Do Jeep Compass Have Chronic Problems? In-Depth Reliability Review

do jeep compass have a lot of problems

If you’re considering buying a Jeep Compass, you may be wondering about its reputation for reliability. The Jeep Compass is Jeep’s compact SUV offering, slotted below the Cherokee in size. It aims to provide Jeep’s famous off-road capability in a more affordable and fuel-efficient package. But how does it stack up long-term? Do Jeep Compass have a lot of problems that should make you think twice about buying one?

In this detailed review, we’ll take a close look at common Jeep Compass problems across all model years. We’ll cover what consumers and experts report about the Compass’s trouble areas like the transmission, suspension, brakes, and engine. You’ll get the facts on what issues to watch for, typical repair costs, which model years suffer the most, and what it’s like to live with a Jeep Compass long-term. Let’s delve into the good and bad of Jeep’s smallest SUV.

An Overview of the Jeep Compass

The Jeep Compass debuted for the 2007 model year as an all-new compact SUV model. The first generation Compass was produced from 2007 to 2016 with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Power came from a 2.0L or 2.4L four-cylinder engine mated to a 5-speed manual or continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission.

Second Generation Compass (2017-Present)

In 2017 the second-gen Compass arrived on an all-new chassis. It grew slightly in size and efficiency with updated powertrain options. A 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission were available for the front-wheel drive models, while a 9-speed automatic transmission was offered for the all-wheel drive models. The Compass received styling changes and interior upgrades for 2019. Active safety tech also improved in recent years. The Compass competes with small crossovers like the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson, and Nissan Rogue Sport.

Jeep Compass Reliability

Over its lifetime the Jeep Compass has garnered a mixed reputation for reliability. Earlier models suffered more quality control issues and common problems. But there are well-equipped Compass trims that offer a good value as an affordable compact SUV. Let’s examine the most common pain points reported by consumers and experts when it comes to Jeep Compass reliability.

Transmission Problems Plague Many Jeep Compass Owners

One of the top complaints from Jeep Compass owners centers around the transmission. Both manual and automatic transmissions have proved problematic across model years.

  • The first-generation Compass offered a CVT automatic transmission that was the subject of widespread complaints. Issues typically started around 60k-80k miles as the CVT failed to shift properly and eventually failed entirely. Replacement costs ran upwards of $3,000 – a tough pill to swallow out of warranty.
  • The new 9-speed automatic on 2017+ models also has its share of issues. Owners report rough shifting, hesitation and stalling, and sudden loss of acceleration. Problems arise due to mechanical flaws and faulty computer programming. A new 9-speed transmission can cost over $5,000 from the dealership. Some late model Compass transmissions require software updates which may temporarily fix shifting issues.
  • Manual transmission equipped Compass models haven’t been problem-free either. The 5-speed manual tends to have issues with early wear of the clutch and gear synchronizers. Replacement clutch jobs run $1,500 or more. The 6-speed manual introduced for 2018 has its own set of problems. Difficult shifting, gear grind, and noises in neutral plague the 6-speed equipped Compass. Replacement under warranty is often needed.

Clearly the Jeep Compass’ transmission woes should give any potential buyer pause. Problems appear across automatics and manuals, old models and new. Extended warranties may offer some peace of mind. But long-term durability of Compass transmissions seems doubtful.

Premature Suspension Wear Plagues Certain Model Years

A vehicle’s suspension takes a lot of abuse from potholes and bumps. Worn out suspension components like control arms and tie rods lead to steering wander, clunks over bumps, and the need for alignment service. This wear happens faster on vehicles like the Jeep Compass that aim for off-road credentials.

First-generation Jeep Compass (2007-2016)

The first-generation Jeep Compass was plagued by premature front suspension wear. Owners find themselves replacing worn front control arms and tie rods as early as 40k-50k miles. The thin lower control arms seem especially flimsy. Steering feel suffers as play develops in the steering components. Costs run $600+ to replace control arms and tie rods.

Second-generation Jeep Compass (2017-present)

Later model Compass vehicles seem to have more durable suspension components. But any Compass that sees off-road use or potholed roads will need closer monitoring of steering and suspension. The expected service life of 60k+ miles is shortened considerably. Be prepared for extra maintenance costs if suspension repairs are needed out of warranty.

Braking Issues Manifest In Multiple Ways

Stopping safely is a pretty important function we rely on our vehicles for. So chronic braking issues in the Compass are very concerning. Two major problem areas appear:

  • Premature pad and rotor wear – Owners find themselves replacing brake pads and rotors as soon as 25,000 miles. That’s remarkably early and an indicator of serious issues. Problems seems worst with rear brakes but affect all four corners.
  • Caliper failures – Sticking and frozen calipers lead to uneven braking and overheating. Replacement calipers may be needed in as little as 40k miles. Pad life and caliper function should be inspected yearly. Be prepared to replace components well ahead of schedule in the Compass. Braking system problems are safety and financial concerns for Compass owners.

Check Engine Light And Engine Issues

The Compass has used different versions of the 2.4L 4-cylinder engine over the years. None of them have been reliable or efficient. Owners report repeat check engine lights for misfires, stalling, and oil consumption issues. Replacing coils, spark plugs, and oxygen sensors may provide temporary fixes. But the engines seem prone to premature wear.

  • Excessive oil consumption – Engines burning more than a quart of oil between changes leaving owners constantly topping up. Engine repairs or replacement averaged $4,000+ out of warranty. Not a cost-effective repair on an aging vehicle.
  • Rough idling and stalling – The second-generation Compass features a stop-start system to comply with the federal emission standards. This system causes more problems with rough idling and stalling that’s difficult to diagnose. It does not improve the fuel economy significantly, as the Compass still has a low EPA rating of 25 mpg combined. It seems no generation of the 2.4L engine powers the Compass reliably long-term.

Electrical Gremlins Plague Jeep Compass Reliability

Today’s vehicles are packed with electrical components controlling everything from the radio to safety systems. So glitchy electronics and electrical issues make for unhappy owners. The Jeep Compass checks that box with many reports of electrical and sensor problems.

One of the most common and serious electrical problems in the Compass is the Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM). The TIPM controls and distributes power across major systems. Symptoms of a faulty module range from no-start conditions to random warning lights and dead power accessories. TIPM issues commonly leave Compass owners stranded. Replacement costs are steep – from $500 up to $1,000 from the dealership.

Other common electrical problems in the Compass include:

  • Key fob remote and keyless entry failures
  • Power window and lock actuators going bad
  • Faulty door latches and dome lights
  • Shorts causing battery drain

Tracking down and repairing electrical gremlins becomes a game of whack-a-mole. Replacing one sensor or switch often leads to issues popping up elsewhere. Pay close attention during test drives that all accessories work properly. Check for past electrical repairs and get a thorough pre-purchase inspection.

Interior Quality

While not as severe as drivetrain issues, the Compass interior still draws complaints. Owners find the finishes, buttons, and upholstery wear poorly over time. The overall impression is that cheap plastic abounds inside.

Some problem spots include:

  • Excessive driver’s seat wear and distortion
  • Flimsy door panels that warp and squeak
  • Knobs, switches, and steering wheel controls that fail early
  • Excess wind and road noise permeating the cabin

The interior quality may vary depending on the trim level and model year of the Compass. Some owners of the 2022 Compass have praised the interior for being classy and upscale. Function takes priority over form and soft touch materials. Interior rattles may drive you crazy after a few years. Go in with realistic expectations on build quality.

Which Model Years And Engines Are Most Problematic?

Pinpointing the most problematic Jeep Compass model years and configurations can help shoppers avoid the biggest headaches:

  • 2007-2010 – Early first-gen models had the worst issues with premature engine and transmission failures. Avoid the CVT transmission in particular.
  • 2011-2016 – Improvements were made but transmissions and engine oil consumption remained issues. Shop carefully for maintenance records.
  • 2017 – The new second-gen Compass had some teething pains with the 9-speed transmission and weak suspension components.
  • 2.4L Engine – This four-cylinder engine is the only engine option available for all trims and model years, but it has a poor reputation for longevity. Low-cost repairs rarely cure its issues long-term.
  • CVT Transmission – The first-gen Compass CVT was notoriously failure-prone. Avoid unless transmission was already replaced under extended warranty.

While recent models benefit from updates and more standard features, they are still compact Jeep models at heart. Don’t expect Toyota levels of quality control or longevity. Pay close attention during test drives and have a mechanic inspect any Compass before purchase.

Should I Buy A Used Jeep Compass?

The Compass offers lower ownership costs than pricier Jeep SUVs, plus the brand’s renowned off-road image. That combination attracts a lot of used buyers. Is buying a used Jeep Compass worth the risks?

  • Check for proper maintenance – Ask to see all repair receipts to get a sense if major issues were addressed. Transmission flushes, suspension repairs, and new brakes are positive signs.
  • Consider certified pre-owned (CPO) – CPO Compass models come with extended warranty coverage for significant peace of mind. Factory backing helps avoid big repair bills.
  • Have a mechanic inspect – Pay a pro to put it on a lift and check over major components before purchase. They can spot problems or developing issues.
  • Test drive extensively – Don’t ignore signs of transmission, engine, or steering problems. Pass on any models that display concerning symptoms.
  • Budget for repairs – Higher mileage used models will need some reconditioning. Leave room in your budget for near-term repairs to suspension, brakes, wheel bearings and such.

The used Compass market features plenty of models $15k and under. But the lowest-priced units tend to have issues down the road. Weigh the pros and cons carefully when compass shopping.

What Do Experts Say About the Jeep Compass?

Professional evaluations of the Compass are mixed, echoing owner impressions. Reviewers praise the Compass’s affordability, ride quality, and off-road aptitude. But reliability concerns persist:

  • “In a sea of small crossovers, the Jeep Compass combines value, interior space and Trail Rated off-road cred. But spotty reliability keeps it from reaching the top tier.” – Car & Driver
  • “Stiff ride and noisy interior. Reliability still trails top class leaders.” – Edmunds
  • “Ample cargo space and Jeep styling on a budget. But longevity of the powertrain is questionable based on owner reports.” – Consumer Reports
  • “A compromise between daily driving comfort and weekend warrior versatility. You give up some reliability for the Jeep experience.” – Kelly Blue Book

The consensus seems to be that the Compass trades robustness for affordability. Make sure to factor in higher projected maintenance costs.

Common Jeep Compass Problems At A Glance

Here is a quick rundown of problem areas reported by Compass owners:

  • Transmission – Slipping, rough shifting, hesitation, premature failure
  • Engine – Oil consumption, gasket leaks, hesitation and stall, lack of power
  • Suspension – Premature ball joint, control arm and bushing wear
  • Brakes – Quick pad/rotor wear, caliper failure, grinding and pulsation
  • Electrical – Issues with TIPM, power locks/windows, battery drain
  • Interior – Excessive seat and carpet wear, rattles, road noise

While individual years or examples may escape major issues, these problems come up consistently. Go in with realistic reliability expectations when considering a new or used Compass.

The Verdict

The affordable Jeep Compass offers buyers a lot of capability and features for the money. It’s easy to see the appeal of a budget-friendly compact SUV with Jeep’s off-road image. However, when you look in-depth at owner experiences, it’s clear that reliability is sub-par overall.

Problems with the transmission, brakes, and suspension in particular occur earlier and more frequently than average. Repair costs quickly negate the Compass’s value advantage. And that’s not even accounting for the abundance of nagging electrical and interior quality issues owners face.

While the Compass saw some improvements in recent model years, it still doesn’t match the durability of rivals from Honda, Toyota and Mazda. Factor in higher repair costs when calculating total ownership costs. And carefully inspect any Compass model on your shopping list.

For shoppers prioritizing reliability and lower maintenance costs, other compact SUVs surpass the Jeep Compass. But if you find a lightly used example with all service records, the Compass can be a good budget-friendly SUV. Just be ready to put up with some of Jeep’s trademark quirks.

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