Jeep Wrangler Automatic Transmission Shifting Problems

Jeep Wrangler has an automatic transmission and does not require any manual input to shift speeds when driving as most of the automobiles have automatic transmission. Various sensors and mechatronic devices operate in synchronization to shift gears automatically.

Over the past few years, the legendary Jeep Wrangler model has had more than its share of transmission shifting issues. Transmission problems have plagued Jeep drivers for decades, leading to several recalls and customer service calls.

Even while the average Jeep transmission lasts between 120,000 and 180,000 miles before it needs to be replaced, transmission problems can arise at any time, no matter what year your Wrangler is.

A transmission inspection is essential if you experience shifting issues; else, your off-roading adventures will be cut short.

When it comes to quality, dependability and longevity, automatic transmissions are widely regarded as the industry standard. Unfortunately, automatic transmissions have a lot of issues, and we’ll explain what they are and how to fix them.

What Causes Jeep Wrangler Automatic Transmission Shifting Issues?

Problems with the automatic transmission of a Jeep Wrangler might arise for a variety of different causes.

When the transmission fluid becomes polluted with dirt, oil, or other debris, this is one of the most prevalent problems that can occur. This may cause the transmission to become difficult to shift and lead it to become sluggish.

If the transmission belt breaks, this can sometimes also lead to problems with the automatic shifting of the vehicle. It is imperative that you take prompt action and have the automatic transmission of your Jeep Wrangler inspected by a professional mechanic as soon as possible if you are encountering any problems with it.

Delayed shifting is a common issue with 42RE and 42RE four-speed transmissions. This problem will arise when shifting from first to third, or third to fourth gears. Delayed shifting can be incredibly frustrating and have a significant impact on the Wrangler’s performance, especially when off-roading.

Malfunctioning sensors are another likely cause. Throttle body and input/output sensor failure caused torque converter clutch failure. If the sensor is faulty, replace it to ensure proper engagement.

What Are the Signs That Your Transmission Is Failing?

Let’s look at transmission problems so you can recognise them in your Jeep.

Leaking Fluid

Fluid leaks are easily diagnosed. ATF lubricates transmissions. ATF reduces transmission friction and overheating. It’s also a hydraulic fluid that engages gears. If ATF leaks, the transmission could overheat from low fluid. This causes transmission failure quickly.

Burning Smell

How can you smell burned transmission fluid? ATF burns with a smell like burning rubber rather than oil. Transmission fluid that gets too heated may smoke. Burned fluid can no longer control heat, lubricate parts, or change gears hydraulically.

Check Engine Light

Check engine light alerts drivers of engine problems. This light alerts the driver to a problem that is affecting engine performance and efficiency. The check engine light might be triggered by a leaky gas cap or a failing catalytic converter.

Unusual Noises

Listen to your neutral transmission tone. Does your transmission shimmy? Some noises can be fixed by adding or changing transmission fluid. In other cases, a speciality repair business is the safest and most cost-effective solution.

Fluid Leaks

Vehicle fluids should stay inside. Jeep leaks must be fixed quickly. Jeeps that leak red or pink fluid that smells pleasant leak transmission fluid. Leaking transmission fluid implies damage to seals or gaskets, the bell housing, the drive shaft, or a loose transmission pan.

Transition Issues

As you travel, your Jeep keeps swapping gears. Anything unusual while driving, including power surges or sounds, usually indicates a transmission problem. If your automobile jerks, don’t delay diagnostics and repairs because transmission replacement is expensive.

Slipping Gears

Slipping gears is a severe safety problem for vehicle owners and other drivers/pedestrians. Drivers regularly slam on the brakes or accelerate to avoid danger. Unresponsive or slipping between gears or neutral is dangerous.

Fixing a Jeep Wrangler’s Transmission

The first thing that you should do is inspect the condition of the transmission filter and the level of fluid in the transmission.

Be sure to check the owner’s manual for your vehicle to learn the specific type of transmission fluid and filter that should be used in your transmission.


If the automatic transmission in your Jeep Wrangler is giving you trouble, there are a few things you can do to figure out what’s wrong and fix it. First, try replacing the shift cable if it looks worn or stretched out.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, it might be time to have the transmission flushed. And finally, if you’ve tried everything and still can’t get the automatic transmission in your Jeep Wrangler to work right, you might need to have it replaced.

Make sure to talk to a mechanic before doing any of these repairs, so that they can help guide you through the process without causing any extra damage or headaches.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes erratic shifting automatic transmission?

Line pressures are affected by dirty transmission fluid, low fluid level, a clogged line, or faulty transmission pump can cause the transmission to slip. A bad sensor or solenoid could cause a shifting problem and that is a relatively easy fix by a qualified technician.

How do you know if your transmission is bad on a Jeep Wrangler?

The symptoms of a failing transmission are:
1. Warning engine light. Your Jeep Compass transmission warning light is on.
2. Transmission fluid leaks. Leaks are uncommon, but they might indicate a problem with your transmission hose.
3. Something doesn’t smell right. …
4. Odd grinding sounds. …
5. Delayed gear shifting.

How much does it cost to fix a transmission control module?

The replacement cost of a transmission control module will be anywhere from $500 to $900. You can expect the parts costs to be around $450 to $700 while the labor costs will be around $50 to $200.

How long does a Jeep Wrangler transmission last?

The overall lifespan of a Jeep Wrangler transmission largely depends on how well it was maintained. Factory design flaws also factor into this equation, along with how/how hard you drive. But on average, we’ve seen the Jeep Wrangler transmission last for between 130,000-180,000 miles.

Are Jeep Wrangler automatic transmissions reliable?

Both the current automatic and manual transmissions in use are durable and reliable.

Does changing transmission fluid help shifting?

Transmission fluid makes sure you can shift smoothly by lubricating the parts of your transmission. It also cools them down, so you won’t have to worry about your clutch or solenoid overheating.

Andrea Barbuti
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