Jeep Wrangler Rust Problems

by Dennis Hartman
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Image by, courtesy of Sherrie Thai

One of the most difficult car problems to prevent is the onset of rust. No matter how well a car is maintained, if it is driven under normal conditions, it is more likely than not to develop rust at some point in its life. Rust can be an especially difficult problem for drivers of off-road, four-by-four SUVs, such as the Jeep Wrangler. Thankfully, there are several ways to prevent rust from forming and to deal with it when it does appear.


All rust is caused by oxidation, which occurs when oxygen in the air reacts with the iron content of a metal alloy. When a Jeep Wrangler rusts, its metal body panels are reacting to the oxygen in moist air. Because Wranglers feature numerous metal body panels as part of their heavy-duty construction (unlike many other cars that use plastic or composite panels to reduce cost and weight), there is more surface area to potentially be affected by rust.

Trouble Areas

Another reason that Jeep Wranglers are especially susceptible to rust is the way in which they are used. Because it is one of the most capable off-road SUVs, many Wrangler drivers regularly take their vehicles off paved roads. During off-roading, environmental factors such as pebbles, large rocks, tree limbs and even dust batter the painted body panels, sometimes exposing the metal underneath and allowing an opening for rust to begin forming. Rust is most common on a Jeep Wrangler around the fenders, where trail debris is flung upward by the wheels and damages the body.


Of course, avoiding off-road excursions will prevent some of the causes of rust on a Wrangler, but even under normal conditions, factors such as road salt, contaminants in rainwater and humidity can cause rust to develop. Keeping a vehicle clean and applying wax on a regular basis is one of the best ways to prevent rust. Also, using oversize plastic fenders can help prevent the damage caused by trail or road debris. Finally, repair any damage to the body before rust sets in to nip the problem in the bud.


When rust does occur, there are several steps you can take. These will depend on your budget and how much rust has formed. Some of the most extreme repair methods include replacing entire body panels or using a body filler product to repair damage where large amounts of rust have been removed. For more minor rust, use fine-grit sandpaper to remove the visible rust. If this proves difficult, apply an oxide conversion product to neutralize the remaining rust. Next, prime and paint the area. Be sure to add a protective clear coat to prevent more rust in the future.

Warranty Coverage

In some cases, major rust damage is covered under a Wrangler's new vehicle warranty from parent company Chrysler. The standard warranty includes five-year/100,000-mile rust coverage. However, this coverage only extends to rust damage that is so severe as to create a hole in the Jeep's body. Surface rust is not covered under warranty and is the responsibility of the owner to repair, or better, prevent.

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