Jeep Cherokee is one of the most capable compact crossover SUVs for families on the go.
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Cherokee comes with a potent engine that makes it excellent for off-road experiences.
Even so, the Cherokee is not a perfect car. It has its problems that we will examine shortly in this article.
But before we dive in, first things first:
Is a Jeep Cherokee reliable?
Overall, the Jeep Cherokee is a reliable car, except for a few issues. It is a very popular SUV that spans five generations and it’s received as a very stable and durable vehicle that will last a long time when basic maintenance is taken care of.
J.D Power gave the all-new Cherokee a decent 91 out of 100 scores. J.D Power is American consumer research, and data analytics firm.
That said, models that came before 2022 Cherokee tend to have more problems. A good example is the 2019 Cherokee which received a disappointing low ranking. This means the Cherokee ranks number 26 out of 27 car brands. That tells you that the 2019 Cherokee ranks lower than its rivals.
That doesn’t mean the 2019 Cherokee is a bad car, though. This SUV offers a spacious cargo and high towing capacity. It also boasts good handling on the road.
1. Transmission problem
Some car owners of the Jeep Cherokee complain about transmission issues. According to those drivers, the Jeep Cherokee sometimes shifts into neutral without warning.
This could be quite dangerous, especially if your car switches into neutral gear in the middle of a busy road.
2014 and 2017 models tend to have those transmission problems. But there are a few latest models with this issue, too.
Cherokees that have 70,000 miles on the clock are likely to have a transmission problem.
Another concerned car owner said the Cherokee sometimes threw itself into “Limp Mode” Once that happened, a “check engine” light would come on. Then the Cherokee would start slowing down.
Meanwhile, another driver said the Cherokee started switching off when idling. There was also strange noise emanating from the engine. When the driver went to a technician, the technician said something was wrong with the transmission control module.
In 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalled 37,000 Jeep Cherokees.
To remedy this problem, Jeep had to do software updates on those Cherokees. Unfortunately, the recall process was not fast enough.
Most drivers had to wait months on end for Jeep to recall their vehicles.
Technicians investigated the issue and found that these transmission faults were due to a loose connection.
They also suspected electrical manufacturing problems.
- Sudden or abrupt stopping of the car in the middle of the road;
- Other users reported a stalling of the Cherokee. Or unusual jerking forward.
- The gears may shift to ‘neutral’ or ‘park mode’;
- Rough downshifting and upshifting;
- Higher gears may also shift or slip to lower gears.
You should contact your dealer if you encounter recurring downshifts or thrusting of the vehicle when changing gears.
We recommend a transmission reset to a manual or automatic transmission.
If this method does not solve the problem, you should consider replacing your transmission.
2. Electrical problems
The NHTSA has reported a couple of electrical complaints about Jeep Cherokee. Drivers complain that the Cherokee would suddenly die while in motion.
At times, the Cherokee would stall and refuse to start. Often, the Cherokee doesn’t forewarn drivers before stalling.
Other car owners reported a malfunctioning infotainment system. According to those drivers, the screen of the infotainment system will freeze.
When they try to use some features, the infotainment system won’t respond.
Owners have described incidents where their dashboard flashed warning signs, leaving the car to stall and stop abruptly in the middle of the highway.
Although electric issues of the Jeep Cherokee have drastically improved post-2017 models, the Cherokee carries an array of electronic problems. Experts trace them to manufacturing glitches.
- The engine would stall while the car is in motion;
- The dashboard would flash warning lights;
- You will notice battery problems;
- The Cherokee won’t start.
The Jeep Cherokee is prone to an alternator failure, too. When this crucial component doesn’t work, the battery of your Cherokee won’t charge.
You should consider jump-starting your car now and again if your battery can’t power your engine.
What’s worse is that alternator failure will cause the electrical system to shut down. So you should fix this problem pronto.
Are there any signs? Yes and no.
On rare occasions, the service engine light will come on. But in most cases, the battery of the Cherokee can die without warning you.
Once the main battery dies, the Cherokee will feed off reserve power. The Cherokee will run erratically when the reserve battery hits a certain level. Or it won’t start at all.
Book your Jeep Cherokee at your nearest Jeep dealer. The technicians will diagnose the problem and fix it for you.
3. The TIPM Problem
Car owners reported engine stalling caused by a faulty fuel pump relay in the integrated power module (TIPM).
This problem is common in the 2011 and 2013 models. So if you are a first-time car owner, those are the models you should avoid.
If you’re unsure what TIPM is, here is a simple definition: It is a system that controls the distribution of power throughout the entire vehicle.
The TIPM system powers the operation of:
- door locks,
- fuel pumps,
- and more.
Thousands of Jeep Cherokee drivers were left stranded on the side of the road because the TIPM system and engine malfunctioned.
A few said they were lucky enough to drive home at low speed. But as soon as they arrived home, that was the end of it. They had to call a technician to look at their vehicles.
NHTSA registered tons of complaints from those drivers. And Jeep had to recall a few of those cars.
A few things may cause your Jeep to stall—for instance:
- a vacuum leak,
- malfunctioning torque,
- a worn fuel pump,
- or a TIPM.
Take your vehicle in for service as soon as you notice the first signs of stalling.
Not only will that protect you from potential collisions, but it will save your money, too.
4. Poor gas mileage
Some drivers report low gas mileage issues from old Jeep Cherokees. One driver who owns a Cherokee with MPG of 21 to 28 miles, an average of 25 miles, said the Cherokee seems unbelievably poor gas mileage.
Jeep estimates the gas mileage of the new Cherokee to be 24 combined city and highways. And an MPG 21 city 29 highway 4.2 gals and 100 miles.
Jeep Cherokee’s fuel economy varies from 24MPG to 26MPG, compared to many of its rivals who attain 30 MPG or more.
Remember, gas mileage could be associated with the engine size and the vehicle weight.
In some cases, poor gas mileage could indicate a much deeper problem.
How do you know your Jeep Cherokee has low fuel mileage issues?
- Your vehicle suddenly gets poor gas mileage;
- You have to fill your tank quite frequently;
- Your car begins to shake violently when idling.
- Your vehicle is no longer accelerating like it used to.
We can blame low fuel mileage on a few problems. Here are some of them:
- A dirty oxygen sensor: When the oxygen sensor is faulty or not clean, it is likely to impact fuel economy.
- Faulty fuel injectors: when your injectors are defective, your vehicle is likely to guzzle gas.
- Clogged fuel filter: Gas mileage problems can also be caused by a clogged fuel filter. Fuel filters remove contaminants from the fuel but can clog over time.
First, we recommend that you book your Cherokee for service. The mechanics should be able to diagnose this problem and fix it.
Fortunately, replacing parts such as faulty oxygen sensors doesn’t cost much. They may also clean your clogged fuel injectors using a cleaning liquid.
5. Ignition problem
If there is one thing that Jeep Cherokee(s) launched between 1984 and 1996 have in common, is an ignition problem.
Although more recent Cherokees can still experience ignition failure, it is not as serious.
Drivers have reported sudden control loss of the vehicle, wheel locking, the main breaks locking, and uncontrollable volume increase. These are all signs of an Ignition Switch Malfunction.
Jeep Cherokee’s ignition switch differs from other cars. Your Cherokee’s ignition switch is not necessarily where you’d normally stick your key. That is a lock cylinder.
You’ll find the ignition switch directly behind the lock cylinder. The ignition switch has the following functions:
- Power the accessories: The ignition switch allows you to power your radio, windows, and other accessories. If it’s not working, you won’t be able to power any of those accessories.
- Ignition: The switch is also responsible for activating your ignition system to crank the engine. Once the starters fire the engines, your fuel injector will start pumping gasoline.
- Starter: The starter won’t crank the engine without the ignition.
Let’s look at some common signs that your Cherokee has ignition problems:
- Your vehicle will stall on the road.
- One noticeable sign is that your Cherokee will start and then die.
- Your car won’t start at all.
- The ignition would fail to send power to accessories such as radio, windows, air-con, etc.
- Your vehicle will start draining battery power fast.
If you don’t take care of the ignition problem, it will leave you stranded.
Don’t try to fix the ignition yourself. Only a savvy technician should fix it.
6. Backup Sensor Alarm Malfunction
Another problem that car owners report is a faulty backup sensor alarm. This problem seems to be unique to the 2015 Jeep Cherokees.
Here is how it happens: When you reverse your vehicle, an excellent backup sensor should alert you when there is an object or another car behind.
It will typically chirp or beep to tell you to be careful. So the backup sensor of the Cherokee seems not to do this.
Several drivers said the backup sensor would beep unexpectedly, even when no vehicle or pedestrian was behind. What’s worse was that once it started malfunctioning, it wouldn’t stop.
Drivers had to switch off the engine, then restart it.
- The backup sensor alarm starts bleeping unexpectedly;
- The system can’t sense cars or objects behind;
- You have to turn off the engine in order to turn off the backup sensor alarm.
Take your Jeep Cherokee to a qualified mechanic to diagnose your problem.
Should you purchase a Jeep Cherokee?
We think you should!
Jeep Cherokee is still one of the best SUVs on the market. It’s good for everyday use and each of the five Cherokee generations is also good for road trips.
We recommend that you avoid old models of the Jeep Cherokee, as they are likely to come with problems.
Instead, buy the 2022 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk.
This SUV can navigate rugged terrains. Thanks to:
- Active Drive Lock four-wheel-drive system,
- locking rear differential,
- and low-speed crawl control.
GO BACK: Problems for all Jeep models.
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.