Your Guide to "EXTREMELY common problems with an XJ (and how to fix them)" - Jeep Cherokee Forum (2023)

I'm sure this thread will sink into the depths soon enough, but I want to at least try to do something to cure the problem of repeatedly asked questions. Yes, I know that would require people reading the thread, but I think I've titled it clearly enough for anyone who comes to these forums to think "hmm, I should read that thread! Might be useful info in it!"

Please help me collect symptoms, causes, and solutions so we can HOPEFULLY make a solid database of these issues.

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Symptom: Thumping or thud noise when taking off from a stop

Description: "When I take off from a stop, my drivetrain makes a 'thump' or feels like a bowling ball rolled into the lift gate".

Cause: The slip yoke requires grease, and is sticking, causing the "thump" when taking off from a stop.

Fix: Unclasp the rubber boot over the slip yoke and slide it out of the way, then slather some axle grease all over the slip yoke. Work it into the splines really good. Put the rubber boot back and reattach the clasp. The clunking should go away immediately on the next drive.


Symptom: Only the driver's door window switches seem to work

Description: All windows operate fine, but ONLY through the switch on the driver's door, and pressing the window lock out switch has no effect.

Cause: The "Window Lock-Out" switch has shorted out. This is usually due to a broken wire, but can sometimes be related to the switch itself.

Fix: Take off the door panel and the interior trim to the left of the pedals. Follow the wires from the window switch to where they pass through the door and into the cab of the vehicle. Look for breaks in the wires - this is extremely common. You can either
A) Repair/replace the wire, or
B) Jumper the wire connector with a paper clip or other U-shaped piece of metal, to connect the two wires together. Search for "Window Lock Bypass" on the forums for a guide.


Symptom: One or more of my power windows only roll down/up or do not work at all.

Description: Sometimes a window will only roll down and not up, or up and not down, or not work at all.

Cause: If the window does not move at all, it's most likely the window regulator that has failed. If the window rolls up but not down or vise-versa, it's more likely a broke wire.

While each door has it's own window control, the master switch on the driver's door still has main control and overrides the rest of them. So if the wire leading from that switch through the driver's door is broken (again, extremely common), it will cause issues with the related window.

To test this, remove the door panel on the affected door. Look for the wires that lead from the window switch on that door to the window motor - there is a connector somewhere in the middle of it.

Disconnect that connector, and take two pieces of wire, the ends of each stripped. Make an X shape with those two pieces of wire, and insert the ends into the connectors, essentially CROSSING the wires.

If the window now moves in the OPPOSITE direction of how it moved before (i.e. it rolled down but not up, NOW it rolls up but not down), then the window regulator is fine, and it's DEFINITELY a broken wire.

Fix: Find and repair the broken wire, or replace window regulator if it ends up being back.


Symptom: My Jeep won't start in park/will only start in neutral/won't start unless I wiggle the shifter!

Description: You turn the key and nothing happens. Or it tries to crank for a split second, then stops immediately. You think to yourself "dead battery", but the battery turns out to be fine. You bump the shifter/put it in neutral, and the next time you turn the key, it starts just like normal.

Cause: The Neutral Safety Switch is likely dirty/corroded. The NSS prevents the starter from engaging when the shifter is in any position other than Park or Neutral, but they often get dirty and corroded, which causes the contacts in the switch to not read which position the shifter is in, therefore not allowing the starter to engage.

Fix: Remove the NSS and replace it with a new one, OR go the much, much cheaper route and take it apart to clean it. Search for "neutral safety switch cleaning" to find a guide on this.


Symptom: There is an INCREDIBLE squeaking coming from the cargo/back seat area and I can't figure it out!

Description: When going over bumps, uneven terrain, or even just from the vibration of the motor running, sometimes you hear a very high pitched and extremely annoying squeaking.

Cause: Two main things usually cause this: the latches for the upper section of the rear seat, and the lift gate latch.

Fix: Grease. Lube up the seat latches pretty good, lube up the lift gate latch pretty good. Passengers won't have to worry about getting grease on them as they would only be back there when the seat is latched anyway.


Symptom: One or both of my door speakers do not work!

Description: My stereo works fine, but no sound is coming from one or both of my door speakers.

Cause: Broken wire leading to the speaker. As you've already seen twice in this thread, broken wires in the door jambs are VERY common and usually the #1 source of electrical issues in XJ's. The constant opening and closing of the doors bends the wires back and forth, and Chrysler used really cheap grade wires, so eventually they break apart.

Fix: Find and repair the break in the wire, or run a new section of wire through the door.


(Contributed by Salad)
Symptom: One or more of: Poor gas mileage, hissing/gurgling sound when under acceleration, raw exhaust or fuel smell from the vehicle

Description: "A month ago my mileage started getting worse but I drive a flying box so I didn't care too much, but now when I put my foot down I hear a watery noise and a hissing. Last night in the drive through I smelled gas while I was sitting still!"

Cause: The factory exhaust manifold is prone to cracking where the collector pipes merge to meet the flange for the downpipe to the first O2 sensor. This causes a leak of raw exhaust and intake of fresh air, fooling the computer into dumping more gas in.

Fix: The exhaust manifold should be welded (which may not last long) or replaced (recommended). This requires removal of the power steering pump, air box, and intake manifold. This may be a good time to upgrade to an aftermarket exhaust header which can provide for greater operating efficiency over stock, as well many are designed to resist cracking.

These writeups can be used as guides:


Symptom: Engine idles poorly or is hard to start when hot, but clears up after a few minutes and acts completely normal.

Description: "It's 90 degrees outside and I just got off the highway to get gas. I got to talking with someone else about XJ's and when I got back in mine 10 minutes or so later, it wouldn't start/it started and idled VERY poorly, like it was missing on a couple cylinders. After a few minutes it started and ran like normal."

Cause: The later year 4.0 engines tend to have this problem a lot. Due to the design of the exhaust and intake manifolds, the fuel injectors can get very, very hot, and the fuel inside them will boil and turn to vapor. This often happens after a long(ish) drive on a hot day. You park your Jeep at the store, and with the engine off, there is no air flow to keep things cool. The under-hood temp climbs, and the hot spots tend to be the fuel injectors for whatever reason - specifically, Injector #3 gets the worst of it. Then when you get back in about 10 minutes later, when the temperature has risen as high as it's going to get, you get the rough idle/no start symptoms. Eventually the vaporized fuel will be pushed through the injectors and fresh fuel will be injected, and the engine will run like normal.

Another possible factor that contributes to this issue is when the plastic housing of the injectors has cracked, exposing the metal inside of the injector directly to the heat. If your injectors are old, the plastic has likely cracked, and they are not more susceptible to heat. Replacing the old injectors with new/upgraded ones will HELP with this issue, but not solve it entirely.

Fix: Chrysler released two Technical Service Bulletins on this issue. One suggests a reprogramming of the ECU to engage the electric fan at lower temperatures in an effort to keep the under-hood temp down, but this generally proves to be ineffective as the problem occurs with an engine-off heat soak.

The other TSB recommends the installation of "heat sleeves", little pieces of fire proof shielding that slip around each of the injectors. The part can be ordered through any Chrysler dealership, or you can use basically any type of heat shielding to deflect heat away from the fuel injectors.

Other ways of relieving the heat under the hood are:
-Installing hood vents
-Leaving the hood open after a long drive on a hot day (not recommended unless you aren't afraid of theft/vandalism)
-Installing a timer for your E-fan that will let it run for several minutes after the engine shuts down, or adding an ambient air temperature sensor that will run the fan until that temperature has decreased (might cause problems)
-Replacing the exhaust manifold with a header as steel cools faster than cast iron
-Turning the A/C off a few minutes before you reach your destination to take a load off of the engine

Let's keep this going!


What problems does the Jeep Cherokee XJ 4.0 have? ›

Top 4 Problems with the 4.0 Liter Engine in the 1984 to 2001 Jeep Cherokee
  • Crankshaft Position Sensor Failure. Signs of Crankshaft Position Sensor Failure. ...
  • Exhaust Manifold Cracking. Signs of Exhaust Manifold Cracking. ...
  • Oil Leak. ...
  • Exhaust Valve Carbon Build-Up.
Dec 21, 2021

What is the biggest problem with Jeep Cherokee? ›

Transmission Problems

These models suffer from stuck gears, poor throttle response, and rough coasting. There were also incidents of delayed downshifting and erratic behavior that caused Jeeps to switch between gears unexpectedly. Complete transmission failure has also been reported as early as 70,000 miles.

Is the Jeep Cherokee XJ reliable? ›

Seriously though, not only is the XJ the perfect size, it's also dirt cheap and super reliable. If you're still not convinced that the XJ Cherokee isn't awesome then you just need to go wheel one.

What years of Jeep Cherokee to avoid? ›

2014, 2015, And 2016 Are The Jeep Cherokee's Most Problematic Model Years. According to the Car Complaints website, the 2014 Cherokee has the most overall complaints as rates as the most problematic model year due to expensive overhauls at low mileage.

How do you stop the XJ death wobble? ›

Maintain Proper Tire Pressure: Common triggers for the death wobble include over-inflated, under-inflated, or mismatched tire pressures. To prevent the death wobble from occurring, you should make sure to check your tire pressure regularly and deflate or inflate your tires as necessary.

What year 4.0 jeep motor was best? ›

* 258ci cranks from the 1972 to 1980 model years are often considered the best to use in 4.0L stroker motors because they are stronger and smoother.

How many miles on a Jeep Cherokee is too much? ›

Recommended Jeep Grand Cherokee Service Intervals

We know the answer to, “How many miles can a Jeep Grand Cherokee last?” is around 200,000 miles. But, what can you do to make sure your Grand Cherokee can get there? It's simple, keep up with maintenance and use genuine OEM parts.

What is considered high mileage for a Jeep Cherokee? ›

Jeep Grand Cherokee is a Reliable Road Beast, but Hitting 150,000 Miles of Longevity May Be a Challenge. There are Jeep Grand Cherokees with 150,000 or more miles.

What year did Jeep Cherokee have transmission problems? ›

Jeep Cherokee Transmission Problems

The Jeep Cherokees that were included in the recall included the 2014 – 2017 models.

What does XJ Jeep stand for? ›

Posted by Jeep Federation Team on Oct 23rd 2017. The Jeep Cherokee was manufactured from the year 1984 up until 2001 and is arguably the most famous Jeep of all time. It is said this vehicle was named so to stand for 'eXciting Jeep.

Why do XJ overheat? ›

The closed style cooling system on early XJ models (1991 and earlier) can lead the hoses and fittings to harden and break because of aging. This results in small leaks and causes the engine to overheat. Insufficient flushing of the cooling system or poor maintenance could result in a coked up system.

What year Cherokee is best? ›

The best years for the Jeep Cherokee include those from 2018 and 2020. These have fewer problems and have the highest owner ratings. Be wary of Cherokees from 2016 and 2017, as well as post-refresh models from 2019 over a few hiccups concerning a new engine option.

Which Jeep Cherokee is the best? ›

The recommended spec

Edmunds thinks the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited is the best bet for most people. It has the features that SUV buyers seek and provides access to some of the model's more appealing options.

What year Jeeps should you not buy? ›

When looking at the worst-performing models of the Jeep Wrangler, 2012 took the win. Among the issues it had, there have been 9 recalls, making it the worst for Jeep. The 2007 and 2008 Jeep Wranglers are not too far from that, as they have 10 and 9 recalls, respectively.

Is there a hidden animal on every Jeep Cherokee? ›

Do all Jeeps have a hidden Easter egg? Most recently manufactured Jeeps do. The Jeep Renegade, Wrangler, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, Compass, and Gladiator all have a hidden Easter egg.

What is the most common cause of death wobble? ›

The cause of the death wobble is usually poorly installed, damaged, loose, or missing suspension or steering components. The death wobble is more frequent in modified vehicles. Improper installation of aftermarket parts can increase your risk of a death wobble.

What is the main cause of Jeep death Wobble? ›

The death wobble is caused by loose, damaged, or misaligned parts in your Jeep's suspension or steering system. Due to the mechanical defect in your car, the parts can shake loudly or violently when you travel at high rates of speed or on rough terrain.

Which Jeep 4wd system is best? ›

The available Quadra-Drive® II with rear electronic limited slip differential is a full-time 4x4 system so it's always active. It is our most advanced 4x4 system and delivers superior all-weather capability by transferring up to 100% of available torque to a single rear wheel if needed.

What is the best motor in a Jeep Cherokee? ›

4.0L I6. Of all the Jeep engines in all the world, the 4.0L inline six-cylinder is by far the most famous.

What oil does Jeep 4.0 take? ›

For temperatures that range from 0 to above 100 degrees, you'll want to use 10W-30 in your 4.0L. If you are exclusively operating your Jeep in temperatures below 32 degrees, then you'll want to use a 5W-30 oil.

How long do Jeep Cherokee XJ last? ›

The Jeep Cherokee is known for its longevity and can last anywhere between 200,000 – 400,000 KM. That's an incredible lifespan for a vehicle. Your Jeep Cherokee can easily last between 15-20 years if well maintained, even with lots of driving and adventure.

Are Jeep Cherokees expensive to fix? ›

Cost. The average total annual cost for repairs and maintenance on a Jeep Cherokee is $520, compared to an average of $521 for compact SUVs and $652 for all vehicle models.

How many miles does a Jeep Cherokee get on a tank of gas? ›

2021 Grand Cherokee Driving Range

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is expected to have a driving range of up to 520 miles.

What kind of gas do Jeep Cherokees take? ›

Regular Gasoline

Which Jeep Cherokee has best gas mileage? ›

The new 2021 Jeep Cherokee has an excellent fuel economy as a compact SUV from the Jeep lineup. Jeep drivers and shoppers near Cincinnati, OH, can enjoy smooth sailing with the new Jeep Cherokee's 2.0L Turbo engine which gets up to an EPA-estimated 23 city and 31 highway mpg-the most fuel efficient in the lineup.

What year was the most reliable Jeep? ›

Top-Rated Reliability: 2015 Jeep Wrangler

The 2015 Wrangler has continually been rated the most reliable year for the vehicle. Its four-wheel drivetrain gives it incredible off-road performance, especially among other vehicles in its class.

How do you reset the transmission on a Jeep Cherokee? ›

Without starting your vehicle, turn your ignition to the “ON” position. Locate the button labeled “STEP” in your Jeep Grand Cherokee. Press the “STEP” button until you get to a menu screen that indicates how many miles you have left until service. Press and hold the “RESET” button.

How much does it cost to replace a transmission in a Jeep Cherokee? ›

Jeep Grand Cherokee transmission replacement costs anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000. But don't go rushing to the bank just yet. In some cases, transmission problems can be fixed with a fluid change or flush, which only cost around $150.

How many miles does a Jeep 4.0 engine last? ›

The 4.0 straight-6 is on of the most dependable, bulletproof motors ever put into a Jeep. They are easy to work on and maintain. I've seen 4.0 motors run well over 250k miles without a a rebuild.

How many miles can a Jeep XJ last? ›

We know the answer to, “How many miles can a Jeep Grand Cherokee last?” is around 200,000 miles. But, what can you do to make sure your Grand Cherokee can get there? It's simple, keep up with maintenance and use genuine OEM parts.

How many miles will an XJ last? ›

I've seen loads of Cherokee 4.0L going way beyond 300,000. I have also seen a couple over 400,000 and one over 500,000. Take care of it, and even though they are quirky, they last forever. One of the greatest engines ever built, bar none!

Is the 4.0 inline 6 a good engine? ›

The 4.0L AMC inline six is known as one of Chrysler's best engines. Dating back to 1986, its torquey 190 hp engine would commonly chug along for upwards of 300,000 miles.

How much HP can a 4.0 Jeep make? ›

Depending on chassis and model year, these engines carried a net power rating of 173-195hp and 220-235lb-ft. As delivered in bone-stock trim the '91-'06 High-Output 4.0L engine found in Jeep Wrangler, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and Comanche vehicles generally lays down 130-140hp and 175-185 lb-ft at the rear tires.

How often should you change your oil Jeep XJ? ›

An oil change is one of the most basic and important services for your car. Synthetic oil ordinarily should be changed every 7,500 – 10,000 miles. Jeep recommends getting your 2021 Jeep Cherokee oil & filter changed every 3,000-5,000 miles for conventional oil.

What year did jeeps become unreliable? ›

Despite all the negative reports, the Jeep Wrangler continues to hold a special place in the hearts of 4x4 enthusiasts. However, there are certain models shoppers should steer clear of on the used market. Per Consumer Reports, affected vehicles include model-year 2012 to 2015 Jeep Wrangler and 2018 to 2019.

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