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Heads Up, Wrangler Owners: Your Jeep May Not Be As Capable As You Think

Posted in 4x4, Bizarre, Chrysler, FAIL, Jeep, Off-Roading by Kurt Ernst | November 24th, 2010 | 10 Responses |

If you own a JK series Jeep Wrangler, the above video, found on Jalopnik, will likely be painful for you to watch. It shows a bone stock 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon attempting to ford what appears to be shallow water. At one point, the Jeep appears to be up to the hubs in the water, so let’s estimate that it’s no more than 17” deep. Per Jeep’s own recommendations, the Wrangler should be capable of fording water up to 19” deep without issue, but what happened next is the stuff of nightmares. At about halfway across the puddle, the Jeep stalls and coasts to a stop. The owner tries to restart the engine, but the damage is done. The motor was hydrolocked and the Wrangler had to be towed back to the dealership.

You’d think this would be no big deal, but you’d be wrong. Jeep has denied the warranty claim, leaving the owner without transportation until his insurance company decides whether or not they’ll buy him a new engine. The internet seems equally divided between the “bad entry, he was going too fast, of course he hydrolocked the engine” camp, and the “Jeep’s marketing shows more aggressive driving through deeper water, no way should that motor have hydrolocked” camp. In either case, Jeep is facing some serious bad press; after all, what’s the point of marketing a vehicle as “trail rated” if it can’t even safely ford 17” of water? Remember, this wasn’t even a base model Wrangler, but was the top-of-the-line, hairy-chested-off-roading Rubicon. It seems to me like the least expensive and least damaging outcome for Jeep is just to replace the motor as a one time courtesy. Off-roaders and Jeep fans, what’s your call? Is it the drivers fault, or should this never have happened?

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10 Responses

  1. […] what appears to be shallow water. At one point, the Jeep appears to be up to the hubs in the […]Read more… Categories: Uncategorized Tags: Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, […]

  2. Nephilim says:

    As an owner of a 2000 Wrangler I’m, at certainly saddened that something like this would happen especially with a Rubicon. I’ve not seen under the hood of a JK but can tell you that you’d have to pretty much sink a TJ to nearly the hood to hydrolock the engine. The stock airbox inlet is a small snorkle that protrudes straight up to within 1 1/2 inches of the hood – virtually impossible to hydro lock in 17 or 19 inches of water at any speed especially with any sort of lift. Then again maybe the setup of the new 3.8 intake is more susceptible to strong splashes, I don’t know. Its a shame any way I look at it.

  3. Nads says:

    What’s up with the first comment on this article? Does this guy think we are going to go to his website to read his crap?

  4. Set says:

    Nephilim, I agree 100%. That’s exactly what I was thinking. His first mistake was buying a JK and not a TJ (or earlier, if you’d like)!

    But I’m torn with his entry, as well. In some respects, with that thin of “mud” you should probably enter a bit slower to produce less of a wake. With thicker mud, you want the peddle in the floorboard to fling the mud out and “clean” the tread. I would call it operator ignorance/inexperience, not necessarily error. Poor design? Probably, but not exactly a design flaw, either. Not something Jeep needs to cover, at least.

  5. eddie says:

    my 2 cents-that was more than just mud and water,its at some type of flooded quarry;a containment pool of sorts or something.the cement type muck coated everything starved the engine.

  6. Taylor says:

    I drive a 2009 JK Rubicon 4 door, with 33″ tires and 2″ lift. Have driven it through water that came up to the rockers and slow and steady did it for me.

    Also of note, on mine at least, is that the battery is now in the location that the stock air box was and the air filter is now where the stock battery location was.

    Either way, the engine compartment is seemingly well protected from splash back. In the stock location, the air inlet is just a little higher than the hood cut line and is protected from the bottom by the inner fender skirts and the tray that mounts the air box, computer and battery. Even in modified form, my air filter is very well protected (completly open, no box around it) and I have yet to suck water.

    All I can say is that maybe he hit it a little too hard and managed to defeat the protective devices. Maybe he had a modified intake system. Hard to judge without all the relevant information.

  7. […] itself as a major player in the US. Models such as the Cherokee and Wrangler were introduced. The Wrangler took over for the legendary CJ series while the Cherokee took off as Jeep’s full-time […]

  8. Taylor says:

    Take a look at about 20 seconds in. You can see water coming out of the grill. It looks like it is being deflected down from the hood. Sorry bud…..you hit it too hard.

  9. Kurt Ernst says:

    Here’s the REAL mystery: is that a Honda Ridgeline in the background, and did that make it across the pond?

  10. Russ Stodieck says:

    I had a similar issue with my 07 Unlimited Sahara. Went through a small muddle puddle in the Colorado mountains. Jeep stalled and died. Lot’s of steam… Tried to start the engine…it would turn over but not start. Got out and opened the hood. Engine compartment completely dry, no water or mud in the air intake. Waited a few minutes and the jeep started right up and we continued our journey. I don’t believe I have a hydrolock problem, but something else. Any ideas?

    Russ