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?