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Our Long-Term Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe Left Us Stranded — Again

That's three tow truck rides in five months

2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe on a tow truck
  • This is the second wiring issue to leave us stuck.
  • We needed a 75-mile tow truck ride home.
  • Jeep Wave was a positive in this negative experience.

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Our long-term 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe broke down. Last Christmas, defective cells in the 12-volt battery left senior news editor Nick Yekikian stuck at home. Two months later, an errant ECU pin left me in the lurch. Three months after that, it was somebody else's turn.

Try turning it off and on again

Editor Jake Sundstrom took one for the team this time. On his return drive from a weekend camping trip in Sequoia National Park, he called me. "Good morning," I answered. His reply was, "Remind me: What were the symptoms when the Grand Cherokee broke down on you last time?" Jake really knows how to break the ice.

He continued, "Driving up the Grapevine, just before the Tejon Pass exit, every warning light imaginable started flashing on the dashboard. Seat belt warnings for every seat, every driver aid going kaput, a message about servicing power steering, etc. We pulled off at the Tejon Pass exit into a roomy parking lot and shut the car off. My hope was that turning it off and on again would reset whatever electrical gremlins it was dealing with. It did not. Powering the car back up brought us another raft of warning lights and messages and we lost power steering, to boot. We need a tow."

We formulated a game plan that ultimately got Jake, his wife, and the car to Santa Monica Jeep, three hours later. The flatbed cost $327.50 since the distance was more than roadside assistance covered. Jeep later offered to reimburse us, however.

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2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe at the dealer

A better dealership experience

This was different from the two weeks it took to get our Grand Cherokee back on the road last time. We were told that a regional STAR technician was at the dealership when our 4xe arrived. They typically cover multiple dealerships and only step in for special cases. In ours, they involved the Jeep Wave team.

Jeep Wave is a program that applies to all purchased or leased Jeeps, model year 2021 and newer. Older models as far back as 2015 can also pay to opt in. The service is comprehensive, offering (1) two free oil changes and tire rotations within the first two years of ownership, (2) "trip interruption" coverage, which reimburses owners up to $1,000 per incident for fees incurred to get you back home (this covered our tow), (3) free roadside assistance for five years, (4) a 60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and (5) "dedicated support," which is essentially a concierge — Michelle was ours and she was amazing.

Between the regular check-ins from Michelle and our adviser, we were well informed. Three days after it quit, the Grand Cherokee was back in our garage with a tire rotation, oil change, new suspension pinch bolt (per Recall 10B), new connector lock for the PAM (parking assist module), and new 12-volt battery. Everything was under warranty. Our inner optimist reminds us this repair experience was really quite good, though his antithesis still rings louder in our ears.

2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe rear

So, what happened?

We spoke with our Jeep contacts afterward for a better understanding of this repair and the last since they had such similar symptoms.

It was explained to us that, "The phenomena are related but two different root causes were determined. In the first case, the technician found both a terminal pushed out from a body harness connector and a damaged wire on the same circuit. Both were repaired. In the second scenario, the technician found a damaged PAM connector lock. With the integrity of the lock compromised, the connector became loose." Both issues caused open circuits that sent driver warnings for the multiple systems affected and put the car into limp mode as a precaution.

As for the new battery, we were told that because of the open circuit, "Certain modules were forced to stay awake, which in turn caused an abnormal draw when the ignition was off. The battery failure and PAM connector issue were correlated."

Both incidents were on the same circuit, hence the similar alerts. But each was located in a different place, seemingly unrelated. This was not something they had seen before.

2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe on a tow truck

Edmunds says

We have owned our Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe for 16 months, driven it 20,000 miles, and paid $0 in maintenance. Its long-term test is nearly over. Want to buy it?