Rear Tailgate Crack - 2012 Jeep Wrangler Long-Term Road Test

2012 Jeep Wrangler Long Term Road Test

2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport: Rear Tailgate Crack

April 25, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport

Last week I was startled by a loud and annoying pop and squeak coming from the cargo area of our 2012 Jeep Wrangler on my way to work. The sounds were largely confined to rough sections of L.A. freeway and the occasional drainage dip near my neighborhood.

I'm pretty sure I've heard a much quieter version of this sound once or twice before, but it didn't scream "problem" like it did this time.

It didn't take long to find the culprit once I decided to have a look. The hinge area of the tailgate has starburst cracks radiating out from a pair of exposed spot welds on the interior side.

2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport

Further inspection revealed four more broken spot welds nearby. These circular cracks look more like punched holes than starbursts, but the two pieces of metal they're supposed to join are now detached, just the same.

So we took the Jeep to a dealer for an assessment (and an oil change.) It's back in our hands, but we're still awaiting word on whether or not this is a warranty issue.

To me it seems like it should be. Yes, there's a lift kit and harder suspension under our Jeep, but it's a Mopar-blessed one. And the larger wheels (which are made for larger tires) are also Mopar pieces.

Also, the elevated position of the third brake light more than clears the top of our 32-inch BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM2 tires, which says to me they're not taller (and by extension, heavier) than the designers expected.

We'll let you know how it all turns out. But one thing is clear: it's only going to get worse.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 32,044 miles


  • cjasis cjasis Posts:

    I'll be honest, that's pretty damned bad.

  • schen72 schen72 Posts:

    I would be pretty damned upset if it were my car.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    It is pretty maddening when a manufacturer makes a car for a particular purpose, then claims using it for that purpose voids the warranty.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Just because the wheels are Mopar doesn't mean that the tailgate tire mount will automatically support them and the larger, heavier tires that come with them. A bumper mounter spare tire carrier is almost always a requirement if you are going to run larger and heavier tires and wheels.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @bankerdanny: Right. But really how much bigger and wider are these 33 inch BFGoodrich Mud Terrains and wheels (Even though he says 32 inches in this article, they are 33's) than the, wait for it, 32 inch BFGoodrich Mud Terrains on the Wrangler Rubicon? I

  • actualsize actualsize Posts:

    Yeah, I did mean 33-inches. 32.7 inches, to be precise. A plethora of aftermarket tire mounts, swing away tire carriers and hinge reinforcements tell me this is a pretty widespread thing. But I thought those were for the 35- and 37-inch tires people fit. 33-inches always seemed conservative to me. As for the 10th anniversary Rubicon and its 32-inch tires, I do not think it has a reinforced tailgate, but it does have a unique bumper with a socket for an add-on swing-away tire carrier. When/if cracks do appear (or if you fit bigger tires,) you have a way out.

  • 20034runner 20034runner Posts:

    Any news from Jeep on this yet?

  • memphisnet memphisnet Posts:

    It's been quite a while guys, what's going on with the Wrangler?!

Leave a Comment

Past Long-Term Road Tests

Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411