Few names can hold their own against the reputation of Jeep Wrangler as a rugged off-road vehicle. Originally, the Wangler was intended to assist the US military during World War II. But being a huge success, it soon found its feet as an adventure-oriented civilian car.
Buying a Jeep can be an exciting experience, but it can also be tricky. If you’re looking for a used Wangler, there are model years you should skip. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the Jeep Wangler’s worst year, its lifespan, and everything else you need to know before buying one on the used market.
2008, 2012 and 2014 are among Jeep Wrangler’s worst model years due to expensive overhauls
According to Car complaints website, the 2008 model has the most overall owner complaints. Of the 400 registered complaints, more than 150 concern electrical problems. Owners have complained that the Total Integrated Power Module (TIPM) malfunctions, causing the windows, wipers, locks and horn to engage randomly. On average, it costs over $900 to replace the module with a new one.
Another common problem with the 2008 Jeep Wangler is the “death wobble”. Many owners have complained that the suspension wobbles uncontrollably at highway speeds. “The first dead roll happened at 40k, changed tires and got a super heavy stabilizer. About every 10,000 the wobble returns, and nothing completely solves the problem. I’ve replaced all the recommended parts at least once or twice. It can’t be fixed,” quoted one owner in October 2016.
The TIPM defect is also a widespread problem with the 2012 Wrangler, with 50 owner complaints registered with Car Complaints. However, the average mileage for this model year is 52,200 miles, and the repair cost is over $1,300.
Several owners have complained about expensive engine overhauls in their 2012 Jeep Wrangler. According to the information, the owners have had to replace the engine heads well under 100,000 miles. The symptoms of defective heads are overheating of the engine, loss of power and excessive oil burning. If a faulty engine head is not taken care of, it can quickly damage the entire powertrain.
The most common problem with the 2014 Jeep Wrangler is oil leaking from the housing. The issue mainly concerns models equipped with the 3.6L V6 engine. The oil housing cracks prematurely and leaks oil all over the engine. The average cost of parts and labor to fix the problem is $710.
Finally, 2014 Wangler owners have cited dealing with electrical issues, especially when it comes to starting the engine. “Began to notice problems when starting the jeep. It would hesitate, then turn over. Then, when I drove 30 minutes from home, it wouldn’t go over. After a few tries it started. That’s when I realized I couldn’t be trusted to drive it far,” wrote one owner in November 2021.
Take care of your Wrangler, and it will provide 200,000 miles of reliable service
Based on various reputable automotive sources, the Jeep Wrangler boasts 200,000 miles on the odometer. That means over 15 years of service that drove 13,000 miles in one year.
Although it differs from one model year to another, owners can usually avoid expensive transmission and engine overhauls by following the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance routines.
Some of the critical services include:
- Every 20,000 miles: replace the A/C filter, inspect the transmission fluid, inspect the brake pads and check the CV and universal joints.
- Every 40,000 miles: change the front and rear axle fluids, especially if you use your Wrangler for towing or off-roading.
- Every 60,000 miles: change gear oil and gearbox oil.
- Every 100,000 miles: check the belts and replace the PCV valves.
According to RepairPal website, a Jeep Wrangler would cost $694 to maintain in a year, about $150 more than the compact SUV average. But mostly that’s because Jeeps are subjected to abuse and extreme conditions far more than Toyota RAV4s or Subaru Foresters.
Avoid problematic model years to ensure you reduce the risk of buying a lemon
A Jeep can be the start of many adventures. If you’re in the market for a used Wrangler, it would be a safer bet to avoid the 2008, 2012 and 2014 models due to their widespread problems at relatively low mileage.
Other than that, ask a trusted mechanic to inspect the car before finalizing your purchase. Since Jeeps are usually used for off-road driving, some important parts to check are the rear and front axles, the transmission system, and the engine.