May 3

How Reliable Are Jeep Grand Cherokees?



Mark: Hi we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver talking cars. How’re you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about Jeep Grand Cherokees and how reliable they are, they’ve been around for a long time, how reliable are they?

Bernie: Well let’s say they’re mixed. Yes they’ve been around for a long time, the first Grand Cherokee started in 93, there’s like basically four generation, 93 to 98, 99 to 04, 05 to 2010 and then 2011 to the present, actually realized that the present is 2017 so they’ve been making this style the longest of any Jeep so there’s bound to be a new one out pretty darn soon. Interesting thing, this vehicle is also, I mean most North American cars they never leave North America, but the Grand Cherokee is sold actually in Europe and in other places around the world so they’ve had some success selling it elsewhere. But I think one of the things that’s really hampered the vehicle is the Chrysler merger, well Chrysler has been a little bit of an unstable company for, if I can use that word, they’ve been trying to find their home so to speak for a long time. The Jeep was basically an American Motors product and Chrysler took that over so they’ve, you’ve seen the early American Motors influence in the early years of the Grand Cherokee, then Mercedes and Chrysler merged and you know created some stuff with that and they’ve gone their own way, and they’re trying to recreate themselves all along and I think that’s affected the reliability of the vehicles. Let’s do a quick share of some photos here, just a few different model years, so we’ve got, what’ve we got here, here’s your 95. This is the earliest, the early year of the first generation; we’ve got the next generation which is the 03, that’s an 03 model; and there’s an 09 so that’s the third generation and finally into the fourth generation, we’ve got a picture of a Jeep Grand Cherokee doing what it does best, driving through the snow. So there’s a few different, just got to stop my sharing, ok there I am back again, okay so yeah, those are the different Jeeps variety.

Mark: Okay so what are some of the things that go wrong with them?

Bernie: Well, I’ll talk about some of, a couple of the good things first. I think the engines are generally pretty good especially the earlier years, the four litre straight six engine is an excellent engine, extremely reliable and the V8 offerings, the 5.2, the 5.9 again pretty reliable and solid as well. We get into the early 2000’s generation then we’ve got the overhead cam V8 3.7 V6 and the 4.7 V8 there were some issue with those valve guides dropping out if you don’t change your oil often enough. These engine were not forgiving, there were timing chain problems and expensive to fix. But again, we have clients with them that have gone way over 200 thousand kilometres and still had no problems. And then you get into the newer generations, the engines again are pretty good, there’s the Hemis and there’s some good performance options available, the engines generally are pretty reliable and there’s also some diesel offerings in the last, sort of mid to late 2000’s, the Mercedes 3 litre diesel. A good engine but very expensive to fix when things go wrong so just something to watch with caution, may not be the best value. You really got to check it out whether it’s worth your while but you can buy a Jeep diesel for a lot cheaper than buying a Mercedes diesel so it could be a pretty good value.

So other issues that go wrong, we’ve seem coolant leaks, it seems like a lot of things happen on Jeeps you know maybe before other vehicles where, we’ve seen transmission coolers leaking fluid into the radiator. 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee seems to be one of the most years, there’s some electrical issues, there’s a part called a tip which is a total integrated power module. They fail suddenly, a lot of complaints for failures for these. We’ve actually not run into any ourselves at the shop, I shouldn’t say that, we’ve had a couple but you know, not as much when you look at the internet and how big of a problem that is. But that is a definite thing to watch for if you’re buying in 2011, this seems to be that that model year that is the worst.

The brakes, being a heavy sport utility vehicle, brakes you get about 50 to 70 thousand kilometres out of brakes, also a bit of a gas guzzler too. That’s really not a reliability thing, but a lot of them, there’s large engines, all wheel drive, so they use a lot of gas. And another area where we see a lot of issues, heater cores, air conditioning system, leaking heater cores, again these happen when the vehicles get older but they’re expensive to fix on these vehicles. And my other criticism to things like I mentioned, a radiator leaking earlier, a lot of them they’re not simply designed, Chrysler sort of modularly put together the radiator and the air conditioning, the AC evaporator, they’ve sandwiched it all together, so to change the radiator, not a simple job in these vehicles, can end up being over a thousand dollars to do a rad job on a Grand Cherokee. So that’s a lot more than it used to be in the earlier generations. So those are some of the things we see.

Mark: Lots of issues. What are your final thoughts?

Bernie: Final thoughts, you know they’re a popular vehicle, people like them, I would say that when you get into one, even from the earlier generations, they’re nicely built vehicles, leather seats, luxury features in a lot of the models, so they’re attractive but you know when you compare it to say a Toyota Land Cruiser which is a lot more money, by the way, but a Land Cruiser or even a Forerunner, and again those are usually more money, definitely not as reliable. You know, certain things, we’ve serviced Land Cruisers with 400 thousand kilometres, they still need some work but they’re still more solid in reliability. So I like the Grand Cherokees but just be prepared to spend a few more dollars than you would on your average vehicle for repairs and maintenance.

Mark: So there you go, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. If you have a Jeep Grand Cherokee that you need some service on, they’re the guys to call. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website Thanks a lot Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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