2018 Grand Cherokee WK2 Transmission Problems - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 28 Old 06-02-2018, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
Jeebs
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2018 Grand Cherokee WK2 Transmission Problems

Introduction

I am starting this thread as a means to communicate to everyone the issues we have had with our 2018 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. This is merely informative so that others having similar issues can learn from our experience.

The Jeep

We purchased our GC in December, 2017. It is almost fully loaded. It is equipped as follows:

3.6L V6
8 speed transmission (850RE)
Trailhawk Luxury Group
Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection
Rock Rails

The Parking Pawl

Within two weeks of owning it, a serious issue presented itself. When shifting the vehicle from park to a drive gear (forward or reverse), the vehicle would not move when the brake was released. It sat as if it was still in park. In order to get the GC to move, the accelerator needed to be applied. Then, without warning, the GC would slam into gear and move. Needless to say, this is a very dangerous issue to have occurring. Unpredictable movement is no fun. The issue was intermittent. More often then not, the transmission would shift in and out of park without issue. I knew the problem being intermittent would be problematic because, understandably, the techs at the dealership cannot fix what they cannot replicate. To try and circumvent this, I began recording every time I shifted the vehicle from park to a drive gear. After a few tries, I captured the problem on camera. With this evidence in hand, I took it to the dealership.

Much to my shock, the dealership did not need my video because they were able to replicate the problem almost immediately. They diagnosed the problem as a bad parking pawl. I was happy with the quick diagnosis. The big problem was that this requires an entirely new transmission. Thats quite a failure right out of the gate. Making matters worse, the closest transmission was in Boston, Massachusetts. We are in San Diego, California. It took a week for the transmission to arrive. When it did, things didn't go as planned. The dealership damaged a wiring harness when installing the new transmission. This required the dealership to order a new wiring harness - adding many more days in the shop. While not a manufacturer problem, this was obnoxious to say the least. Finally, after several weeks in the shop, the Jeep was ready to be picked up. The parking pawl problem has, as of the date of this posting, not reappeared.

Shifting Problems and Electronic Start/Stop

Our parking pawl problem was replaced by another transmission problem. The transmission shifted rough when going from 2-1. Additionally, when the electronic start/stop (ESS) system would engage then disengage, it kicked or jerked the vehicle as opposed to a smooth startup. Back to the dealership it went.

We took it to the same dealership we had the original transmission replaced. It is the closest to us and we had no reason to do otherwise. We also engaged Chrysler solutions since after only 3,500 miles, the GC was starting to show its true colors. We were assigned a customer service rep that at least pretended to care and have authority- which was refreshing in this day and age. I say pretended to have authority because, as you'll read later, it became readily apparent she was simply following a script.

I would like to pause and add a note about repair orders. For your own sake, always ensure your repair orders are accurate. When we dropped off the GC for the new transmission issues, the RO simply said something like, "shifting rough." It made no mention of the ESS shift problem - which was the more problematic issue. When questioned, the service writer said he would relay that to the tech. I respectfully asked him to put it on the RO. When dealing with manufacturers and their warranties, create a paper trail. Even if you don't suspect you have a lemon, ensure everything is properly documented.

Back to the transmission problem....

After having the GC for over a week, the dealership called and asked I come test drive the vehicle with them to try and replicate the problem because they could not replicate it. Well, when I arrived I found out why - they had only put 6(!) miles on the Jeep. Not exactly thorough testing. After only 20 mins with the service writer with me, the problem surfaced four times. He drove it as well and felt the problems. The service writer described it as starting a manual vehicle while it is in first gear. The dealership called a day or so later and said the GC was operating as designed. However, they were calling in a regional engineer to examine the vehicle. Are you kidding me? Why would Chrysler send out an engineer to examine a vehicle that was working properly? It makes absolutely zero sense. While this appointment with the engineer was being arranged, we could pick up the GC.

I went to pick up the Jeep but refused. The RO simply said the problem could not be replicated and it was operating as designed. There was no mention of the service writer experiencing the problem and there was no mention of an engineer coming to examine the vehicle. I demanded the RO accurately reflect everything that had transpired. Only after all of the corrections were made and the RO was accurate did I take the GC.

The shifting problems were getting worse. We were advised to take the GC to another dealership if for no other reason than to get another set of eyes on it. Luckily, we live in an area that seems to have a Jeep dealership on every corner. We brought it to another dealership, where it sat for another 10 days. This dealership was able to replicate the problem. The RO said "road tested and verified 'jerk' when" engaging the ESS system. Additionally, FCA released a service bulletin - 21-029-18 - that described this symptom, among others, as being a problem with the transmission software:

"Poor shift quality or 'bump' experienced during or immediately after ESS restart."

The dealership installed the latest flash to the TCM and released the vehicle to us. We have only just got it back but will report on whether or not the flash repaired the vehicle. As a side note, since there is a service bulletin describing this issue, I think it is safe to assume this is not a one-off problem.

Here is a link to the service bulletin. http://www.wk2jeeps.com/tsb/tsb_wk2_2102918.pdf

June 10, 2018 Update

UPDATE:

Unfortunately, the new flash applied to the TCM did not fix the issue. The transmission still engages poorly when the ESS system engages. Additionally, shifting between 1-2 is rough. It is almost as if it cannot decide what gear it should be in. When it figures out it wants to go from 2 to 1, the shift is abrupt and noticeable by everyone in the vehicle.

Lemon Law

We were fairly confident we had a lemon on our hands after it went back in for its third transmission problem. When we were assigned a Chrysler rep, we requested the GC be bought back. Over a period of weeks, the rep fed us this line of "I need to do my due diligence before I can authorize a buy back" and strung us along for a few weeks. As it turns out, her "due diligence" was simply waiting for the dealership to release it back to us saying they hadn't been able to replicate. Chrysler formally declined to buy it back. Our rep explained that after two weeks, she would contact us again about a cash and keep settlement. This would be made assuming the vehicle was operating as designed. However, she called after we dropped it off at the other dealership. Given this, the cash and keep option was off the table. However, she telegraphed to me, without making a formal offer, that the amount was approximately the equivalent to 3 months worth of payments. Had this offer been made formally, I think I would have laughed her off the phone. These sort of offers require you waive all rights you have regarding your states lemon laws. Only a fool would do such a thing for such a small amount of money.

Interestingly, she had no idea the GC was back in the shop, despite a STAR case being linked to our VIN. Adding to that, the second dealership we brought the GC to had little information as to what the first did. I'm pretty surprised at the lack of communication that exists within the Jeep world.

After the cash and keep offer was off the table, I explained to her that I was done dealing with her and that my next call was to an attorney. Our Jeep had been in the shop 6 times and had a cumulative service down time of nearly 40 days - all within the first 5 months of ownership. This is well within the parameters of what California considers a lemon. She called the day we picked up the GC and informed us that Chrysler is now offering to buy back the GC. As that process plays out, I will let you know how it goes.

Conclusion

While this post has been long, I hope it has been informative and will help someone else out there. Chrysler had a lot of serious problems with the transmissions in the WK2 up to 2016 - the 845RE. Many people had valve bodies replaced and there were numerous flashes of the transmission control modules that did not fix the shifting issues. At this early stage, it appears this is also a problem with the newer 850RE that is installed in the latest model WK2.

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post #2 of 28 Old 06-02-2018, 07:14 PM
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What a nightmare. I cannot even imagine going through what you did with that POS GC. I just traded a 2018 GC Sterling Edition with the V6 (only 1,800 miles) in on another GC Limited with the 5.7L Hemi. Could not stand the ESS system. Don't think the Jeep had any transmission issues although it did have a very irritating clunk/loud click intermittently when starting. I think it may have been normal for the POS ESS system on the Jeep but maybe not . Might have been related to the 850RE transmission. Anyway, I no longer care. I already did the paper work and turned in the V6 even though the new one won't be in for a couple of weeks. Could not wait to get rid of it. In my opinion, the ZF8HP coupled with the 5.7L or 6.4L Hemi is a far superior combination. I have had 3 of them to date and they proved to be flawless. I must have been experiencing temporary insanity to have purchased the V6 to begin with. If your buyback goes through and you decide to get another GC, I would strongly recommend the Hemi. However, after reading your post, I would not blame you if you went with a Toyota 4Runner (and I hate Asian cars).

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post #3 of 28 Old 06-02-2018, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Daves2018GC4x4 View Post
What a nightmare. I cannot even imagine going through what you did with that POS GC. I just traded a 2018 GC Sterling Edition with the V6 (only 1,800 miles) in on another GC Limited with the 5.7L Hemi. Could not stand the ESS system. Don't think the Jeep had any transmission issues although it did have a very irritating clunk/loud click intermittently when starting. I think it may have been normal for the POS ESS system on the Jeep but maybe not . Might have been related to the 850RE transmission. Anyway, I no longer care. I already did the paper work and turned in the V6 even though the new one won't be in for a couple of weeks. Could not wait to get rid of it. In my opinion, the ZF8HP coupled with the 5.7L or 6.4L Hemi is a far superior combination. I have had 3 of them to date and they proved to be flawless. I must have been experiencing temporary insanity to have purchased the V6 to begin with. If your buyback goes through and you decide to get another GC, I would strongly recommend the Hemi. However, after reading your post, I would not blame you if you went with a Toyota 4Runner (and I hate Asian cars).

Thank you for your comment.

As you said, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the clunk you heard or felt was related to the transmission.

In regards to the buy-back, this is my wife's vehicle and she has a soft spot for it. It fits her perfectly. However, we will not go back into one that has the 850RE transmission. We are looking at the ecodiesel or the V8 since they both run the ZF8HP, as you mentioned. However, I am seeing that the diesels have a lot of problems with a sprocket slipping slightly on one of the cams causing timing issues that result in catastrophic engine failure. In all likelihood, we will be going with a V8 version. Of course, that all depends on how Chrysler handles this from here on out. I've got an attorney on speed dial should Chrysler decide they want to play any more games.
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post #4 of 28 Old 06-02-2018, 09:58 PM
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Frustrating for sure.

The V8 can have a lifter problem (QC related) that can destroy the camshaft and fill the engine with little pieces of metal The WK2 V8 likes to throw water pumps.

ZF designed all the 8 speed transmissions. FCA builds all the V6 transmissions and now some of the V8 transmissions. They made a few tweaks to the V6 version, dunno about the V8. The ZF V8 transmissions suffer from problems, regardless of where they are built... and in all of the several brands they are used in. They aren't that easy to build. Not saying that they have more problems than others.

So, for risk avoidance, it looks like you are going to have to avoid Jeeps and ZF altogether, although I'm not aware of a make or model thats doesn't suffer from one catastrophic fault or another. It seems that the V8 model has fewer catastrophes, perhaps because there are much fewer out there?

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Current: 2011 Grand Cherokee Overland V8, 2009 Liberty Rocky Mt V6
Previous: 2000 Grand Cherokee Laredo I6, 1979 CJ7 I6 Quadratrac
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post #5 of 28 Old 06-02-2018, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ColdCase View Post
Frustrating for sure.

The V8 can have a lifter problem (QC related) that can destroy the camshaft and fill the engine with little pieces of metal The WK2 V8 likes to throw water pumps.

ZF designed all the 8 speed transmissions. FCA builds all the V6 transmissions and now some of the V8 transmissions. They made a few tweaks to the V6 version, dunno about the V8. The ZF V8 transmissions suffer from problems, regardless of where they are built... and in all of the several brands they are used in. They aren't that easy to build. Not saying that they have more problems than others.

So, for risk avoidance, it looks like you are going to have to avoid Jeeps and ZF altogether, although I'm not aware of a make or model thats doesn't suffer from one catastrophic fault or another. It seems that the V8 model has fewer catastrophes, perhaps because there are much fewer out there?
I'm not sure if this post is meant to be patronizing or simply reads that way. I'll assume I'm simply interpreting it incorrectly because I'm hopped up on cold meds right now.

In any event, I am well aware that in order to avoid any further issues with Jeep or FCA generally, the easiest thing to do would be to avoid any FCA product. Trust me, if it were up to me, I would do just that. Its unfortunate but FCA is slowly destroying the Jeep marque.

I have learned there are ways to mitigate the risk when staying within the FCA family. So far, I've learned it is best to avoid the ZF model transmissions licensed and manufactured by FCA (the 845 and 850RE) and stick with ZF units made in Germany. I haven't heard of many issues with those. If you have specifics, I am certainly all ears. I am still looking into the 5.7 V8, but so far what I've seen is generally positive. They aren't flawless, but nothing is.

I appreciate your input regarding the water pumps and lifters. I'll definitely look into both of those. I read somewhere that there were also valve spring problems at one point but they've since been resolved. I believe this was when the hemi was re-released in the 2000's.
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post #6 of 28 Old 06-03-2018, 11:34 AM
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Just saying that they all have their problems. You will hear a lot more about V6 problems in a WK2 forum because by far most WK2 have a V6. By far, most RAM 1500 trucks, on the other hand, have V8s. So if you want a less colored view of the V8, you can peruse some of the RAM forums. Rare, but there is frustration there. The V8s and transmissions used in the 1500s are the same as those in the WK2 but 2500s are much different.

The V8 lifter QC problem peaked in 2011. It was rare then, even rarer now. Its still happens. It used to be that the V8 8 speed seemed to be less troublesome, but its hard to tell anymore. Anecdotally, buying one built in Europe may be less risky, but how can you where a 2018 transmission is build... perhaps the window sticker foreign content section.

IMHO, buy what you like, drive it for awhile to make sure it doesn't have one of those difficult to solve issues then add a lifetime MaxCare warranty. Otherwise you may as well get rid of it and try another. There isn't a model that someone hasn't reported a experience similar to yours, but its rare. The outcome/frustration seems to vary with dealer service department more than it should. So you may reduce your chance of problems from .01% to .005%, both kinda small

There is a lot to say about feeling good about your purchase regardless of the number crunching, however. I wish you well and hope you find something thats satisfactory.

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Current: 2011 Grand Cherokee Overland V8, 2009 Liberty Rocky Mt V6
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post #7 of 28 Old 06-03-2018, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdCase View Post
Just saying that they all have their problems. You will hear a lot more about V6 problems in a WK2 forum because by far most WK2 have a V6. By far, most RAM 1500 trucks, on the other hand, have V8s. So if you want a less colored view of the V8, you can peruse some of the RAM forums. Rare, but there is frustration there. The V8s and transmissions used in the 1500s are the same as those in the WK2 but 2500s are much different.
I think you are conflating two issues. I am not saying the V6 motor has issues. At least not high visibility, consistent issues that are seemingly inherent with the motor. My focus is on the transmission behind the V6. Without question, those have been problematic. The hope was FCA had fixed that with the 850RE model. Given my admittedly limited experience, that does not appear to be the case. I may be the first and last, but given FCA's track record, I don't think the company deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdCase View Post
The V8 lifter QC problem peaked in 2011. It was rare then, even rarer now. Its still happens. It used to be that the V8 8 speed seemed to be less troublesome, but its hard to tell anymore. Anecdotally, buying one built in Europe may be less risky, but how can you where a 2018 transmission is build... perhaps the window sticker foreign content section.
It seems many of the issues, including the water pump issue you brought to my attention yesterday, seem to be in the past. From my reading, once FCA figured out a proper fix for the water pump and caught up on supply, the issue was largely resolved.

Your intuition regarding the Monroney sticker is spot on. The stickers show the build country for the engine and transmission. This allows the buyer to determine whether they are getting an FCA licensed and manufactured ZF transmission or the real deal from ZF itself. I have found two GC Trailhawks with the V8. One has a FCA made transmission, built in the US, and the other a ZF, built in Germany both here at local dealerships in San Diego. This will be something I watch for going forward. I've only just started to look into this but as of now I cannot see any rhyme or reason as to why one would get an FCA unit or a ZF unit.

See the below images of the Monroney sticker:
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post #8 of 28 Old 06-03-2018, 02:42 PM Thread Starter
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I couldn't get screenshots of the stickers to post. Here are the links. Please let me know if they don't work and I'll spend a bit more time getting the pics to load.

https://www.jeep.com/hostd/windowsti...RJFLT4JC388895

https://www.jeep.com/hostd/windowsti...RJFLTXJC237916
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post #9 of 28 Old 06-03-2018, 03:07 PM
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I think you are conflating two issues. I am not saying the V6 motor has issues. At least not high visibility, consistent issues that are seemingly inherent with the motor.
You mentioned that the V6 diesel had a tendency to slip timing gear and destroy itself and I think you thought the V8 was better. So I just mentioned a few things that have gone wrong with a few V8s that would be costly. The V6 has its own problem areas (phasers, valve guides). These serious issues seem to be relatively rare, thank goodness. The common broken V8 manifold bolts thing can be a PITA to repair, but not that serious of an issue in my mind.

The transmission is a different story altogether, of course.

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Current: 2011 Grand Cherokee Overland V8, 2009 Liberty Rocky Mt V6
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post #10 of 28 Old 06-03-2018, 04:14 PM
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I couldn't get screenshots of the stickers to post. Here are the links. Please let me know if they don't work and I'll spend a bit more time getting the pics to load.

https://www.jeep.com/hostd/windowsti...RJFLT4JC388895

https://www.jeep.com/hostd/windowsti...RJFLTXJC237916

Links work just fine. I never noticed the section on the sticker that shows where the transmission was built. Just looked at the sticker for my inbound GC. I thank GOD the transmission was built in Germany.

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post #11 of 28 Old 06-10-2018, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
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UPDATE:

Unfortunately, the new flash applied to the TCM did not fix the issue. The transmission still engages poorly when the ESS system engages. Additionally, shifting between 1-2 is rough. It is almost as if it cannot decide what gear it should be in. When it figures out it wants to go from 2 to 1, the shift is abrupt and noticeable by everyone in the vehicle.
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post #12 of 28 Old 06-11-2018, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeebs View Post
UPDATE:

Unfortunately, the new flash applied to the TCM did not fix the issue. The transmission still engages poorly when the ESS system engages. Additionally, shifting between 1-2 is rough. It is almost as if it cannot decide what gear it should be in. When it figures out it wants to go from 2 to 1, the shift is abrupt and noticeable by everyone in the vehicle.
Hi Jeebs,

We are sorry to hear this is an ongoing concern. Please send us a PM with your VIN and mileage so that we can document this further.

Darlene
Jeep Social Care Specialist
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post #13 of 28 Old 06-16-2018, 05:49 AM
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I do have a similar issue with my 5months Grand Cherokee2017
The transmitting the gear from Parking to D or R give big noise and this occurs only when Start/Stop feature activated only!
Not sure whether the issue with the gear or the Start/Stop engine feature!!
It was very easy to replicate at dealer shop in Dubai but they said its first time for them to notice such case so they can't decide whether its normal or an issue!! How come such a noise is normal?
so they said they will verify by testing another car from the same model and after three days they called me and informed me that the found out the sound is available on other cars thus it's a normal and car has no issue!!
Please advise me what should I do?
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post #14 of 28 Old 06-16-2018, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by 3gareb View Post
I do have a similar issue with my 5months Grand Cherokee2017
The transmitting the gear from Parking to D or R give big noise and this occurs only when Start/Stop feature activated only!
Not sure whether the issue with the gear or the Start/Stop engine feature!!
It was very easy to replicate at dealer shop in Dubai but they said its first time for them to notice such case so they can't decide whether its normal or an issue!! How come such a noise is normal?
so they said they will verify by testing another car from the same model and after three days they called me and informed me that the found out the sound is available on other cars thus it's a normal and car has no issue!!
Please advise me what should I do?
Do they sell BMW X5's in Dubai?
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post #15 of 28 Old 06-17-2018, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JeepCares View Post
Hi Jeebs,

We are sorry to hear this is an ongoing concern. Please send us a PM with your VIN and mileage so that we can document this further.

Darlene
Jeep Social Care Specialist
Darlene,

I'm going to pass on your offer. If you'd like to know why, feel free to read the original post.
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