The Jeep Grand Cherokee was introduced in 1992, with its production beginning in 1993. It’s been one of the most in-demand Jeep models ever since, thanks to its array of features and functionality. Alongside the Jeep Wrangler, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the most iconic Jeep models out there.
However, there have been some lackluster versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee over the years. The luxury midsize SUV was beset by some production faults in 2011, 2014, and 2015. In this article, I’ll take a look at the problems in the Jeep Grand Cherokee years to avoid and also go over the best production years of this particular model.
Bottom Line Up Front
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a globally-renowned American brand that’s built to offer the wonderful off-road capability associated with Jeep. But there are some model years to steer clear of if you’re looking for a used Jeep. These include 2011, 2014, and 2015 models.
Users have reported the most complaints about these models. The three model years have a had a range of mechanical flaws and steep maintenance costs, including transmission issues, engine problems, software vulnerability issues, and poor brake performance, to name a few.
Jeep Grand Cherokee’s Best and Worst Years
According to data from various third-party websites like Consumer Reports, Car Complaints, auto shops, and car forums, the Grand Cherokee versions of 2011, 2014, and 2015 had plenty of mechanical faults, lots of customer complaints, and high maintenance costs. Therefore, you may want to steer clear of them.
With up to 714 customer complaints, the Grand Cherokee 2011 model is the worst of the lot, considering its substantial maintenance cost vis-à-vis its relatively low mileage. It had totally integrated power module (TIPM), electrical wiring, and interior styling issues.
The TIPM breaks down and stops the engine from starting or significantly delays it. More than 200 owners reported this.
There were ten times as many customer complaints about the 2011 model year as the previous year’s model, which led to a class-action lawsuit being filed. The complaints had shrunk by almost 80 percent by the time the 2012 model came out.
The 2011 Grand Cherokee is the first fourth-generation Jeep model, which could be why it has the most complaints. A pioneering model will inevitably have more faults than its predecessors and successors.
Even though the 2011 model had gone through standard testing, there was no time for actual consumers to test it and for additional improvements to be made.
There were several recalls for the 2011 Grand Cherokee due to the numerous issues reported by customers. Here are the main reasons for each recall.
- TIPM: The Grand Cherokee stalled suddenly due to TIPM’s fuel pump failure. This TIPM flaw occurred at around 50,000 miles and cost more than $1,000 to sort out.
- Brake Booster Shield: Major corrosion in the central brake booster let water in. The water then froze, causing poor brake performance.
- Wiring: There were some rare cases of short circuit problems on the sun’s visor, which posed the risk of a fire while driving.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee was a much-improved fourth-generation model, with an upgraded electrical system, more powerful engine, and more comfortable and stylish interior. However, there were numerous issues concerning the vehicle’s engine, brakes, and interior accessories.
The transmission was the biggest fault in the 2014 model, specifically jerky or rough gear changing. Unsuccessfully changing from drive to park caused the vehicle to roll even if its engine was off, causing injuries.
One of the updates to the 2014 model was the traditional level gear changer, making way for an electric one. Therefore, some motorists might not have got the hang of the new gear changer yet, making it hard for them to successfully change the gear.
There are 12 recalls for the 2014 Grand Cherokee due to the following significant concerns.
- Wiring system: The 2014 Grand Cherokee had short circuit problems that prevented the user from stopping the cruise control. Therefore, the vehicle either maintained or increased its speed.
- Engine: Brake fluid leakage occurred, causing the vehicle to consume brake fluid faster than normal. So this forced the driver to apply the brakes earlier than usual.
- Airbags: Disabled side and front airbags were caused by a defective ORC (occupant restraint control) module. Some drivers also reported that the malfunction indicator light failed to illuminate.
- Speed control: There was a possible continuous acceleration of the vehicle, even when the driver released the accelerator pedal. This is potentially dangerous to everyone in and around the vehicle.
- Brake booster shield: The central brake booster was susceptible to rusting, which let in water. The water then froze, limiting braking efficiency.
- Alternator: A sudden alternator malfunction made the car stall without warning, increasing the risk of an accident.
- Electronic stability control: The electronic stability control was potentially disabled due to SCCM (Steering Column Control Module) software problems. That made it difficult for the driver to successfully control the car, increasing the risk of an accident.
- Automatic transmission: Drivers often reported issues with moving and locking the car’s gear into park mode.
- Electronics: Vehicles with radios had issues with software vulnerability. Therefore, this might lead to unauthorized access by third parties to modify and manipulate parts of the car’s control systems.
The 2015 Grand Cherokee was plagued by many of the issues in the previous year’s model.
While there were fewer engine and brake problems in the 2015 model, it had the same transmission issues as the 2014 version. That’s a bit of a downer because these problems should have been sorted out through upgrades.
The first issue is unreliable shifting, typically experienced at around 12,000 miles. This cost users around $7,500 to sort out. Other issues included poor shifting at about 7,150 miles and limited transmission efficiency at about 6,100 miles.
The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee was recalled six times due to the following issues:
- Engine: There was brake fluid leakage, forcing the driver to apply the brakes earlier than normal.
- Rear suspension: Some units probably had rear faulty rear suspensions, causing a “fracture” that affected ride height, brake efficiency, and rear-end stability.
- Electronics: Radio-equipped units had vulnerable software issues. Therefore, it might have given third parties unauthorized access to control and modify some of the car’s control systems.
- Hydraulics/service brake: On top of the brake fluid leakage problem, some units had issues like the brake caliper easily breaking down. As such, that also increased the risk of an accident since the driver had to apply the brakes earlier than usual.
- Wiring system: There were short circuit problems that prevented the user from stopping the cruise control. Therefore, the vehicle either maintained or increased its speed.
- Automatic transmission: Drivers typically reported problems with moving and locking the car’s gear into park mode.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Best Years
Most Jeep devotees recommend buying old Jeep Grand Cherokee models due to their reliability and versatility. However, it’s also important to consider other factors when going for older versions, even if they’re considered some of the best.
When it comes to the 1990s Grand Cherokee models, the most recommended are the ones from 1998 and 1999. This is because they had several upgrades that made them better and faster for off-road driving.
As for the 2000s, the best option would be the 2005 model due to its exceptional off-road and on-road capabilities. Moreover, the engine’s design struck an excellent balance between fuel economy and performance.
Finally, the 2017 and 2018 Grand Cherokee models were the most highly recommended newer models. Of course, they boast loads of more advanced modern features and beautiful leather seats to give you a more lavish, comfortable ride.
FAQs on Jeep Grand Cherokee Years to Avoid
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the most reliable and comfortable luxury midsize SUVs out there. It works efficiently for the most part and requires little maintenance. However, the car had a few awful production years, namely 2011, 2014, and 2015.
The worst models to buy would be the ones of 2014 and 2015. They had more safety issues and also cost significantly more to repair than the 2011 versions. Similarly, their issues occurred when the mileage was still low.
On the flip side, while there were more complaints about the 2011 model than the latter two models, the cost of repairs was much lower.
I hope this article has shed enough light on the worst and best Jeep Grand Cherokee model years. If you’re in the market for a Grand Cherokee, you can now make a more informed choice.