A Jeep Wrangler stands out as a reliable off-road car. However, transmission problems plague its popularity.
Sometimes, it’s a minor problem that a repair shop can fix in a few hours to a day, and you can fetch your car the following day.
At other times, the issues receive so many complaints that the company recalls some models.
For instance, in 2021, Fiat Chrysler recalled over 40,000 Wranglers and Gladiators of car models from 2018 to 2021 because they had a faulty clutch that could cause a fire.
Was your car recalled, or you don’t have a Jeep Wrangler yet?
Well, let’s talk about the Jeep Wrangler automatic transmission problems that you should know by now.
How the Jeep Wrangler Transmission Has Evolved
The first Jeep Wrangler was a 1997 model, and it came with a 2.5 L AMC straight-4 or a 4.0 L AMC straight-4 engine. Those engines were in models from 1997 to 2002. Those years had 3-speed 30RH automatic and 5-speed AX-5 manual transmissions.
Most years of the Jeep Wrangler offer either automatic or manual transmission. The 2003 to 2006 Wranglers came in either 2.4 L PowerTech or 4.0 V6 engines and different transmissions.
The most notable transmission in those models is the 4-speed 42RLE, which served the Wrangler until its 2011 model.
Which problems do Wrangler transmissions cause?
Popular Jeep Wrangler Automatic Transmission Problems
Torque Converter Issues
The torque converter plays a vital role in the transmission, for it contains the transmission fluid, the clutch, turbine, and impeller pump. These parts ensure the gears function and are lubricated.
Your car can shudder when the torque converter fails. It can also slip as you change gears due to a faulty connection between the transmission and the engine. As such, the fault means there’s no hydraulic pressure to engage or shift gears.
This problem can also cause overheating as a faulty torque converter doesn’t transmit power from a Jeep’s engine to its transmission efficiently. The torque’s seal may also get damaged and can cause fluid leakage.
Gear Shifting or Engagement Delay
Gear failure or delay is a common issue in older Wranglers, from 1993 to 2006, installed with 43RLE or 42RE 4.0L engines. Sometimes, the problem crops up when shifting from first to third or third to fourth gear.
It’s one of the top complaints listed for the Jeep Wrangler, and it has many causes. For example, there might be a fault in the connection of the transmission of shifting. Also, your Jeep’s transmission fluid may be low.
For example, the 2013 Jeep Wrangler had a hole in its transmission oil cooler that led to transmission fluid loss. That’s why the company recalled the 2012-2013 models with a 3.6 L engine.
The failure may also come from a dirty transmission filter. If it’s arising from a worn overdrive solenoid, it’s because there’s no pressure to engage the fourth gear. The delay or failure can last a few seconds or minutes, depending on the magnitude of the problem.
Some of these problems are easy to resolve, while others require expert assistance. If you take time before consulting a mechanic, you risk getting expensive repairs when other parts linked to the transmission fail.
Low Transmission Fluid
As we mentioned earlier, you’re likely to experience transmission issues when the fluid level drops. The problems arising from this include shifting failure, jerks, delay, and grinding noise.
Vehicle Speed Sensor Failure
It can move your gear to the emergency mode or cause a harsh shift.
When the bands wear out, they may cause harsh shifting, gear loss, reverse failure, or delayed shifting.
Damaged Wire Harness
Damaged wire harnesses can cause Wrangler shifting issues as they connect the transmission.
Another situation you may experience in a Jeep Wrangler is a stuck gear or one in limp home mode.
So, how do you tell the problem your Wrangler has?
Signs of an Automatic Transmission Going Bad
If your gear can’t shift, there may be an electrical or mechanical fault. It can also be a case of faulty hydraulics.
The transmission fluid may overheat and release a pungent smell when it has sludge and debris. That’s why you need to change the transmission fluid when your car’s mileage reaches over 100,000 miles.
If your car is leaking, transmission fluid should be your first guess. This fluid prevents overheating by lubricating components. When your Wrangler loses this fluid fast, it may have worn out parts that need repair before the whole system stops working.
New sounds that you’ve never heard in your car before should worry you. Further, if you hear a hum, clunk, or buzz, there’s something wrong with your transmission.
In most cases, you’ll hear a clunking noise in a manual transmission that’s about to fail and hum or buzz sounds if your car uses an automatic transmission.
Grinding or Jerking
For example, if your car loses power while going uphill, you know something is happening in the transmission.
To troubleshoot your Jeep, check your car’s transmission fluid level as it causes most transmission problems. If you still can’t tell what’s wrong, find out which transmission is in your Jeep. They vary with the model year you are driving.
For instance, a 2003 to 2011 Jeep Wrangler has a 4-speed Automatic 42RLE, while a 2012 to 2017 Jeep has a 5-speed Automatic W5A580. When you know what’s in your car, you can check the complaints associated with that transmission type. Also, check for recalls of your car’s transmission.
Which Jeeps have transmission problems?
Jeeps that are often highlighted for faulty transmissions include Renegade, Cherokee, Compass, Grand Renegade, and Jeep Wrangler. In 2020, the company recalled over 90,000 Cherokees.
Fiat Chrysler said the faulty parts were in models from 2014 to 2017, and they could cause power loss. You can tell the model with more problems by checking the transmission types with the most recalls or complaints.
Are automatic Jeep Wranglers good?
Yes, as you can keep your eyes on the road without the need to press the clutch or shift gears. That’s what you’d need in stop-and-go traffic. These transmissions are also advancing, improving on mileage and power. See the best year for Jeep Wrangler.
How much does it cost to fix a Jeep transmission?
It depends on the replacement parts needed and the cost of the repair service. The most expensive solution is replacing the transmission. It’s a solution when the faults are too many to fix. Replacing takes place in a factory setting, not a repair shop.
The alternative is a rebuild to fix faulty parts only. Parts to repair include seals, bands, and gaskets. In a rebuild, a repair shop takes out the transmission, repairs the worn parts, and reassembles your transmission back into the car.
Some transmission problems crop up when your transmission is low on fluid. It’s one of the main reasons the gear doesn’t start. Fortunately, it’s not a technical issue; you can check the transmission fluid level in less than five minutes. When it’s low, the parts aren’t lubricated, and the system may overheat.
But your car’s transmission may have other mechanical issues that require replacement or rebuilding. There’s a difference between the two solutions as the former means a complete factory reset while the latter takes place in an auto shop and only affects faulty parts.