Jeep Wrangler Transmission Problems

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The Jeep Wrangler has been acknowledged as being one of the most advanced Jeep models of all time. It stands out as a reliable off-road car.

Despite that, its popularity is plagued by its transmission problems. The issues have received so many complaints that the company was forced to recall some models.

In this article, I’ll review some of the important Jeep Wrangler transmission problems and their signs.

Here are a few of the signs listed below:

  1. Leakage Of Transmission Fluid
  2. Failed Gear Engagement
  3. Unpredictable Shifting
  4. Poor Fuel Economy
  5. Grinding Noises
  6. Delayed Throttle Response
  7. Delayed Shifting
  8. Heavy Vibration
  9. Warning Light Turning On
  10. Smell Of Something Burning

If your Jeep Wrangler shows these signs, it is most likely an indication directly towards the transmission.

Continue reading to learn more about these and identify what your Jeep is suffering from.

10 Signs Of Transmission Problems In A Jeep Wrangler

Do your Jeep Wranglers have transmission issues? Learn from my guide

If you need to pinpoint what sign your Jeep Wrangler is showing, the information given above should suffice.

However, this part of the article will briefly explain the symptoms mentioned above and why they are manifested.

1. Leakage Of Transmission Fluid

Watch for dark puddles in your parking lot or regular parking spots for your Jeep Wrangler. Your vehicle can have leaking fluid seals and broken rings.

The overall lack of transmission fluid will lead to less lubrication. Driving the Jeep in this condition will cause grinding gears and produce clunking sounds.

Eventually, it will end in transmission failure.

2. Failed Gear Engagement

This problem is common with automatic transmissions. This will prevent the gears from engaging in drive or reverse.

This mostly happens due to cold temperatures. It can also be caused due to dirty or low transmission fluid.

Another common cause is a loose transmission cooler filter or a bad cooling system in the transmission. This causes the fluid to leak out of the torque converter.

3. Unpredictable Shifting

Another automatic transmission only issue is when it shifts at the wrong time without warning. The most common reason is low fluid or a dirty filter.

Since the automatic transmission relies on the control module to shift gear, a bad or faulty module will cause unintended shifting.

A worn-out pressure solenoid prevents the transmission from keeping proper fluid pressure. Another reason could be a sensor failure or wiring issue.

4. Poor Fuel Economy

If your average fuel consumption is decreasing with some of the other signs mentioned here, it is most likely a bad transmission.

A slipping transmission eats up extra fuel as it delays shift. An automatic transmission that does not engage first gear also consumes a lot of fuel to get the car moving.

A bad transmission can and will affect your gas mileage, always decreasing the mileage you should be getting.

5. Grinding Noises

Loud grinding or clunking noises can be heard during a gear change or while driving, in general, due to low fluid levels.

The transmission’s gears and parts need to be lubricated to work properly. A lack of fluid will prevent this and cause grinding gears that produce these sounds.

A clogged or bad transmission fluid filter can also be a factor affecting your fluid levels as well.

6. Delayed Throttle Response

Another common problem is that the Jeep Wrangler’s transmission doesn’t shift properly or is delayed. This causes a decrease in acceleration drastically.

Feel the accelerator’s throttle to see if it works properly after registering the gear shift. Issues like this occur due to low lubrication between the gears because of low transmission fluids.

7. Delayed Shifting

Harsh and delayed up and downshifting is often a fuel-related issue. If your Jeep Wrangler has a bad fuel pump, it will send weak or reduced fuel flow.

A bad fuel pump will cause a delay in the fuel flow leading to a delay in shifts. Low transmission fluid also has similar effects.

The fuel supply is responsible for sending signals to the ECU, which controls other things.

8. Heavy Vibration

The transmission mount aims to secure your Jeep’s engine and transmission to the subframe. These mounting rubbers absorb vibration and shock, so the passengers don’t feel it.

Even a hairline crack in the rubber mounts will result in slight vibration that you can feel even if you cannot see the crack.

Further damage to the mounts will lead to heavy vibration and noise while the engine runs.

9. Warning Lights

The Jeep Wrangler’s transmission warning light turns on when there is an internal issue with the transmission.

It can be a warning about rising transmission temperatures or higher transmission temperatures than they are supposed to be.

These warning lights have many different codes which signify different problems. However, in most cases, these indicate a serious issue.

Refraining from driving the vehicle while this light turns on is advised.

10. Burning Smell

A burning smell coming from your Jeep is a cause for concern. Overheated transmission fluids or the lack of transmission fluids are the potential sources of this smell.

Fresh transmission fluid smells sweet or tart. If this smell starts to turn burnt, this means your transmission fluid is breaking down, and the system is becoming too hot.

How To Prevent Your Jeep Wrangler’s Transmission Issues

I have given a brief overview of the major transmission issues the Jeep Wrangler has. You should now know how much variety there is when it comes to its transmission problems.

Here are a few things you can do to prevent these problems:

1. Regularly Check Transmission Fluids

You should make it a habit to have your transmission fluids examined regularly. Also, have them replaced every four months or so.

This will reduce the chances of any problems related to fluid quality popping up. Change the fluid filter every once in a while as well.

2. Always Use Your Parking Brake

Always make use of your parking brake when putting your vehicle in park. This is extra important on an incline.

Parking brakes ensure your transmission gets the rest it needs to function properly. This makes them all the more worthwhile to use.

3. Refrain From Driving An Overheated Transmission

Overheating is the leading cause of total transmission failure.

To ensure your Jeep Wrangler’s transmission doesn’t overheat, you should check for leaks and regularly top up your fluid levels.

The manufacturer should specify the time interval between these checks.

4. Always Switch Gears Properly

Despite the Jeep Wrangler being fit for rough expeditions, its transmission is a delicate mechanism.

Try to be more conscious of when to change gears and learn the appropriate timing for switching gears. Shifting gears improperly can lead to serious and permanent damage.

5. Always Let Your Vehicle Warm Up

Warming up your Jeep Wrangler when you turn it on in the morning is beneficial for transmission.

A quick minute warm-up is enough to help the transmission fluid and oil flow through all the gears.

This prepares them for driving by properly lubricating them and prevents gear grinding. Be sure to warm up your jeep every morning for a smooth experience.

How To Fix The Jeep Wrangler’s Transmission Problems

Despite making all the methods mentioned above to prevent transmission problems a habit, you can still face transmission problems.

Sometimes the issue lies in the transmission itself, which might be inevitable and occur anywhere.

Most issues result from low transmission fluid, clogged fluid filters, or a faulty cooling system; look into them.

If you find parts that are beyond repair, you should replace them with new ones.

Clogs will need to be removed manually, while faults in the systems will need to be fixed by a professional or yourself.

You should establish a habit of a diagnostic check for your Jeep Wrangler. A lot of problems can arise with the Jeep Wrangler’s transmission.

You will have to carefully access them to identify your problem and have it fixed.

As long as you follow the tips above on preventing these problems, you should be safe from any serious problems.

Which Year Did Jeep Wrangler Have Transmission Troubles?

Over the years, many Jeep Wrangler models have suffered transmission problems. I’ll briefly review all of them with an overview of their problems.

2011 Jeep Wrangler

The 2011 model has been reported with countless complaints. Consumers have been struggling with a harsh shift that jerks and takes time to engage.

A slipping transmission accompanies this. The car shuddered a lot while driving due to a faulty torque converter.

2012 Jeep Wrangler

The 2012 Jeep Wrangler’s power steering line came in contact and made a hole in the transmission oil cooler line. This resulted in a huge loss of transmission fluid.

This created the famous “grinding gears” problem, which was reported countless times. Many models were recalled because of this.

2013 Jeep Wrangler

Countless complaints of fluid leaks leading to low fluid levels were reported, which is the most common transmission problem.

However, the 2013 model also suffered from damaged needles in the torque converter. This produced very loud sounds when driving.

Its clutch also jammed regularly and locked the solenoid, causing incorrect calculation of transmission fluid in the torque converter.

2014 Jeep Wrangler

This was mostly complained about because of strange grinding noises and problems while shifting gears. These included slipping gears and a delay in shifting and engagement of gears.

There were reports of random surges forwards and backward while driving at no specific speed and a stalling accelerator.

2015 Jeep Wrangler

Two main problems typically arose when it came to the 2015 Jeep Wrangler. Users complained about a loud noise while driving and the slipping of gears.

This was due to a mechanical issue. It was also reported for having delayed shifts. Users stated that it felt as if the vehicle was hunting while driving.

2016 Jeep Wrangler

On top of the various issues the 2016 Jeep Wrangler was plagued with, transmission issues were also quite common. This was mostly found in the drivetrain.

People would notice that the traction and the ABS lights would randomly come on. Aside from this, the model was known for complete transmission failure.

2017 Jeep Wrangler

Continuing the trend set by the 2016 model, the 2017 Jeep Wrangler also had a bad case of transmission failure.

The gear ratio was off, and there was a considerable loss of power when driving uphill. While the power train issues had been resolved, the whole system was still suffering.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

While not as common as the other models on this list, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler also had its fair share of transmission issues.

These ranged from rear differential failure to traction control light problems. Furthermore, the transmission had an array of issues that made it would not shift properly.

2021 Jeep Wrangler

A unique but annoying automatic transmission problem that the 2021 Jeep Wrangler suffered from was slipping into the park and neutral gears at high speeds.

This issue caused problems ranging from slight annoyance to lethal accidents. The shifting of gears was also delayed in the manual transmission.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Much Does A Jeep Wrangler Transmission Replacement Cost?

You can expect about $1900 to $3,500. This cost will vary depending on your Jeep Wrangler’s model year, location, and local rates.

Q2: What Is The Life Span Of A Jeep Wrangler’s Transmission?

A typical transmission system of the Jeep Wrangler can last anywhere between 130,000 and 180,000 miles. Assuming you maintain your car well, it will last well beyond 180,000.


Q3: Is It Safe To Drive A Jeep Wrangler With A Bad Transmission?

Off-road expeditions are dangerous as is. You do not need the additional danger that comes with a bad transmission.

With that being said, it is not safe for you to drive with a bad transmission.


When it boils down to it, the Jeep Wrangler is great when it comes to off-road travel.

While dependable, it is not the best for being a daily driver. This, combined with all the above issues, can make the lineup a tough sell.

I am here to tell you that despite various Jeep Wrangler transmission problems, you should give the car a chance.

Now that you know all of these issues, you will be easily able to handle them if they pop up. This will ensure that you can retain a quality off-road experience.