Is the Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel Reliable for the Long Haul?

jeep grand cherokee diesel reliability

The short answer: Yes, the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel can be a reliable and durable vehicle for high mileage driving when properly maintained – but it comes with some quirks.

Jeep introduced diesel engines to the Grand Cherokee lineup in 2007, giving buyers a new powertrain option that promised increased torque, towing power, and fuel efficiency compared to gas engines. This was appealing to outdoor enthusiasts and those who needed to haul trailers.

But how does the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel hold up over hundreds of thousands of miles? Are the maintenance costs reasonable? What kind of issues pop up?

In this detailed guide, we’ll dive into:

  • A brief history of Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel models and engines
  • The reliability, durability, and common problems of the EcoDiesel engine
  • Towing capabilities and real-world performance
  • Fuel economy and driving range
  • Maintenance costs and repairs
  • Whether the diesel Grand Cherokee is worth buying

Let’s shift into gear and explore what it’s like living with a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel long-term.

A Brief History of Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel Engines

Jeep has offered diesel engines in the Grand Cherokee over two time periods:

2007-2008: 3.0L CRD V6

For the 2007 and 2008 model years, Jeep offered a 3.0L V6 turbo diesel engine option in the Grand Cherokee produced by Mercedes-Benz. This engine produced 215 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. It allowed the vehicle to tow up to 7,400 lbs.

However, this diesel powerplant had some inherent flaws. The most common problems included:

  • DEF quality sensor failure
  • EGR valve clogging
  • Leaking injector seals
  • Overheating issues

Many drivers reported frequent trips to the dealer for sensor replacements and other repairs under 100,000 miles. This resulted in a lackluster reputation for reliability.

Jeep stopped offering this engine after 2008. But the next diesel Grand Cherokee would prove to be better.

2014-2020: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6

In 2014, Jeep reintroduced a diesel option for the Grand Cherokee, this time using a 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel engine produced by VM Motori. This engine made 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque – a noticeable bump over the earlier diesel.

Jeep continued offering the EcoDiesel engine in the Grand Cherokee up through the 2020 model year. It also expanded it to other vehicles like the Ram 1500.

The EcoDiesel proved to be a more reliable and powerful engine than the earlier diesel. Owners report the EcoDiesel comfortably reaching 200,000 to 300,000 miles when properly maintained.

That said, the EcoDiesel has not been without a few flaws that we’ll get into next.

Jeep EcoDiesel Reliability and Common Problems

Overall, the 3.0L EcoDiesel engine has demonstrated fairly good reliability for a modern diesel powerplant. The engine itself is durable, and owners commonly report hitting 200,000+ miles on the odometer, especially highway-driving commuters.

However, there are some weak points and common issues to look out for with the EcoDiesel-equipped Grand Cherokee:

  • DEF system problems – The diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) system on these vehicles seems especially prone to issues. Owners report problems with DEF quality sensors, DEF tank heaters, DEF injectors, and more. Repairing DEF components can be very costly.
  • EGR valve and intake clogging – The EGR valve on the EcoDiesel is known to clog over time from carbon buildup. This leads to rough running, loss of power, poor fuel economy, and possibly limp mode. The intake manifold is also prone to carbon buildup.
  • Emission component failures – Like most diesel vehicles, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel has its share of emission system problems. Some owners report issues with the NOx sensors, catalytic converters, particulate filter, and diesel oxidation catalyst. Repairs run $1,000+.
  • Electrical gremlins – Various sensors seem to fail prematurely, including crank position sensors, cam sensors, and oil pressure sensors. Electrical faults can cause no-starts or stalling.
  • Turbo and fuel pump problems – Though not extremely common, the turbocharger is one component that may fail outside of the warranty period, along with the high-pressure fuel injection pump.
  • Expensive oil changes – The EcoDiesel requires full synthetic diesel oil changed roughly every 8,000 miles. Stock up on those $10/qt oil bottles.

So in summary – the EcoDiesel engine itself is fairly stout, but all the supporting emission components and sensors seem to cause the majority of headaches down the road.

Assuming you stay on top of maintenance and repairs, the EcoDiesel can feasibly run for 250,000 miles or longer. But it will cost more to operate than a comparable gas engine.

Towing Capability and Performance

A major reason buyers opt for the diesel Grand Cherokee is its towing competence. When properly equipped, the EcoDiesel model can tow up to 7,400 lbs.

Owners report excellent torque while towing, allowing the Jeep to pull heavy loads without excessive shifting between gears or struggling uphill. The low-end power of the diesel pairs well with the 8-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy also remains respectable while towing for a vehicle this size, averaging 16-19 mpg. That’s a noticeable improvement over the gas V6 or V8.

One downside is turbo lag at low RPMs when not towing a trailer. The EcoDiesel can feel sluggish accelerating from a stoplight without a load. Adding some momentum helps spool the turbo.

Performance also tails off at highway speeds. Passing power declines significantly over 75 mph when no trailer is attached. Plan your passes carefully.

But overall – when hauling and accelerating from a stop, the torquey diesel Jeep rarely leaves owners wanting more power. It’s in the EcoDiesel’s comfort zone.

Excellent Fuel Economy When Not Towing

One of the diesel Grand Cherokee’s biggest perks is its fuel efficiency during normal daily driving without a heavy load.

The EPA rates the 4×2 EcoDiesel at 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. The 4×4 version is rated at 21/28 mpg.

In real world driving, owners report averaging 25-27 mpg commuting on the highway if they keep speeds under 75 mph. Even faster highway cruising in the 70-80 mph range returns economy in the low 20s.

The large 24.6 gallon fuel tank also gives the EcoDiesel a highway driving range of over 600 miles per tank when hypermiling. That allows fewer stops on long road trips.

The tradeoff is poorer fuel efficiency around town. The low-end torque and 8-speed transmission aren’t optimized for stop and go driving. Expect just 20-22 mpg in city driving.

Finally, remember the EcoDiesel requires filling the DEF tank every 3,000-5,000 miles. Make sure to budget extra for DEF fluid replenishment.

Maintenance and Repair Costs

While diesel engines are known for longevity, they do require more extensive maintenance than gas engines. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Oil changes – EcoDiesel oil changes cost around $150 using 9-10 quarts of synthetic 0W-40 diesel oil. Change intervals are around 8,000 miles.
  • Fuel filter – Expect to replace the fuel filter every 20,000 miles at a cost of $150+ in labor. Use an OEM fuel filter.
  • DEF fluid – Figure on replenishing the DEF tank every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. DEF costs around $5 per gallon.
  • Emission repairs – As mentioned earlier, sensors and emission components like the EGR, catalytic converter, DEF system, and diesel particulate filter commonly fail outside the warranty. Budget $1,000+ to address emissions repairs.
  • Turbo and injectors – Major repairs like a turbo, injectors, or high pressure fuel pump can cost upwards of $2,000 each. These big repairs are less common on the EcoDiesel though.

The silver lining is that basic maintenance like brakes, filters, and fluids on the diesel Grand Cherokee are no more expensive than the gas models. Just watch out for those sensors and emissions parts.

Is the Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel Worth Buying?

So should you consider buying a used Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel? Here are some pros and cons to weigh:

Reasons to buy the diesel:

  • Strong towing capability with 7,400 lb rating
  • Excellent torque and acceleration while hauling
  • Impressive fuel economy of 25+ mpg on the highway
  • 600+ mile range when cruising at 65-70 mph
  • Proven engine durability up to 250k+ miles

Reasons to hesitate on the diesel:

  • Expensive DEF system repairs and maintenance
  • Carbon buildup cleaning required every 60k miles
  • Numerous emissions components that may fail
  • Higher oil change and fuel filter costs
  • Not ideal as a daily city driver due to turbo lag

Ideally, the diesel Grand Cherokee makes the most sense for buyers who frequently tow trailers or haul heavy loads. The low-end torque while towing is where the engine really shines.

On the other hand, if you stick mainly to city driving or short trips, a gas-powered Grand Cherokee could be a smarter (and cheaper) choice.

For used vehicles, try to find a certified pre-owned (CPO) EcoDiesel model still under the 5 yr/100k mile powertrain warranty for extra peace of mind.

Or consider an extended warranty on higher mileage examples to help defray the costs of sensor and emission repairs down the road.

The Bottom Line on Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel Reliability

In the world of modern diesel vehicles, the Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel holds up reasonably well in terms of reliability and durability. The engine itself is solid, and the vehicle can easily rack up 200,000+ miles with proper upkeep.

However, to keep a diesel Jeep on the road long-term, you must stay diligent on maintenance and be ready to shell out for emissions component repairs. Items like the DEF system, EGR valve, catalytic converter, and numerous sensors seem especially prone to issues after the warranty period.

Drivers who rely heavily on the diesel Grand Cherokee’s towing strength while logging highway miles will get the most satisfaction and value from this SUV. More casual drivers may be better served by a gas-powered Grand Cherokee.

Knowing what to expect from the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel in terms of maintenance, costs, and repairs is key to making an informed buying decision. Apply this knowledge, and your EcoDiesel Jeep could ease down the highway for many miles to come.

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