The Jeep Gladiator first hit showrooms in 1963 as a replacement for the Willys Jeep Truck. It was available in both two-wheel and four-wheel drive versions, with either a six- or eight-cylinder engine. The Gladiator was produced until 1971, when it was replaced by the Jeep Wagoneer. In its eight years of production, the Gladiator went through several changes and updates.
Finally, in 2018, the Jeep Gladiator made its comeback. Now based on the Wrangler platform, the new midsize Gladiator truck is built for off-road capabilities. It comes with four-wheel drive and a choice of either a V6 or turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Although the reincarnated version is a relatively new model, the Jeep Gladiator already has a few common problems. Here are four issues that you should be aware of before buying a Gladiator.
1. Unstable at Highway Speeds
The Jeep Gladiator pickup truck has a tendency to become unstable at highway speeds, which can cause the driver to lose control. Labeled the “death wobble” by Gladiator owners, the symptoms and signs of this problem include wobbling or shaking, loss of steering wheel control, and a feeling of being out of control.
Instability while driving on the highway is primarily caused by hitting bumps at high speeds. This problem is so severe that Jeep has issued a service bulletin to dealerships to update the software that controls the steer box.
How to Fix
If you experience instability while driving your Jeep Gladiator on the highway, have your front suspension inspected to check the ball joints, tie rods, and track bar. All mounting points should be checked and tightened accordingly.
As long as your Gladiator is under warranty, Stellantis will replace the steering dampener. Many owners of Jeep Gladiators have reported that this fixes the problem. However, others have said that the wobble issue returns in about a year’s time, thus requiring another dampener replacement.
Another potential fix is to ensure lubrication of the rear driveshaft. Without ample lubrication, overheating and breakage can occur, which can affect steering.
2. Inaccurate and Unresponsive Steering
Inaccurate and unresponsive steering may be caused by a number of factors, including worn steering components, misaligned suspension, or an improperly adjusted steering system.
Symptoms and signs of inaccurate and unresponsive steering can include difficulty turning the wheel, wandering or inconsistency in steering response, or excessive vibration when driving.
The problem may affect all model years of the Jeep Gladiator, though it has been most commonly reported in vehicles manufactured between 2020 and 2021.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms or signs of inaccurate and unresponsive steering, have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.
How to Fix
If the problem is caused by worn steering components, they will need to be replaced. If the problem is due to misaligned suspension, you will need to have your vehicle’s suspension system inspected and have faulty components repaired or replaced as necessary.
Finally, if the problem is caused by an improperly adjusted steering wheel system, it will need to be properly adjusted by a qualified mechanic. It’s possible that the aforementioned software update will resolve this issue, so be sure to inquire about it.
3. Poor Fuel Economy
The Jeep Gladiator is known to have poor fuel economy. Many owners report getting less than 16 mpg in real-world driving. The most common cause of this is a damaged or faulty O2 sensor.
Whenever there’s a problem with the O2 sensor, it causes the engine to run lean, which means it doesn’t have enough fuel or there’s too much air. Engines require a particular air-to-fuel ratio to run effectively. This not only reduces fuel economy but can also damage the engine over time.
The poor fuel economy issue is most prevalent in 2022 Jeep Gladiator models.
How to Fix
If you think your O2 sensor is damaged, take it to a mechanic to have it checked. They’ll be able to tell you for sure and replace the sensor if necessary. You can also check the fuel pump to see if it needs replacing.
4. Engine Issues (Noise, Misfires, Check Engine Light)
The engine is one of the most common Jeep Gladiator problems. There are several issues that can occur, including noise, misfires, engine failure, and the check engine light coming on.
Noise: The most common noise problem is a rattling noise that comes from the engine. This is usually caused by loose or worn-out engine parts.
Misfires: Another common issue is misfires. This can be caused by a number of things, including bad spark plugs, low fuel pressure, faulty electrical systems, or a bad ignition coil.
Check Engine Light: The check engine light can come on for a variety of reasons, including problems with the engine, the automatic transmission, or the emission system.
The engine issues described above are common in the 2020 Jeep Gladiator.
How to Fix
Due to the vast number of engine issues that can occur, it’s difficult to give a single solution. The best thing you can do is take your Jeep Gladiator to a certified Jeep dealer or mechanic and have them diagnose the problem. They will be able to recommend the best course of action based on the specific issue.
Know What to Look For Before You Buy
The new Jeep Gladiator is a great vehicle, but like any vehicle, it has its share of common problems. It’s a tad disappointing that such issues are reported for a vehicle that’s relatively young. But as long as you know what to look for, you can avoid having to deal with costly repairs down the road.
The most common problems with the Jeep Gladiator are related to its steering wheel, fuel economy, and engine. These are all important things to keep in mind when you’re shopping for a Gladiator or any other vehicle, for that matter.
If you’re looking for a Jeep Gladiator, be sure to do your research and know what to look for. With a little knowledge, you can avoid the most common Jeep Gladiator problems and have a great experience with your new ride.