Jeep Wrangler Years To Avoid

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Last Updated on July 20, 2022

We all know that owning a jeep wrangler can make anyone look cool and rich because who are we kidding, jeep wranglers are very expensive to buy. But people are willing to get their hands on it because they are the best off-roading vehicle. Jeep wranglers are very popular, and they have few generations of models as they come from a very long ago. 

However, not every Jeep Wrangler is the best since there have been terrible versions launched that have received unfavorable feedback from buyers. But don’t worry because we are going to help you out. This article will discuss the history, generation, and most important years to avoid Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler Years To Avoid

History of Jeep wrangler

For the past 30 years, the Jeep Wrangler has been a dependable off-road machine that can handle everything in its path and earned a lead at the top of several folk’s lists. Willys’ Jeep was vital in America’s victory over Germany during WWII. Back then, America needs a vehicle capable of transporting war-related goods.

The army sent out a list of criteria to 135 manufacturers and gave them 50 days to build the best model. Only Bantam and Willy were ready to do that. But Bantam was too modest for the job, so they decided to work with Ford and Willys. Pygmy and Quad were two ideas submitted by Ford and Willys. The United States Army chose Willys’ model, but they needed many jeeps. 

As a result, Ford and Willys decided to build their automobiles based on Willy’s design. Willy’s was known as the MB, whereas Ford’s was known as the GPW. Because it was cheaper and faster to build, Ford reduced the number of slots on the front grille from 11 to 9. 

Jeep’s prominent grille began, growing to include seven slots. Jeep patented its seven-slot grille after WWII, and Ford desperately tried to utilize it for their M151 design. Ford exploited this flaw by changing the vertical plane of the grille panels on the M151.

Jeep Wrangler Generations

The Civilian Jeep (CJ)

The Willys Jeep was initially created in 1941 to support the US military engagement during World War II.

The Jeep Wrangler YJ 

The Jeep Wrangler YJ would be the first generation started from 1944-86 and of four-wheel-drive Jeep Wrangler compact off-road vehicles.

The Jeep Wrangler TJ

The Jeep Wrangler TJ would be the second generation from 1996 to 2006, and the long-wheelbase Unlimited version was released for the 2004 model year.

The Jeep Wrangler JK 

The Jeep Wrangler (JK) is the Jeep Wrangler’s third-generation off-road vehicle. It is the first generation of Wranglers to get four doors. In August 2006, the JK was available to buy with the 2007 model year. 

The Jeep Wrangler JL 

Lastly, the Jeep Wrangler JL was introduced on the market. It is from the fourth generation of the Jeep Wrangler and started from 2018 to this present time.

Jeep Wrangler Model Years to Avoid

From the early and recent versions of Jeep Wrangler, there are some you can work with and some that will be a total waste of your money. Here we will unveil a few model years you should stay away from.

We will start from the early versions, which start from the Jeep Wrangler CJ, but the Jeep Wrangler CJ had nothing that sort not to buy so we will jump to Jeep Wrangler YJ here.

The Jeep Wrangler YJ

jeep wrangler yj

YJ was first launched in 1987, despite the abbreviation YJ having no meaning. The YJ was distinct from its progenitor CJ, as it was primarily designed for on-road use rather than the harsh off-road use like CJ. 

YJ was also more comprehensive, had less ground clearance, and was equipped with anti-roll bars and track-bar foundation. These enhancements made it more challenging to flip. Making the headlights square instead of circular was the worst of these alterations.

Since YJ is an older version, people may face several issues, including rust water damage under the dash, exhaust damage, mechanical and electrical problems, etc. Anyone buying this should ensure that the 4WD system is up to working standards. The Jeep Wrangler YJ is less reliable than other models because they get rusty quickly, which is a job of maintenance. 

YJ has never had any safety rating because of the time it was created. This makes it have several significant safety concerns. One is death wobble which causes the vehicle to shake vigorously at a bit of high speed. Furthermore, there are many safety issues regarding the fuel pump catching fire and the no control stability of the vehicle, among other things.

The worst Jeep Wrangler YJ models would be the 1987-1991 model years. You can probably get the model years 1992-1995 if you want to buy it at a low price with few problems. But there is no best year model for the Jeep Wrangler YJ that can be suggested.

The Jeep Wrangler TJ

jeep wrangler tj

The Jeep Wrangler TJ introduced in 1997 is a redesigned version of the Jeep Wrangler YJ. With the new Jeep’s round headlights, they attempted to make the TJ even more capable on the road. They decreased the drag rate by .07 and replaced the previous leaf springs with a piece of new coil-spring equipment. 

But they preserved the same 2.5L I4 and 4.0L I6 motors featured on the TJ. The IIHS gave it a mediocre rating in the side tensile testing. Also, the side crash test obtained a bad rating for the damage sustained on the driver’s torso.

In addition, starting with the 2001 model year, the IIHS gave the head airbags the lowest rating, bad. This is unexpected given the TJ’s torsional stiffness was increased by 100% over the YJ, and the frame rigidity was raised by 15%. This can only come because the YJ was far more dangerous while the TJ was unsafe.

The worst Jeep Wrangler is the 1997-2000 year model. And you can somehow work with the 2001-2002 and 2005-2006 year models as it has fewer problems than the 1997-2000 year model ones. The best ones are said to be the 2003-2004 year models.

The Jeep Wrangler JK

Jeep Wrangler JK

In 2007, the redesigned JK Wrangler was available in a four-door variant. Compared to the TJ, the JK was higher, broader, and had a larger wheelbase. It was the first Wrangler to be developed without AMC components. JK also came with a brand-new 3.8L V6 engine.

The JK had a wrapped windshield, retractable doors, and a roll bar, just like preceding Wranglers. 

The windshield glass was slightly bent to increase airflow, while the new 3.8L V6 engine achieved a merged mpg of 18 at best. The JK was much more than half a ton heavier than the preceding version. Though Most believe that it is safe because it is a big vehicle, which is not valid.

Each model year earned a low rating from the IIHS during the side crash test. This even obtained a borderline rating for the driver’s side small overlap front test and the head restraints and seat categories. As per NHTSA, it got around 550 reports every model year on average.

The Jeep Wrangler JK has stability and grip control features for safety, but JK failed in some parts even having these features. The airbag won’t turn off; there would be electrical issues, the gas tank overflow, and even the death wobble.

 Also, the head restraints and seat category, and the small overlap front test on the driver’s side, did not pass thru safety. The worst model years are 2007-2008 & 2012-2014, so it’s best you avoid those.

But if you want, the 2009-2011 model years can do your work. But the best ones are said to be the 2015-2018 model years as they are comparatively safer than the others mentioned here.

The Jeep Wrangler JL

Jeep Wrangler JL

The fourth-generation Jeep Wrangler is nearly identical to the third-generation Jeep Wrangler. The headlights were sliced into the grille, and the marker lights were relocated to the bumper. The Jeep symbol was removed from the grille.

Moreover, new vents are behind the fenders and pull grips are utilized on the doors rather than buttons. The taillights, no longer rectangular, are the only alteration on the back. LED headlights with curved edges have been added to the JL lineup.

The Jeep Wrangler JL was plagued with issues, especially the 2018 model year, as it got many complaints from the buyers. The Jeep Wrangler JL had significant steering problems, which gave the driver nightmares as it kept going off lane. 

Also, JL just had problems with the headlights as they were not bright enough. Other than that, the JL did not have any other reoccurring issues. The model years 2019 to present seem to be doing just fine without any significant issues.


In conclusion, the Jeep Wranglers had their best and worst models throughout the years, and they are still in style and are known as the classics. 

You can avoid the model years; some have major issues, whether the vast tires or the steering.

Everything has its drawbacks, and so do Jeep Wranglers. Some issues they fixed, some they didn’t. You just have to do your research before deciding and buying a model you would waste your money on.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Death Wobble?

A death wobble usually happens to jeeps, trucks, and all when quickly spinning steering wheel components causes your steering wheel to rush from side to side. This makes you grip your wheel as tight cause your life may depend on it, and it feels like your vehicle will smash in parts.

It mostly happens when you exceed 40 miles per hour or 60 miles per hour and contact a porthole or dump.

Which was the worst Jeep Wrangler model year?

The 2012 Wrangler is reportedly the worst-rated Wrangler than others because it had the most recalls.

What are the most common issues that occur with the Jeep Wrangler?

The biggest issues with the Jeep Wrangler are the death wabble, The Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM), cracks in exhaust manifolds, defects in the wireless control module, and water leaking from the side doors.

What is the most reliable Jeep Wrangler year?

The best year models would be 2018, 2011, 2015, 2010,  2003, 1997,1990, and 1980.

Does Jeep Wrangler still have a craze?

The Jeep Wranglers are getting new features and improving; even though they still have issues, they are still iconic.

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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