Owning a Jeep isn’t simply buying a vehicle or giving you access to trails that you could never drive on before. Buying a Jeep is a process that welcomes you to the Jeep family. ( #JeepLife)
While you may have known about this for years or the “Jeep wave” may be a foreign concept to you, we’re going to explain it here today along with some history and help you understand the “Jeep Wave” a little bit better.
History of the Jeep Wave
If you’ve never owned a Jeep before, it’s possible that you have never heard of or seen the Jeep Wave.
Without owning a Jeep, there’s really no reason to participate or think about this fun tradition.
However, it’s also possible that you have seen the Wave out in public or even have had a friend who participates in waving at other owners who are riding in their Jeeps. So where did it start?
Many people say that it began in World War 2 as Jeeps were heavily used to move back and forth between soldiers.
Jeeps were very important at that time because they would do things like carry supplies from the back lines to the front lines.
They would also be used for sending urgent messages that helped the military stay in the know about troop movement or other varying information.
Jeeps became important because they would even do things like transport injured soldiers or attempt rescues if it made sense for a motor vehicle to be involved.
So why the wave?
It’s theorized that many soldiers riding in Jeeps would need to acknowledge officials or higher-ranked members than themselves.
If someone were watching these salutes, it could compromise some of their information or open up a weak spot to the enemy.
Other people say that rank wasn’t of importance when riding in Jeeps and that all members of the military would use the Jeep wave to simply identify themselves that they were on the “same team”.
This would make a lot of sense because it still feels that way today, when you wave to another Jeep owner you are still saying that you are on the “same team”.
If that’s the case, it’s probably safe to say that the wave was very important to those soldiers riding in Jeeps.
Being at war is an incredibly difficult time and being able to offer a sign of encouragement and camaraderie would have been a great gesture to keep morale up.
While the “Wartime” story is a good one, there are others who say that these Jeep efforts are responsible but the “Wave” portion started a little later.
This version of the story claims that Jeeps saw a rise in popularity in soldiers who had driven Jeeps often in the war. When they got home and had a Jeep of their own, they would wave to fellow Jeep owners assuming that the other Jeep owners they saw had served in the military in some capacity.
While it’s impossible to verify where the first wave might have happened, it is also very possible that owners started this even later than World War 2 simply as a camaraderie of having a vehicle that was adventurous and able to go off-roading.
The wave could be acknowledging the fact that the vehicle has potential that most others don’t and the fact that being a Jeep owner is usually a very enjoyable experience.
Regardless, the Jeep does have military roots so even if the wave wasn’t widespread in the military, it’s still a great way to honor those who served and to show respect for a tradition that undoubtedly goes way back.
What Is The Jeep Wave?
It’s generally been accepted that the Jeep Wave is… well, a wave.
This would typically be either a healthy side-to-side waving of one hand, a hand that is raised waiving, or two, three, or four fingers raising upward from the steering wheel depending on your level of excitement.
I mostly go with the two-finger raised wave from the steering wheel, or with a full hand hung down low out of a doorless Jeep in summer.
There are a lot of humorous posts out there about how “local etiquette” can change a wave.
While there are no hard rules to what you should do when you do the Jeep Wave, it is funny to think that regions with different personalities show off their Jeep Wave differently.
The best way to find a good Jeep Wave that you are comfortable with is to practice. What feels and comes naturally to you?
If you are a highly excitable person who is often full of energy and is excited to be taking a trip somewhere, you will probably do better with a more energetic wave.
If you are laid back, or you don’t have as much energy, you will probably want to use the wave that has a few fingers extending from the steering wheel so as not to disrupt your cool persona.
However, it is important to participate in the Jeep Wave. Many other vehicle families have traditions similar to the Jeep Wave, with one famous one being Harley riders.
No one would ever go as far as to say that other vehicle families copied the Jeep Wave, however, it is important to follow a tradition that has deep roots.
When a Jeep owner initiates a Jeep Wave, it’s important to recognize them as part of the family, so wave back.
In society today, it’s great to connect to people with a simple hand gesture and you really should not discriminate when it comes to the model or condition of the vehicle (although many do).
As Jeep’s have become more mainstream family haulers, it has reduced the wave in newer Jeep models, but I still recommend a wave, especially for older Jeeps.
It’s also important to remember, you don’t know anything about this other person so you don’t know what they’ve been through or where they’re going. If they don’t wave back don’t take it personal. Sometimes people just don’t know.
As a Jeep owner for more than 30 years, I admit it has become harder to notice Jeep waves with all of the dark tinted windows.
Another general “rule of thumb” you may benefit from knowing is that in general, newer model Jeeps should initiate the wave to older model Jeeps.
This being said, longtime Jeep owners understand the ropes and they are likely to initiate the Jeep wave even if you forget.
Oh, and one last thing. With a little practice, it’s going to be really hard not to do the Jeep wave even when you are not driving your Jeep.
Yes, it really will happen. I find I do the Jeep wave all of the time when driving my wife’s vehicle.
Keep The Tradition Going!
The Jeep Wave is an awesome tradition that carries on to this day. With roots that date back as far as World War 2, it is a fun and interesting perk that comes along with being a Jeep owner.
The Jeep Wave has become a part of our culture and should be honored as a tradition that is fun for all different kinds of people.