Best & Worst Jeep Wrangler Years [Models]

Here are the best and worst Jeep Wrangler years based on our analysis of each year.

Jeep Wranglers are among the most popular vehicles for off-roading and open-air driving. The Jeep Wrangler’s best and worst years are highlighted in this guide, so you can avoid pitfalls and find gems.

A thorough research process, including owner-reported reliability ratings, annual maintenance costs, safety ratings, and other factors, drives our analysis.

Best & Worst Jeep Wrangler Years [Models]

The Jeep Wrangler 4th generation model reflects the evolution of its 2nd generation model.

Come on, let’s get started!

Jeep Wrangler Generations

With its square headlights and rugged personality, the first generation Jeep Wrangler (1986-1995) set the stage for what was to come.

Since the majority of potential buyers are interested in the second, third, and fourth generations of Wranglers, we focus our attention on them.

A brief overview follows:

Jeep Wrangler GenerationsYears
2nd generation (TJ)1997-2006
3rd generation (JK)2007-2017
4th generation (JL)2018-Present

Using this list, you’ll get a clearer picture of how Wrangler has evolved over time, which could be an important consideration when buying.

The term “Neutral Years” refers to years in which neither excelled nor underperformed. There was nothing special about the Wrangler during these years, it was reliable and satisfactory, but not exceptional.

Jeep Wrangler: Best, Neutral and Worst Years

According to the model year, we categorize each generation as follows:

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
2nd (TJ) Generation (1997-2006)1997 1998 1999 20012002 20032000 2004 2005 2006
3rd (JK) Generation (2007-2017)2008 20092010 2011 2016 201720072012201320142015
4th (JL) Generation (2018-Present)2021 20232019 20222018 2020

During the meticulous process of categorizing generations into the best, neutral, and worst years, we take the following factors into consideration:

  • Reliability reports (surveys) from owners
  • Maintenance costs on an annual basis
  • Rating for safety
  • The reliability score of Consumer Reports
  • Owner satisfaction score according to Consumer Reports
  • Recalls, investigations, and complaints filed with the NHTSA
  • Owner ratings on Edmunds
  • Owner ratings from JD Power
  • Owner ratings from Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB)
  • Owner ratings on VehicleHistory
  • Owner ratings on

Each of these factors affects the vehicle’s rating differently. NHTSA recalls, for instance, cause the Wrangler’s overall reliability to decline, which negatively impacts its score.

An example of Car Smite scores for each model year can be seen in the graph below. As a result of combining the above-mentioned data sources, these scores are derived.

Taking a look at each Jeep Wrangler generation’s best, unbiased, and poorest years will help you understand the differences between them.

Best & Worst Years for Jeep Wrangler 2nd Generation (1997-2006)

Known as the TJ series, the 2nd generation Jeep Wrangler made its mark on the automotive world.

Best & Worst Years for Jeep Wrangler 2nd Generation (1997-2006)

For a more refined driving experience, these vehicles were introduced in 1997, keeping the classic Jeep look but with significant mechanical upgrades.

The Best Years: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001

2nd generation Jeep Wranglers reached their pinnacle between 1997 and 1999 and 2001.

As a result of the new coil spring suspension introduced in the 1997 model year, the Wrangler’s ride quality and handling have been greatly improved.

This off-roader’s powerful 4.0L inline-six engine remains its best feature. A number of minor tweaks were made to enhance the off-road capability and comfort of the Jeep model in 1998 and 1999. Continuing this trend, the 2001 Wrangler was well-rounded and reliable.

The Neutral Years: 2002, 2003

Wrangler’s 2002 and 2003 years were solid, dependable years, but they didn’t bring any noteworthy innovations or breakthroughs. Coil spring suspension and a highly reliable 4.0L engine were retained on the models.

For Wrangler enthusiasts, these years were safe and reliable due to the lack of major issues or recalls.

The Worst Years: 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006

Wrangler’s 2nd generation had the most challenging years during these years. Due to build quality issues, more frequent repairs were needed during the 2000 model year, reducing overall reliability.

As a result of recall incidents involving brakes, fuel systems, and airbags, the 2004 through 2006 models experienced an increase in recalls. The issues caused by these model years clearly affected owner satisfaction and their reputation as a whole.

Best & Worst Years for Jeep Wrangler 3rd Generation (2007-2017)

2007 marked the debut of the 3rd generation of the Jeep Wrangler, commonly referred to as the JK series. Its body, frame, and suspension were completely redesigned for this generation.

Best & Worst Years for Jeep Wrangler 3rd Generation (2007-2017)

The Best Years: 2008, 2009

In 2008 and 2009, the Wrangler’s shine sparkles the brightest after a total overhaul in 2007. By taking advantage of the redesign, they enhanced the new features and resolved any initial problems.

Its interior has been redesigned, its safety features have been enhanced, and it is extremely reliable. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) recognized the 2009 model as one of the best resale values.

The Neutral Years: 2010, 2011, 2016, 2017

Models from 2010 and 2011 retained their positive reputations for performance and reliability, largely unchanged from earlier models in the 3rd generation.

Despite minor enhancements and improvements, 2016 and 2017 versions were neutrally classified as the final versions of the JK series.

The Worst Years: 2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

As a result, the Wrangler’s reputation for reliability suffered during these years. The TIPM (Totally Integrated Power Module) was reported to be faulty by some owners, resulting in excessive oil consumption.

Additionally, these models come with Pentastar V6 engines that have reported cylinder head issues. For these model years, these factors combined to lower the rating.

Due to the fact that this was the first model in the generation JK, it was also plagued with problems.

Best & Worst Years for Jeep Wrangler 4th Generation (2018-Present)

Introducing the JL series, the 4th generation Wrangler delivers more refined and technologically advanced driving experiences.

Best & Worst Years for Jeep Wrangler 4th Generation (2018-Present)

The Best Years: 2021, 2023

Wranglers 2021 and 2023 demonstrate Jeep’s adaptation of its iconic model based on the lessons learned from past models.

Consumers have received these models well after many previous issues were addressed. It is noteworthy that the 2021 model scored the highest in Consumer Reports for reliability and owner satisfaction.

The Neutral Years: 2019, 2022

The models of the Wrangler from these years are reliable and stable. A solid Wrangler with no major issues or complaints was the result of minor updates and refinements in the 2019 model.

In keeping with this trend, the 2022 model has been classified as neutral.

The Worst Years: 2018, 2020

Even with the fourth generation Wrangler’s significant redesign, complaints and recalls plagued the 2018 model year. More than 1,400 complaints were submitted to NHTSA alone, resulting in 12 recalls.

However, the 2020 model still suffered from similar issues, albeit to a lesser extent, which adversely affected its overall rating.

Jeep Wrangler Problems

There are plenty of problems with the Jeep Wrangler. It is inevitable that there will be problems here and there in a popular brand, as no brand can produce 100% perfection. The following are some of the top reported issues that buyers should be aware of: 

Jeep Wrangler Problems

Faulty TIPM

Jeep Wranglers from 2007 to 2015 were reported to have been plagued by a problem with their Totally Integrated Power Module, or TIPM. 2008 Jeep Wranglers are especially prone to TIPM failure. There are a number of symptoms associated with a defective TIPM, including erratic headlights and windshield wipers.

The cost of repairing a faulty TIPM ranges from $900 to $1,300, depending on the severity of the issue. As a result, Chrysler was forced to settle a class action lawsuit that affected more than 500,000 vehicles.

Oil Housing Leak

It was reported that the oil filter housing of the 2014 Wrangler was prone to cracking and leaking. Since it mainly affects the 2014 Wrangler, it isn’t the most widespread issue. In spite of this, it’s still worth mentioning since it poses a fire and safety hazard. You can usually fix this by replacing the oil filter housing, which costs between $114 and $122.

The issue is not currently under recall, but Chrysler has released a service bulletin (TSB #SB-10058301-5939) to help detect it sooner.

The Death Wobble

It is not uncommon for Jeep drivers to experience the Death Wobble, especially when driving over 65 mph. In cases of potholes or other road bumps, the steering column can shift out of place, making it impossible to move the steering wheel. 

There is a violent shaking of the vehicle (hence the name), which can be highly dangerous. As a result, costly repairs are needed or, even worse, serious injuries may occur. 

Wireless Controls

Electrical fobs are another issue. A system like this tends to wear out quickly or stop working, resulting in repairs or replacements. Some Jeeps will not start when using the automatic start, which can be very frustrating until they’re fixed and working again. 

Takata airbags are faulty

Considering Takata airbags have been recalled in 65 million vehicles, it’s no surprise that Jeep Wranglers have also been affected by faulty airbags. Model years 2007-2017 are affected by this colossal scandal. So there are quite a few Wranglers that have been recalled.

Airbags manufactured by Takata have a dangerous tendency to explode with such force that they rupture the metal inflators, resulting in deadly shrapnel being thrown toward the occupants of the vehicle. Despite the fact that it can be triggered at low speeds with little impact, this defect is the most dangerous. In order to avoid this particular issue, make sure to check a 2007-2017 Wrangler before purchasing it.

Faulty Welds

There were a number of weld issues with the 4th generation of Wranglers. Although this issue was still found on 2018-2021, it is baffling for a vehicle with a reputation for ruggedness. Over 500 Jeep Wranglers were recalled due to an incorrect steering shaft weld, according to reports.

It would result in a split steering shaft, lose steering wheel center positioning, and a lack of responsiveness if such a weld was not performed properly. The Death Wobble can exacerbate this issue, which is obviously a safety issue.

The Best & Worst Jeep Grand Cherokee Years [Models] 


Why is the Rubicon a top choice among Jeep Wrangler trims?

In addition to its rugged off-road capabilities, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon includes stronger axles, lockable differentials, and a stronger suspension system. Off-road enthusiasts looking for a capable SUV should take a closer look at the Rubicon.

Which Jeep Wrangler years should be avoided?

Jeep Wrangler models from 2012, 2007 and 2008 should be avoided by potential buyers. There are countless recalls associated with the 2012 model, but the 2007 and 2008 models also have a significant history of recalls, indicating potential reliability issues.

What makes the best Jeep Wrangler stand out from other SUVs?

Off-road capability, iconic design, and strong community support distinguish the best Jeep Wrangler models. There are many excellent SUV choices outside of the problematic years, especially the Generation YJ and TJ (1987-1995) and the latest 2019 Wrangler, that have improved safety features and durability.

What issues were common in the 2007 to 2018 Jeep Wrangler models?

As a result of these issues, the Wrangler’s audio and climate control systems were adversely affected. TIPM issues on these models could cause significant inconveniences and repair costs, despite the improvements in build quality.


We’ve put together the best and worst Jeep Wrangler years based on data. You can make an informed decision about your next Jeep purchase based on the highs, the lows, and everything in between.

Let’s take a look at Jeep Wranglers and see which year you consider the best. Someone else might find your insights helpful in their Jeep journey.

Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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