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Old 12-04-2015, 06:54 AM   #1
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Jeep Cherokee as a Toad?

I am about to give up on my "Moldy Toad" (see moldy toad post). I am now considering purchasing a 2015-2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. After reading the reviews about it's reliability I am hesitant about buying one. The transmission and electronics seem to be a problem with the Cherokee. I drove a demo at the dealers and I really liked the vehicle but dont care to get an expensive headache. Are there any Cherokee owners out there, I would love to hear your thoughts.
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Old 12-04-2015, 08:29 AM   #2
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I have a 2015 Cherokee Trailhawk that I tow using a Ready Brute Elite tow bar. I have about 6k miles on it and another 5k miles towing and so far mostly good. In the first 500 miles, I had all the dash warning lights go off that was determined by the dealer to be a bad wheel speed sensor. Replacement of the sensor resolved the issue and it has not recurred. But I was not impressed with either Chrysler or the dealer on the repair. First it took over a week to get in the part with numerous dealer false statements on the status which cost me a planned trip. The transmission does shift roughly in the lower gears and which was recently made worse with a routine software update. I don't think that Chrysler did an adequate job developing the transmission software and continues to roll out updates without adequate testing. But so far the transmission has been reliable and I am sure that it is responsible for the observed above average fuel economy of about 25mpg. One other miss is the electric parking brake. It seems to have a mind of its own and comes on sometimes when you don't expect it to. We have to be very careful in verifying it is off before towing with the MH. We always check to make sure the wheels roll free before taking off which caught one instance of the parking brake being unexpectedly on. The headlights really suck which is a bit of an issue when driving at night.

On the positives, we really like the car. It is quiet, drives great, and is very comfortable. It tows great, is easy to put into neutral for towing, and we have never experienced the "death wobble" that some owners have reported. So my opinion is that it is not perfect but fit our needs best of the towable vehicles available. I would buy the car again.
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Old 12-04-2015, 08:31 AM   #3
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In short, we really like our 2015 Cherokee Trailhawk that we purchased last Decemnber. We had to trade in our 20,000 mile 2012 Mercedes GLK 350 4Matic as it was not towable, and we don't miss it at all......

8,000 miles driven, plus anther 7,500 towed.

No problems, just an oil change and a recall for a nav system update (you probably read about them being able to be hacked), and just in for the tailgate lift recall that also included 3 other software updates (including one for the tranny).

The only nuance we learned was that you have to be smooth and swift when you move from N to Park as part of putting into tow mode (do not pause in R).

No issues with any sort of "death wobble" behavior, using Blue Ox tow bar and
SMI Stay n Play brake system.

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Old 12-04-2015, 10:05 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by daydream37 View Post
I am about to give up on my "Moldy Toad" (see moldy toad post). I am now considering purchasing a 2015-2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. After reading the reviews about it's reliability I am hesitant about buying one. The transmission and electronics seem to be a problem with the Cherokee. I drove a demo at the dealers and I really liked the vehicle but dont care to get an expensive headache. Are there any Cherokee owners out there, I would love to hear your thoughts.

I believe you've answered your own question. I personally would not want the concerns that Jeep apparently has had with the trans/electronics in the Cherokees. Look at other vehicles and lower the potential stress level.
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Old 12-04-2015, 10:14 AM   #5
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I believe you've answered your own question. I personally would not want the concerns that Jeep apparently has had with the trans/electronics in the Cherokees. Look at other vehicles and lower the potential stress level.
A vast majority of tranny problems relate to the first year of production for that transmission (2014 model year) so it is not nearly the concern of 2015 and 2016 models.
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Old 12-04-2015, 12:06 PM   #6
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Bikinjim, we're contemplating a new 16 Cherokee Limited w/active drive II and the Ready Brute Elite set up. Did you also wire up the lights on your Cherokee; if so, what set up did you use? Did you do the install yourself? How difficult? TIA. Jim
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Old 12-04-2015, 12:40 PM   #7
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Yes, I did the whole thing myself. My wife was pretty stressed when she came in the garage and saw the entire front end of her new car with 50 miles on it laying on the floor! But it turned out to not be too difficult. I researched online for a few days to figure out what to buy and how to install everything. I found YouTube videos on how to install the Blue Ox baseplates and the wiring kit specific to the Cherokee and they were helpful.

I installed the Ready Brake and breakaway cables when I had the car apart to install the baseplate and found that this made it MUCH easier to run those brake cables. I made a front bumper bracket to attach the Ready Brake cable and brought the cable out the grill. Doing it that way prevented the need to cut or drill on the visible portions of the car. To get through the firewall, I utilized the existing penetration. I pulled off the penetration seal inside the car on the inner firewall, then pushed out the grommet on the inner firewall. Then I got 2 large washers and sandwiched the outer penetration with the Read Brake fitting. For the breakaway cable, I drilled 2 holes in those washers to pass the breakaway cable. I also had to get longer bolts to fasten the brake cable to the brake pedal due to the brake pedal design. Below are pictures of the routing of cables: the red in the last picture is where I installed the breakaway device along the frame rail.

For the light wiring kit, I used the Roadmaster generic diode kit and followed the Etrailer video they have for the Cherokee. I also had to install a light relay to avoid the car brake lights from overnight the turn signal. This was difficult as there is little room under the dash and the wires are short. Roadmaster has a service bulletin for the Cherokee you can search for that shows how to do the relay install and which wire to cut into. I understand that there may now be a plug and play solution for the Cherokee which would be easier if it exists.

I really only ran into two problems. 1) reinstalling the front fascia. I worked and worked and could not at first get the fascia lined up so it would snap back on. Ultimately, I found that the baseplate safety cables were interfering with the bottom fascia. I reconfigured those cables and the fascia went right on. 2) the difficulty in getting the brake light relay installed due to the tight quarters. Just had to keep working and eventually got it done.

The whole thing took me a day and a half, but several hours were due to the 2 issues above. I really like the simplicity of the Ready Brake system and have zero issues with it.Click image for larger version

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Old 12-04-2015, 01:38 PM   #8
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One other miss is the electric parking brake. It seems to have a mind of its own and comes on sometimes when you don't expect it to. We have to be very careful in verifying it is off before towing with the MH. We always check to make sure the wheels roll free before taking off which caught one instance of the parking brake being unexpectedly on.
The Cherokees come from the factory with the Auto Park Brake activated. Anyone towing a Cherokee should disable this feature as follows:
Controls -> Settings -> Safety & Driving Assistance -> Electric Park Brake -> Auto Park Brake (make sure the box is unchecked).

Also be aware that even with that box unchecked, if you open the driver's door while backing up, the Electric Park Brake will automatically set itself.
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Old 12-04-2015, 01:50 PM   #9
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BobGed - thanks for that information. I had inactivated the auto park brake when I started towing, but just in case I just went out and confirmed the option was still unchecked. I have sometimes performed the transfer case to neutral procedure with the driver's door open (but never while backing up) and perhaps that is enough for the mysterious brake actuation. I will pay more attention to closing the door in the future beginning with my trip this weekend.
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Old 12-04-2015, 02:30 PM   #10
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BobGed - thanks for that information. I had inactivated the auto park brake when I started towing, but just in case I just went out and confirmed the option was still unchecked. I have sometimes performed the transfer case to neutral procedure with the driver's door open (but never while backing up) and perhaps that is enough for the mysterious brake actuation. I will pay more attention to closing the door in the future beginning with my trip this weekend.
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Old 12-04-2015, 04:54 PM   #11
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A vast majority of tranny problems relate to the first year of production for that transmission (2014 model year) so it is not nearly the concern of 2015 and 2016 models.
Driven my 2014 20K miles and towed the Jeep 15K miles - I have had zero problems with anything

I would buy another one in a minute
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Old 12-05-2015, 07:11 AM   #12
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UPDATE - I took a test drive of a 2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk with my wife. We had a rookie salesman who knew nothing about them. While explaining that I was concerned about reported transmission issues we came to a stop. Taking off from the stop there was a loud clunk from the transmission and the vehicle lurched. I was disappointed and immediately thought that a $40K+ vehicle ought not be that rough. I reluctantly wrote it off as a prospective toad.
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Old 12-06-2015, 03:09 PM   #13
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I will start by saying I really like our 2015 Cherokee Limited. It tows well. The setup for towing is easy. It's comfortable, and with the rear seats folded flat, you can carry quite bit. That being said, at 7,000 miles, she got a new transmission, TCM and numerous other electronic components. The new transmission has exhibiting some issues as well. Add to that some clicking coming out of the right front. it goes back to the shop on Tuesday. She has spent over 30 days in the shop Since August. I am going to try and get it replaced under Maryland's Lemon Law with a new Cherokee. I keep hearing people say that they have had zero problems. I hope my next one is one of those.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:22 PM   #14
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UPDATE - I took a test drive of a 2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk with my wife. We had a rookie salesman who knew nothing about them. While explaining that I was concerned about reported transmission issues we came to a stop. Taking off from the stop there was a loud clunk from the transmission and the vehicle lurched. I was disappointed and immediately thought that a $40K+ vehicle ought not be that rough. I reluctantly wrote it off as a prospective toad.
At the point of being presumptuous, is it possible that the engine had turned itself off? The 6 cylinder engines come with the Stop and Go feature. It took me awhile to get used to it. When you come to a stop, the engine actually shuts down. Take your foot off the brake and the engine restarts. It, according to the literature restarts in 1/3 of a second...that is true as far as it goes. If you take your foot off of the brake and get on the gas too quickly, the engine will start to rev before the system has the vehicle back in gear - you will get the thunk and lurch as the transmission is, essentially, dropped into gear with an engine revving beyond its engagement rating. The car is so well insulated from noise, that I can't always tell if the engine has shut down without looking at the tach. I've gotten good at it and no longer suffer the "lurch".

A friend reacted the same way after his test drive...I had forgotten to tell him and the sales people still don't, themselves, understand the system enough to warn, nor explain it to prospective buyers. After I explained it to him, he went back for another test drive and wound up buying one. There is a button on the dash that will disable the Stop and Go, but, when you turn the car off it resets to its default "on" setting. I'm not saying that this is the cause of what you experienced, but, if you weren't aware of the system and your sales person didn't explain it to you, it may not actually have been a "problem", just a misunderstanding of a system that was, actually, working as designed.

I am quite pleased with the ride quality, room, handling and build quality. I just last week had it off road at some sand dunes here where we are wintering and it proved itself easily up to the task...more so than the 4x4 RAM CTD that I traded in on it. I'll keep my Trailhawk and wouldn't hesitate to buy another.
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