Are Jeep Gladiators Reliable? What Owners Say

are jeep gladiators reliable

The Jeep Gladiator burst onto the scene in 2020 as the long-awaited Jeep truck. With its open-air design, towing capability, and legendary off-road chops, the Gladiator appealed to adventure seekers. However, when you’re spending $40,000+ on a vehicle, reliability is a top concern. So are Jeep Gladiators actually reliable? In short – yes, but with some caveats. Gladiators tend to have below average reliability, especially in their first model years. But reliability appears to be improving as bugs are worked out.

In this detailed guide, we’ll dive into common Jeep Gladiator problems reported by owners, analyze which models are most reliable, and determine if this new Jeep truck is worth buying despite nagging quality issues.

Do Jeep Gladiators Have a Lot of Problems?

The Jeep Gladiator landed on Consumer Reports’ list of least reliable vehicles of 2020. Owners have reported a range of issues, though problem rates are not outrageous. In the J.D Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, the Gladiator ranks below average with 173 problems per 100 vehicles. The segment average is 152.

These are the most common Jeep Gladiator problems based on owner surveys:

  • Transmission problems – Jerky shifting, shuddering, hesitation. Particularly an issue with the 8-speed automatic.
  • Engine stalling or misfires – Usually at low speeds or when coming to a stop.
  • Electrical issues – Gremlins with infotainment, power equipment glitches.
  • Steering wander – Truck pulls to one side on straight roads. Needs alignment.
  • Brake complaints – Premature wear, pulsation, squeaking.

The Toyota Tacoma is the reliability champ of midsize trucks. It scored 119 problems per 100 vehicles in 2021 – significantly better than the Gladiator. However, Tacomas are not immune to issues either. Owners report transmission shuddering, suspension clunking, and excessive oil consumption.

While no vehicle line is perfect, Jeep does seem to have more kinks to work out on their new truck compared to seasoned competitors.

What is the Most Common Jeep Gladiator Issue?

Without a doubt, the number one complaint from Jeep Gladiator owners centers around the transmission. Specifically, owners report shuddering, jerky shifts, and hesitation – especially at low speeds. This suggests issues with the torque converter staying locked when coming to a stop.

Drivers notice the problem most frequently when accelerating from 0 to 30 mph. The shuddering feels like driving over rumble strips. It occurs in all types of driving conditions, but seems worse in stop-and-go traffic and when cold. Some owners say the transmission “has a mind of its own.”

The 8-speed automatic seems more problematic than the 6-speed manual. The transmission is the ZF 8HP75 unit sourced from ZF Friedrichshafen and also used in other FCA vehicles.

In service bulletin #5448361, Chrysler acknowledges complaints of shuddering and hesitation. They instruct dealers to reprogram the transmission control module if no other fixes help. This points to an underlying calibration issue with the transmission.

While better than a complete failure, an unreliable transmission still causes headaches. Hopefully Chrysler can smooth out the problems in future model years.

Are Certain Jeep Gladiator Models More Problematic?

Do reliability issues plague all Jeep Gladiators, or just certain trims and configurations? Here is a breakdown of problems by model:

  • Sport – The most basic Gladiator trim seems to have the fewest overall issues. But still exhibits the common transmission, steering, and brake problems.
  • Overland – Adds more luxury features. Similar reliability to the Sport with average number of owner complaints.
  • Rubicon – The serious off-roader model. More problems reported due to complex suspension, more electronics.
  • Diesel – The 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 debuted in 2021. Too new to judge long-term reliability, but fewer issues so far than the gas V6.
  • Base V6 gas engine – This tried-and-true Pentastar 3.6L V6 is fairly solid with average repair frequency.

In terms of model years:

  • 2020 – As the first model year of an all-new vehicle, the 2020 Gladiator had more bugs to work out. Higher rates of engine stalling, electrical defects, and fit/finish issues reported by owners.
  • 2021-2022 – Reliability seems to be improving slightly as production stabilizes. But the transmission and steering complaints remain nagging issues.

The takeaway is the lower trim Sport models with the base V6 tend to fare the best. Rubicons appear more problematic. And the first model years had more defects than subsequent ones.

How Reliable Are Jeep Gladiators Long Term?

Looking beyond the first year of ownership, do Jeep Gladiators hold up well as the odometer turns? Here are the key stats on long-term reliability:

  • RepairPal reports the average annual repair cost is $728 which is higher than comparable trucks.
  • Owners start experiencing major transmission issues around the 40,000 mile mark based on forums.
  • So far there are not many Gladiators reaching 100,000+ miles yet. But expect costs to rise at higher mileage once warranties expire.
  • Problems like oil consumption, suspension wear, and steering wander get progressively worse over time.

One concerning trend is the frequency of major transmission failures around 40,000 miles, right after the powertrain warranty expires. This suggests weak design rather than manufacturing defects. Replacing a transmission can cost upwards of $5000.

In the long run, the Gladiator falls short of legendary Toyota truck durability. But it’s too early to forecast lifelong reliability since this is still a new model. Only time will tell.

Is the Jeep Gladiator Worth Buying Despite Reliability Concerns?

The Jeep Gladiator delivers incredible capability and open-air freedom no other truck can match. But subpar reliability knocks it down a few pegs. Is the Gladiator still worth buying? Let’s weigh the pros and cons:

Reasons to Buy a Jeep Gladiator

  • Legendary off-road ability, especially the Trail Rated Rubicon. No other midsize truck can crawl over rocks like a Jeep.
  • Fun, open-air design with removable top and doors. You can’t get that in a Tacoma or Frontier.
  • Strong towing up to 7,650 pounds with a max 1,610 payload. Decent for the class.
  • High resale value – Gladiators retain value better than most trucks according to KBB.

Factors Causing Concern

  • Below average predicted reliability compared to Toyota, Honda, Ford.
  • Expensive transmission repairs loom large, especially out of warranty.
  • Questionable long-term durability once you get past 100k miles.

For buyers who prioritize reliability and low ownership costs, the Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline are safer choices. Their slightly lower capabilities are offset by better durability.

If you don’t mind the risk and enjoy going off-road, a Gladiator can be worth the gamble. Opt for an extended warranty for extra protection. And be diligent about preventative maintenance and repairs.

Verdict: Are Jeep Gladiators Reliable?

The all-new Jeep Gladiator casts a long shadow of doubt when it comes to reliability. Early model years suffer more quality control issues compared to the competition. And the widely-reported transmission problems are concerning.

However, reliability seems to be trending upward year-over-year as manufacturing stabilizes. Only time will tell if Jeep engineers can get the Gladiator’s durability on par with segment leaders. For now, this cool Jeep truck comes with more risk than seasoned rivals.

In summary: Yes, the Jeep Gladiator has below average reliability – especially the first model years. Shop carefully, get an extended warranty, and don’t expect Toyota levels of durability. But for some buyers, the Gladiator’s adventurous spirit is worth the gamble.

Conclusion: The Jeep Gladiator has a few black marks on its reliability report card so far. But with clever engineering and focus on quality, hopefully it can eventually earn honors like the vaunted Wrangler. For now, weigh the Gladiator’s off-road joy against its nagging transmission woes. With smart preventative maintenance, this new Jeep truck can provide miles of open-air adventure.

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