2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4.0 from North America


Great if new or low miles and maintained, but lookout for rust and engine problems


Leaking axles, signs of premature rust, premature sun fading on black trim on fender and bumpers.

General Comments:

I am writing this from the context of having purchased the Jeep new and kept it only 3 years before trading it in with only 33k miles. As such, not much had gone wrong with it. I remember on the test drive that I was HORRIFIED at the squirmy handling at first. Until I realized that it was probably just me not used to the vehicle and the tires were brand new and not heat cycled. The handling got MUCH better after just 100 miles or so. I came to feel that it handled rather nicely after a while.

Rubicons had just come out then, so it was pretty rare. I took it off road a few times and guys commended me for not babying it and for using like it was designed to be used. I took it on the deep sand beaches of Ocracoke, NC without deflating the tires and it plowed through with no problems. I hooked my 4x8 trailer to it several times, using it to haul wood, mulch, camping gear, etc. I think the Rubicon gearing made it adept at towing vs regular TJs.

I live in a city and used it mainly on the street as my main commuter and winter car. Without ABS you had to be careful in the snow/ice when braking because the short wheel base allowed it to pivot rather quickly and you could lose control. Traction, however, was unbeatable. Rubicons are lifted a little so getting in and out can be tricky. I'm 6'0" and still managed to get my pant legs dirty sometimes getting out.

Nothing beats its versatility in the city, country, or anywhere really. If you want a convertible but also need a car for the snow and maybe outside adventures and light towing, what else is there?

I traded it in on a Commander Limited after only 3 years because I was getting married and felt a larger Jeep was needed. So, it was basically still a new car.

I always planned on getting another Wrangler, but have not done so yet. I did notice some premature rust forming on the chassis that surprised me. And in the years since have learned that rust in the frame is an issue and many I have seen have rust underneath and on the body. Head gaskets are also a big problem with the 4.0 6 cylinder engines. I know at least 4 other Jeep owners who had to replace head gaskets and/or engines due to failure. So, I am not convinced of the engine's long term durability. I prefer the look of the TJ generation Wrangler over the current models, but don't want to deal with rust or engine problems. So I am hoping the new 2018 models will be more improved.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th October, 2016

23rd Oct 2016, 03:59

Interesting comments on 4.0 reliability,

Keep an eye on the oil pump. They do not last forever ;)

2003 Jeep Wrangler Sport Extreme 4.0 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Character in a sea of sameness


Had an odd stalling issue them soon after the battery died. Hasn't happened since.

Blower fan only works on two speeds, but no big deal

General Comments:

My Jeep came with loads of good gear such as hard & soft tops, two inch lift, alloys, Warn front & rear bars, full roof rack (bolted to body) & loads more. Have since fitted many other bits including full K&N filter kit, CB radio, work light & loads more.

My Jeep (Thunder Bug) has been a sturdy companion. For many, this would be an awful on road vehicle, but I find it fun as it's not a 'sit in & point' type vehicle. Steering is vague, brakes so-so, gearbox lumpy. But it all adds to the character & a reason I couldn't ever sell it. Plus I have an MG ZT-T for when I'm in the mood for an easy drive. I think a Wrangler is best appreciated if you have another car to share the load.

Love the Meccano type construction; everything is easy to get to & understand. Tough, simple & rugged. I do laugh when I hear complaints of fuel & maintenance costs. One guy I know of sold after 3 months due to high fuel consumption; don't these people do a budget before buying a car?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th December, 2012