How Reliable are Jeeps?
Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and we're here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How're you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well this morning.
Mark: So we're preparing for the apocalypse and we're going to talk about Jeeps. How reliable are Jeeps?
Bernie: Well they're reliable enough to get you to, if there's a zombie apocalypse, to get you out to the bush. Let's put it that way. We often wonder why so many people own Jeeps. But people love their Jeeps. The Wrangler, which is kind of your classic Jeep style which goes back to when Jeep was founded in 1943 as an army vehicle. The Wrangler is just a modernized off shoot of that. People love that vehicle and Jeep's been really successful with their SUVs, with the Grand Cherokee of course, which is a very nice luxurious, they have really nice luxurious platforms in a lot of them. They've been making that since the, the Grand Cherokee goes well into the 90s anyways.
Mark: Almost a pioneer in SUVs.
Bernie: It really is actually. I guess sometimes I argue maybe the Suburban is kind of like the original, but really Jeep Grand Cherokee really brought the SUV to the forefront and they're kind of like the poster child of the SUV and everything that's wrong with an SUV too because they're... a lot of them, they're not that big. Of course you can drive pretty well anywhere with them but they've got a hideous gas guzzling engine, not very economical. A lot of energy goes into to powering the drivetrain on these things. So really I think there was a while were the Jeep Grand Cherokee had about the worst gas mileage going for a long time. So there's some things that maybe not to be so proud of but they are an awesome vehicle in terms of what they do and people love them. And we do work on an awful lot of them. A variety of Jeep models.
Mark: Yeah, so what goes wrong with Jeeps?
Bernie: So let's just, we'll just talk for the last couple decades, say from the year 2000. As much as I hate to say it, there's actually quite a lot of stuff on Jeeps that does tend to go wrong. Let's just start on the engine side of it. So Jeeps, mostly gasoline engines but in the Grand Cherokee there are some diesel options. In the Liberty they put a diesel in for a little while too.
So let's just talk about that Liberty diesel. If you look at our list of podcasts and videos, you'll see a number of videos we've done and I won't delve too deep into them. But it is a vehicle I'd avoid. There's a lot of engine issues with these Liberty diesels. I believe it's an Italian made diesel engine, kind of a strange design and a lot of things go wrong with them. They're hard to get parts for. We're in Canada and we usually order all our parts for these out of the US where there's a lot more available but they are an expensive engine to replace. Things do tend to go wrong with them. So as I say with a lot of diesels, the amount of money to save on fuel because they are super economical on fuel, you will pay in repairs over the long run. And these Liberty diesels they were only around the 05, 06, 07, somewhere around that model year. So these are starting to get pretty old and we're seeing less of them getting repaired nowadays because I think they're just getting less economical as they tend to get older.
The Grand Cherokee had the Mercedes 3 litre diesel for a few years in the mid 2000s. I think 06, 07, 08 somewhere around that range. Just a few model years. We repair a lot of these. Again look at our videos and podcasts because we talk a lot about these. But same kind of typical stuff that we find with the Mercedes ML320. It's a common used engine and there's a number of things that tend to go wrong with these. Again over time.
Mark: Keep up your maintenance.
Bernie: Well, keep up your maintenance that's really the key factor with these things. But even if you keep up your maintenance, you're still going to run into a number of issues that tend to go bad with them. But there's some good maintenance items that can save you some money over time and we can make sure we take care of those in our shop. But as I say, look at our videos and podcasts, there's some good ideas.
Jeep stopped making the diesel for a while and then they brought it back with a... you know when Fiat bought out Chrysler, they brought back a Fiat version diesel and to be honest with you, I've never seen a problem with them. They're not really common. I think they've been out for about 5 years now. I don't hear a lot of bad things about them but I have to say, to me having been in the car business for a long time, to me Fiat and reliability just don't tend to go along well together. So I worry that given time that Fiat diesel could be worse than the Mercedes one, but who knows, maybe it's better.
So gasoline. So as I say most of them are gasoline. I mean, all the Wranglers are gasoline, they're mostly V6 engines. Pretty reliable. I mean, we don't see too much with those. A few oil leaks here and there. Some coolant leaks. Water pumps, those sort of things. On the Jeep Grand Cherokees and some of those models they're available with V8s. Hemis, there's some issues with those which we're going to talk about next week on an engine repair we're doing. But there's a few engine issues with these, they're not bullet proof reliable, as good as you'd think. You might think they'd be being the type of engine they are. The earlier straight 6s that they put in a lot of Jeeps and this went into the 2000s, those were really good engines. Really bullet proof, reliable engines. So if you're looking at something older and you can get on of the 4 lire straight 6 engine, those were really tough. I've seen people abuse them horribly and they still survived really well. That was a good engine.
Then we have some smaller Jeeps, Compasses, those type of things. They tend to be fairly reliable. A lot of them with 4 cylinder models. Pretty decent. And of course, I'm sort of thinking back to the V6 versions of the Liberty. The gasoline model, definitely not a great engine. A lot of problems with those, with timing chains and valve seats slipping out of the engines. Definitely, you know to me, a Jeep Liberty is not a great vehicle to own. You're probably going to have a lot of issues with those. Seems like the engines, whether you or gas or diesel you're going to have some issues with those.
Oh yeah, cooling system. You know especially with Jeep Grand Cherokee, they tend to have radiator problems I tend to think ahead of their time and they're an expensive radiator repair. The way they're built with the Chrysler style of doing it, they've sandwiched the, they've sort of built the radiator, the AC condenser and the power steering cooler, it's all kind of a modular assembly all put together. And taking the radiator out is a lot of work on these vehicles. So expect to pay a lot of money when you have a leaking radiator on a Jeep. And we've seen some too where the transmission cooler fails. So you get transmission fluid inside the radiator or worse. If you get coolant into the transmission, it'll cause the transmission to fail. But fortunately most of them we've seen have gone the way of going into the radiator which is at least more repairable. You have a good cooling system flush in the radiator. It's a much more complicated repair than I think it needs to be and myself, and my fellow technicians we often curse and swear when we do it. We go "Why did they build it like this!"
Mark: So what about the transmission and drive train?
Bernie: Generally these are pretty reliable. We don't run into too many problems with them. Yeah, generally pretty decent. Although, actually I will say, transfer cases. There are a few issues on the, you know, the manual transfer cases on the older models and some models are pretty much bullet proof. But there are some electronic transfer cases on Grand Cherokees. They have an actuator unit that tends to fail prematurely and we do find the odd transfer case issue. But the differentials are generally pretty good. The CV axles are pretty well built. Not too much problem with those.
Brakes again, you know, I'd consider them average. There's nothing that tends to go wrong with those prematurely than any other vehicle. Usually of course, pad and rotors need to be replaced. Some models have to have drum brakes. But yeah, they're generally good and reliable. A lot of them have ABS brakes and there'll be the odd ABS brake sensor that will fail and need some repair. But generally the brakes are pretty reliable on these vehicles and nothing above average for repair.
Mark: And how's the steering and suspension?
Bernie: Well there's some issues there with some models. You know in a lot of them, especially I'm thinking the more the Wrangler style. The tie rod ends tend to wear out probably sooner than they could. The ball joints on a lot of models tend to wear out. There's some control arm bushings on some models. The suspensions are different depending on again, which vehicle you're looking at. But there's probably a higher than average number of repairs needed on the steering and suspension system on these vehicles. Some rack and pinions on certain models as well. So you can be prepared if you own one of these that there'll be a few, you will be spending a few more dollars than you would on some other vehicles.
Mark: How's the electrical system?
Bernie: Generally pretty good. You know on some of these they're pretty complex especially on the Grand Cherokee. some of them are pretty fancy vehicles. But generally they're pretty good and pretty trouble free.
Mark: And how is the body, fit and finish?
Bernie: Well some of these are, I'd say ok. I mean especially the Wrangler of course is a more utilitarian vehicle so it's not quite as fancy and people don't expect it to be. I find like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, when they're new, they tend to be really nice but as they age they tend to get, I don't know, they get a little creaky and the fit and finish doesn't seem to be quite as good as they were when they were new. But we don't really run into a huge amount of electrical problems with them.
It does get me thinking, you know, the one thing we haven't talked about really is the air conditioning and heating system and there are a number of issues with Jeeps. And again, I'm thinking more of the Grand Cherokee models with AC evaporator core problems and heater core issues. You know, these can be expensive repairs that require the dash to be removed. So we see that on some models, not all but occasionally they do have issues like that that need to be repaired.
Mark: So to sum it up other than freeing yourself from a Liberty at all costs, how are Jeeps overall for reliability?
Bernie: You know again I'd say probably a little below average for some. I think a lot of people buy Jeeps because they like the vehicle and to me I thinks that's kind of one of the most important things in owning a car. Do you like the vehicle? Does it suit your needs and is it what you want? You will be paying a slight premium to own a Jeep in terms of repairs for that kind of thing. As I said, the Liberty is a model I'd avoid. There's a couple there to avoid but the Grand Cherokee is decent. The Cherokees are good. The Wranglers are ok. You will just spend a little more money than you would on some other vehicles.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service and maintenance on your Jeep in Vancouver, Bc Canada. The guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead because they're busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of articles and blog posts on there about all makes and models of cars and repairs and reliability reports as well. And of course, our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, same thing. Many videos over 400 now. And thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark and thanks for watching.