5 Worst Jeep Grand Cherokee Model Years to Avoid Buying

Jeep grand cherokee years to avoid

If you’re in the market for a used Jeep Grand Cherokee, it’s important to know that not all model years are created equal when it comes to reliability. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the most popular midsize SUVs, known for its off-road capability. But some model years have been plagued by transmission issues, engine problems, and safety recalls.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s reliability history and outline the worst model years that you should avoid buying used. We’ll also suggest the most reliable Jeep Grand Cherokee model years and alternatives you may want to consider instead.

An Overview of Jeep Grand Cherokee Reliability Issues

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been in production since 1993. Over its long history, certain model years have proved more problematic than others.

Common issues across many Jeep Grand Cherokee model years include:

  • Transmission problems – Jerking, hesitation, slipping, rough shifting, etc. This has affected the 4-speed and 5-speed automatic transmissions.
  • Engine issues – Oil sludge, head gasket failures, stalling, etc.
  • Electrical gremlins – Faulty wiring harnesses, power locks/windows malfunctioning, battery draining.
  • Air suspension failures – Common on models equipped with air suspension, leading to sagging and ride height issues.
  • Clutch problems – On models with manual transmissions. Hard shifting and premature wear.
  • Brake concerns – Warped rotors, caliper issues and other brake component failures.
  • Steering wander – Loose steering components leading to alignment issues.
  • Paint peeling – Mainly impacting 1999-2004 models.

While these problems have affected Jeep Grand Cherokees across multiple model years, some years have had considerably more complaints reported than others. Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 model years to avoid.

2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee – The Worst Model Year

The 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee ranks as the overall worst model year in terms of reliability issues. It was plagued by transmission problems, cooling system issues, faulty head gaskets, and stalling concerns.

The 4-speed automatic transmission was a huge trouble spot, with premature failures reported. Owners experienced jerky shifting, delayed engagement and even complete transmission failure in some cases.

The 4.0L inline six-cylinder engine also had head gasket failures that could lead to overheating. Stalling while driving was another common complaint with the ’01 Grand Cherokee.

Brake concerns, steering wander, electrical glitches and air suspension problems further compounded reliability issues. It’s no surprise that the 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee has very poor ratings on websites like Consumer Reports and RepairPal.

Overall, the 2001 model year is one to avoid unless you don’t mind expensive transmission and engine repairs. Opt for a 2002 or newer Grand Cherokee if possible.

1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee – Cooling System Woes

Similar to the 2001 model year, the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee suffered from subpar reliability, especially in regards to its cooling system. It used the same 4.0L six-cylinder engine and 4-speed automatic transmission as the problematic 2001 version.

Overheating issues, water pump failures, radiator leaks, and head gasket issues were common in the 1999 Grand Cherokee. The inadequate cooling system couldn’t handle the demands of off-roading and hauling.

Owners also reported problems with the power locks, power windows, and interior controls randomly malfunctioning. The air suspension system was another weak spot prone to air leaks and compressor failures.

Between the cooling system problems, flaky electrical components, and other issues, the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee proved to be far below average for reliability. Mileage doesn’t seem to matter either, as many owners reported major repairs needed under 100,000 miles.

2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee – Transmission Woes

The 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee improved upon the terrible 2001 model year in some regards, but still had its share of transmission problems.

While not quite as severe as the ’01, the 4-speed automatic transmission remained problematic in the 2002 Grand Cherokee. Rough shifting, delayed engagement when accelerating, and occasional limp mode activation plagued these SUVs.

Stalling issues were also still a concern with the 4.0L inline six-cylinder. Oil sludge buildup could starve the engine of oil, leading to premature wear and failure in some cases.

Early electrical component and sensor failures were also reported in the 2002 Grand Cherokee. Check engine lights illuminating and O2 sensor codes were commonplace.

Finally, rear brake wear was very accelerated in the 2002 model year. Warped rotors and rear caliper failures were two of the top complaints from owners.

Considering these lingering drivetrain and electrical issues, the 2002 Grand Cherokee is tough to recommend buying used unless you can verify the transmission and maintenance history.

2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee – Engine & Electrical Problems

For the 2006 model year, Jeep made some updates to the Grand Cherokee including new engine options. But early production issues resulted in below-average reliability ratings for this SUV.

The main trouble spot for 2006 was the 5.7L Hemi V8 engine. Oil sludge buildup inside the engine led to premature wear and even complete engine failure in some cases.

Adding to the problems was a faulty automatic transmission cooler line that could leak and cause overheating. The 5-speed automatic transmission otherwise proved fairly reliable.

Electrical issues also plagued the 2006 Grand Cherokee, including malfunctioning power locks/windows, flickering dash lights, and Check Engine lights illuminating.

Steering wander and alignment issues were also fairly common, likely due to loose front suspension components.

Consider passing on a 2006 Grand Cherokee unless you can find one with very low miles and verify the engine was well-maintained. The V6 models were slightly more reliable than the V8s this model year.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee – Safety Recalls Galore

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee ranks as one of the worst recent model years due to an alarming number of safety recalls. Various structural and component flaws prompted over a dozen separate recalls.

Here are some of the safety recalls that plagued 2014 Grand Cherokees:

  • Faulty occupant restraint controllers
  • Unintended airbag deployment
  • Inadequate brake booster shields
  • Loose transmission shifter knobs
  • Electrical shorts leading to stalled engines
  • Poor welds on rear shock mounts

While most of these flaws could be remedied by recall repairs, the sheer number of safety notices rightfully concerned owners.

Beyond the recalls, a few engine stalling complaints and scattered electrical issues rounded out the problems for this SUV.

Make sure to run a full recall check if you’re considering a 2014 Grand Cherokee. All of the recalls need to be addressed before this SUV can be deemed roadworthy.

The Most Reliable Jeep Grand Cherokee Model Years

Now that we’ve covered the Jeep Grand Cherokee models to avoid, which years offer the best reliability? Here are a few of the top model years:

2012 – This was the last model year before the troubling 2014 redesign. The 2012 Grand Cherokee had Chrysler’s sturdy 3.6L Pentastar V6 and a reliable 5-speed automatic. An IIHS Top Safety Pick, it avoided the recalls of later years. Just watch for air suspension problems.

2010 – With its refined interior and updated exterior, the 2010 Grand Cherokee made for a nice used SUV buy. A strong new 5.7L V8 debuted, paired with a smooth 5-speed transmission. Fuel economy and overall quality improved this model year.

2005 – The 3.7L V6 and 5-speed automatic transmission proved to be a good powertrain combo in the 2005. With few major issues reported, it can make a solid budget used SUV. But do watch for front end suspension wear and premature brake rotor warping.

2021 – The latest Grand Cherokee benefits from many years of refinements. Two great engines – a 293 hp V6 and 357 hp V8 – and an improved 8-speed transmission deliver great performance. An optional rear-seat entertainment system and active safety tech provide modern essentials.

Alternatives to the Jeep Grand Cherokee

If you need an alternative to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, a few competitors also offer comparable on and off-road capability:

Toyota 4Runner – One of the most reliable midsize SUVs available. Capable off-road with great resale value. A top-rated choice but lacks the luxury features of some competitors.

Ford Explorer – A long-time family SUV with good road manners and tech features. Plush ride and strong turbo engine options. Reliability is just average though.

Nissan Pathfinder – Agile handling and lots of interior room make it popular. Fuel efficient V6 engine. Reliability has improved in recent years.

Subaru Outback – The roomy Outback has sedan-like comfort with light off-road ability. Standard AWD and great safety ratings are big selling points.

Key Takeaways – Worst Jeep Grand Cherokee Model Years

In summary, here are the key points on which Jeep Grand Cherokee model years to avoid when buying used:

  • 2001 and 1999 – Major cooling system issues lead to overheating and head gasket failures. Problematic transmissions as well.
  • 2002 – Improved slightly over earlier models but still had transmission problems and stalling issues.
  • 2006 – Oil sludge ruined engines. Electrical gremlins also a headache for owners.
  • 2014 – Hit with an alarming number of safety recalls. Structural and component flaws.

For the best blend of reliability, performance and value, opt for a Jeep Grand Cherokee from 2005-2012 or 2021 and newer. Carefully maintained older models with service records can also make solid used buys.

No matter what Jeep Grand Cherokee you choose, be sure to inspect maintenance history, get a pre-purchase inspection, and run a vehicle history report. This helps avoid those problematic model years and ensures you find a reliable used Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Similar Posts