2020 Jeep Cherokee Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

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

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2020 Jeep Cherokee continues to push for excitement with enthusiasts. In fact, the automaker tells people to “make room for adventure,” with this model. Yet, owners are finding that the adventures are more than they want to handle. This Jeep seems to have a faulty electrical system, poorly running engine that is known to catch on fire and a malfunctioning powertrain.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2019   2021

Most Common Problems

There are numerous problems with the 2020 Jeep Cherokee. By September 2022 there were 45 complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about 20 components and systems. The most common problems relate to the engine of the Jeep, its electrical system, and the powertrain.

There are also many complaints on other platforms, including Edmunds.

Engine issues range from the check engine light coming on for no apparent reason, oil leaks, and stalling, to burning smells, smoke, and horrendous fires. Electrical problems include the Jeep suddenly stopping, and the Climate Control system, entertainment system, and radio freezing. Powertrain issues include faulty Power Transfer Units and problems shifting gears.

To illustrate how far the poor manufacturing goes, consider this recall. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V637000 talks about dangerous concerns with the steering system. It states that the steering rack could break, which would further increase the chance of crashing. However, few things can be determined to be an “adventure” short of losing steering control.

2020 Jeep Cherokee Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Power Train
Electrical System
Service Brakes
Unknown Or Other
Fuel/propulsion System
Vehicle Speed Control
Air Bags

Problems with the Engine

It doesn’t do any good to have a powerful engine if it doesn’t run correctly. That’s what customers are dealing with when it comes to the 2020 Cherokee. By far the most serious issues concern smoking engines and engines that catch alight. New cars shouldn’t smoke for any reason , let alone burst into flames.

Here’s another Edmunds review to consider. “2020 Jeep limited with the 4cyl turbo. Have had it (for) two weeks. “First I was getting something under the hood running after shutting (the) motor off for up to 45 minutes.” He took it to the dealer who was unable to find anything wrong. Then his wife pulled into the garage and shut off the engine and there was smoke pouring out from the grill. The vehicle was not overheating but there was lots of smoke or steam.

“I have never seen smoke or steam in any of my new cars like this and I lease two vehicles every three years.  So now it’s back to the dealer (on) Monday.”

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NHTSA Complaints

A 2020 Jeep Cherokee owner from Massachusetts tells in an NHTSA complaint how while noticing a “burning odor,” another driver on the road alerted her that the Jeep was on fire underneath. She managed to coast to the side of the road, and as she got out, “the hood exploded (and was) engulfed in flames.” She says that it burned down to a crisp! The fire department extinguished the fire, and the owner filed a fire and police report. The vehicle had only about 3,000 miles on the clock.

An owner from Maine states that his nephew was driving at about 70 mph when he smelt burning inside the cabin of the vehicle. Then he noticed flames coming from the engine compartment. He stopped the vehicle and got out. It was destroyed by the fire and towed away from the scene.

Another Massachusetts owner describes in a complaint how the Jeep caught on fire while parked in a parking lot. It was so bad it caused two other vehicles to catch on fire. The fire department extinguished it “and determined the fire was caused by the engine. A police report was filed.”

Problems with the Electrical System

There isn’t a lot that can be said about an electrical system on a vehicle – it either works or it doesn’t.

An owner from Texas has told the NHTSA that a problem relating to the electrical system keeps recurring. “While at a complete stop at a stop light, the brake pedal was depressed and the vehicle shut off and lost electrical power. There were no warning lights illuminated.” The owner was able to restart the vehicle and continue driving. After the failure reoccurred several times, he took it to the dealer who completed “an unknown repair.” But it happened again, this time illuminating the brake warning light. At the time of the complaint, this owner was waiting for feedback from Jeep.

An owner from Colorado states that the vehicle’s SOS call locks the entertainment system and it won’t call SOS or disconnect. The radio isn’t available either. This NHTSA complaint states that this “has occurred multiple times” and that “the UConnect has serious electrical issues.”

As it turns out, Jeep is aware that at least some of these faulty electronics can lead to serious troubles. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V191000 states that over 300,000 vehicles might have a software error in the rearview camera. This error causes images to remain displayed after the SUV has been put into Drive. With this defect, the driver can be easily distracted and confused, thereby possibly causing an accident. Of course, this image could serve as a means of entertainment for discontent kids, just tell them it is their favorite programming.

Transmission Problems

The transmission is the main part of the powertrain. This vital component is needed to provide a smooth ride, yet the Cherokee utterly fails.

An owner from Ohio submitted a complaint to the NHTSA in August 2022. “On 3 separate occasions after being stopped to make a turn, (the) vehicle has started to go and then stops moving like it’s out of gear.” It also makes a clunking noise as if it’s going into gear as it starts moving. Jeep has told the owner twice that the vehicle needs an update. But, “It has since done it again, and they tell me unless it does it while they have it they don’t know what it is.”

Another Edmunds review also talks about malfunctioning gears. “The transmission definitely has a lag and seems to have a difficulty deciding which gear is best. Especially when attempting to quickly pass, or when going down a large hill. The slap stick isn’t much help.”

Service Bulletin #9004244 goes on to talk about more transmission problems. It talks about fluid leaking from the transmission oil cooler. To repair it, the technicians are required to replace the transmission oil cooler and possibly the lines as well. Having such major malfunctions just further proves how poorly made this Cherokee is. Maybe a safer adventure would be to walk or bike to work, instead of taking this defective SUV for a ride.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Jeep pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Shirley M

    We have a 2020 Cherokee we purchased new. It has 29000 miles on it. Have a couple electrical issues. I’ve had the back up camera go dark and not work till I turned the Jeep off then back on. My climate control display will sometimes not show what you have it set on. Asked about it when I took it in for it’s last oil change. Was told it sometimes just needs to reset its self. But today was the strangest, we left and after driving about 4 miles from the house I noticed something different on my dash. It said Key fob not in vehicle, may not be exactly what it said but close enough. I started checking my purse and it wasn’t in there. Came back home and found the key fob on my kitchen table. I was under the understanding the vehicle wouldn’t go very far without the fob. I called the dealership and was told, it just may need to be put on the computer to be reset. Also told I could possible have to pay a diagnostics fee even though it’s still under warranty. Wish I’d never bought this thing. I have an appointment in two weeks to have it looked at.

  • Brenda j

    I have a 2020 Cherokee The dealer told me that it was a demo on the Lot so I purchased it at 6000 miles now I purchased the car in November Took it back in in December to get an oil change they’re telling me that it had 87000 miles on it Took no roaches or anything now this is Mate and it has 11 500 Now I haven’t took any road trips in this vehicle I took it in to be checked they said they could not tell me anything about the mileage jumping so now I’m just sitting and waiting thought I had a good vehicle may not be anything that I can do but I can try

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