Is Jeep Wrangler a reliable investment? Which years of JW can be a risky deal? These are some common questions a driver asks while buying the off-roading Jeep Wrangler. There is no doubt that, over the years, the Jeep Wrangler has gained a remarkable reputation for its durable construction and powerful engine setup. These SUVs are known for their ruggedness and sophisticated driving setup.
However, some issues have been a prominent struggle of the JW in making their name across the market. So, if you are currently planning on getting this off-roading monster, you must look into its history of evolution and the worst years of the vehicle. On average, each Gene has its own share of years that were confronted by some prevalent safety concerns.
Therefore, while there is a great share of models having engine problems, seat belt issues, fuel refilling tanks, and much more, it becomes important to have proper knowledge of each year’s versions. To save you from the struggles, I have included some major issues of security and Jeep Wrangler years to avoid, so you can make a sound investment. Finally, dive right in for more.
Jeep Wrangler Years to Avoid – Worst Years
- Worst Overall: 2012 Jeep Wrangler
- 2007 Jeep Wrangler
- 1987 Jeep Wrangler
- 1988 Jeep Wrangler
- 2008 Jeep Wrangler
- 2006 Jeep Wrangler
First Generation: 1987-1991
Since the YJ is known as the oldest model of the Wrangler, you will find problems with most of the components. The YJ engine was undoubtedly the worst Jeep Wrangler engine which had never been tested by either IIHS or NHTSA. The first thing that can potentially be wrong with this version is its construction. Hence, the body damages and door seal issues are not what anyone would want in their off-road vehicle. Also, the leaky windshields are indicators of worn-down Wrangler YJ.
Secondly, the 4WD engine system might not be the best in the series. While shifting the vehicle in and out, you will notice a considerable disengagement issue. The critical concern here is its death wobble that can violently shake the Jeep, even at 60 mph which is considered normal for off-roading. It can eventually result in fuel pump defection and fire.
Finally, another concern with the vehicles coming from these years is the seat belt malfunction. These include side airbags and ABS construction that is not quite safe for tough terrains for which the Jeep Wrangler is specifically designed. All in all, the I6 engines from the first Gen after 1991 were absolutely efficient and had relatively more capacity. In simple words, 1987-1991 were the Jeep Wrangler YJ years to avoid.
Second Generation: 1998-2001 – Jeep TJ Years To Avoid
The major concern about the 2nd Gen of Jeep Wrangler was that the ride was not quite safe. The protocol and construction were rated in the marginal category by the IIHS. Likewise, in the side crashes category, it was rated in the poor category, with a probability of an increase in the torso injuries. It was again placed in the same rating category by the IIHS in 2001. Later on, the succeeding versions had a stiff torsional range and a quality frame.
Speaking of the NHTSA, another problem with the Jeep Wrangler TJ produced during these years was the defective fuel tanks. Here, death wobbled and the engine catching fire was normal which led to a compromise speed. It also witnessed some cracks with the I6 engines. This was fixed with a 2001 model, with improvements in engine rusting and fillers.
Here, a notable difference was observed in the 2003 years of the Jeep Wrangler as the manufacturers added an upgraded ABS system. The inclusion of three-speed options with automatic transmission makes them relatively stable and safe, even for rough and dangerous terrains. Similarly, the filling fuel adjustments were introduced in the 2005 and 2006 models that improved the condition of oil spillage.
Third Generation: 2007-2008 & 2012-2014
There is no doubt in the fact that the third Gen models were relatively safer and better than the previous ones as they were the worst jeep wrangler years. Yet, there were some issues in different versions, observed during the IIHS and NHTSA. The first test on the side crashes marked them in the marginal category, with an increased risk in the head restraints and seat belt areas. Similarly, the last models of the third Gen were the faulty power module and death wobble.
To begin with, speaking of the IIHS and NHTSA, there were some serious issues with the reliability. The prevalent concern was the placement and construction of the airbags that couldn’t absorb the shock from side crashes. The gas tank also tends to offer overflowing issues, with prevalent death wobble and electrical circuit issues. All these problems were common in the 2007 and 2008 versions of JW. Please check out the difference between jeep wrangler generations.
The 2012 Jeep Wrangler was voted the worst model year
Although 2012 Jeep Wrangler came after 2007, 2008 models but it was voted as the worst-rated year overall, according to CarComplaints.com. It went through a total of 9 recalls.
Similarly, speaking of 2014, the issue of the death wobble remained the same. This was because of the gas fuel fillers and airbag positioning that could provide drivers with an increased risk of side crashes. Another thing to note about these versions was that they were quite costly to repair (including module, head, and core). Also, the fact that these models include underpowered engines makes them underrated for their prices.
The models between 2012-2018 were a disaster. They received over 1100 complaints about its faulty steering design which provided drivers with increased accidents. These issues were improved in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 models, with upgraded steering and ABS system. Here, IIHS found issues about the 6-level engine transmission leakages that eventually resulted in system failure and electric hazards.
Another prevalent concern noticed during these years was the popular TIPM or Telematics Integration Module failure. This one had issues in detecting the climate and failed the proper navigation system. Similarly, death wobbles provided drivers with rising suspension issues. On average, these had problems with the death wobble which can be extremely dangerous for off-roading vehicles.
In the end, the speed transmission mechanism included in these years versions had a problem of leakages that eventually led to electric issues. It also caused the steering to lose control and damage the navigation mechanism over time. Finally, speaking of the repairs and replacements, routine maintenance and associated tasks were quite costly.
Reliability By Years
According to consumer reports, a breakdown of reliability by years has been listed below on a scale of 1 to 5 while 1 being the worst and 5 best. 2022 model has yet to be assigned a final reliability.
- 2011 Jeep Wrangler reliability: 2
- 2012 Jeep Wrangler reliability: 2
- 2013 Jeep Wrangler reliability: 1
- 2014 Jeep Wrangler reliability: 1
- 2015 Jeep Wrangler reliability: 1
- 2016 Jeep Wrangler reliability: 1
- 2017 Jeep Wrangler reliability: 3
- 2018 Jeep Wrangler reliability: 1
- 2019 Jeep Wrangler reliability: 1
- 2020 Jeep Wrangler reliability: 1
- 2021 Jeep Wrangler reliability: 3
Frequently Asked Questions
Does The Jeep Wrangler Have A Lot Of Problems?
Well, it depends on the year and version of the Jeep Wrangler you are going for. Apart from some vehicle years discussed above, the JW is a reliable investment for off-roading. Over the years, this off-roading Jeep has gained quite some reputation across the market for its durable exterior and sophisticated driving mechanism. On average, a quality Jeep Wrangler can last you for 20 to 25 years, if maintained properly, not to mention, with a mileage of 200000 to 400000 miles.
What Was The Worst Year For The Jeep Wranglers?
Well, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that each Gen had its own years of damage and security mishaps. However, the first YJ Gen from 1987 to 1991 marks the worst years of the JW. During these years, it was described as a disaster for its low safety protocol. Similarly, the fact that these models had never been tested by either IIHS or NHTSA. Apart from this, 2008, 2012, and 2018 years were also considered unsafe and had their own share of navigation and engine failures.
Which Jeep Wrangler Is Best For Off-Roading?
I find the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon the best for off-roading, all thanks to its sturdy and durable build. It has a stronger transfer case and an upgraded suspension, needless to say, an advanced navigation system that allows you to gain speed and momentum over rough and dangerous terrain. This vehicle also includes underlined protection guards for the wheels that keep the vehicle stable and balanced throughout. All in all, the mechanical upgrades give this one an edge over other competitors.
Final Thoughts (Which Jeep Wrangler Years Should I Avoid To Buy)
In the end, while there is no doubt that, over the years, the Jeep Wrangler has gained a remarkable reputation for its durable construction and powerful engine setup, the vehicle is known to have some major issues. Here, you can find concerns related to the engine, fuel tanks, navigation setup, steering, and interior. Hence, it becomes important to have the right piece of knowledge of the evolution of this vehicle in order to make a sound investment.
Finally, I hope you soon find the right JOB that suits your driving requirements well.
Hi! This is Marcus Adams, an adventurer who has a passion for jeeps. I have been exploring terrains for about 10 years and has trailed on a variety of jeeps. My passion for off-roading has allowed me to learn everything jeeps have to offer. Now, I have turned his passion into a professional project in form of this SMOOTHDRIVES website, where I plan to share my expertise about all kinds of off-roading accessories for jeeps, trucks and SUV’s and provide readers with high-quality content.