Jeep Grand Cherokee Problems: 7 Common Issues (Explained)

Many automotive industry experts consider the Jeep Grand Cherokee to be the first successful luxury SUV. The Grand Cherokee enjoys a well-earned reputation as one of the all-time best SUVs since its debut in 1992.

Like many successful vehicles, it underwent some teething problems, which are listed below.

1. Wrinkled Leather Dashboard Looks Bad

The interior is a critical factor in the value of your Grand Cherokee and all other vehicles. When the interior is worn or damaged, the value goes down.

So when the leather-covered dash starts to wrinkle, peel, and crack, the value has deteriorated.

Many Grand Cherokee owners have complained about excessive and premature wear and tear on the leather-covered dashboard.

The leather often will wrinkle and look many years older than it actually is. If you live in a hot climate, like the Desert Southwest, the wrinkling could occur more rapidly.

Replacing a dashboard is costly due to the amount of labor involved. A replacement dashboard that is wrapped in leather is costly on its own. Add the many hours required to remove all of the parts and systems that run through the dashboard, and it becomes a costly proposition.

You can prevent your leather dashboard from wrinkling, cracking, or fading by applying leather care products that help to keep the leather supple and moisturized.

Using a sunshade also will help to keep the sun’s harmful UV rays from beating down on the leather-covered dash.

You also could cover the dash while it is not in use and it is parked outside. Covered parking or a garage could help to slow down the deterioration of the leather-covered dashboard.

Many Grand Cherokee owners experienced the problem at about the 50,000-mile mark.

Some had it happen sooner. Others also had it happen later. Reporting the matter to Jeep did no good because Jeep generally will not acknowledge the problem exists, so prevention is the best cure.

2. Poorly Designed Electronic Gear Shifter

A monostable electronic gear shifter is supposed to help the 2014-2015 Grand Cherokee get better power and performance.

Unfortunately, the electronic gear shifter often confuses Grand Cherokee owners and at times has led to roll-away accidents.

The monostable gear shifter does not work like a traditional lever-operated shifter with a standardized gear pattern.

The gear pattern usually goes from left to right in the order of:

  • park,
  • reverse,
  • neutral,
  • drive,
  • and low gear.

The standardized gear-shifting pattern works great and is the same in virtually all vehicles –except those equipped with the monostable electronic shifter.

The electronic shifter in the Grand Cherokee does not work intuitively.

Among the biggest problems is that it requires you to push the button up to shift down. Likewise, it requires you to push the button down to shift up.

The lack of intuitive shifting makes it very easy for owners to accidentally put it in the wrong gear. When parking, you might leave it in neutral when you thought it was in park.

Leaving it in neutral makes it possible for the Grand Cherokee to roll down a driveway or while parked on a hill.

Using the parking brake can help to prevent rollaway accidents, but it is not foolproof. Shifting in the wrong direction while driving also could put more wear and tear on the transmission.

There is no failsafe device that automatically puts the transmission in park when stopped and the engine is off.

Some chimes could tip you off that it is in neutral instead of park, but you might mistake that for the open-door chime or similar audible warning signals.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated the electronic shifters and concluded that they suffer from a poor design.

Jeep revised the shifter and recalled the model years in question to correct the problem to resolve issues raised by NHTSA.

If you are driving a 2014 or 2015 model Grand Cherokee, you should have the recalled shifter in place. If not, then you likely already know how easy it could be to leave it in neutral instead of park.

3. Death Wobble Due to Front Axle Oscillation

The Grand Cherokee has a coil-based suspension system with a lot of related parts. The front end of your Grand Cherokee might suffer from the dreaded “death wobble” that makes the front wheels and drive axles oscillate and makes it feel like the wheels are wobbling.

Wobbling wheels are potentially dangerous and make it much harder to maintain traction and control while driving.

There are many potential causes of the dreaded death wobble, which is a descriptive but not necessarily accurate assessment of the potential for an accident occurring.

The potential causes include bad ball joints, an alignment problem, and imbalanced tires.

The steering stabilizer bar also might be worn and loose, which enables the wheels to move more freely from side to side.

The death wobble is more common in Grand Cherokees whose owners have lifted them and installed heavier suspension bars. A close inspection of the front end could help to identify the exact cause and enable you to fix it.

4. EcoDiesel Emissions Could Harm the Environment

If you are driving a Grand Cherokee that is equipped with an EcoDiesel motor, you might expect it to be environmentally friendly.

After all, it is supposed to be an economical engine that produces good power and gets good fuel economy by burning diesel fuel instead of gasoline.

Unfortunately, models built in 2014 and 2015 were not as environmentally friendly as advertised. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) accused Jeep and its parent corporation of using a device to artificially meet federal guidelines for nitrogen oxide emissions.

The DOJ accused Jeep of using emissions software to defeat emissions testing despite the engine allegedly emitting more than 10 times the federal limit for nitrogen oxide.

The software is supposed to optimize fuel economy and engine power under different driving conditions.

Jeep and its owner in 2019 settled a federal complaint lodged by the DOJ. A fix also is available to provide accurate readings and help the engine to stay within federal guidelines for emissions.

5. Fire Potential When Rear-Ended

Fuel tanks are necessary to enable you to travel long distances with your Grand Cherokee. Owners of the luxury SUV often enjoy taking it our on long road trips.

Fuel tanks on the Grand Cherokee are more exposed that those on other vehicles.

When rear-ended, it is possible for the Grand Cherokee fuel tank to rupture and a fire to start.

The taller stance of the Grand Cherokee and placement of its fuel tank make it easier for a typical sedan or compact car to drive underneath the rear end and cause fuel to spill.

A hot catalytic converter or sparks created during the collision could cause leaking fuel to ignite. Gasoline that is on fire could become very deadly for passengers in both vehicles.

6. Defective Window Regulator Makes Windows Stay in Place

Power windows are terrific for helping to ensure good comfort while enabling you to use a drive-through window or otherwise talk with those who are outside of your Grand Cherokee.

When power windows do not work as designed, they can become a big problem.

Power window failure might cause a window to stay closed, stay open, or stop while partly closed. A window that will not close makes it impossible for the heater to keep the vehicle warm or for the air conditioning to keep it cool.

An open window also lets rain, snow, or hail to enter the vehicle.

The same goes for bugs.

A defective window regulator often is the culprit when one or more power windows stops working on your Grand Cherokee.

Replacing the regulator can fix the problem but might require a relatively costly labor bill to install a new one.

7. Corroded Valve Stems Might Snap

Aluminum has helped to make vehicles lighter in weight and more economical at the gas pump.

Unfortunately, aluminum has its limits and sometimes proves to be a mistake when used to make a particular part.

Many Jeep owners learned the hard way that aluminum is not a good metal to use on valve stems.

Yet, many Grand Cherokee models come equipped with aluminum valve stems from the factory.

The big problem with aluminum valve stems is that aluminum corrodes – especially in rainy or snowy locales. When you put a steel cap on a valve stem, they tend to fuse together and become seized.

Some Grand Cherokee owners have snapped the valve stems while trying to use pliers to remove the seized valve stems.

Granted, that is harder to do when you regularly check your tire pressures, but many people ignore their tires for extended periods.

The Grand Cherokee includes a tire monitoring system and has for many years.

The system has the one negative effect of making it easier for you to ignore the tires, which makes it easier for an aluminum valve stem to seize up and snap in two when you try to remove the cap.

General Pros and Cons for the Jeep Grand Cherokee

A Grand Cherokee that is in good condition is among the best SUVs ever built. The interior is very comfortable, the engines are potent, and a 4X4 drivetrain gives it true go-anywhere capability.

When properly maintained and repaired as needed, a Grand Cherokee easily could surpass 200,000 miles on the odometer.

But maintenance and repairs are not always done as needed.

If you are considering buying a used Grand Cherokee, you should have a mechanic inspect it closely and list any issues that it might have.

All active recalls should have been done to help eliminate any common issues listed above and others that are sure to exist.

What Do the Reviews Say?

Early Grand Cherokee models are a bit rougher on the roadways with a relatively stiff suspension.

More recent models have smoothed out the rough edges and make it among the most comfortable SUVs to drive. Its comfort and luxury scores are among the best in its class.

Reviews generally commend the Grand Cherokee for: 

  • High power,
  • Good handling,
  • and high build quality.

The Grand Cherokee also scores highly for safety build and features that help to make accidents survivable.

The Grand Cherokee can be a very good buy.

What’s the Resale Value on the Jeep Grand Cherokee?

The Grand Cherokee initially loses value quickly before bottoming out in resale price after five or so years. The initially high price of a well-equipped Grand Cherokee almost ensures rapid depreciation during its first few years on the road.

It pays to shop around for used models that are in great shape.

You can find models under the $20,000 mark starting with 2015 Grand Cherokees.

Fluctuating used car prices are helping the Grand Cherokee to hold its value longer.

When you find a good deal on a used model with relatively low miles, it should hold its value very well as long as you maintain it and do not get into any accidents. 

Sources

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