine is misfiring

Tail Light Circuit Corrosion

The circuits for the taillights corrode on some models of Jeeps, Replacing the lightbulb will not fix the problem and to fix it, you have to either replace the circuit board or the whole tail light. Water can leak into the taillight area, causing the circuit to corrode. To prevent tail light leaks, the screws on the taillight should be tightened as needed so that water cannot get inside.

Window Motor Failure

The window motors on Jeeps can fail, so neither the driver nor passenger can roll the window up or down. Failure can happen at any time, even when driving. The problem is fixed by replacing the motor or the motor regulator if it is a consistent problem.

Electric window mechanism track and motor isolated against a white background
Power window regulator

High Numbers of Recalls

Jeeps tend to have more safety recalls than other vehicles. The most recent recall was in 2022 when the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L’s hazard lights would come on whenever the driver would press the brake pedal, which puts them out of compliance with the Ford motor vehicle safety standards.

In January 2020, over 3,000 Jeep Wranglers were recalled because they had faulty axles. The welding between the axle and the control could have caused the parts to come apart and pose a safety hazard. Later that year, 30,000 Jeeps were recalled because the clutch components were extremely flammable and a hazard.

Transfer Case Fails

Jeeps can switch between two and four-wheel drive modes, but sometimes the transfer case fails which prevents this. The seals on the case break down, and the grease inside the transfer case leaks. The grease allows the metal to glide and switch between the two drives. The only solution to this problem is to replace the entire transfer case.

Another reason for the failure is that the shifter rod that initiates the transfer gets misaligned or locked in place, preventing the switch between two and four-wheel drive. The rod can be adjusted by hand, so you will not have to worry about taking it to the shop.

These are just some of the many structural and mechanical problems that Jeeps are prone to, but other factors contribute to its questionable reliability.

Transfer case from a four-wheel drive car vehicle lying on the workbench of an auto repair shop
Transfer case

They Experience Issues Early On That Are Meant for Later in a Car’s Life

Because of their structural integrity issues, Jeeps can experience a slew of problems even when they are a few years old. A fourth of people who owned Jeeps three years old or younger said that they experienced minor issues that are typical such as flat tires. However, as Jeeps age, the problems get worse.

When a Jeep reaches between 3 and 8 years old, problems occur more regularly, and can range from tire pressure sensor failure, faulty dashboard displays, and break problems. Jeeps have less durability than other cars.

The amount of problems the Jeep has lowers the value of the vehicle, which means fewer people will be likely to purchase them. However, lower-value cars may be more affordable for those that are looking for a car on a budget.

Close up of a Jeep dash instrument cluster with the check engine light and some other lights on possibly a Jeep Liberty

Are Jeeps Actually That Unreliable?

Even though Jeeps seem like they have a lot of problems, many people still want one or say it is their dream car. Others choose to only drive Jeeps for the duration of their adult lives. Additionally, not all Jeep models have all of these problems, and many of them will last for a long time without any issues at all.

The most common explanations for the popularity of the Jeep are as follows:

An Iconic Design

Although the Jeep is not the most functional or reliable vehicle, the design is instantly recognizable and people love it. There is no other car that looks like a Jeep and there are even some used ones out there with the original design features like the seven-slot grille on the front and round headlights instead of square.

Green Jeep Wrangler Rubicon off-road in the woods
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

They Have Top Aftermarket Service

The car aftermarket is the sale of parts for a vehicle that are not the original manufacturer’s parts that are installed by the manufacturer before the car is sold. Jeeps have high-quality aftermarket service, which means Jeep owners can replace the parts themselves and save money instead of going to an automotive repair shop.

Jeeps are a great investment because of their aftermarket value. Jeeps may be expensive at first but their parts are widely available so owners do not have to waste time at the repair shop.

They Are Designed to Withstand All Types of Weather

Jeeps are the classic off-roading vehicle. They can also be driven safely in floods and snow because of the high traction tires and lifted chassis. You can even get an all-weather cover and floor protection to keep your Jeep looking and feeling brand new.

Because of this all-weather design, they are versatile. Take your Jeep off-roading or use it for family vacations. Wherever you want to go, your Jeep will take you.

Jeep Wrangler Sport red in Coquiitlam, BC Canada with snow visible in the winter park
Jeep Wrangler Sport

Smooth Driving Experience

Even though Jeeps are bulky cars that lack aerodynamics, they are still easy to drive. This is because of features like the short wheelbases and high tight turning ratios of the tires.

They Are Cost Effective

Although Jeeps can have many problems, they are in the middle of the cost scale and are a good value for the price. They are great cars for those who cannot afford a luxury vehicle but want something a bit nicer than most affordable vehicles.

These are just some of the reasons why people choose a Jeep despite its issues.

2021 Jeep Scrambler at the M1 Concourse near Detroit, Michigan
2021 Jeep Scrambler

Conclusion

Jeeps are considered unreliable cars because they have poor gas mileage, they have regular recalls, they are bulky and missing electronic features, they lack structural integrity, and they have more issues early on than most other cars. However, the Jeep is an iconic car that is unique and cost-effective, which is why people continue to purchase it.

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References:

Off-Roading Pro

Drivetrain Resource

Mechanic One Auto Repair

Automotive Aftermarket

Four Wheel Trends

30 Reasons Jeeps Get Bad Reviews

Off-Road Handbook

Why is Jeep So Unreliable? All You Need to Know

Hot Cars

Here’s Why The Jeep Wrangler’s Reliability Score Is So Low

RepairPal

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Recalls

Stuff Answered

Why Do People Love Jeeps?

Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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