2010 Jeep Rubicon
By Matt Marine
May 2013 Update: I developed a few "Jeepisms" in the past year. Two have been taken care of, the third has not.
Jeep "Death Wobble"
For me, this started out slowly. Just a little wobble in the front end every now and then. I thought it was just my tires or maybe I needed an alignment. After a while, it became more pronounced and more frequent. One time I was going about 40 mph and I hit a small pothole in the pavement and the steering wheel began to shake uncontrollably. And I mean BAD. I had to slow down quickly just to keep it under control. If I was going 75 mph and this happened, I think it would have ended badly.
We had another 2010 Rubicon with us during this trip and we did some quick field investigation. We could grab a hold of the passenger wheel and shake it and you could hear a knocking sound in the linkage. This did not happen on the other Rubicon. It looked like the joint at the front track bar was loose. I took it to the dealer and showed them what the problem was. Like all dealers, they promptly ignored my advice and told me it was because my tires were not at the correct pressure (even though I told them it had happened while I was running at full pressure). After that obviously didn't fix the problem, they told me it was my larger tires (33" instead of 32") and my lift kit.
I finally spoke with their technical expert and he did some online research in some forums (it's sad that Jeep service is looking at forums for fixes) and decided to swap out the front track bar and steering stabilizer. And that fixed it! Hmmmm, maybe they should have listened to me and saved both of us a few months of aggravation?
Transmission Oil Cooler
During a winter trip on an easy 4WD road, my transmission oil overheating idiot light came on. I let it cool down and made it home safely. After doing some research on the subject, I found this to be a common problem. Jeep's fix was to adjust the sensor. I put in a transmission oil cooler. I haven't had an issue since.
Front Drive Shaft Boot Keeps Ripping Off
I didn't notice it at first, but I think the first or second offroad adventure I took in this Jeep, the front drive shaft boot ripped off. I noticed it much later when we were doing some maintenance on it.
I took it to the dealer, they said no problem, they would replace the entire drive shaft (can't just replace the boot). Okay, fast forward another few trips and it happened again. I know exactly when it happened this time because I heard it pop off (at least partially). The suspension was flexing, but there was NO IMPACT to the drive shaft. It wasn't even on a difficult section.
I brought it back to the dealer, they said it was hitting the stock skid plate. I told them I didn't think so. They were sure of it and since the skid plate had a recall on it, they wanted to replace it. Even though I think the new "skid plate" is a joke, I let them do this.
And guess what happened? Yep, it tore off again. Back to the dealer and the specialist that helped me with the death wobble. He suggested we move the skid plate down even more and put in 3/4 inch spacers to get it even lower. I told him I didn't think it would help. He assured me it would.
And guess what happened next? Yep, a rip in the front drive shaft boot. All the while this is going on, they are trying to blame it on the lift kit, but they are between a rock and a hard place. They installed their recommended lift kit (Mopar), and for a while they said they couldn't cover anything because I had a lift kit. They backed off that a little.
I took it back to them. There's a new service manager and now they tell me I am "abusing" my Jeep and they aren't going to replace the front drive shaft anymore. I tell them the drive shaft boot comes off on easy trails that a stock wrangler would have no issues with. I don't think they believe me. I think the drive shaft is becoming over extended by just a hair and the boot is too extended and pops the clamps. Again, they aren't listening to me. Resolution: TBD.
Click here to go to Matt's JK Build and see what upgrades he's done
I owned a 1977 Jeep CJ-5 for 13 years. It had been one of my most loved vehicles. It was reliable, a great four-wheeler and fun to drive. But when my first child was born, I sold it for something a little more family friendly. It's brakes and steering needed a complete overhaul, it had no AC, had only lap belts and comfort was not even in the equation.
Fast forward 15 years and I was ready to buy another Jeep. My kids were teenagers and I wanted something that could make most of the trails I wanted to go on.
I knew that the Jeep Wrangler had come a long way since my 1977 strictly utilitarian vehicle, but I had no idea how much until I drove one.
I instantly fell in love with it. This ride and comfort features rivaled some of the "plush" four-wheelers I'd previously owned, but it still had what it takes to claw up some really nasty trails.
I opted for the Rubicon Unlimited with four doors. I know these have a long wheelbase compared to the two door models, but I also needed to get my family in and out of the vehicle without too much trouble or they wouldn't want to go out exploring with me. Also, we currently have 3 dogs who sometimes go with us. The two door didn't have enough cargo room to hold them.
See the gallery of my Rubicon in action and my review below.
Awesome four wheeling capability. You probably already know that. With the four door, the long wheelbase can have its drawbacks and I don't believe it's generally as capable as the two door model. But it's better than anything I've ever driven. The front and rear lockers can really get you through some tough spots where other vehicles would just sit and spin. Although even with the lockers, you can still get stuck (I know from personal experience).
I LOVE the three-piece freedom top. I opted for the hardtop (over the soft top) for a few reasons, security, durability and visibility. I like having the ability to take off whatever section you want. Yes, it's easier to put down the soft top, but I'm too old to drive around like that much. When I want to go topless (a few times a year), then I take the time to take off the pieces I want.
Well thought out and comfortable interior. Most of the controls are easy to operate and logically placed. The seats are surprisingly comfortable (though for taller people the seat is a little short in the legs). All the buttons are where they should be. This was a great aspect that I didn't expect.
Handling and ride. This was the most surprising aspect of the Rubicon. I expected an extremely harsh ride and poor handling. After all, it's made for four-wheeling and the rule of thumb has always been ride and handling are inversely proportional to its ability to crawl over rocks. Not true anymore. While although the ride can't match a luxury sedan, it is surprisingly nice, both on road and off. It soaks up large rocks better than any other vehicle I've been four-wheeling in. I found the ride on the road better than my 2003 Tacoma. And handling is tight, responsive and doesn't feel unsafe at all. I remember my 1977 CJ and how unsteady if was in sharp turns. I don't get that feeling at all in the Rubicon. Once I had to make a sharp, evasive maneuver to miss a car that had pulled out in front of me. My CJ probably would have flipped. The Rubicon did it like it was a race car on a slalom course. Maybe it was the Electronic Stability Control. I don't know, don't care. I just know that I feel safe in it.
Everything else. This vehicle has almost no faults!
Jeep "Death Wobble", see above update for notes
Front drive shaft boot keeps getting ripped off, see above update for notes
Gas mileage. Although I knew this going in and no one buys a Rubicon expecting great gas mileage. But I would have still liked better than what's provided.
The hill descent control feature. Don't get me wrong. This works well for what it was intended, but it works too well ... and not when I want it to work. Going down hills (which aren't too steep but steep enough you would be able to coast down them in other vehicles) I have to keep my foot on the gas slightly. This is not only annoying, but probably factors into the poor fuel economy. I talked with the service center at my dealer because I thought something was wrong with the Jeep. They assured me it was working as intended and there was no adjustment. The only solution would be to totally turn it off.
Defrost / heater controls. This is the one system they didn't do a great job on. I am glad I don't live where there are hard winters. There isn't an option for defrost and vent. You need defrost when it snows (or is cold out), but getting that warm air to the backseat passengers isn't easy. Your only choices are full defrost or defrost/foot split. Neither of which works great. It doesn't bother me much in Arizona since I need this about two times a year, but still it could've been better.
I would have liked a little bigger engine. Again, no one buys one of these for speed, but it's slower than what it could be and towing isn't its best feature. I miss the bigger 4.0L engine that was in my Comanche.
The OD button location isn't located very conveniently. I would have liked it on the dash. It's a reach for it.
I absolutely LOVE my Rubicon. It is perhaps the best thought out vehicle I've ever owned. It's awesome four-wheeling and comfortable on the road. I'd have two of these if I could!