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

Build quality, steering and electrical issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The Jeep Wrangler has always been famous for off-road prowess – but never reliability. All new for 2018, the latest model carries on a tradition of sub-par jeep engineering with plenty of defects. According to the Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most common problems are steering, structural and electrical defects.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 Jeep Wrangler

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Power Train
Electronic Stability Control

Problems with the steering

Being able to steer is, you know, kind of important. Jeep may have overlooked this fundamental aspect of vehicle design when they introduced the 2018 Wrangler JL, which is already overcome with handling problems.

Visit any forum or website, and you’ll see complaints of the JL exhibiting wandering steering, most notably on the freeway.

An owner from Albuquerque, NM, wrote into the NHTSA, “Loose steering and drift while driving. Unable to maintain a straight line without constant steering correction. Very noticeable at freeway speeds as the vehicle will want to drift left or right immediately after correcting steering.”

And the complaint continues on, “As soon as purchased it (the vehicle) and got on the freeway, it felt like driving on ice. Flat out dangerous to drive, right from the factory.”

The cause for these steering woes? A poorly welded intermediate shaft. If you’ve never heard of this component, it connects the steering wheel to the steering gearbox. Should it fail completely, all steering is lost.

That’s why Jeep has issued a recall (NHTSA Campaign Number 18V343000) on approximately 540 Wrangler vehicles for this concern. Dealers have been instructed to replace the shaft as needed.

Problems with the vehicle structure

Apparently, the welding robots at the Jeep factory are on the fritz. Because, not only does the JK have problems with welds applied to its steering, but also those on its frame.

Unsurprisingly, jeep owners are up in arms over the lousy production work. After all, if the structure isn’t sound, what good is the rest?

One owner from Waterloo, IL, wrote into the NHTSA, “I looked under my brand new Wrangler JK after hearing people complain about bad welds. Sure enough, my welds are awful. A Jeep service technician told me there is no way this should have been able to leave the factory. As of right now, Jeep has not done anything for me. Feel very unsafe in this vehicle. I hope Jeep has a recall soon”

Most owners complain of poor welds near the track bar, a vital suspension component. Jeep has released a recall (18V231000) for the Wrangler’s frame, but it appears to be for a separate issue. In it, the automaker describes a concern with left rear frame section corrosion, which could cause the rear seats to detach in a crash. And that’s definitely not good.

Problems with the electrical system

Today’s vehicles– including “no frills” Jeeps – are riddled with electronics. And that isn’t a problem when the technology is working right. But when it’s not, consumers quickly become unhappy.

Take, for example, this owner from Winsor, CO, who wrote in, “2018 Jeep Wrangler JLU Sport. The recent 5-inch radio update has become uncomfortably hot to the touch. After the update, the radio refuses to shut off.”

The radio, although frustrating, is not a safety concern. But the Wrangler suffers from other electrical problems that are indeed dangerous, as pointed out by a customer in Pewaukee, WI:

“ Cruise control on at approximately 55 MPH – had to brake due to traffic – but cruise control remained on. Only heavy braking eventually stopped the vehicle. Cruise control was fighting the brakes. The brakes won that battle. Took it to the dealer who could not find anything wrong.”

Thankfully, Jeep has addressed the cruise control issue with a recall (18V332000). The automaker will reflash the vehicles main computer, the powertrain control module, to cure the bewildered SUVs.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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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  • Karen E

    Bought this 2018 JK Wrangler Unlimited with 18,000 in June 2020.
    Front end leak, rearend leak
    Now 1/9/23 need new radiator at 42,000miles and Death Wobble at 78mph during rush hour and 5 lanes of traffic. Thought I was going to die.
    Limped it to a shop and it has been in the shop for almost 4 months waiting for parts!!! Warranty had just expired at 36,000 so Thankfully I bought extended warranty
    Not excpecting a radiator to leak at 40k miles
    Come on!!! Very upset and paying 900 a month payment for a vehicle I can’t drive

  • Bart

    I have a jeep wangle JL Sahara, loaded, the backup camera’s line don’t show up sometimes? Has anyone had this problem!

  • Chris

    bought a 2018 JLU Rubicon (manual shift) the Radio infotainment system would constantly lock or the back up cam would stay on. I have the entire unit replaced 2 with 3000 miles on it. a few months ago, the think just quit on me on the road. conked out, wouldn’t start all sorts of warning lights. Had to tow it to the dealer. something about a wiring harness in the Control unit. Now my son has the thing at college. the Infotainment display went blank on Friday. On saturday it won’t start at all. What a piece of crap. 17000 miles. This is my third Jeep. ‘1978 CJ5, 1992 YJ and now the JLU. never had the littany of problems with the other two models

  • John

    2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Sport S been at dealership fixing 8 recalls on my jeep and its been at dealer for over 2 months. This is the second time at dealer for issues. Jeep dealer refuses to correct the steering wander issue because of the 2.5inch lift kit and blames the lift, but it had the issue before it was lifted. I need advise to see if my jeep is lemon or not. I am afraid to drive my brand new jeep with this scary steering wander issue that pulls me into other lanes and threating my/ other innocent life’s on the road.

  • stephen h

    Just bought a 2018 JL 8000 miles. Uconnect went bad after dealer worked on navigation. Rear window defrost not working either. Still in shop. The steering does feel loose but wind has always made these wranglers move around. We will see.

  • Kristi M

    My Jeep Wrangler has less than 20,000 miles and it has spent approximately 6 weeks in service repairing the rear arm rest (it would fly down unexpectantly), the rear seat would not lay down, now the air conditioning doesn’t work. I’m so disappointed I bought this vehicle.

  • Micah F

    I bought a 2018 Jeep Wrangler brand new in March of this year and it’s been in for intermittent infotainment issues 7 times and water leaks 3 times. I get the run around every time I take the truck in for repair. I have videos and photos of every issue and Chrysler will not take back the lemon they sold me for 53K. I have spend too much of my personal time at the dealership for repairs. I would not recommend Jeep to anyone.

  • Greg N

    Steering play. Dead spot of 1.5 to 2 inches.
    Wanders at highway speed.
    New steering box available that dealer will not install.
    This is a safety issue!

  • George L

    I have a steering wheel issue with my brand new jeep wrangler rubicon 2019. The car does not go straight on the highway and the official Jeep dealer says it is fine. The car is under warranty, no accidents. Are you guys accepting claims for this? If not, can you help me by recommending a local law firm on this matter?

  • William L

    After reading these, I do have a concern. Bought a 2018 Rubecon jl. Now have 3000 miles on it. The only problem at this time is after we tow it behind our motorhome, after shifting it back into 2 wheel drive from tow position it will not go forward or backward. Have to turn of and restart and then it will work. Wonder if these problems are just on a few or an overall problem.

  • Marquita

    I also have a Jeep Wrangler Sahara. I am terrified of. My Grand daughter was locked inside and I had the key…but the vehicle would not unlock ..Then I was driving and the steering froze and I could not steer it. The latest problem I drove to the park to walk an hour later I get in my Jeep and crank it and the starter hangs up..I finally get it to shut off ..I try it again and it hangs up again. I thought I was not going to get it to shut off…then I try once more and it will not even turn over. Take it to the Dealership…they keep it over a week..they tell me nothing is wrong. Fed up!

  • Michael L

    I have a 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL. Its crazy cause every once in a while when you go to make a turn its like the car doesnt want to turn. Its crazy almost like im losing power steering. Second time I have taken it to Jeep Customer Repairs and they saying it was a rod they made me replace and pay $350 for. now its worse then ever and feels like its dangerous to drive. i pay like $800 a month for this jeep. this is unbelievable i have to drive a 12 hour drive and im scared to drive my own 2018 jeep wrangler jl cause i think it can cause a huge accident

  • Dennis K

    Just purchased a new 2018 Jeep JL Unlimited Sport.
    Our issue started by intermittent right hand turns, felt like something was “grabbing” the front wheels, had turn give it a little pressure to release. Dealer had it several days, put a new steering shaft in, got it back morning of July 4th, went shopping, on way home did it again on a right turn. Today (5th) on way home from work began doing the same both right and left turns. Again it’s not every turn, never know when it’s going to happen.

  • J. C

    I have a base model wrangler sport that I have driven to Las Vegas and back twice from New York. No problems as described above at all. Is it an orange?

  • Bill W

    Bought a 2019 Wrangler Sport with manual transmission. Between 30 and 45 mph on a flat road, the vehicle jerks and bucks enough to sometimes clank the transmission and rear end. Dealer says there may be a software update” someday,” after first trying to blame it on my shift points. I have owned ten vehicles in my life, 8 of which were manuals. I know how to shift! This is the worst-running vehicle I have EVER owned. My decrepit, old, 221K mile TJ with a 2.5 liter ran down the road MUCH more smoothly than this over-engineered joke. Dealer has completely washed their hands of the matter.

  • Ed A

    I’m 66 yrs old and bought an 2018 JLU Rubicon loved it 52K with the bells and whistles
    till I drove it to west tx. the wind with the roadwalking was not good at all. Bought in in april
    traded it the day after thanksgiving for a tahoe. Never been so scared of a vehicle in my life
    2.5″ lift with 35″ tires after market stabilizer and still terrible to handle. Nothing changes it
    really loved it in town zipping around, easy to get into parking spots. But hated the way it handled
    over 50 mph.

  • Mark H

    I test drove a 2019 Sahara. Ridiculous to control on the highway, constantly adjusting to stay in the lane. Beyond that the overall build quality is junky. Why does the role bar to extend to the rear? What happened to the role bar, its pieces together welded steel now. Lots of gaps in body pieces. What a piece of junk this thing has turned into. Built like a Fiat.

  • Andy A

    I was traveling at 40 mph on a highway and the rear wheels decide to lock up without notice. The car slide to a stop and while sliding it almost swerved into another car. I’m completely shook by this, The car asked me to shift into park in the middle of the highway, i turn it off and on the try to drive it and the rear has a loud thumping and grinding noise, I drove it maybe another 100 ft before I called for help, we limped it home and am having it towed to the dealership tomorrow.

  • Ana

    We bought our 2018 Sahara in August of last year and this past weekend it started not turning on after we ran errands. Lights on dash come on, radio works everything looks good but it does not turnover at all. It will not start. So here we sit it is the second time in 4 days now that this has happened. It feels like a computer issue because the Jeep is new not even 3,000 miles on it m. WTH

  • Ed B

    My rear defroster cable became
    I welded. My JL is a few months old. I was told by the dealer this is happining and the whole rear window is on back order for a deliver set for three mo this from
    Now my radio went totally blank. I can not turn it on. I thought a 40,000 dollar Jeep would be worth it. Now I am ready to get rid of it.

  • Michael S

    Just bought a $40k Jeep and feel extremely upset. The radio turns off with an alarming, loud Pop whenever you have it on with an iPhone. Beyond being incredibly annoying to anyone who just wants to listen to tunes…this is a huge safety issue. It is a big distraction for every member of the family. It also forgets everyone’s iphone so that is a secondary annoyance. No solution coming said the dealer…for a year. So ha ha…you are stuck with it. No apology…just tough luck. I do not recommend a Jeep to anyone. Wish I had said no to family members who wanted one. Ugh.

  • Ramandeep C

    Bought a Jeep JL and having issues with loose steering wheel. Went to the dealer but they are not helping and said it’s normal.
    WTH is normal when i am feeling unsafe at the road. Do they want me to hit someone or hurt myself then it will be a issue?????
    I need some higher management in Jeep to help me in this……Or send me the contact info..

    I am in Winnipeg, Canada.

  • Bob H

    my 2018 jeep sahara automatic start hasn’t worked only have 300 miles.
    Already had in shop for second battery was bad when picked up from dealer
    service engine light is already on at 300 mile
    Good thing I leased vehicle

  • Kimberly B

    I purchased a 2018 Jeep Wrangler brand new and I’m having issues with it shifting, transmission not engaging.

  • Wendy M

    We bought a 2018 Jeep Sahara JKU in January with 3 miles on it, on 5 different occasions now we have driven to various locations and when turn the key off and then try to start it again it will not start. We have power to the radio and the dash but it just will not start. I bought a new jeep so that I would have a reliable car…..ya right.

  • Michelle S

    Bought a Jeep Wrangler 2018 JL. Death trap! Total garbage and Jeep is still selling these things! Do not purchase one of these. You are putting yourself and anyone else in the vehicle in danger. Just want our money back.

  • Jeff m

    Second Wrangler drives like complete garbage. One day I swear one of these JLs will wreck due to the steering issue. Mine is a death trap at anything over 60 MPH. Even at low speeds there are times where it is all over the road.

  • Dan P

    I leased my Jeep Wrangler JL in July and I too am experiencing “loose steering”, an inch or 2 of travel that does not start to move the tires. Called dealer to make an appointment, she laughed and asked “first Wrangler?” Follow the appointment I was told nothing was wrong, it’s just how they drive. That may well be true but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a serious problem.

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