Jeep Rubicon Problems

by Dennis Hartman
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trail image by Colin Buckland from

The Jeep Rubicon is a high-end variant of the Jeep Wrangler compact SUV. First introduced as a trim level of the Wrangler for the 2003 model year, the Rubicon is the highest-priced and more heavily equipped model of the Wrangler in any given model year. Despite its general reliability and off-road capability, owners and potential buyers should be aware of certain problems with the Rubicon.

Fuel Economy

One of the most glaring problems with the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is its poor fuel economy. This comes from its relatively large engine and overall weight. The version of the Rubicon that Jeep sold between 2003 and 2006 weighed in at 3,700 lbs. and used a 4.0-liter engine. The model sold from 2007 through 2010 uses a smaller 3.8-liter engine but weighs more than 4,000 lbs. Both versions of the Rubicon achieve just 19 miles per gallon in highway driving and 15 mpg in city conditions.


A problem with the Jeep Rubicon appeared in 2007 when Jeep transitioned from the TJ edition of the Wrangler to the larger, more modern JK edition. The switch also included a new 3.8-liter V6 engine, which produces more horsepower than the earlier 4.0-liter, in-line six cylinder engine, but reaches its maximum horsepower at a higher engine rpm. The result is an engine that produces less power at low rpms and requires harder acceleration to reach a comfortable highway cruising speed.


An issue appearing after the new version of the Rubicon made its debut in 2007 is the increased size. The additional five inches of vehicle width, and the added length of the four-door model, have caused some drivers to label the newest Rubicon less "trail worthy" since it can't fit between trees and large rocks on Jeep trails as well as its predecessor or other Jeep models. The larger Rubicon also carries added weight that hurts its fuel economy and may raise the price of vehicle registration in some states.


The Rubicon has been the subject of several recalls by parent company Chrysler. In 2009, Chrysler recalled more then 88,000 Wranglers to correct a problem that left some vehicles without a transmission fluid temperature warning system, putting drivers at risk of a vehicle fire. A 2007 recall that involved almost 300,000 vehicles corrected a software problem with the anti-lock braking system that could put drivers at risk of crashing in certain conditions. Other Jeep Rubicon recalls have dealt with problems with the tow bars and electrical system.


The Rubicon is generally priced several thousand dollars above other models of the Jeep Wrangler, such as the Sahara, Sport and X editions, despite many shared features, including the same engine. While the Rubicon comes with additional off-road gear, some drivers prefer to buy a more basic Jeep and add aftermarket accessories for a custom look and considerable savings over the cost of factory-installed equipment such as larger tires and interior storage devices.

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