Jeep Grand Cherokee Problems: 21 Common Issues

While Jeep is known for its offroading agility, luxurious interiors, and excellent designs, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has more than its fair share of problems.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee suffers from the engine stalling randomly, power windows failure, death wobble, the instrument cluster going crazy, V8 engine failure, automatic transmission faults, seatbelt sensors failing, ignition switch defect, and numerous other problems.

To help you make a more informed decision, we’ve broken down all of these common issues and looked at some Jeep Grand Cherokee recalls you need to be aware of (especially if you have one of these models).

2017 red and white jeep grand cherokee trailhawk driving throught the woods on snow

21 Common Jeep Grand Cherokee Problems

1. Engine Stalling Randomly

The engine’s ECU (Electronic Control Unit) had a terrible connector design on the first-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee.

This resulted after 160,000 miles (257,495 kilometers), the plug clips have worn down to a point where they will randomly connect and disconnect, just enough to turn the engine off and on.

An easy fix is to make a makeshift bracket; it looks a lot like a battery bracket that goes over the plugs and sandwiches them between the bracket and the ECU resulting in an excellent permanent connection.

2. Power windows failure

Moving to the new cable design on the power windows for the second-generation Grand Cherokee was not a good move.

Since the vehicles are used in offroading, there is a lot of contamination on the plastic gears and cables of the power windows motor assembly.

From 1999 to 2004, model-year Grand Cherokees, with around 89,000 miles (143,232 kilometers), had issues with the side windows not being able to move or the cable snapping and the entire glass falling into the door.

The only fix is buying a new power window cable set for each door, which costs around $260.

3. Death Wobble

The second-generation (1999 to 2004)  Jeep Grand Cherokee was the last generation with solid axles front and rear; while it is a nice feature for heavy offroading, it had drawbacks like death wobble.

Death wobble isn’t something new in the Jeep community, especially with the Wranglers, and is caused by insufficient dampening on the steering when the vehicle’s front wheels hit an object or imperfection on the road at cruising speeds.

The whole car will start shaking at an alarming rate, and the driver can lose control of the vehicle in many cases.

The fix is replacing worn-out bushes on the suspension and installing an upgraded steering dampener.

4. Interior Door Handle Trim Breaking

While it isn’t something that will leave you stranded next to the road, it can hinder occupants of the vehicle from operating the door latch.

In the 2005 to 2010 model year Grand Cherokees, the plastic around the door latch handle gets so brittle at around 83,000 miles (133,576 kilometers) that it will break into multiple pieces and can even jam the latch handle.

And the price of one of these plastic trim pieces is daylight robbery; it is between $500 to $700 for one.

5. Instrument Cluster Going Crazy

Many owners of the 2005 to 2006 model year Grand Cherokees had an issue where the entire instrument cluster went berserk, all the lights flashing, dials going up and down, and will even turn some external electronics on and off like the lights and wipers.

It happens around 98,000 miles (157,716 kilometers), and the fix is random; some owners were lucky by replacing some control modules, while others were the starter of all things that had a grounding issue and disrupted the entire vehicle’s electronics.

6. V8 Engine Failure

On the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee at around 76,000 miles (122,310 kilometers), the V8 engines can just randomly develop a ticking sound.

This is the beginning of the end for the engine itself, and weirdly it is, in most cases, the number 3 piston that fails.

Prepare your bank account because a new engine costs between $3,500 and $4,000.

7. Automatic Transmission Faults

There are two instances of the transmission failing in the Jeep Grand Cherokee; the first incident was in the third generation.

The car will start hunting for gears, almost like the transmission does not know what gear to use, and some owners even had it happen that the transmission will shift to first gear at 60 MPH (97 KPH), can over-rev the engine and damage the engine and the transmission.

If the transmission didn’t harm itself by downshifting at high speed, the fix could be as little as cleaning the ESM (Electronic Shift Module) that can build up graphite on the inside, causing numerous issues.

This happens at around 105,000 miles (168,981 kilometers) on the 2005 to 2010 models.

The fourth generation will also shift gears randomly and even cut drive to the wheels while in motion, which is quite dangerous.

If the gearbox doesn’t grenade itself by shifting into a too-low gear at speed, it can be rectified by a software reflash.

If you are not that lucky, get ready to pay upwards of $4,000 for the third and fourth-generation Grand Cherokee for a new transmission.

8. Seatbelt Sensor Failing

In the 2006 model year, the front seat seatbelt sensors are prone to failure; it starts disintegrating inside the latch mechanism.

This results in the belt being hard to latch, and the vehicle can’t detect whether the seatbelt is latched, making the annoying chime constantly play while driving.

The sensors last about 130,000 miles (209,215 kilometers) of driving wear and tear, costing $350 per seat to replace.

9. Ignition Switch Defect

From 2007 to 2009, Grand Cherokees were plagued with ignition switches failing at 81,000 miles (130,357 kilometers).

The symptoms of the ignition switch failing is random vehicle shutoffs with no warning or warning lights, and you can’t move your gear shifter out or into park.

Since it was part of a recall, hopefully, you didn’t pay for it as the owner of one of these Jeeps.

10. Check Engine Light On Diesel Models

It might sound like a weird problem, but on the fourth-generation Grand Cherokee, it was a big performance-related issue on the V6 turbo diesel models.

The turbo intake pipe seal on the turbo will start leaking over time, and usually around 94,000 miles (151,278 kilometers), it will be enough for the oil to seep into the plug of the wires of the swirl-flaps and damage the swirl-flap motors and resulting in a check engine light.

The job of the swirl flaps is to enhance the flow of air from the turbo to the engine for better midrange performance, which is a total farce.

Instead of paying thousands at the dealership to replace the swirl-flap motor, you can do this easy DIY hack to bypass it.

Swirl Flap Motor BYPASS on JEEP / MERCEDES Engine OM642 (FIX Limp Mode)

11. Random No Starts

From 2008 to 2010, Grand Cherokee’s wires to and from the starter are known to corrode and result in poor power connection.

This can result in the car intermittently not starting; this problem begins showing its head at around 92,000 miles (148,060 kilometers); you only need to replace the starter harness, which costs about $150.

12. TIPM failure

There are numerous reasons why the Grand Cherokee won’t start, and another issue is the Total Integrated Power Module.

From 2011 to 2013, the Grand Cherokee with 52,000 miles (83,659 kilometers) had intermitted starting issues, auxiliary electronics not working like the lights and wipers, and some won’t shut down if the vehicle is off like the fuel pumps.

There was a recall on the TIPM, but some owners were charged around $1200 to replace it.

13. Dashboard Bubbling

The fourth generation Jeep Grand Cherokee (2011 to 2021) is equipped with leather on the dashboard, and the leather will start to separate from the shell of the dashboard resulting in nasty creases and bubbles on the dash that looks tacky and like a cheap refurbished job.

It will start happening around 62,000 miles (99,779 kilometers) or even sooner if the car is parked in the sun a lot.

The only solution is to DIY remove the leather and reapply it yourself or pay $1,600 for a new dashboard.

14. Air Suspension Leaking

Many owners of the fourth-generation Grand Cherokee that have air suspension equipped have been greeted by their Jeep slammed to the ground because of a leak in the air suspension system.

It usually happens around 79,000 miles (127,138 kilometers), and it is a minor fitting on top of the suspension strut that fails.

When this happens, the dealerships can only supply the entire strut, but I found an aftermarket company where you can buy a new fitting, saving you over $1,000.

15. HVAC Not Working

On the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) had issues with the actuator inside the part of the cabin and also the flaps that control the airflow.

Again the plastic used becomes brittle, and at 77,000 miles (123,919 kilometers), it is prone to fail, and it costs around $850 to replace the flaps and the actuator.

16. Brake Booster Defect

On the fourth generation Jeep Grand Cherokee there was a recall on the brake booster able to ingest water and thus being replaced.

The weird part is that the replaced units were also defective, and some owners with no brake issues suddenly had after the recall.

The symptoms are the brake pedal being hard to depress and the vehicle taking a long distance to come to a complete stop.

The dealers will repair or replace the unit for free after testing it.

17. Crank Position Sensor Failing

Another reason the Grand Cherokee, and this time on the fourth generation (2011 to 2021), might not start is that the crank position sensor is failing.

This usually happens around 77,000 miles (123,919 kilometers) and is pricey at $860 to replace it.

It is advantageous for the engine not to start if it can’t know the position of the crank compared to the camshaft, but it can make it a real pain if you need to go somewhere or are busy driving somewhere.

The symptoms of the crank position sensor not working is random stalling, starter cranks but won’t start, gauges not displaying correctly, sometimes NoBus will be shown on the odometer after 30-60 seconds, the fuel pump will prime, and there is no spark at the spark plugs.

The JEEP Forum has a whole thread about this if you want to read it.

18. Steering Rack Leaking

The 2011 year Grand Cherokee also has an issue with the steering rack that starts to leak at a very low mileage of 57,000 miles (91,732 kilometers).

It starts leaking because the rack is somehow damaged, so you can’t just replace the seals but the whole rack, and it costs $2,000 to replace and sometimes even more if the lines need to be replaced.

19. Infotainment Defect

Some owners had issues with the infotainment system installed in the 2014 model year Jeep Grand Cherokees.

The system will just shut off and refuse to start again, except after a hard reset, disconnecting, and reconnecting the battery.

It might sound like a minor inconvenience, but the infotainment system controls the rearview camera, the AC system, heated and cooled seats, GPS, and emergency calls.

Luckily it is only a software update away from being fixed.

20. Seatbelts Not Retracting

In the fourth-generation (2011 to 2021) Grand Cherokee, the owners start experiencing the seatbelts not retracting at around 74,000 miles (119,091 kilometers).

The problem here is after many uses, and the seatbelt starts breaking the D-rind, the guide at the a-pillar of the vehicle to make sure the seatbelt doesn’t get stuck on any sharp edges behind the a-pillar cover.

When the D-ring gets damaged, the seatbelt gets snagged by it, and again you can’t buy just the D-ring; you have to buy an entire seatbelt unit for between $450 and 730.

21. Safety Malfunctions

The last thing you want to experience as a fourth-generation Grand Cherokee owner is the active head restraint going off while driving.

While it won’t knock you unconscious, the loud bang can cause immense fright behind the wheel and when you have to buy a new headrest for $800.

Another strange issue is the front airbags not deploying in a front-end collision in some vehicles.

These issues can start popping up anywhere from 55,000 miles (88,514 kilometers).

Recalls on the Jeep Grand Cherokee

While recalls fix vehicle issues, there is still a chance that some cars never got fixed.

Either the owner did everything DIY or took it to a private mechanic who never knew about the recalls.

So it is advantageous for you as a potential buyer or owner of a Jeep Grand Cherokee to learn about these recalls. 

And if you already own a Grand Cherokee, take your vehicle to a dedicated Jeep dealer or trustworthy mechanic as soon as possible to rectify these problems.

2008 Recall

  • 2008 model-year vehicles, the front control module is manufactured incorrectly, resulting in the vehicle stalling, failing to start, and the wipers not functioning.

2009 Recall

  • 2009 model-year vehicles, the wires in the airbag connector in the steering column could be reversed, resulting in the driver airbag not deploying as intended in an accident.

2010 Recalls

  • 2010 model-year vehicles’ passenger-side front airbags can deploy improperly through the instrument panel tear seam resulting in an increased risk of injury in an accident. 
  • 2010 model-year vehicles may have been built with the missing input rod retaining clip on the brake booster, resulting in total brake failure without warning.
  • 2010 model-year vehicles may have an improperly manufactured rear track bar installed on the car resulting in reduced driving stability.
  • 2010 model-year vehicles have been installed with a wireless ignition node module that binds on the solenoid latch, resulting in the key being able to be removed when the car is not in the park position.

2012 Recalls

  • 2012 model-year vehicles equipped with 3.6-liter V6 engines may experience connecting rod bearing issues due to debris inside the engine, resulting in the engine seizing up.
  • 2002 to 2004 model-year vehicles have a component in the airbag control module that can cause the airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners to deploy randomly while driving.

2013 Recalls

  • 2005 to 2010 model-year vehicles may have a transfer case electrical failure that can cause the transfer case to shift into neutral at random, resulting in no drive to the wheels.
  • 2013 model-year vehicles with premium headlights equipped when switching between daytime running lights and parking lights, there is a spike in voltage that cause the parking lamps to turn off, and with no working parking lamps, the car fails the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Saftey Standard (FMVSS).

2014 Recalls

  • 2014 model-year vehicles disruption of computer communications and loose alternator ground wires may cause random illumination of multiple warning lights on the cluster and loss of ABS (Anti-Lock Brakes System) and ESC (Electronic Stability Control).
  • 2012 to 2013 model-year vehicles, the RAB (Ready Alert Braking System) can result in the driver experiencing a hard brake pedal and worsened braking performance in certain situations.
  • 2011 to 2014 model-year vehicles have brake boosters with a center shell that can corrode and allow water to enter the brake booster, resulting when it is freezing temperatures outside the brakes not functioning.
  • 2014 model-year vehicles, when the adaptive cruise control is activated, and the driver presses down on the accelerator to increase speed, the car will continue to gain speed after the driver has removed his foot from the accelerator pedal. 
  • 2011 to 2014 model-year vehicles, the wiring in the vanity lamp in the sun visor can short shortly after a service repair is performed, resulting in increased fire risk.
  • 2005 to 2007 model-year vehicles, the driver can unintentionally knock the key out of the run position with their knee, resulting in the engine being turned off while driving.
  • 2011 model-year vehicle equipped with 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter V8 engines, the relay inside the TIPM (Totally Integrated Power Module can fail, resulting in the vehicle stalling without warning. 
  • 2008 model-year vehicles, the key might move back to the “ON” position instead of falling back to the “RUN” position after being rotated to “START,” resulting in the engine turning off again and many safety features not being activated.
  • 2014 model-year vehicles have an issue with the software for the SCCM (Steering Column Control Module), resulting in the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) being disabled.
  • 2012 to 2014 model-year vehicles equipped with a 3.6 liter V6 and 160 amp alternator, the alternator may fail without warning.
  • 2014 model-year vehicles due to a fault in the OCR (Occupant Restraint Control) module resulting in the front and side airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners being disabled.

2015 Recalls

  • 2002 to 2004 model-year vehicles due to electrical noise above the tolerances of the ECM ( Electronic Control Module) of the airbags, resulting in the front and side airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners deploying randomly while driving.
  • 2012 to 2013 moel-year vehicles equipped with 3.6-liter V6, 5.7-liter V8, and 6.4-liter V8 engines, the relay inside the TIPM (Totally Integrated Power Module can fail, resulting in the vehicle stalling without warning. 
  • 2014 to 2015 model-year vehicles have radios with software vulnerabilities that allow third-party access to specific networked vehicle control systems resulting in unauthorized remote modification to the system.
  • 2015 model-year vehicles equipped with rear lower control arms are incorrectly heat treated, resulting in fracturing, change in ride height, and loss of rear stability.

2016 Recalls

  • 2015 to 2016 model-year vehicles, the front left brake caliper is made of an incorrect material, resulting in cracking and degrading the braking performance.
  • 2014 to 2015 model-year vehicles equipped with the eight-speed automatic transmission and monostable gear selector may not warn the driver if the front door is open and the car isn’t in the “Park” position.
  • 2016 model-year vehicles can lose electrical connection to the shift interlock solenoid resulting in the transmission automatically shifting into park or neutral while driving, leaving the car disabled.
  • 2016 model-year vehicles, the tow hook bracket and tow eye brackets may be loose and can fall off and become a road hazard.
  • 2016 model-year vehicles equipped with the 3.6-liter V6 engine built at the Saltillo engine plant, the fuel rail crossover tube may be damaged and cause a fuel leak and increased chance of a fire.

2017 Recalls

  • 2012 to 2014 model-year vehicles equipped with EHPS (Electro-Hydraulic Power Steering) with the 3.6 liter V6 and the 5.7 Liter V8 and 160 to 220 amp alternators may have the alternator fail without warning.
  • 2011 to 2014 model-year vehicles need to be verified if dealerships correctly did the previous brake booster shield recall.

2018 Recalls

  • 2018 model-year Trackhawk models equipped with the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine, the fuel line may be separated, causing the engine to stall and increasing fire risk.
  • 2018 model-year vehicles may have the incorrect park lock rod installed, resulting in the transmission being unable to shift into “Park.”
  • 2014 to 2018 model-year vehicles, the cruise control system might not disengage, resulting in the car not slowing down or continuing to accelerate.
  • 2017 to 2018 model-year vehicles have a regulator chip inside the powertrain control module that can fail to result in the car stalling and not willing to start.
  • 2018 model-year SRT and Trackhawk vehicles, the floor mat clearance with the accelerator pedal is insufficient and can cause the pedal not to return to the idle position.

2019 Recalls

  • 2011 to 2013 model year vehicles equipped with the 3.6-liter V6, 5.7-liter V8, and 6.4-liter V8, the fuel pump relay inside the TIPM (Totally Integrated Power Module) can fail, causing the car to stall.
2013 grey jeep grand cherokee summit driving though a river at speed

Final Thoughts On Jeep Grand Cherokee Problems

With the engine randomly shutting off, death wobble, V8 engine failure, transmission failure, and the safety features malfunctioning as some of the worst cases,  the Jeep Grand Cherokee has its fair share of faults.

The number of faults compared to other Jeeps like the Renegade and Patriot is crazy.

The best thing to do if you own a Jeep Grand Cherokee is to take it to a Jeep dealership and have them check for any recalls that haven’t been completed.

If you are in the market for a used Grand Cherokee, get a full vehicle history report and avoid any models with an outstanding recall.

Hopefully, you found this article helpful, and you can go to your next Jeep Grand Cherokee test drive knowing what to look out for.


What Year Jeep Grand Cherokee Should I Avoid?

2011 (fourth generation) was the worst year for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with many electric gremlins.
From the TIPM module going bad to the engine not starting or being hard to start, the 2011 model year Cherokee should be avoided at all costs.

At What Mileage do Jeep Grand Cherokees Have Problems?

Considering all the common issues, the average mileage when problems surface is 87,000 miles (140,013 kilometers).
The fourth generation, which was in production between 2011 to 2021, will likely start showing issues much earlier than other generations.

What Is The Best Year For A Jeep Grand Cherokee?

From 1993 to 1998, the first generation Jeep Grand Cherokee was the most reliable of all generations following it.
It could be because of the lack of overcomplicated electronics and more robust design, but it is more of a dedicated offroader than the newer models.

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Article by

Jaco Schrader

Jaco is the automotive heart of our platform. Born and raised in Namibia, he began his journey in the automobile sector in 2012. Launching his own automotive repair business in Africa and fitting a Toyota 1UZ-FE V8 in a Ford Sierra, Jaco brings over six years of hands-on automotive experience. He’s a self-taught expert in various mechanical and electrical aspects of vehicles.

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