Are Jeep Wranglers Reliable?

If you are looking for a vehicle like a Jeep Wrangler, it is important to examine more than just its features or its average price range. To make sure you aren’t buying the newest, flashiest lemon on the market, you need to ask one simple but often overlooked question: are Jeep Wrangler’s reliable?

Jeep Wrangler’s are generally reliable vehicles, under the right circumstances and with regular maintenance. A Jeep Wrangler is designed for going slow and steady in off-road conditions, and in those conditions, it will excel. This is especially true if you keep a close eye on your vehicle to make sure it is in top shape.

However, a Wrangler will struggle with regular on-road driving, which often requires faster speeds and more tools being active at the same time. There have also been reports of issues with the Wrangler’s electronic infotainment systems, but usually with long-term ownership.

The Jeep Wrangler, in the right conditions, can easily be a safe and reliable vehicle, but it can struggle when taken out of its comfort zone.


How Reliable Is the Jeep Wrangler?

There are a lot of metrics for measuring a car’s reliability, and this section will cover some of the most basic such as safety ratings, competition, and common problems.

Safety Ratings for Jeep Wrangler

One of the first places to look when trying to determine if a vehicle is reliable is for official safety ratings. These can be from government organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or private groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Each paints a picture of how reliable a vehicle is in certain situations.

NHTSA: The NHTSA ran two of their four standard tests for SUVs on the Jeep Wrangler, and results have been mixed. In the standard front-impact test, the Wrangler received 4 out of 5 stars for safety, however, the roof strength of the Wrangler was only rated at 3 out of 5 stars, making it less stable in a rollover.

IIHS: The IIHS gave the Jeep Wrangler their highest rating, Good, in almost every category, and a superior front crash, vehicle-to-vehicle rating. However, they also rated the Wrangler’s small overlap, driver’s side crash safety, and rear passenger head safety as marginal, with the Wrangler’s trim and headlight quality ratings being poor.

Euro NCAP: The Wrangler has also been rated by international safety groups since it is sold in Europe. According to Euro NCAP, the Wrangler received 50% across all of their tests, scoring average in front and side-impact tests but poorly in overlap tests.

Reliability & Safety of Jeep Wrangler Vs Other Jeep Models

Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee is an SUV designed for both on and off-road adventures, with generations of quality and reliability behind it.

NHSTA Ratings: The Jeep Cherokee has an overall safety rating of 4 out of 5, with no category falling below 4 out of 5. In fact, the Cherokee has a perfect 5 out of 5 rating for side crashes, far better than the Wrangler’s general ratings.

IIHS Ratings: The Jeep Cherokee is rated as Good or better across every safety category and feature, including crash prevention and impact tests. The only category it falls behind in is headlight quality, which is rated as Acceptable.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Grand Cherokee is a midsize upgrade from the original Cherokee, offering the same combination of on and off-road reliability, but with more space and power.

NHSTA Ratings: The Grand Cherokee has a remarkable 5 out of 5 in overall safety quality, with another 5 out of 5 in side crash safety. The Grand Cherokee’s front and rollover safety ratings, however, are the same as the standard Cherokee: 4 out of 5.

IIHS Ratings: The Grand Cherokee shares the Cherokee’s largely Good ratings and Acceptable headlight quality, but falls behind in a few categories. In small overlap tests, the driver’s side is only Marginal and the passenger’s side is Poor, making overlap impacts more dangerous.

Jeep Compass

The Jeep Compass is a compact SUV in the same vein as the Cherokee, designed for reliability and control both on and off-road.

NHSTA Ratings: The Jeep Compass has a respectable 4 out of 5 overall in terms of safety, excelling like most jeeps do in side impacts with a 5 out of 5. Unfortunately, the Compass only has a 3 out of five for rollover safety.

IIHS Ratings: The Compass is Good in almost every safety category with two exceptions. The Compass has Superior front crash prevention, but Marginal headlight quality, making it worse for night driving.

Jeep Renegade

The Jeep Renegade is the Wrangler’s most direct competition in terms of Jeep off-roading, but the Renegade can still handle itself on-road.

NHSTA Ratings: The Renegade sports an overall 4 out of 5 in safety, with no 5 out of 5 categories. In fact, the Renegade’s rollover rating is a 3 out of 5, the same as the Jeep Compass.

IIHS Ratings: The Renegade is Good in almost all qualities and superior in front-crash prevention. The only blemishes on its record are an Acceptable rating in small, passenger side front overlap and headlight quality.

Reliability & Safety of Jeep Wrangler Vs Top 5 Competing SUVs

The Wrangler has more competition besides other Jeep vehicles, there are a wide range of vehicles from different manufactures that can compete with the Wrangler. The five fiercest competitors and their safety ratings are listed here below.

Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is an extremely reliable and easy to control SUV for anyone going on or off-road.

NHTSA Ratings: The Forester has a remarkable 5 out of 5 in overall safety, frontal crash safety, and side crash safety. The Forester has a rating of 4 out of 5 in rollover safety, the lowest of its safety ratings but still noteworthy.

IIHS Ratings: The Forester is Good in almost every IIHS safety category, from overlap to impact testing to headlight quality. In fact the only category the Forester is not Good in is frontal crash prevention, where it is Superior.

Ford Escape

The Ford Escape, like the Jeep Wrangler, works best while moving slow and steady off-road, while offering a more comfortable interior and reliable electronic systems.

NHTSA Ratings: The Escape’s overall rating, front safety rating, and side safety ratings are all an impressive 5 out of 5. The lowest safety rating for the Escape is a respectable 4 out of 5 in rollover safety.

IIHS Ratings: Almost every safety feature and function of the Escape is rated at Good or Superior by the IIHS. The only rating lower than Good given to the Escape is an Acceptable headlight rating.

Honda CR V

The Honda CR V is a compact, efficient, and extremely comfortable vehicle designed for light off-roading with the family rather than powering through harsh terrain.

NHTSA Ratings: The CR V’s safety ratings are good in almost every category, with the only exception being its superior frontal impact prevention. This marks the CR V as a remarkably safe and reliable vehicle.

IIHS Ratings: Just like its NHTSA rating, the CR V’s IIHS safety ratings are almost incredible with a 5 out of 5 in frontal and side-impact safety. The CR V’s rollover safety is 4 out of 5, but this is common among many SUVs.

Nissan Rogue

The Nissan Rogue provides a reliable and comfortable platform for family outings and off-roading trips.

NHTSA Ratings: The Rogue’s overall safety rating is a 4 out of 5, the same rating it has in frontal and rollover safety. While this is noteworthy, the Rogue’s 5 out of 5 in side-impact safety is remarkable.

IIHS Ratings: The Rogue is rated Good in most categories by the IIHS, and Superior in frontal crash prevention. However, the Rogue is only rated as Acceptable in small, passenger side overlap and headlight quality.

Toyota 4Runner

The Toyota 4Runner is a solid combination of a reliable off-road vehicle with a comprehensive electronic infotainment system.

NHSTA Ratings: The 4Runner, fittingly enough, has a 4 out of 5 overall safety rating, with a 4 out of 5 in frontal safety and a 5 out of 5 inside safety. Unfortunately, the car suffers in rollover safety with a 3 out of 5.

IIHS Ratings: The 4Runner has a Good rating in most IIHS categories, but is only Marginal in driver’s side front overlap and LATCH ease of use. Unfortunately, the 4Runner has a headlight score of Poor.

Common Issues with Jeep Wranglers

For all its strengths, the Jeep Wrangler has its fair share of weaknesses from internal problems to external issues. The major problems with the Wrangler stem from its steering system, electronics, and roof construction, all of which are specified below.

Wobbly Steering. Due to the construction of the vehicle’s driving and steering systems, the Wrangler handles phenomenally when driving slow across rough terrain but handles terribly when driving fast across smooth surfaces. In fact, the problem can be so severe at high speeds that the steering system can start to shake and cause the car to swerve.

Crow-Hopping. Since the Jeep is a 4×4 vehicle, its front and rear axles are essentially locked together since there is no central differential between them. This can cause the car to shake and make loud banging sounds during slow turns on dry pavement, since the axles can’t work separately to make a smooth turn.

Infotainment System. A variety of electrical problems have been reported with the Jeep Wrangler, but the most common relate to systems like the radio, digital display, and A/C system. These range from entire systems not working, to screens freezing up, to internal lights permanently going out.

Leaking Roof. While the seats and mats inside a Jeep Wrangler are water resistant, the roof is known to leak water, especially during hard rain. Thankfully there are a number of easy solutions to this problem, from replacing the sealant to covering gaps in the roof with electrical tape.


While some of Wrangler’s safety ratings are mixed, the Wrangler is able to compete with other SUVs and is not without some strengths and redeeming features.

7 Jeep Wrangler Maintenance Tips To Improve Reliability

If you want to keep your Jeep Wrangler in off-roading condition, there are certain steps you’ll want to take to help maintain your Wrangler. Some of these are proactive steps you can take to keep your Jeep running smoothly, while others are ways to avoid damaging your Wrangler.

See if you can repair the issue yourself. Jeep Wranglers are famously easy to maintain, even with more advanced modern models. If you have a problem, try looking up a DIY solution or talking to an expert before you bring the car in for expensive repairs.

Keep it slow and off-road. Jeep Wranglers are not designed to move at high speeds, and in fact the steering system can be damaged by driving too fast for too long. In some cases you can lose control of the vehicle due to the steering system shaking, so limit how much you drive on-road and a high speeds.

Replace the air filter more often. If you drive in especially dusty or sandy conditions, like in a desert or arid plain, then you will have to replace your air filter more often. Small particles of dust and sand can wreak havoc on your air filter and engine causing you to lose power, fuel efficiency, and overall reliability.

Check your tires before and after off-roading. Your Wrangler’s axels, suspension, and alignment can be damaged if your tires are too low. Checking your tires before and after you go off-road will ensure you drive on safe tires and let you know if you damaged your tires while driving.

Replace your differential fluids. Every time you drive into a body of water that is deep enough to cover the hubs of your Jeep’s wheels, you will want to replace the fluids in your differentials. This is because driving through deep water can damage the differentials that drive your wheels and create long term problems.

Clean out your brakes. If you have a drum brake system, like most Jeep Wranglers, you will want to check it whenever you are done off-roading. Rocks, mud, and snow can stick to these brake systems and jam them up if they aren’t cleared away.

Use high quality fluids. Off-roading, especially in extremely hot, cold, or wet conditions, can burn through vehicle fluids even if you top them off regularly. Be sure to keep an eye on your fluid levels and use high quality fluids to get the most out of your car.

Jeep Wrangler Maintenance Schedule

Like every vehicle, there are certain intervals when you have to check your Wrangler’s systems and have them repaired or replaced. While this can change depending on how often you drive your Wrangler and any damage it takes, this is the general Wrangler maintenance schedule.

  • Have an oil change as well as a tire rotation and balance every 7,500 miles.
  • Replace the air filter every 12,000 miles.
  • Brakes should be inspected every 20,000 miles.
  • Change the fluid in the front and rear axles every 40,000 miles.
  • Change your transfer case fluid every 60,000 miles.
  • Inspect engine belts and the PCV valve every 100,000 miles.

Average Jeep Wrangler Maintenance Cost

The average cost of maintaining a Jeep Wrangler is around $694 dollars in total, but repairs themselves are often few and far between. This is because the repairs themselves are usually to expensive systems like the clutch, brakes, or electronic dashboard. These systems rarely break down, but when they do the repairs can be expensive, especially if the problem isn’t addressed quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Jeep Wranglers Reliability

Is the Jeep Wrangler a good family vehicle? The Jeep Wrangler is designed almost exclusively for off-road adventuring, so if you have an outdoorsy family with older children a Wrangler might work for you. However, given its problems with steering at high speeds and mixed safety record, the Wrangler is not recommended for regular family outings or traveling with small children.

Is a Jeep Wrangler a Good Option for a Teenager? The Wrangler, like most SUVs, is not recommend as a vehicle for teenagers, at least not as their first car. Wranglers are designed for off-road driving and have a less than perfect safety rating, as they lack side airbags so they are not a good choice for new drivers, especially on main roads. If you want your teenager’s first car to be an SUV, pick a safer option.

What safety features does the Wrangler come with? The Wrangler comes complete with a package of Advanced Safety Group options to help protect you, your passengers, and fellow drivers. The Wranglers features collision warnings, active braking, cruise control, blind spot monitoring, park assist, and a rearview camera.

How Long Will a Jeep Wrangler Last? If a Jeep Wrangler is maintained properly and doesn’t suffer any catastrophic damage, it can easily last 10-15 years and almost 300,000 miles. That is a major achievement for any vehicle, let alone one designed for heavy off-road conditions, but this all depends on how well you take care of the vehicle and how often you use it.

How do I prepare my vehicle for going off-road? Make sure any loose equipment like batteries, hoses, or tools are secured. Next, check your tires, fuel, and radiator to make sure all are topped off. Finally, never travel anywhere alone or without telling someone where you are going and when you plan on being back.

Wrap Up

The Jeep Wrangler is a safe and reliable vehicle when used for slow, off-road driving and regularly maintained, either at home or by a professional. Outside of these conditions, however the Wrangler’s safety records are mixed at best. If you have any questions about Jeep Wranglers or how safe they are, please comment with them below.

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