The Jeep brand has been an American icon since serving its country and allies so well during the Second World War, the Korean War, and Vietnam. Surplus army Jeeps became available for sale in all the post-war countries where it did duty. The brand changed hands nine times in its 80 years of existence.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the most problematic of the nine models reviewed. Problems with Jeep models have been determined by combining owner complaints with technical service bulletins, investigation reports to generate a report on the most common Jeep problems by model.
CarComplaints.com has done this comprehensive survey of all sources of input for the Jeep brand to determine the model with the most problems and the problems common to other models in the Jeep range. Let’s have a look at the worst-performing model too.
Which Jeep Model Is The Worst?
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has generated 3038 complaints in a 29-year model history. The Grand Cherokee ranks 9th out of the 9 Jeep models during the study period. The main concerns related to the electrical system and the engine.
The Grand Cherokee fitted with aluminum valve stems on the tire pressure monitoring system resulted in extensive corrosion of these components, leading to faulty tire inflation pressure readings. The problem was never acknowledged by Fiat-Chrysler, even though they replaced the aluminum valve stems with rubber.
In 2017, the manufacturer faced a lawsuit that remains unresolved to this day. Owners had to pay for the repairs themselves, a repair costing them $125 per tire.
Fiat Chrysler agreed to pay $800 million in fines and compensation for using illegal devices to suppress the emission values of their 3.0L diesel engines. The same scandal affected VW, and they received most of the media attention. Despite paying for the fines and compensation, Fiat Chrysler refused to accept any responsibility.
Problems With The Grand Cherokee
The infotainment system in the Grand Cherokee was sound to be susceptible to hacking, forcing Fiat Chrysler to have a software patch installed in 1.4 million vehicles.
Luxury Leather Dashboards
The luxury leather dashboards of the Grand Cherokee warped in the sun, and the leather bubbled away from the plastic substrate. The problems occurred between 45,000 and 60,000 miles, and Fiat Chrysler deflected blame, stating that the vehicles were out of warranty. Owners had to foot the $1,100 replacement part cost plus labor. Although this problem was purely cosmetic, it was poorly handled and left a blemish on the Jeep brand.
The most severe operational fault reported on Grand Cherokee is the totally integrated power module (TIPM). This component is responsible for everything from the fuel pump, power window function, headlights, throttle control, and even the radio. This fault occurred even at low mileages, and owners had to pay around $1200 for a TIPM repair.
TIPM failures included erratic behavior by some of the electronic features of the Grand Cherokee. These failures include:
- The fuel pump not shutting down and burning out
- The airbags not deploying when required or deploying randomly
- The engine stalling during driving
- The starter cranks but won’t start the engine
- The horn going off at random times
- Power windows not working when engaged
- Doors locking or unlocking randomly
Fiat Chrysler agreed to supply replacement TIPM components for free and reimburse owners for previous repairs related to this issue.
The “Death Wobble”
The “Death Wobble” is the second most serious reported customer concern. Caused by worn, loose, or damaged steering components, this problem did not recall Jeep. Efforts by owners to permanently solve this issue have not resulted in permanent fixes. The Jeep Wrangler is also plagued by this problem that Fiat Chrysler claimed was caused by owners having modifications to their vehicles.
Hundreds of Grand Cherokee owns complained about the windows falling off the window rails and into the door cavity. The fix was a costly $450 per window. Fiat Chrysler did not offer to cover the repair costs.
More than 2.7 million Jeep Cherokees were identified as having a defective rear gas tank design, which resulted in an explosion if the vehicle experienced a rear collision. Chrysler executed a limited recall on 1.5 million 1992 to 1998 Grand Cherokees. They merely installed trailer hitches to the affected vehicles to help absorb some of the rear collision energy.
e-shift gear selector
Almost 2000 customer complaints resulted from the confusing e-shift gear selector on the 2012 to 2014 Grand Cherokees. Fiat Chrysler did not design any failsafe overrides in case the wrong gear was selected. They did, however, change to a simple design in future models.
Biggest problems rated
The problems that were rated as having the most adverse impact by customers were the following:
- TIPM failure causing starting problem on 2011 Grand Cherokee
- Leather dashboards bubbling up and deforming on 2011 Grand Cherokee
- Gear shifting problems on 2014 Grand Cherokee
- Engine stalls while driving in 2011 Grand Cherokee
- TIPM component failure on 2012 Grand Cherokee
The data shows that the 2011 to 2015 models were most adversely affected by problems.
The findings of the CarComplaints.com site are echoed in the J.D. Power Quality & Reliability findings conducted on the Jeep Grand Cherokee and all its stable models down the years. Despite the enormous brand support and customer enthusiasm for the Jeep brand, the future seems uncertain.
The brand owners have not stood behind their products in the way that other brands do. All brands experience product problems, but great companies like stand behind their products and support their customers. Jeep has departed from their vision of producing vehicles that allow you to “Go Anywhere, Do Anything,” and their products have developed into highly sophisticated, problem-riddled, money taps.
If there is one American icon worth saving, it is the Jeep brand. Can the new European owners identify the true value of this brand and allow their engineers to get back to designing exciting, reliable off-road vehicles genuinely worthy of the Jeep heritage.
If you are a Jeep owner or brand enthusiast, you will undoubtedly agree with the assertion that the brand has lost its way or that the brand owners have overexploited it.