One of the reasons I like Cars.com's Kicking Tires blog is that they actually purchase the vehicles in their long-term test fleet rather than borrow them for extended periods from car companies. That approach is a little more honest, and it comes away with a more realistic ownership experience than you can get in a press car. But their 2014 Jeep Cherokee came with an unexpected surprise right before the holidays.
The site bought their Cherokee new back in March for just under $34,000. Nine months and only 13,300 miles later, the SUV needed a brand-new engine, which was replaced under warranty.
Problems can arise even with brand-new cars. Sometimes they're glitches on new models, sometimes they're recall-related, or sometimes they're just caused by faulty parts outside of the manufacturer's control; the 2015 Lincoln MKC I had last week just got sidelined by a dead battery despite only 7,000 miles on the odometer.
But needing a whole new engine? That's a pretty extreme case for sure. The site reports they brought their Cherokee to a dealer after experiencing multiple stalls on its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Here's what the tech found:
Excessive amounts of oil had crept into the intake side of the engine, coating the intake manifold, hoses and an engine management sensor. We're not talking about a light coating of oil residue. Oil drained from the intake manifold partially filled a cereal-bowl-sized plastic dish.
The Manifold Absolute Pressure sensor, a vacuum sensor mounted to the intake manifold that's used to communicate fueling information to the engine's computer, was also covered in oil, as were the insides of the engine's crankcase ventilation hoses. Our Cherokee's engine was approximately 2.5 quarts low from the manufacturer-required 5.5-quart capacity.
Not a pleasant thing to contemplate. After multiple tests Mopar techs said the car was "charting new ground in Cherokee breakage" and experiencing a pretty unprecedented problem. Later testing indicated a lower than expected compression in one of the cylinders. The decision was then made to replace the engine entirely.
Granted, it's a rare and extreme case, according to both Fiat Chrysler and J.D. Power and Associates. At the moment Fiat Chrysler is unaware of other issues affecting the 2.4-liter engine, but the site recommends that anyone who experiences stalling and a check engine light to take their vehicle to a dealer ASAP, obviously. (Update: Check the comments below for more issues with the Cherokee.)
The 2014 Cherokee has been subject to two recalls this year per NHTSA's site (like everything else these days, it seems) but never for a problem along these lines.
Have any Cherokee owners here experienced problems with their new SUVs?