Jeep Wrangler Years To Avoid – Which Is The Worst Wrangler?

Jeep Wrangler Years To Avoid – Which Is The Worst Wrangler?

Are you on the market for a capable off-roader and you want to learn what is your best bet when it comes to these types of cars? If that is the case, then the Jeep Wrangler is probably on the top of your list and you probably want to know what are the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid? If that is the case, buckle up because we have a lot to cover.

Getting yourself properly informed about a vehicle before you make a purchase is key in order to avoid getting yourself ending in a money pit full of problems. By only reading an article online on the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid will save you thousands in the long run.

Knowing the issues will also help you to learn what are the good models and which models are not the best options. Because looks can be deceiving, there are a lot of cars out there that offer a lot and look quite good. But under the hood, they are plagued with issues. And trust me, you don’t want to be that guy that is using the weekends to go to the mechanics shop instead of spending this time with their family. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to help you out.

In this article, we are going to learn what is the Jeep Wrangler and its history. Then we will cover the last three generations of the Wrangler with the specs and all other important bits like the problems for each of these generations as well the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

What Is The Jeep Wrangler?

When it comes to off-road vehicles, the Jeep Wrangler is probably one of the vehicles that are on the top of many people’s lists. And for a reason. Because during these long years of production, the Wrangler has proven itself to be a good and reliable off-road machine that can tackle anything in front of its way.

The Jeep Wrangler visuals strongly resemble the Willys Jeep. And for those who don’t know what is the Willys Jeep, this is the small Jeep that won WW2 and defeated the Germans. It was that good and capable, used by all the allies on all fronts. The Willys Jeep was a true legend in the war and after the war.

Jeep Wrangler Years To Avoid

The time after the war was the time when Willys, AMC, and Kaiser-Jeep were producing a civilian version of this WW2-era Jeep named simply the Jeep CJ. The CJ was a series of vehicles that started with the CJ-3 and then evolved through the years into the CJ-5, CJ-6, and the pinnacle which was the CJ-7. The CJ-7 is probably one of the biggest 80’s legends.

This model was produced from 1976 and up until 1986 when the CJ series was replaced by the Wrangler.

The Wrangler still carries the CJ DNA. But unlike the full-size off-roaders that are popular, the Wrangler is quite a compact vehicle and it is quite good when it comes to the task of conquering hills and doing other adventures with it.

At the moment, the Wrangler is in its 4th generation and it’s getting more and more popular with each iteration. In the following chapters, we are going to learn more about these generations and the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid.

Jeep Wrangler Generations

In the following chapters, we are going to cover the Jeep Wrangler generations. We will briefly go through the specs of each generation and then we will list the problems for each of them. After, we will give our thoughts on the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid for each generation. So, let’s begin.

First Generation – Jeep Wrangler YJ

The Jeep Wrangler YJ was the first model under the Wrangler nameplate. This Jeep has replaced the CJ line of Jeeps.

This Jeep was designed from the ground by AMC with a goal to make the Jeep more comfortable for the goal to attract daily drivers who want a comfortable vehicle. So, it distanced itself from the rugged CJ series and offered quite a bit more comfort and daily drivability to the customers.

The body is pretty much the same as the CJ. But the new Jeep included different suspension that was comfort-oriented and also some commodities that were a standard on other off-road vehicles. Things that the CJ didn’t have.

During the first year of production, the YJ was manufactured under the AMC name and later the Jeep brand was purchased by Chrysler. This means that this is the last generation that used AMC’s engines and transmissions. This is partly what impacts how much does a Jeep cost and how much is a Jeep.

Engines And Transmissions

In terms of engines, this generation of the Wrangler offered 3 different engines. The smallest engine was a 2.5L straight-4 engine. This was the smallest engine.

There were two more powerful ones, a 4.2L straight-6 that was making 117hp and 210 lb-ft of torque and also a more powerful 4.0L straight-6 engine that was making 177hp and 224lb-ft of torque. The 4.0L is the most desirable engine of the few since it offers quite a bit of performance.

In terms of transmission, there was a 5-speed manual and a 3 speed automatic. The manual is the way to go if you want to get a durable transmission.


The safety of the Wrangler YJ is quite poor. The 1995 model got only 2 stars on the front driver side. On the front passenger-side test, it got 4 stars.

Overall, not the perfect car if you want to drive safely and not worry too much. But what are the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid? More on that a bit later in the article.

Fuel Mileage

The fuel mileage for all of the engines was pretty much similar. The 2.5L got 15 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway with 16 mpg combined.

The 4.0L engine got 14 mpg in the city, 16 mpg on the highway with 14 mpg combined. Overall, not the cheapest vehicle to drive.

Jeep Wrangler Problems

Before we cover the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid. Let’s first discuss more the problems that this generation of the Wrangler has. Knowing these issues will help you learn which year you should avoid.

Some of the reported problems on the Wrangler were mostly connected to the ignition switch that was also the target of a recall by Jeep. The problem with the switch was that it shorted out.

Also, problems with the throttle body position sensor were present as well. In addition to this, the front and rear differential pinion seal and also leaks on the transfer case were present.

Exhaust manifolds also cracked where they have been welded. Taking note and inspecting thoroughly is key not to get a problematic car. But what about the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid? More on that in the next chapter.

Jeep Wrangler Years To Avoid

When it comes to years to avoid on the Wrangler, I would advise avoiding the early years. Go for the 1994 and 1995 models. Since they implement modern ignition and overall better reliability.

Second Generation – Jeep Wrangler TJ

The Jeep TJ or also known as the second generation was introduced in 1996 and was produced up until 1996.

What was new on this model was the ditching of the leaf spring suspension and implementing a more modern approach in the suspension design by implementing a coil spring suspension system. That improved the off-roading capabilities of the Wrangler by a big margin compared to its predecessors.

This model included two wheelbases, a short wheelbase of 93.4 inches and a long wheelbase of 103.4 inches.

In terms of trim levels, there were plenty. Too much to list them all. But we are going to name a few like the Rubicon, Unlimited, and the Sahara. But what about the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid? More on that a bit later, let’s first cover the engines and transmissions.

Engines And Transmissions

The standard engine was the AMC 4.0L straight-6 engine from the previous generation. This engine was producing 190hp and 235 lb-ft of torque. As they say, if it aint broke don’t fix it. Great engine overall.

There were also two Chrysler engines, a 2.4L straight-4, and a 2.5L straight-4 engine. Both of them were considerably down on power in comparison to the 4.0L engine.

In terms of transmissions, there were a few of them, 5 and 6-speed manual transmissions and 4 and 4-speed automatics.


The safety of this generation of the Wrangler was improved in comparison to the previous generation. With the use of airbags and other safety equipment, the overall safety greatly improved. According to the NTHSA, the 2005 Wrangler got 4 stars on both the driver and passenger tests. Which is quite good.

Fuel Mileage

The fuel mileage for the Wrangler on the smaller 2.4L engine improved compared to the previous generation. Getting 16 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway, with combined fuel mileage of 17 mpg.

The 4.0L had a bit worse fuel economy of 13 mpg in the city, 16 mpg on the highway, and 14 mpg combined.

Jeep Wrangler Problems

The most notorious problem on the Wrangler from this generation is the Death Wobble. This often happens while driving and the wheel starts to shake uncontrollably. Big headache for a lot of owners.

Other problems included a problem with the fuel filler hose. The flap closed while refilling and splashed the owners. Not the best thing to happen to an owner.

2.5L engine had problems with breaking bolts on the exhaust manifold. Then the car started making a popping noise. Also called exhaust leak.

Jeep Wrangler Years To Avoid

When it comes to Jeep Wrangler years to avoid. I would say to avoid the last year. Most of the problems were reported on the 2006 year model. 2001 to 2003 reported the least issues on’s website.

Third Generation – Jeep Wrangler JK

The JK was the third generation of the Wrangler. Produced from 2007 to 2018. And probably you are going to see most of these popping out on the marketplace.

This new generation had a completely redesigned chassis that brought a lot of improvements to the table. As we all know, this was the era when Daimler Chrysler owned Jeep and their components are quite often used in this generation of the Wrangler.

As with the previous generation, there were two wheelbases. A long wheelbase and a short wheelbase. Also, there were plenty of trim levels that were available for the buyers. The Sahara and the Rubicon were some of the most desired trims.

Engines And Transmissions

Daimler’s takeover of Chrysler meant that some of their technologies will be included in the Jeep products. Namely, the engines were changed.

The base engine was a 3.8L V6 that produced 202hp and 347 lb-ft of torque. There was also a more powerful engine named the Pentastar V6 that produced 285hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. In addition to this, there was a diesel engine as well. A 2.8L straight-4 diesel engine was included. This engine made 160hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.

In terms of transmission. There was a single 6-speed manual and three automatics, 4,5, and 6 speed respectively.


According to the IIHS, the safety of the Wrangler was rated as good. Overall improvement in comparison to the previous generation of the Wrangler.

But what about the Jeep Wrangler Years to avoid? More on that later after we cover the problems of the Jeep Wrangler.

Fuel Mileage

This generation of the Wrangler was quite more efficient than previous generations of this vehicle. The 2018 Wrangler which was the last year of production got 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. With a combined fuel economy of 20 mpg which is quite respectable. This was for the 3.6L V6 engine that was the most powerful engine in the lineup.

Jeep Wrangler Problems

But as more technology was implemented in the Wrangler, the more and more problems it started to make for owners. Especially the first year of production, the 2008 model that attributed for most of the issues.

The biggest problem was the failure of the TIPM module. When this module failed, electrical gremlins started to happen. Window wipers activated, locks and horn activated. Overall, a nightmare for every driver.

The neutral safety switch also failed on these vehicles. Giving the driver the inability to start the car.

Death Wobble was also another of the problems in this generation as well. Also, the fuel filler neck made sure that a lot of owners splash with gas while filling the fuel tank.

Engine problems with the later models were present as well. More precisely with the 3.6L Pentastar engine didn’t perform quite well as it should. Many issues like check engine light illuminating and oil leaks were reported with this engine. But what about the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid? More on that in the next chapter.

Jeep Wrangler Years To Avoid

All the production years of this generation were somewhat problematic with more than 100 reports for issues per year until 2015. When getting a Jeep Wrangler (and you can learn more in our guide on how much do Jeeps cost) from this generation avoid the models from 2008 to 2015. None of them are particularly good. Even though if you dissect the problems that these cars have, you will probably find a good candidate.

Fourth Generation – Jeep Wrangler JL

The latest version code-named the JL was released in 2018. This new Wrangler has a design that is reminiscent of the TJ Wrangler that was produced from 1997 up to 2006.

The new model is quite an improvement in comparison to the previous generation of the Wrangler which was rather not that well put together.

This generation of the Wrangler kept the original body on frame design along with the solid axles. It is quite boxy, so true Wrangler enthusiasts quite respect it. The new Wrangler grew in length with over 2.5 inches for the standard and 3.5 for the long-wheelbase version. But it is almost 200 pounds lighter by using lightweight materials.

There are a lot of trim levels on the Wrangler similar to its predecessors. There is the Sport, Sport S, Sahara, Rubicon, Rubicon 392 with the 6.4L HEMI V8. Overall, a significant improvement in comparison with the previous generation. With this generation, Jeep gave to the fans what they really wanted.

Engines And Transmissions

In terms of engines, there are a number of options on the Wrangler. Starting from the small 2.0L turbo engine that is making 270hp. Then there is the Pentastar V6 engine that is making 285hp.

There are also diesel variants and a plug-in hybrid. The diesel is supplied by VM Motori and this is a 3.0L V6 engine producing 260hp. While the plug-in hybrid is making 375hp.

And there is the most powerful HEMI 6.4 V8 that is outputting 470hp in total. This engine is included with the top-of-the-line models only.

In terms of transmissions, this Wrangler has a 6-speed manual transmission and two 8 speed automatic transmissions.


The safety of the Wrangler according to the IIHS is good, scoring good grades on most of the tests. It only fails when it comes to pedestrian protection and doesn’t deliver good results as other vehicles do.

Fuel Mileage

The fuel economy of the new Wrangler stayed pretty much the same since this Wrangler is using the same Pentastar V6 engine. With 17 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway, and 19 mpg overall fuel consumption. The diesel version when it comes to fuel economy delivers the most out of the Wrangler. But what about the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid? More on that later after we cover the Jeep Wrangler problems.

Jeep Wrangler Problems

There were no specific problems with the newest generation of the Wrangler. By specific we mean something that makes this Jeep a basket case. Overall it is a quite good performer.

There are some reports of issues on’s website. Namely, the death wobble issue is still noted on some of the Wranglers. Also, some owners reported thumping in the rear end. This problem is connected with the Dana 44 rear differential. We would advise avoiding cars with this rear diff because it is not that reliable, these instances were noted on the 2.0L engine.

Jeep Wrangler Years To Avoid

Many owners also reported loose steering or play in the steering that allowed their Jeep to wander around.

In the first year of production, there were also issues with the infotainment system but these problems were patched. But what are the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid? Well, that’s what we are going to cover next.

Jeep Wrangler Years To Avoid

When it comes to this generation your best bet would be to avoid 2018. These cars have minor issues since they came first from the production line. Overall, the Wrangler is a good and reliable vehicle.

Avoid the Dana 44 or learn if the diff in the car that you want to buy is good. Also, pay attention to the ZF transmission as well. These are notorious for having software issues and not performing very well.


When it comes to alternatives to the Wrangler, there are a number of vehicles that would fit the bill and deliver a similar or better performance than the Wrangler.

Namely, there is the Land Rover Defender that is a proven off-roader. Then there is also the new Ford Bronco which is also quite good when it comes to off-road. Other models may include the Jeep Renegade, Toyota 4Runner, and the Jeep Cherokee. Also if you can find a used Toyota FJ Cruiser will be a good idea as well.

Jeep Wrangler Years to Avoid: Facts

  • The Jeep Wrangler is an iconic vehicle, but not all model years were built to perfection.
  • The worst-performing model of the Jeep Wrangler is the 2012, with 9 recalls, followed by 2007 and 2008, with 10 and 9 recalls, respectively.
  • From 1997 to 2002, the Jeep Wrangler had issues with seals that would break and leak due to a loose bolt, as well as problems with the fuel pump and fuel tank.
  • From 2002 to 2006, there were issues with leaks in the axles, wiring harness connections resulting in inaccurate gauge readings, and lots of vibration and shuddering while driving.
  • From 2007 to 2018, the Telematics Integration Module (TIPM) caused the most reported issues, which deal with the audio control and climate system.
  • The sturdiest and most long-lasting Jeep Wranglers were built from 1987 to 1995, with improved quality, roll bars, enhanced safety features, and improved suspension.
  • The 2019 Jeep Wrangler model had sturdier axles and lockable differentials, improved safety features, including a sturdier roll cage, and an improved airbag system.
  • The top reported issues for the Jeep Wrangler include the Death Wobble, wireless controls, faulty TIPM, and oil housing leaks.
  • The Death Wobble is when the steering column shifts out of place, causing the vehicle to shake violently.
  • The faulty TIPM is expensive to repair, ranging from $900 to $1,300, and led to a class action lawsuit with more than 500,000 affected vehicles.


In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to the Jeep Wrangler. First, we learned what is the Jeep Wrangler and why is it so special. We covered a bit of the history behind this model and its roots.

Then we covered all four generations of the Wrangler where we learned more about the specs. Which engines and transmissions they were using and also their safety record. After, we covered the problems of each of these generations and the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid. Since not all of the years of the Jeep Wrangler are the best when it comes to quality and performance.

Lastly, we covered the alternatives when it comes to the Wrangler. There are plenty of other options if you don’t find your perfect Wrangler.

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