Jeep Wranglers are rugged vehicles designed for off-roading. The manufacturer built an almost mythical reputation for the brand, making it one of the most in-demand vehicles for outdoorsy people and adventurers. The Wrangler is also a robust city vehicle. Still, despite the popularity and versatility, there are Jeep Wrangler reliability issues buyers should know before investing in a new or used model.

7 Jeep Wrangler Reliability Concerns

Though it enjoys a stellar reputation as one of the leading off-roading brands, the Jeep Wrangler suffers consistently from a low reliability score. Loyal consumers and a healthy brand following likely contribute to the continued success of the Wrangler despite its relatively low safety scores, poor fuel economy, and history of recalls and expensive repairs.

That said, investing in a Jeep Wrangler can still be a good option for you, especially if you hold no illusions about the potential risks or maintenance costs you may face. The first Wranglers entered the market in 1986, and since then, many models have faced similar problems, including the following seven reliability issues.

1. Totally Integrated Power Module Failure

Most modern vehicles contain electronic control modules essential to operating all low-voltage electronics, such as headlights, throttle controls, fuel pumps, and starter motors. In several Jeep Wrangler models, this is the Totally Integrated Power Module. Unfortunately, the TIPM causes many Jeep Wrangler reliability problems, including stuck power windows, engine stalling, random airbag deployment, and problems starting.

A faulty TIPM unit is dangerous and unpredictable. Module replacements are expensive, usually around $1,200. The expense may not be that worrisome if your Jeep is still under warranty, but when the warranty expires, how do you cover the cost? A vehicle protection plan through Autopom can help you cover unexpected mechanical issues.

2. Leaking Oil

Oil is essential to the operation of the powertrain — the system that drives your vehicle forward, including the motor, transmission, and driveshaft. Oil leaks are relatively common in older vehicles, so finding them in a used car or first-generation Jeep Wrangler is not surprising.

You can usually tell where an oil leak is coming from by the color of the fluid. Power steering oil is typically brown, transparent, or green. Transmission oil is red, and engine oil is amber or golden, though it gets darker.

3. Water Leaks

A reliable Jeep Wrangler.

Another common but inexpensive Jeep Wrangler reliability issue is poor door seals. The 1987 and 2002 Wrangler models were notorious for leaking door seals. While a door seal may only cost around $50 to replace, the more significant concern is the added interior humidity. Even slightly above-average humidity levels in your wrangler can wreak havoc on your vehicle’s electronics, including door components like power locks and windows.

Regarding warning signs of a worn or damaged seal, you can look for pooling or dripping in the vehicle after a heavy rain. Also, when you open the door, you may catch a whiff of a damp or moldy odor. Do not wait to correct this issue. Waiting can damage electronics and lead to mold growth.

4. Throttle Position Sensor Failure

Jeep Wrangler reliability depends a lot on the throttle position sensor. This device measures the throttle opening to determine how much air to allow into the engine. Fuel injection and combustion timing also rely on the provided sensor value.

If the sensor malfunctions, which is relatively common in Jeep Wranglers, drivers may experience reduced fuel economy or speed, stalling, and speed surges. Thankfully, the replacement cost for the part is only around $60, but the device’s frailty in the Wrangler is still worthwhile knowledge for owners.

5. Exhaust Manifold Cracks

The exhaust manifold is the primary part of any vehicle’s exhaust system. Its principal job is funneling exhaust gases from all cylinders and routing them to the catalytic converter. Older Jeep Wranglers often develop problems with thermal fatigue that can cause the exhaust manifold to crack or give out. The high temperatures of exhaust gases force the manifold to expand, but when the car cools, it contracts. The repeated thermal stress damages the part and loosens the seal and bolts.

If you hear a constant knocking, that is a sign of a damaged exhaust manifold. Unfortunately, this common Jeep Wrangler reliability issue is expensive to repair, usually costing around $1,000 or more. You should fix the problem as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the exhaust system.

6. Automatic Transmission Issues

Jeep Wrangler owners have complained about various automatic transmission issues since the release of the 2005 model. Transmission problems include the vehicle getting stuck in one gear, which is problematic, especially when traveling at high speeds. The manufacturer recognized the issue and ordered several recalls to fix it, but the repairs are time-consuming. That said, Jeep covers the costs.

7. The Death Wobble

Another Jeep Wrangler liability found predominantly in the third generation from 2007 to 2018 is the death wobble. The wobble results from loose or damaged steering that can occur from hitting potholes or braking too hard. The experience is a violent shaking of the vehicle, sending drivers into a panic.

The solution to the death wobble is a mystery to Chrysler. Fortunately, if you keep calm, you can survive the experience and get to safety.

Most Reliable Year for Jeep Wranglers

Most reliable Jeep Wrangler years.

For Jeep Wrangler reliability, you can’t beat the 2015 model. Time and time again, the 2015 Wrangler receives stellar ratings and reviews. It received a strong safety score from JD Power and is well-respected for its four-wheel drivetrain.

Jeep Wranglers and Maintenance

Like all vehicles, Jeep Wranglers require regular maintenance. Overall, Wranglers have above-average ownership costs, roughly $1,200 more than the industry average for SUVs. In its first 10 years, a Jeep Wrangler will cost an average of $10,397 for maintenance and repairs.

Vehicle Protection Plan for Jeep Wrangler Reliability

Jeep Wrangler reliability scores are usually lower than average. Still, the vehicle has terrific potential for off-roading or city driving. If you want to protect your vehicle and your pocketbook, check out the vehicle protection plans from Autopom.

By Mike Jones, President & CEO of autopom! Insurance Services, llc