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2012 Jeep Wrangler Problems: Should You Buy Used One?

When you think of a Jeep Wrangler, you probably picture a rugged, reliable vehicle that can take you on treacherous off-roading adventures and then easily plow through the city streets or highway without breaking a sweat. 

However, you may not want to think the same way about the 2012 Wrangler. This is because this model year seems to be plagued with several issues like frequent electrical glitches, leaks, and mechanical breakdowns, which leave many owners disappointed and frustrated.

So naturally, if you’re thinking about buying a used 2012 Jeep Wrangler, you might want to think again. 

In this article, we’ll look at the 2012 Jeep Wrangler problems that led to its poor reputation, the costs to fix those issues, and whether it’s even worth fixing it in the first place.

6 Major 2012 Jeep Wrangler Problems

The 2012 Jeep Wrangler is well-known for being the worst in Wrangler history, with 10 recalls in total—and it’s not because it’s weak or bad at off-roading. It’s because it’s prone to expensive-to-fix mechanical failures that are easy to miss when buying used. 

Here are six major problems associated with the 2012 Jeep Wrangler, according to Carcomplaints.

ProblemEstimated Repair Cost
TIPM Failure $1330
Misfiring Cylinder Head$5150
Electrical Failure Leading to Intermittent Stalling $310
Water Leaks from A-pillar on the Side Doors$230
Heater Not Working$1040
Massive Oil Leaks$600

1. TIPM Failure

The Totally Integrated Power Module, or TIPM, is responsible for managing your Jeep’s fuel injection, ignition, and emission systems. 

When it fails, you may experience issues with starting the engine, stall-outs and loss of power while driving, and unexpected acceleration. 

The problem is so common that Chrysler extended the warranty on all 2012 Wranglers to 10 years or 150,000 miles.

Is this problem expensive to fix?

This problem can only be solved by replacing the TIPM unit with a new one, but unfortunately, these units are costly to replace: usually around $1330 for a new unit. 

However, you should talk to your dealer about getting it diagnosed at a lower price.

2. Misfiring Cylinder Head

The 2012 Jeep Wrangler frequently faces a misfiring cylinder head. This means that the engine has a cylinder that is not functioning correctly to help power the vehicle, resulting in decreased performance and damage if the problem is not addressed. 

Commonly, this issue is caused by the cylinder head gasket failure due to excessive heat buildup in the combustion chamber, a significant flaw of the 2012 model. 

This problem is most common among owners who have bought their used Wrangler.

Is this problem expensive to fix?

The fix for this issue is replacing either part depending on what caused it (and may need both). This issue is solvable, but it can be terribly expensive. 

The average cost of repairing or replacing this component is around $5150. And worse yet, it may require several repairs in the long run. So you’ll definitely want to keep your eye out if you’ve got your heart set on a used model.

3. Electrical Failure Leading to Intermittent Stalling

This problem occurs most frequently when driving on the highway at 50 mph or more speeds and typically happens in conjunction with other systems malfunctionings, such as power steering and brake systems.

 There have been reports of this problem occurring while driving uphill as well.

Is this problem expensive to fix?

This problem can be solved, but it’s not easy. The fix requires replacing the alternator, battery, and computer control module in your car. 

The replacement of the alternator itself costs between $391 and $770, and the computer control module is between $890 to $943, which are pretty expensive. 

Then you’ll need to add the labor cost, which should be about $310. And similar to a misfiring cylinder head, you may need to do these repairs more than once.

4. Water Leaks from A-pillar on the Side Doors

A design flaw caused this problem to occur only in 2012 Jeep Wranglers. The water simply drained down from the windshield, was uncontrolled and unfiltered, and fell onto the side doors.

A solution was found in 2013 when Jeep changed the A-pillar design to include channels that send the water down to the bottom of the door. But this problem was not repaired on older models. 

Because of this, you may find that your 2012 Jeep Wrangler has sustained significant damage to its doors due to this manufacturing defect.

Is this problem expensive to fix?

This problem isn’t as expensive as the previous ones. A replacement of the cable connecting the air conditioning system to the A-Pillar hinge will cost about $230.

5. Heater Not Working

In the 2012 Jeep Wrangler, a problem with the heater could mean various things. It may be that the heater is not producing any heat at all, or it may just be that the heater is not producing enough heat. 

Either way, this is a pretty common problem in the 2012 Jeep Wrangler, with the heater blower motor being the culprit 31% of the time.

Is this problem expensive to fix?

Typically, the heater blower motor and the thermostat will need to be repaired to fix the heater issues, which should cost you an average of $1040. 

However, if you need to replace the heater core due to severe circumstances, you can see paying up to $1,570.

6. Massive Oil Leaks

Oil leaks are never a good thing, and Jeep Wrangler owners reported plenty of them between 2012 and 2013. In fact, estimates that the problem likely affects about 1 in 20 Wranglers from those years. 

Many of these leaks came from the valve cover gasket, which meant oil would occasionally leak onto the engine and even drip onto the ground.  

The leaks often lead the 2012 Wrangler to add oil more frequently than other vehicles, and they could cause long-term engine damage if left unchecked.

Is this problem expensive to fix?

If you’re lucky, the oil leak may be coming from a seal that’s easy to replace. In that case, you’re looking at a repair bill of $200 or less. 

However, if the oil leak is coming from the valve cover gasket, you’re looking at a repair bill of $600 or more.

In addition to these top six issues, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler is also prone to experience unexpected airbag deployment, throttle sensor failure, and the notorious death wobbles like the 2007-2008 models.

How Long Will a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Last?

The 2012 model has an average lifespan of approximately 400,000 miles. However, when you buy a used 2012 Jeep Wrangler, there’s no telling how many miles are on the car already. 

If the vehicle has been driven extensively, it’ll likely need costly repairs soon after you buy it.

Does the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Have Engine Problems?

As you can see from the list above, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler does have engine problems. The most common problem reported is with the engine misfiring. 

This can be a severe problem that leads to long-term damage if it’s not fixed. In fact, one study found that the 2012 model is the 13th most likely vehicle to have an engine failure.

What Users Say About Their Experience With 2012 Jeep Wrangler

Here are some reviews from customers who own or have owned a 2012 Jeep Wrangler:

Steve, 02/06/2016 in Edmunds

“The door hinges are all rusting at 3 years old. 30,000 miles and garage kept. Not the only one doing this per dealer. Chrysler (Fiat) does not want to fix it. This is my 3rd and last wrangler. I have owned over 10 Chrysler vehicles over the years. I was a Chrysler/Jeep Technician at a dealership for 16 years; I know this is not right.” .

Jeepornot, 08/25/2012 in Edmunds.

“I had purchased a new 2012 wrangler, and less than a month, I was on the side of the road of a major highway. My steering and car just died when I was going 65 mph in the fast lane at two major highway intersections. They towed the Jeep Wrangler to the dealer, and they said it was a defective fuel pump. Ridiculous. I talked to the tow company, and they said, oh yea he tows a jeep wrangler at least 3-4 times a week.” 

Kevin, 03/31/2015 in CarComplaints

“Bought this Jeep in March and didn’t notice the problem till next fall. Delt with it for a while, then took it to the dealer for a recall and had them check it. The response was that a mechanic note said to replace the radiator, overflow bottle, and the heater core at over $2000. If Jeep knows it’s a problem (from what I’ve read, casting sand or sub-par coolant), why do I have to pay? Sounds like they f@#ked up but wouldn’t stand up to fix it. It’s now -4, and I have NO HEAT.” 

Should You Buy a Used 2012 Jeep Wrangler?

Given the number of engine problems that the 2012 Jeep Wrangler has, it’s likely not a wise investment to buy a used one. 

Unless you’re prepared to pay for the potential expensive repairs, you may want to look for a different vehicle.

Besides, a vehicle stalling while driving (common in the 2012 model) is always a cause for concern because it can lead to a severe accident. 

Many owners have reported losing control of their cars when their Jeeps stalled out on them, which is especially alarming given the number of drivers who transport children in their vehicles.

However, if you do decide to buy a used 2012 Jeep Wrangler, be sure to get a comprehensive pre-purchase inspection from a qualified mechanic. 

This will give you a better idea of what repairs may need to be made and how much they will cost.

Final Word

So, in terms of buying a used 2012 Jeep Wrangler, we’ll recommend avoiding it if at all possible. 

Whether you’re talking about Jeeps or vehicles from another manufacturer, there are lots of other options for you to choose from. 

And though buying used does always come with some risk, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler’s problems are so bad that it isn’t even worth taking a chance on.

So skip this one and look into something else; your wallet (and your safety) will thank you for it.

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