The Jeep Gladiator is known for its rugged design and off-road capabilities.
However since its debut, it has received its fair share of complaints – many of which have been logged on the NHTSA website.
In this article, we shall cover the most common Jeep Gladiator problems.
Table of Contents
1. Death Wobble
The “Death Wobble” is a common complaint from 2020, 2021 and 2022 owners of the Jeep Gladiator.
Here’s a breakdown of the key characteristics and causes of the death wobble:
Violent Shaking: The death wobble typically manifests as an intense and rapid shaking of the vehicle’s front wheels, often felt through the steering wheel. The shaking can be so severe that it becomes challenging for the driver to maintain control of the vehicle.
Triggering Factors: Hitting a bump, pothole, or uneven road surface at certain speeds.
Amplification: Once the wobble starts, it can be self-sustaining and may continue until the vehicle slows down or comes to a stop. The shaking can be so severe that it feels like the vehicle is losing control, hence the dramatic term “death wobble.”
“Front end violently shakes between 30 and 75 mph when hitting a bump in the road and is better known as a “Death Wobble”. The issue based on experts can be the steering damper, tie rods ends and/or tie rod, drag link, track bar, steering box or all of the above. The problem is that there is no factory parts to fix this issue so I’ve had to go to after-market parts to get this resolved. First time it happed on the hwy it almost threw me off the hwy.” – NHTSA.gov
“My Jeep Gladiator has had the “death wobbles” three different times now. It has been “repaired” by Jeep only to have the issue return a month or two later. The 2nd repair was done more extensively than just a dampener replacement. There is a class action lawsuit on this issue.” – NHTSA.gov
Fixing the “death wobble” often involves identifying and addressing issues in the front suspension components.
Common solutions include inspecting and replacing worn or damaged parts such as the steering stabilizer, track bar, tie rods, ball joints, and control arms.
However, some owners have reported that despite repairs they still experience issues.
2. Defrost System Design Flaw
Jeep Gladiator owners have reported a significant problem with the front windshield defrosting system. The defrosting air only blows from the center, leaving the driver’s and passenger’s sides with minimal airflow.
This design flaw causes snow and ice buildup on the windshield, affecting visibility and creating safety hazards during inclement weather conditions.
Some have mentioned frequent stops to manually clear the windshield due to inadequate defrosting, even with the system set to high.
“My truck fails to defrost about 1/2 to 1/3 of my windshield on the passenger-side of the vehicle. i noticed this behavior in my truck the day I picked it up.” – NHTSA.gov
The problem is reportedly a design flaw, however, there are some suggested workarounds.
- Some owners are opting to utilize 1″ plastic square tubing plugs to obstruct the 12-16 middle dash vents.
- According to owners, ample airflow manages to circulate around the plugs, ensuring effective center windshield defrosting while redirecting sufficient air to the sides for complete windshield coverage.
“Right you are! I bought these october 10th of last year, they work pretty well, occasionally a few pop off and fly onto the floor. Like 2-4 of them per year. At first I put 4 in a row then 1 empty spot. I’ve settled on all of them in the middle blocked, because even when all of them are plugged, some air gets passed and still defrosts the middle of the windshield.” – JeepGladiatorForum.com
3. Auto Start/Stop Problems
A commonly reported problem with the Jeep Gladiator is issues with the Auto Start/Stop. In many cases owners have reported that the Auto Start/Stop fails to work.
ESS, or Electronic Start/Stop, is a feature in vehicles that automatically turns off the engine during brief stops to enhance fuel efficiency.
Owners on the NHTSA.gov website shared the following:
“2020 Jeep Gladiator at 1760 miles numerous auto start stop failures with check engine light and P300 code (engine misfire).”
“Months go by start/stop system does not work anymore. I go to the dealership and they keep it for a few days and don’t end up fixing the problem but schedule an appointment for next month. Appointment comes and they fixed start/stop system supposedly but every now and then it stops working.”
Another owner on JeepGladiatorForum.com posted:
I noticed the other day that my start-stop feature hasn’t been activating… at all. Luckily this is a complete win as I find it to be annoying”
Some owners have resolved the issue by resetting the IBS (intelligent battery sensor), while others have opted for battery replacements.
“I had the same issue for over a year. Eventually the battery died. I took it to jeep and had both batteries replaced under warranty.” – JeepGladiatorForum.com
“2020 Rubicon 17k miles. Only issue is start stop battery. Getting ready to take it in for second time under warranty” Reddit.com/r/JeepGladiator
Others have discovered that using a budget-friendly “battery tender” overnight resulted in normal functioning the next day.
During cold weather, the batteries may struggle to meet the system’s expectations, or the IBS might be sensing inaccurately.
Other owners have reported being unable to fix the issues with the Auto Start Stop despite repeated trips to the dealer.
It is worth reading the manual too as there are numerous different conditions on why it may or may not activate such as the AC is on.
4. Unintended Acceleration
A common problem reported by 2020 and 2021 Jeep Gladiator owners involves sudden and uncontrollable increases in engine RPM and vehicle speed.
Here are some details based on the complaints:
- Sudden Acceleration: Owners describe instances where their vehicles unexpectedly accelerate. This acceleration occurs rapidly and forcefully, causing a surge in speed.
- Brake Ineffectiveness: In these situations, drivers report that the brakes do not respond immediately or effectively to counteract the acceleration. Pressing the brake pedal does not result in a corresponding reduction in speed, creating a potentially dangerous scenario.
- Sticking Accelerator: Some complaints mention a sensation of the accelerator pedal sticking or becoming unresponsive during the acceleration events. This means that even when the driver attempts to release the accelerator pedal or apply the brakes, the vehicle continues to accelerate.
- Duration of Events: The acceleration events are reported to last for a variable duration, ranging from 30 to 45 seconds in some cases. During this time, the driver feels a loss of control over the vehicle’s speed.
- Occurrences at Different Speeds: Reports indicate that these acceleration issues can occur at various speeds.
- Intermittent Nature: The acceleration problems are described as intermittent,
“The vehicle suddenly accelerates. The rpm’s shoot up real high, the Jeep accelerates and the brakes do NOT work.” – NHTSA.gov
“On 3 different occasions the acceleration got stuck and increased speed. I pressed the brake over and over and the Jeep would NOT reduce speed or slow down” – NHTSA.gov
We were unable to find a concrete solution for this issue, the best thing to do is to contact your dealer.
5. Clutch Pressure Plate Recall
Jeep recalled over 69,000 Gladiator pickups (2020-2023) and Wrangler SUVs (2018-2023) with manual transmissions due to a clutch pressure plate issue that could lead to a fire.
The recall expanded on a prior one, encompassing more model years.
If the clutch pressure plate overheated and fractured, it could expel hot debris, posing a road hazard and increasing the risk of a fire.
Drivers might have noticed warning signs such as a burning smell, clutch slippage, or a warning light before a failure occurred.
Jeep dealerships performed a software update to address the previous recall, but owners who had that fix performed will still need additional repairs.
Run a VIN check for your Gladiator on the NHTSA website to see if you have been affected.
6. Uconnect Issues
A number of Gladiator owners have reported their annoyance with a glitchy Uconnect system.
Users describe several issues including:
- Extended Connection Times: The system takes more than 5 minutes to connect, causing delays and frustration.
- Random Disconnections: The Uconnect system disconnects unexpectedly, disrupting the continuity of features and services.
- Spotify Playback Issues: Despite attempts, the system refuses to play Spotify over USB
- Volume Imbalance: There is a significant volume difference between Bluetooth playback and traditional AM/FM radio. Forgetting to adjust the volume before turning off the vehicle results in a loud radio blast upon restart.
Owners on Reddit.com/r/JeepGladiator had the following to say:
“2020 Gladiator Rubicon. 70k and the only problem is glitchy Uconnect.”
“2020 max tow. 46k miles. There is a little rust on the rear bumper steel underneath the plastic bumper cover. And uconnect is just a PITA.”
“21 Overland only flaky uconnect with Apple carplay. 45k miles”
Software Update: Ensure that your Uconnect system has the latest software updates. Manufacturers often release updates to address bugs and improve performance. Check the official Jeep website or contact your dealership for information on available updates.
Reset the System: Try a system reset by turning off the vehicle, opening the driver’s side door for a few minutes, and then restarting the car. This can help refresh the system and resolve temporary glitches.
Disconnect and Reconnect Bluetooth: If Bluetooth connectivity is an issue, remove your device from the Uconnect system and then reconnect it. This can establish a fresh connection and resolve connection problems.
If the issues persist, it’s advisable to contact your dealership or an authorized service center. They can perform a more in-depth diagnosis, identify any hardware-related problems, and provide necessary repairs or replacements.
7. Poor Fuel Economy
The Jeep Gladiator has been criticized for its subpar fuel economy compared to rivals in its class.
The Gladiator with a 3.6-liter V6 engine and automatic transmission has an estimated 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
This can be attributed to its robust, off-road-oriented design and its four-wheel drive.
The boxy shape and weight of the Gladiator, while enhancing its off-road capabilities, contribute to increased aerodynamic drag and reduced fuel efficiency.
Potential buyers should consider their priorities, as the Gladiator excels in off-road performance but may lag in fuel efficiency compared to more streamlined alternatives in the midsize truck segment.
8. Loud Road Noise
A common complaint from owners and auto critics alike is that the wind noise can be excessive, which is obviously at its worst at highway speeds.
This is caused by the boxy design of the vehicle.
“I get that my Gladiator has the aerodynamics of a cinder block. But sheesh, I just got back from a long road trip through Kansas and Oklahoma and the wind noise was exhausting. Between doing the 75 MPH speed limit and the howling gusts across the plains, I couldn’t even enjoy music. Even if I cranked up the volume, much of the sound was drowned out by wind noise.” JeepGladiatorForum.com
“Loud road noise” – CarAndDriver.com
“You’ll also hear more wind and road noise than in other trucks.” – Edmunds.com
Headliners in the Jeep Gladiator reduce wind noise by providing insulation and acting as a barrier to external sounds.
“I did the hot head headliners and the sound assassin strips. You still hear the wind noise (especially with a strong head wind), but it’s more muffled/attenuated.” – JeepGladiatorForum.com
They absorb and dampen airflow-generated sound waves, enhancing the overall driving experience by creating a quieter and more comfortable cabin environment.
Additionally, headliners contribute to better insulation, maintaining a consistent internal temperature and improving overall acoustic qualities.
Problems & Recalls
|2024 Jeep Gladiator||–||–||–|
|2023 Jeep Gladiator||0||6||3|
|2022 Jeep Gladiator||1||33||6|
|2021 Jeep Gladiator||13||162||5|
|2020 Jeep Gladiator||31||255||6|
Pros & Cons
- Off-road capability.
- Open-air driving experience.
- Truck bed versatility.
- Unique design.
- Trail Rated trim levels.
- Higher pricing.
- Ride comfort may vary.
- Moderate fuel efficiency.
- Long wheelbase limitations.
“I have been a mid size truck guy for many years. The mid sized trucks fits my life better than the full sized. Yes I ‘ve owned both. The Gladiator checks off more boxes than anything else has….ever. The back seats are actually comfortable and that is rare in a mid-size. The front seating area is great. Plenty of room, easy to read gauges and display. Everything within reach and easy to use. It tows a considerable amount. Although it is a truck it still looks and feels like a Jeep. I love that! Also the roof and doors pop off and the windshield folds down. How cool is that?”
“This is a fun top down pick-up the only draw back is that if you need a real tow vehicle this is not it, I bought all the tow options in the Sport the best rated tow Jeep, It had a very hard time pulling my pontoon boat at about 2500 pounds, Other than that very comfortable capable Jeep.”
What Do Owners Like and Dislike About the Jeep Gladiator?
Based on owner feedback from the Kelley Blue Book site, here are what real-life owners love and hate about the Jeep Gladiator..
- Heated seats
- Fun to drive
- Off-road worthy
- Fuel consumption
- Rough ride
How Reliable Are Jeep Cars?
According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, Jeep are ranked the 26th most reliable car manufacturer out of 28 brands, with a score of 26/100.
Source: Consumer Reports