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

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

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is hailed as one of the best SUVs on the market. The company states it helps owners to “leave a lasting impression.” However, the impression left on some isn’t favorable at all. Owners are complaining that their engines shut down with “shift to Park” errors, the brakes fail, causing crashes, vehicles accelerate without warning, and backup cameras malfunction. There are also complaints about Cherokees catching fire

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2019  2021  2022  2023

Most Common Problems

Between December 6, 2019, and January 23, 2023, 67 people laid complaints about the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In terms of the way that complaints are categorized by owners, the electrical system, engine, and powertrain cause most of the problems described. But there are significant complaints that owners link to other components and systems including

  • backover prevention, which is affected by the camera
  • vehicle speed control and forward collision avoidance, which are both affected by random acceleration
  • brakes, which may be affected by the electrical system

A very common issue is a “shift to park” error that usually results in vehicles stalling and/or shutting down. Random acceleration is another common issue that sometimes results in crashes. There are also complaints about brakes failing and Grand Cherokees crashing. Backup cameras that malfunction as well as spontaneous engine and electrical fires also featured in ownercomplaints.

Additionally, there are significant issues with airbags that fail to deploy when Grand Cherokees crash and sunroofs that explode or shatter without impact. Other components and systems blamed for problems include the fuel/propulsion system, seat belts, steering, suspension, and the structure of the Jeep.

In April 2020, Chrysler recalled 319,610 vehicles, including the 2019 and 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokees. This was because of issues with rear view images on the backup camera screen that can distract drivers and potentially cause a crash.

In June 2022, they recalled 138,645 vehicles including 2014-2020 Jeep Grand Cherokees. This recall was prompted by fuel starvation that can result in a sudden, unexpected loss of drive power. This also increases the risk of a crash.

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
27
27
Electrical System
26
26
Engine
24
24
Power Train
18
18
Vehicle Speed Control
11
11
Air Bags
10
10
Service Brakes
8
8
Steering
8
8
Fuel/propulsion System
7
7
Suspension
7
7

Shift to Park Issues

Described by owners as electrical, engine, and/or powertrain problems, “shift to Park” often starts with the Grand Cherokee decelerating and sometimes stopping completely. Drivers also get a message to place the car in Park while they are driving.

This happened to an owner from Florida who was driving at 45-50 mph in busy traffic. He placed the vehicle in Park and it stopped but started up again. The next day it happened again in the same place, but it wouldn’t start up again. His Jeep was towed to a dealership and he was waiting to hear what the problem was.

An owner from Connecticut states that “when (the) drive shuts (the) engine off and tells you to shift to Park. It has done it to me a few times and twice I almost got rear-ended. I took it to the dealer and they say they can’t find anything wrong with it.” The complaint continues, “If you go online a lot of people are having the same issue Jeep just doesn’t want to acknowledge it. This is very dangerous because it does it at any speed.” The dealer tested the battery and found nothing wrong.

An owner from Colorado describes a similar scenario, which he says has happened multiple times. The vehicle stalls, displays the “shift to Park” error message, and the driver shifts the Grand Cherokee into Park. It is then locked in Park and the driver must restart. But it doesn’t always restart. The first time it happened the dealership replaced the batteries. But it happened again. Another Jeep dealership couldn’t duplicate the issue so did nothing. “It happened again after that. This is extremely dangerous and can cause serious accidents since the vehicle is stalled in the middle of the road!”

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Spontaneous Acceleration Problems

Spontaneous, random acceleration issues are also listed as electrical, engine, and/or powertrain problems. Most are also categorized as vehicle speed control issues.

An owner from Illinois was backing slowly into a driveway in a new 2020 Grand Cherokee with only 500 miles. Suddenly it accelerated on its own. “I repeatedly hit the brake pedal, but the Jeep wouldn’t stop. Instead, it kept going faster. It smashed into the garage door and the brick wall of the garage, demolishing them.” Because the Grand Cherokee was equipped with a complete safety package, the complaint states, it “should have automatically stopped it before an impending impact.”

When using the rear park assist feature, an owner from Arizona has had a similar experience multiple times, fortunately managing to avoid crashes. The complaint states that the driver’s foot was “completely off the accelerator” when the Grand Cherokee spontaneously accelerated while in reverse. Each time he had to “hard brake” to avoid a collision.

After refueling and beginning to drive out of the service station, another owner states that “the vehicle independently accelerated to 60 mph.” He was able to shift into neutral and drive into a field. The gear shifter also malfunctioned. Although unable to identify the cause of the failure, the dealer’s mechanic located the wiring that failed and was able to return the vehicle to normal function. He also repaired the gear shifter.

Problems with Brakes Failing

When the brakes in any vehicle fail, there’s a chance of a crash. An owner from Mississippi had a 7-month-old Grand Cherokee Trailhawk totaled after the brakes failed and it crashed into a tree. Driving over “a rise in the road” after dark, there were about 10 vehicles stopped about 100 yards from where they were. “I applied the brakes and nothing happened.” Taking his foot off the brake pedal, he tried again… nothing. “I had to swerve off (the) road to keep from running into (the) back of vehicles stopped in front of me.” The airbags didn’t deploy either.

Some complaints describe how they have failed after spontaneous, unwanted acceleration. For example, an owner in New York tried to brake unsuccessfully when the Grand Cherokee accelerated unexpectedly. It went into another vehicle, “swerved out of control and crashed into a pillar, then stopped. The brake remained smashed to the floor.”

An owner from Washington, DC, was parking near the beach when the Jeep “started accelerating and the brakes became unresponsive. As a result, it crashed into the water and was submerged. “I was able to leave through the window before it got flooded.”

An owner from Illinois with a Grand Cherokee that has 2,100 miles on the clock finds that “cruise control ‘sticks’ and fails to disengage at the controls. When the acceleration control is depressed and released, the vehicle will continue to accelerate without capping the increase in acceleration until the system is disengaged with the brake pedal. This “very dangerous” scenario happens at various speeds over 50 mph.

Problems with the Backup Camera

Many of the complaints about rear view cameras state that the camera screen freezes. Most consumers see it as a back-over prevention and/or electrical system problem.

A typical complaint comes from an owner in Texas. The “screen constantly freezes and it’s unresponsive for long periods of time, then reboots. Then the cycle repeats.” It’s a “serious safety hazard as the backup camera image freezes on the screen and doesn’t change, even though you’re moving and the image video should have changed. This has been happening since the car was bought new and (the) dealership says there’s nothing that can be done.”

This particular complaint was filed in December 2021. Yet, on April 2, 2020, 20 months before, Chrysler issued the recall mentioned in Most Common Problems above. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V191000 states that the radio display software needs to be updated. Over-the-air updates were available from May 1, 2020. According to the recall notice, the “lingering rearview image” that remains on the screen can distract drivers, increasing the risk of a crash.

Whether some affected Cherokee owners weren’t notified, or some vehicles were omitted from the recall, complaints continue to be filed with the NHTSA. As recently as August 12, 2022, an owner from Mississippi stated that when the Jeep was in reverse, “the backup camera displayed on the screen like normal. However, once I shifted into drive the backup camera image was frozen on the display. It wasn’t until I powered off the radio and back on that it went away. This is a safety issue because it caused a distraction to me while I was in drive trying to figure out what was going on.”

Catching Fire Issues

Complaints to the NHTSA about fires state that they either start in the engine or are electrical. And dealerships and the manufacturer aren’t offering any clues.

In a double whammy, a 2020 Grand Cherokee owner from Colorado was evacuating from the devastating Colorado Marshall Fires on December 30, 2020, when his Jeep caught on fire. They were driving in slow-moving traffic “with 100 MPH winds, heavy smoke and debris flying through the air.” The Jeep “just quit.” There was a message about a sensor that wasn’t clear and the engine wouldn’t turn over. “The car was partially blocking traffic and caught on fire approximately 10 minutes after it stopped. Those evacuating were down to one lane and navigating around a burning car.” There was no investigation because the Jeep was “completely burned up.”

An owner from Georgia reports that the Jeep caught fire while parked. An investigation shows that the fire started on the right side of the engine.

An Illinois owner’s Jeep also caught fire while parked. The engine had been off overnight, and while still parked, “an electrical fire started on the front passenger side.”

After getting the “place in Park” error message, an owner from New York also experienced a fire incident. While trying unsuccessfully to restart the vehicle, the owner detected “an abnormal burning smell” and saw smoke coming from the Jeep. It was towed to a dealership but no repairs or diagnosis were available. Later, the valve body, the transmission control module (TCM), and the battery were replaced or repaired. However, the Jeep “continued to have difficulty accelerating and decelerating.”

What to do if your 2020 Grand Cherokee is a lemon?

When problems recur and affect your use or value of a vehicle, this may indicate that it’s a lemon. Lemberg Law has helped many lemon owners get settlements from manufacturers. It’s not always easy, but every year automakers are forced to buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements. Additionally, the law makes Jeep pay legal fees. If you think your 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee may be a lemon, you are welcome to contact us for a free valuation. Just call our Helpline or fill out a contact form. We may be able to get the lemon out of your life!

 

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
9 COMMENTS
  • Kathi S

    On 7/30/23 I was driving Our 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk with 35,800 miles on it. I was pulling into a CVS parking space. When I applied the brakes, they locked up and the engine simultaneously accelerated and I hit the building. The safety package installed also failed and the airbags did not deploy. We had to pay to have it towed to our local dealership and are still waiting for an “inspector” to contact us to do a special diagnostic to prove that the vehicle malfunctioned. They will not give us a rental until they figure this out. We are extremely upset and afraid to own another Jeep.

  • Amy

    I have a 2020 jeep grand Cherokee that I purchased a few months ago with 6000 miles on it and today the car would not move at a train track it was stuck it wouldn’t shift we couldn’t even get it to go in a neutral to push the car to the side I’m wondering if anybody else had this problem mine is at the shop right now?

  • Daniel S

    2020 Jeep Grand, headlights are not aimed correctly to safely illuminate the road in front of the vehicle. Both lights are too far to the right. Dealer says the headlight fixtures can only be adjusted vertically, there is no horizontal adjustment provision designed into the fixture.

  • Lynne A

    When it rained hard, my whole radio, phone, navigation system went out. The dealer replaced the system. Then I took my jeep to the car wash and when I entered my Jeep, my phone, radio and Navigator was cleared. I had to reprogram the system.

  • Shannon

    Since I purchased the car about a year ago the steering wheel radio controls stop working at random times, then start working again, my right front directional will malfunction then start working again and I noticed heat blowing eyes the ac was on over the summer. The dealer found no issues.

  • Christine

    Whole radio/gps/heat console in the center quits working intermittently and either reboots or malfunctions until the car sits overnight – then it works again. I couldn’t turn my heater on the other day and once the radio was blaring and I couldn’t turn the volume down – I had to turn it off. The back up camera often freezes and causes a reboot.

  • S G

    Slimited Grand Cherokee 2020 towed 3 times in a month this time after 2 weeks been told there are VGR issues and have to wait for imported parts.

  • SBoehm

    All the sudden the AC started blowing hot air

  • Robert M

    Poor throttle response. It takes a half a second to start from a dead stop. Then powers from the stop like a banshee. When trying to stop in heavy traffic I stand on the brakes and the car continues to accelerate.

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