The Jeep 2.0L turbo engine has some common problems owners should look out for like turbo lag, oil leaks, overheating, transmission issues, and premature battery failure. Learn maintenance tips to maximize reliability.
If you have recently purchased or are considering buying a Jeep with the 2.0L turbocharged engine, you should be aware that as powerful and fuel efficient these engines are, they do come with their share of problems.
In this detailed guide, we will overview the most common issues experienced by Jeep owners with the 2.0 turbo engines, from oil leaks and turbo lag to overheating and premature engine wear. Read on to learn what to look out for and how to maximize the longevity of your Jeep’s 2.0L turbo engine.
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Introduction To The Jeep 2.0L Turbo Engine
The 2.0L turbocharged engine was introduced by Jeep in 2018 for select Wrangler (JL) and Cherokee models. The direct-injection engine packs a punch with 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. This is significantly more powerful than Jeep’s standard 2.4L 4-cylinder.
Jeep marketed the 2.0L turbo engine as delivering V6-like power with 4-cylinder efficiency. The engine is mated to an automatic transmission. It became an option alongside the 3.6L V6 Pentastar engine.
For Jeep enthusiasts looking for more power while retaining the superior off-road capability of a 4-cylinder, the 2.0 turbo seems like the perfect choice. However, some common problems have emerged that owners must be aware of.
Turbo Lag – Power Delay in Jeep 2.0L Engines
One of the most common complaints from Jeep owners with the 2.0L turbo engine is turbo lag. What is turbo lag exactly?
Turbo lag refers to the delay in power delivery that occurs when accelerating, while the turbocharger spins up to provide boost. Since turbos operate by routing exhaust gases to spin an impeller turbine, it takes a moment for boost to kick in.
This power delay or hesitation when accelerating hard is very noticeable in Jeep’s 2.0L turbo engine. The low-end torque is modest until the turbo kicks in at higher RPMs. This can make the engine feel sluggish off-the-line unless revved high.
While all turbos exhibit some degree of lag, it is pronounced in the Jeep 2.0L engine. There are some techniques Jeep owners can use to minimize lag:
- Allow the engine to fully warm up before accelerating hard
- Downshift to keep engine RPMs up when needing quick power
- Upgrade to a smaller, low-inertia turbocharger
However, the underlying turbo lag issues seem inherent with Jeep’s OEM turbocharger design. An aftermarket turbo upgrade could significantly improve throttle response.
Oil Leaks – A Common Problem in Jeep 2.0 Turbos
Another issue that has emerged among Jeep 2.0 turbo engine owners is oil leaks. The high pressures and blowby gases in a turbocharged engine make it more prone to develop oil leaks.
Common areas where oil leaks occur on Jeep’s 2.0L turbo engine include:
- Oil pan gasket
- Valve cover gasket
- Oil cooler gaskets
- Rear main seal
- Timing chain covers
- Turbo oil return line
Small leaks may only be noticeable as oil spots in the driveway. But major leaks can spew oil and cause smoking from the exhaust. Oil leaks will also show as low oil levels at change intervals.
It’s important to inspect under the hood and under the Jeep thoroughly if you notice leaking or burning oil. Identify the source, then replace worn gaskets and seals to stop the oil loss. Use a high quality synthetic oil, which can reduce leaks versus conventional oils.
Overheating Issues Plaguing the Jeep 2.0 Turbo
Many owners of the 2.0L turbo Jeep engine report overheating issues, especially when towing or in high-load conditions.
Some common causes of overheating in the Jeep 2.0L turbo include:
- Radiator fan failures – the electric fans must properly cool the radiator at low speeds
- Coolant leaks – low coolant levels can lead to overheating
- Bad water pump or thermostat – failing to properly circulate coolant
- Turbo failure – oil or engine issues damaging the turbocharger
Symptoms of an overheating Jeep 2.0L turbo engine include:
- High engine temperature gauge reading
- Lack of cabin heat
- Coolant leaks
- Illuminated check engine light
- Reduced power and performance
If you notice your Jeep 2.0L turbo running hot, have the cooling system inspected for leaks and proper operation. Overheating can seriously damage turbocharged engines. It’s critical to keep engine temperatures in a normal range.
The Dreaded Check Engine Light in Jeep 2.0 Turbos
Seeing the check engine light illuminated is never a good sign. There are many issues that can trigger the check engine light (CEL) in a Jeep 2.0L turbo engine.
Some common reasons for the CEL in the 2.0L Jeep turbo include:
- Oxygen sensor failures – O2 sensors monitor air-fuel ratio
- Turbo underboost codes – set if boost pressure is low
- Misfires – ignition system problems causing a cylinder to misfire
- Oil leaks – CEL set if low oil level is detected
- Catalytic converter failure – from engine issues damaging the cat
When the check engine light comes on in your Jeep 2.0L turbo, always diagnose the code via an OBD-II scanner tool. This will reveal the specific sensor or system triggering the light.
Addressing check engine light codes promptly can prevent further damage. For instance, an ignition coil failure can cause engine misfires and eventually catalyst damage if ignored. Diagnose and repair Jeep 2.0L turbo warning lights as soon as possible.
Are Maintenance Costs High on the Jeep 2.0 Turbo Engine?
Some prospective Jeep buyers are hesitant to choose the 2.0L turbo engine due to concerns about higher maintenance bills. But are maintenance costs much higher than the base 2.4L engine?
In general, turbocharged engines do require some additional maintenance considerations:
- More frequent oil changes – every 5-7k miles is ideal for Jeep 2.0L turbos
- Synthetic oil is preferred to handle turbo heat
- Replacing air and oil filters – vital on turbo engines
- Cleaning carbon buildup – direct injection GDI turbos are prone to it
The engine air filter, cabin air filter, oil filter, and spark plugs will require replacement at regular intervals on a Jeep 2.0L turbo, adding to maintenance costs.
However, following the maintenance schedule and using quality fluids and filters can maximize reliability. For most Jeep owners, the extra maintenance costs are worthwhile for the added horsepower and capability of the 2.0L turbo engine.
Transmission Woes Plaguing Some Jeep 2.0 Turbos
Several owners of the Jeep Wrangler 2.0L turbo have experienced problems with the 8-speed automatic transmission paired with the engine.
Issues include harsh shifting, gear hunting, and premature wear. The 8-speed seems to struggle to handle the increased torque from the turbo engine. There have also been some issues with the manual transmission as well.
Diagnosing transmission problems involves checking for trouble codes, fluid leaks, abnormal noises, and driving behavior issues. Replacing worn components or a full transmission rebuild may be necessary in severe cases.
Using a transmission cooler and fluid changes can help extend the transmission life for heavy-duty use. But the automatics seem to be the weak link paired with Jeep’s performance 2.0L turbo engine.
Is Towing Capacity Limited with the Jeep 2.0 Turbo Engine?
The Jeep Wrangler and Cherokee 2.0L turbo models have a max tow rating around 2,000-4,000 lbs depending on configuration. Some owners are disappointed by these modest tow ratings given the power of the 2.0 turbo engine.
There are a few factors limiting the tow capacity of Jeep’s 2.0L turbo models:
- Transmission – the 8-speed auto is not built for heavy towing needs
- Chassis and suspension – a limitation of Jeep’s lighter-duty vehicles
- Cooling system – prone to overheating under high towing loads
- Turbo longevity – turbos work hard when towing, heating up
The Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 2.0L turbo does have a max tow rating of 6,000 lbs, better suited for towing.
Overall, while the Jeep 2.0L turbo engine produces ample horsepower, buyers expecting serious towing capacity will want to upgrade to a V6 or diesel engine. Be realistic about towing needs when choosing your Jeep powerplant.
Battery Troubles – Another Issue for Jeep Owners
Some Jeep owners experience premature battery failure and charging system issues with the 2.0L turbo engine. This seems to stem from the increased electrical load the engine places on the battery.
- Low voltage and hard starting – weak battery struggles to start engine
- Dead battery – turbo uses battery charge when car is off
- Alternator failures – unable to recharge at high electrical loads
Fixing Jeep 2.0L turbo battery problems involves testing the battery and alternator. Replace weak batteries with an upgraded high-capacity battery to handle the engine’s electrical demands. Use a voltmeter and verify the alternator is charging properly.
Conclusion – Maximize Your Jeep 2.0 Turbo Reliability
The 2.0L turbocharged engine offers an enticing blend of power and efficiency in Jeep’s lineup. However, as we reviewed in this article, there are some common problems experienced by owners of Jeep vehicles equipped with the 2.0 turbo engine.
Issues such as oil leaks, overheating, transmission problems, turbo lag, and premature battery failure have all been reported frequently across Jeep models including the Wrangler and Cherokee.
While the 2.0L turbo engine offers great performance when running properly, it does require attentive maintenance and care from owners. Following the recommended maintenance schedule, using quality fluids, inspecting for leaks, and addressing problems promptly is strongly advised.
For Jeep owners who take diligent care of their 2.0L turbo and address problems early, the engine can provide many years and miles of reliable service. But neglecting maintenance or ignoring problems can lead to very costly repairs down the road.
If you already own a Jeep with the 2.0L turbo engine, keep an eye out for the common problems covered in this article. And if you’re shopping for a new Jeep, weigh the benefits and potential drawbacks of the 2.0 turbo versus other engine options.