Considering a Jeep Wrangler but unsure of which model years to steer clear of? Join us as we spotlight the years with the most reported issues, helping you make an informed choice on your next Jeep purchase.
What Are The Jeep Wrangler Model Years You Should Avoid?
Certain Jeep Wrangler model years have faced more complaints than others. Specifically, owners often cite the 2007, 2012, and 2018 models for various issues ranging from engine problems to electrical glitches. Before purchasing, it’s advised to research the specific year’s common issues and consider opting for models with fewer reported concerns.
The Jeep Wrangler is an icon in the offroading world. It has been with us since 1986 but has managed to maintain its DNA for decades.
With stiff axle suspension, excellent ground clearance, and retro looks, the Wrangler remains one of the few offroaders that takes us back in time.
Though it’s been around for decades, the Wrangler isn’t perfect.
Each model year comes with many trim levels, and there are four generations spanning nearly forty years. So, the Wrangler is bound to have some faulty years. Which are they?
This article covers the worst years for the Jeep Wrangler, but we’ll not end it there. We’ll also provide some of the best years to buy.
What to look for when buying a used Jeep Wrangler? (And What’s the Death Wobble?)
As with any vehicle, it’s important to understand what each generation brings to the market. In the Wrangler’s case, some model years stand out due to their reliability and features.
Importance of the model year
There are currently four generations of Jeep Wrangler: the YJ, TJ, JK, and JL. While they all maintain the most iconic looks and rugged mechanics, there are some vast differences.
The YJ is a continuation of the classic CJ platform. It’s basic for today’s standard, though it has improved handling and more safety features than its predecessor.
Given their age, these are harder to come by, thus increasing in price as time passes, especially those in good condition.
The TJ generation showed marked improvement over the previous generation, especially in the suspension department.
The addition of coil springs made the ride much smoother, and an improved automatic transmission gave the TJ better acceleration. At the same time, this generation is rudimentary by today’s standards.
The Jeep Wrangler JK surprised the fans by showing several technological leaps, including a complete chassis and body redesign.
While the JK still had live axles front and rear, improvements to the suspension gave this generation better handling. Plus, newer powerplants and the inclusion of a factory four-door option made it a commercial success.
The JK was a hard act to follow, commercially speaking. However, the JL has managed to live up to the hype. With several upgrades, including more efficient powerplants, a hybrid option, and plenty of safety features, it’s a serious leap forward while maintaining the core identity.
Common problems with Jeep Wranglers
The Jeep Wrangler is an icon in the offroading world, but it has also earned a bad reputation. Some issues with this SUV are prevalent and easy to identify, and we start with the most common of them all.
The death wobble is how many Jeep enthusiasts have identified a dangerous shaking that happens when driving.
The problem is due to the front axle oscillating violently, and there are many causes for it, starting with the Wrangler’s live axle and coil-spring configuration. However, that’s not the only reason.
Other problems include poor alignment, unbalanced tires, worn-out ball joints, and a loose stabilizer bar, and it’s important to note that it’s present in all generations, barring the last one.
While not Jeep’s fault, some Wranglers from 2007 to 2013 have suffered from faulty airbags.
These exploded violently and launched towards the driver, even at low speed. The cause was due to low-quality products from the manufacturer, Takata.
A massive 65-million vehicle recall has been implemented, but some vehicles still have older, defective airbags.
Electric sway bar problems:
A swaybar is crucial for a vehicle such as the Wrangler. It keeps it steady on the highway. You can disconnect it when offroading to provide more suspension travel.
Some Wranglers come with a disconnect system, which failed when soaked in water. Ironically, this is common when offroading.
A faulty swaybar switch can cause unsafe handling, which has been common in Wranglers from 2007 to 2020.
Other common problems with the Wrangler might not be as common include engine problems, such as losing engine oil, loss of power, and even cracked heads.
However, these have happened in specific years, so it’s not as widespread as these mentioned above.
These Are The Worst Jeep Wrangler Model Years You Should Avoid!
If you’re looking to buy a used Jeep Wrangler, regardless of the generation, it’s good to know which model years are good and which are bad.
So, here are the worst years for Jeep Wrangler generations, starting with the YJ.
YJ Jeep Wrangler years to avoid
While the YJ’s rudimentary design makes it reliable and coveted, it’s not without issues. So, when buying one of these, you should avoid the Jeep Wranglers from 1987 to 1991.
These years had several issues, including:
- faulty seatbelt anchors
- recalled fuel pump (which could explode, as it was close to the exhaust)
- severe rust, especially on soft-top options
After 1991, Jeep worked to improve these aspects while also including a more powerful engine as an option. So, any model from 1991 to 1995 is a good option.
TJ Jeep Wrangler years to avoid
While the 1997 TJ came with many new features, it wasn’t considered safe. NHTSA crash tests showed that it had severe issues regarding side impacts.
Plus, faulty head restraints caused significant injuries to passengers, and a defective fuel filler could lead to overflowing.
Due to this, it’s ideal to avoid the TJ from 1997 to 2001. Instead, it would help if you opted for those produced in 2003 and 2004, when the manufacturer flushed out most of its issues.
Next, we’re discussing the Jeep Wrangler JK years to avoid. Since it’s one of the most popular generations, having sold hundreds of thousands, we’re covering each year in detail.
2007 Jeep Wrangler
You should stay away from the 2007 Jeep Wrangler JK because it accumulates several issues that are severe and could lead to injury. These include:
- A faulty Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) could lead to many symptoms, from uncontrollable lights to power loss.
- Severe Death Wobble was present in most 2007 Wranglers due to the suspension design changes with the new generation.
- Low side-impacts grades
- Faulty fuel filler that led to overfilling, thus becoming a fire hazard.
Also, including the new V6 engine gave some issues, making the 2007 Wrangler one you should avoid.
2008 Jeep Wrangler
While the 2007 model year had several worrying issues, the 2008 Wrangler wasn’t any better.
Car Complaints rates this year as one with the most complaints.
This model year carried over some of the 2007 model’s problems and saw some worsen, especially around the TIPM. Unfortunately, this repair could set you back over $1,000.
2010 Jeep Wrangler
Jeep worked hard to improve the issues found in previous models, and the 2009 Jeep Wrangler has considerably fewer complaints.
Still, something happened in 2010, which saw a marked increase in problems. These involved the TIPM and fuel filler, which still showed considerable faults.
2012 Jeep Wrangler
The 2012 Wrangler got a new, more powerful engine with heaps of problems. It has the dubious honor of being one of the worst Jeep Wrangler years.
It’s all due to the new engine as the head wasn’t strong enough and could need replacing at low miles, with some cases happening anywhere from 35,000 to 45,000 miles and costing Jeep Wrangler owners thousands of dollars.
Along with the famously faulty TIPM and Death Wobble, these reasons alone are enough to avoid the 2012 Jeep Wrangler.
2018 Jeep Wrangler
The 2018 Wrangler JL marked the start of a new generation and a new set of problems. This is also one of the worst years of Jeep Wrangler vehicles.
The redesigned steering system led to unsafe handling and, according to sites such as Car Complaints, is something that dealerships are fully aware of, yet they cannot fix.
This problem alone led to almost 1,000 complaints and is the main issue why you should avoid it.
Best Jeep Wrangler Years
Now that we’ve seen the years you should avoid, that’s not to say there aren’t years worth buying.
There are, and it’s all about knowing what to look for, especially in the older models. So, here’s a list of the best Wrangler years.
1992-1995 Jeep Wrangler YJ
These latter models of the first generation had seen massive improvements in handling and safety. Plus, with a better roof lining, rust wasn’t as expected. Still, they’re hard to find, and those in good condition can command a hefty price.
2003 Jeep Wrangler TJ
This model year saw the manufacturer work hard to flush out most problems. As a result, the 2003 Jeep Wrangler is one of the better options, especially one with low mileage.
2004 Jeep Wrangler TJ
The 2004 Jeep Wrangler JK maintained its reliability. At the same time, this Jeep Wrangler is known for avoiding many of the issues the following year had, the 2005 Wrangler.
2015 Jeep Wrangler JK
The latter years of the Jeep Wrangler JK have the best performance because most problems have been solved.
The faulty head was redesigned for the 2015 Wrangler, and an improved interior makes the 2015 Jeep Wrangler a particularly solid choice. While the 2014 Wrangler is a good choice, it could still have issues requiring hefty repairs.
2016 Jeep Wrangler JK
The 2016 Wrangler kept the performance from the previous model and has some of the highest reliability ratings. Therefore, it’s a solid choice; finding one with low mileage is an excellent purchase.
2017 Jeep Wrangler JK
The 2017 Wrangler is one of the better choices, as Jeep made efforts to solve many of the issues, even those happening in later years. Jeep owners love this choice.
2019 Jeep Wrangler JL
While the 2019 Wrangler is an excellent choice because it has fewer issues, it isn’t the only one.
Models such as the 2020 Wrangler and 2021 Wrangler also have shown to have superior reliability and few problems, with the downside of being more expensive. Certainly, the new Jeep Wrangler promises to be a solid choice.
The Jeep Wrangler has been around for decades, and people love it. With such following, you might want to buy one, and knowing the best and worst model years is essential to avoid paying hefty repairs.
So, Jeeps might be icons, but the Jeep brand has seen its fair share of problems. There’s no one great Wrangler and it might not be the best car for daily life, but certain model years are more troublesome.
Many problems are common to this brand, especially Jeep’s famous Death Wobble, which has been present practically from the start.
This is due to the suspension design and how it can affect handling. Plus, since many owners modify their Wranglers, they might not take all the necessary precautions to balance their ride properly.
Other common problems include faulty TIPMs, airbags, and rust.
This article has covered the Jeep Wranglers you should avoid across all generations, and we’ve also explained their problems and how they could impact you.
Ultimately, you want to ensure you have the strongest qualities found in the best Jeep, therefore having an excellent vehicle that can last for years.
Hopefully, this article provides the information needed to find the next Jeep Wrangler for you.