Buying A Jeep Wrangler? Avoid This Model Year

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The Jeep Wrangler has been a popular off-roading truck and daily driver for many years now, thanks in part to its impressive fuel efficiency and the option for a manual or automatic transmission. However, as is the case with any vehicle, a successful purchase involves doing your research on the various models available. So, which Wrangler years are best and which should you avoid?

One of the best years for the Jeep Wrangler was 2018. This model offers a large and comfortable interior and very few faults. Avoid the 2012 Jeep Wrangler, which comes with a slew of reported problems, including the so-called “death wobble,” electrical issues, and mechanical breakdowns.

Let’s take a closer look at the Jeep Wrangler, including the best and worst model years and common problems found with the vehicle. With this information, you’ll be able to pick out the best Wrangler model for your needs and budget.

What’s the Worst Year for a Jeep Wrangler?

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with Roof Camper in Pacific Northwest Forest

Although a few Jeep Wrangler years have received bad reviews and many customer complaints, one year in particular has stood out above the rest: the 2012 model.

The 2012 Wrangler has ten recalls for various issues — many more than even the models that came before it. Drivers notoriously dislike this model, leading to a big drop in popularity for this year as the issues became increasingly apparent over time.

Some of the issues include:


Some of the previous versions of the Jeep Wrangler featured airbags that didn’t work correctly, and the 2012 Jeep Wrangler was no different. Many expected that the manufacturer would have fixed this issue, but customers were left disappointed — and in danger.

Electrical Problems

The 2012 Jeep Wrangler is also prone to many electrical problems, from issues with the circuit to complete electrical failures. This has affected the radio as well as many other components of the car.

Mechanical Breakdowns

One of the biggest complaints that came out of the 2012 Jeep Wrangler is the amount of breakdowns customers experienced. The engine tends to fail a lot, causing drivers to get stranded, and there has been a huge variety of potential causes of the issue. It’s also not an easy problem to fix.


From brake fluid to oil leaks, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler doesn’t seem to keep its fluid contained. This has led to many necessary repairs to keep everything running smoothly.

Overall, it’s become very clear that drivers should avoid the 2012 Jeep Wrangler. Although the price point for this model is much lower than other years, you’ll likely pay a lot in repairs, and there are some huge safety issues within the model.

What’s the Best Year for a Jeep Wrangler?

For some vehicles, the best model is the latest one because the manufacturer has been continuously improving and working on it. However, the best year for the Jeep Wrangler is actually the 2018 model.

Firstly, fuel efficiency was pretty good compared to competitors with similarly sized vehicles that year. Since jeeps and trucks often have very poor fuel efficiency, this was a huge selling point for consumers.

It was notably easy to drive too, so for those new to Jeep Wranglers, it was a good starting point. It also boasts a very comfortable interior, even compared with more recent years.

However, the biggest selling point for the Jeep Wrangler in 2018 was its lack of issues compared to other model years. They seem to truly have perfected the Wrangler in this year, creating a reliable vehicle (whether for off-roading or daily driving) that could suit a huge variety of people and keep them safe.

Which Issues Are Most Common in Jeep Wranglers?

White Jeep

As with other vehicles, there are some common issues that are very specific to Jeep Wranglers. These include:

Oil Leak

The 2012 Jeep Wrangler was especially known for having problems with leaks, but oil leaks have been reported across many models of the Jeep Wrangler as well. The filter housing can crack and go bad, leaving the oil leaking out inside of the vehicle.

While there has never been a recall put out for this, it’s a big fire hazard and can be a serious problem if not taken care of right away. It’s therefore something to look out for.

The “Death Wobble”

After hitting an obstacle, the Jeep Wrangler’s steering wheel will often violently shake, a phenomenon that’s been deemed the “death wobble” by Jeep drivers. A few different things can cause this, from components coming loose to other, more expensive issues to fix.

This was due to a lack of sturdy design in some years. If you have a Jeep Wrangler and have felt the death wobble, it’s important to go and get it checked out — even if it righted itself shortly after.

Sometimes, it seems like the problem may be fixed, but there’s actually still something wrong inside of the vehicle that can pose a hazard later.

TIPM Failure

Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) failure has been a common problem with the Jeep Wrangler, though it’s more present in some models than others. It’s easy to notice because it can prevent the vehicle from starting up at all.

At other times, it may cause strange functions within the vehicle. Headlights and windshield wipers may activate and deactivate on their own, making it feel as if someone else is in control of the vehicle.

Although some recalls were issued for much older models (such as the 2007), this is still reported today and can be an expensive fix.

Engine Stalling

The engine stalling or the gear slipping can be another big problem for Jeep Wranglers, even when the vehicle is handled correctly. This can be an issue in busy traffic, where the vehicle may come to an abrupt stop when you’re trying to change gears.

Even if the engine isn’t stalling entirely, users have noticed some other issues like struggling to move between gears and faulty shifting.

Cylinder Head Issues

Many Jeep Wranglers have had inexplicable cylinder head issues, and they end up needing to replace the parts.

If this happens to you, then you should check your warranty; if you have a recent model, the repair is usually covered. Otherwise, they can cost a few hundred dollars to replace.

How Fuel Efficient Is a Jeep Wrangler?

Large gas vehicles aren’t exactly known for being fuel efficient. This can be a problem for those looking to purchase a truck but who are reluctant to pay high gas prices or contribute to pollution in the atmosphere.

So, how does the Jeep Wrangler stack up?

For an SUV that’s built for off-roading, it’s actually pretty impressive. You can expect 24 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg for city or town driving, which is good compared to other vehicles of a similar size. Overall, it’s pretty fuel-efficient for the type of vehicle that it is.

Are Jeep Wranglers Manual or Automatic?

Up until 1994, the Jeep Wrangler only came with a manual option, which is typical of trucks of its size. However, for nearly the past three decades, they’ve offered the option for a manual or automatic transmission. That means you don’t have to be comfortable driving stick to operate a Jeep Wrangler!

As of 2022, the Jeep Wrangler still offers the manual option in addition to automatic, and the company hasn’t said anything about discontinuing the option.

These days, they also offer the option for a hybrid and all-electric model on some later versions, giving people the option to become less reliant on gas or ditch it entirely.

The Final Word

Overall, the Jeep Wrangler is a solid choice for both off-roading and daily driving. However, it’s critical to avoid certain years like 2012 to ensure you stay safe and make sure you get the most out of your truck.

You should also do your research on the specific Jeep Wrangler you’re purchasing and make sure you test drive it, as the year alone isn’t enough to guarantee you a safe and reliable SUV.