2018 Jeep Compass Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system, lighting, engine and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Many reports portray Jeep’s compact offering, the Compass, as inefficient and underpowered. Nothing about the warmed-over SUV – including its reliability record – is encouraging. Since its introduction in 2007, the vehicle has been plagued by issues, and things remain the same for the current model year. According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, the main problem areas for the 2018 Jeep Compass are the electrical system/exterior lighting, engine and powertrain.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019

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Problems with the Electrical System/Exterior Lighting

These days, most vehicle dashboards contain a myriad of gauges and displays. Take, for example, the Jeep Compass with its supposedly high-tech Multiview Driver Information Display and Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system. Both gadgets sound good on paper but fail all too often in real life.

Let’s start with the ultra-bright driver information display that refuses to dim, no matter which setting the driver adjusts it to.

On the NHTSA website, one owner complains of the instrument cluster, “Instrument cluster is very bright at night, affecting the ability to see the roadway. Instrument cluster does not dim when attempting to adjust brightness.”

Obviously, the wayward cluster is a safety issue, yet Jeep has not issued a recall to address the problem.

Next up there’s the abysmal Uconnect infotainment display. The unit houses the rearview camera, which, like the aforementioned instrument cluster, is abnormally bright.

“Problem relates to 2018 Jeep Compass Latitude. When vehicle is placed in reverse, the 8.4” Uconnect screen shows the backup camera at full brightness. This is blinding and makes it impossible to see when backing up. This is going to cause an accident,” states an owner.

The blazingly intense backup camera isn’t the Uconnect display’s only problem; the unit is also known to freeze up and crash without warning. So far, Jeep has not made public a remedy for any of these issues.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Jeep Compass Electrical and Exterior Lighting Problems:

I bought my Jeep Compass 2018 in April of 2018. When i was finally able to drive it at night i realized the touch screen and instrument panel did not dim when the headlights came on as it says that it will do. It makes it very difficult to drive at night with how bright the displays are

Multiple issues with car display, and dimmer capabilities. Navigation screen and backup camera blindingly bright when dark out, creating safety hazard. Had instrument panel cluster software update recall work completed but issue not resolved with recall work. Problem persists when vehicle is in motion and stationary

Dimmer for dash lights / gauges does nothing. All interior gauges, controls, dials, etc. Stuck on full brightness. Very dangerous – makes it hard to operate vehicle at night with glaring gauges.
I had my vehicle diagnosed due to interior lights do not dim at night leaving the Jeep very bright and dangerous. I have called Jeep and they refuse to fix the issue or give me a solution on what to do! They still refuse at of today

Problems with the Engine and Excessive Oil Burn

Most brand-new vehicles don’t stall in the middle of an intersection. But, then again, the Jeep Compass isn’t like other new vehicles. The SUV is well-known for an engine that dies without warning, often at the most inopportune times.

On the NHTSA website, one owner writes, “Car has shut off three times while driving. Simply shuts down in the middle of a highway or side street.”

“Front display panel flashes off and screen goes completely black then service light comes on and engine stalls,” complains another driver.

There is a potential cause for these concerns, and a corresponding recall (18V524000). According to Jeep, the problem may be the voltage regulator; a part of the car’s computer used to control alternator output. Dealers will repair the problem free of charge.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Jeep Compass Engine and Oil Burn Problems:

The 2018 Jeep Compass stalled and shut down while driving with 335 miles on the odometer
Car has shut off 3 times while driving in last week. Simply shuts down in middle of a highway or side street

At around 5000 miles my Jeep was almost completely out of oil. I brought this to the dealers attention at the first oil change. Brought the Jeep back after 2000 miles and again it was low (about 2 quarts). The service tech admitted it was burning oil but will not remedy the situation because it is within spec for Chrysler ( burning 1 quart every 1000 miles).

On March 30 2018, vehicle had 6000 miles and would not start. Extreme amount of steam was coming out of the exhaust. Car was towed to dealership. Internal engine issue (not clearly identified) caused the engine to internally explode leaving metal fragments all over the inside of the engine. The entire engine needs to be replaced. In addition the vehicle was missing a bolt in a bar in the undercarriage of the vehicle, which has been on order for several weeks. The undercarriage bar was an issue known previously.

Problems with the Transmission

Jeep and reliable transmissions have always been a contradiction. The 2018 Compass carries on a long-lasting tradition of subpar gearboxes with two new automatics: a 6-speed and a 9-speed. Both units are known for all kinds of problems from jerking to falling into “limp mode”.

One owner complains to the NHTSA, “Vehicle transmission would jerk or bump hard enough for seat belt tension system to jerk you into your seat.”

“The contact owns a 2018 Jeep Compass. While attempting to accelerate, the vehicle failed to move. The contact depressed the accelerator pedal and the “gear shift” message displayed. Shortly after, the vehicle violently jolted forward and then dropped,” states another account on the NHTSA website.

“We purchased our 2018 Jeep Compass in December 2017 and have been in and out of the shop FOUR TIMES! Matter of fact my car is sitting at the shop right now. 15 minutes down the road the car goes into limp mode and won’t drive over 30 mph. The engine and transmission light come on and no one seems to understand the problem. Jeep and the dealership have been NO help!!! Please save your time and money and no NOT get the Compass,” writes an owner on Edmunds.com.

So far, no recalls or public campaigns have been issued to address the transmission concerns.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Jeep Compass Transmission Problems:

Upon starting vehicle and shifting into drive, vehicle has started rolling in reverse on the incline even though the transmission is in drive. Upon inspection of the shift indicator, the “d” drive position indicator has been flashing and transmission is not engaged, and the vehicle is freewheeling . Per dealer, computer shows no indication of the problem or code information about it. Returned from dealer service on 09-01-2018 at approximately 10:30 hours. This has happened on at least three (3) occasions.

It makes a humming noise and it sounds like when you are slowing down it’s almost like it’s shifting down. Been doing since i picked it up from the dealer on 01/19/2018. I have had it at the dealership they say the noise is normal . I disagree. I have had a symbol twice come up that looks like this (a)! . My main concern is that humming noise and where is it coming from should i be concerned with the transmission? It happens around 25 and higher speed.

Engine shut off without warning while driving on interstate highway. Received messages service transmission and service engine. Coasted to stop on shoulder of road. Car would not restart for about 10 minutes. Checked codes afterwards; shows P0339 crankshaft position sensor a circuit intermittent and P0335 crankshaft position sensor a circuit. This presents a serious safety issue when car engine stops without warning.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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54 COMMENTS
  • A.C

    Do NOT purchase a Jeep. I have a 2018 certified Jeep Compass Latitde. I purchased it in 2019 it only 7-8 thousand miles on it. Please know that this car is hardly on the road due to me being home most of the time. Since 2019 to current I have had to have the Aux battery and my regular battery changed. This is after asking the dealership about the Aux light. They told me it was a backup battery and I would be fine. Low and behold I get stranded at the store. The car won’t start and I can’t power off the car completely. Everything on the dash stayed lit, draining my regular battery. Then I had to have the U joint replaced that attaches to front wheels. Now my windshield prayer is not working. Seminole County Dodge Jeep Ram of Sanford FL was informed of all of this. I tried to get some insight on why my wiper fluid is not spraying and Johnathan Fiermonti and the Servce/parts manager ,who’s name I didn’t get,, proceeded to be defensive and RUDE as all get out when asked about it. Let me also throw in that when they did the multi point inspection it said the wipers and system were fine. I also asked, if service is supposed to top off fluid, why is the wiper fluid not full. Due to them being aggravated with my questions, they refused to service my car.I will NEVER buy this brand again.I can’t get it off my hands fast enough.

  • Rebecca Z

    I purchased a 2018 Jeep Compass a little over a year ago. I have already paid $9,000 to have the entire engine replaced after it continued to consume oil at an alarming rate, there is a sudden jerk that continues to happen even after the engine was replaced by a dealer. I have had it in a few different shops and most will not even touch it because they are aware of all the issues with Compasses. No check engine lights come on so No one seems to know what the issue is and after spending all this money to fix it, I could have paid it off. It has become a serious financial burden and the car is still not reliable. I’m always praying that it will just get me to where I am going until I can find a solution.

  • Sonya C

    I have a 2018 jeep compass that I am very unsatisfied with. The car is broke for more than running.

  • Teena F

    I purchased a 2018 Jeep Compass from Off Lease Only in September 2020. It has just over 40K in mileage now. A few months after I purchased it there was a recall on the part that shuts the engine off when the vehicle is stopped. While in the shop for that repair, my service advisor noticed my screen was cracked on my radio. It was still under the manufacturers warranty so they ordered me a new radio. I’ve not had any issues since until I started hearing a noise when turning left. Took it to my mechanic and he diagnosed it as the rack & pinion, sway bar links and tires. I have an extended warranty so I took it to the dealership. It took them four days to even look at it and me paying for a rental car. After almost a week it was repaired and ever since, the radio screen is not working, so no radio, blue tooth, clock, etc. I am taking it back again Tuesday and I am sure they will tell me they had nothing to do with it and who knows how long I will have to leave it again or what it will cost to repair it. Very, very frustrating!!!

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