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12 Common Jeep Compass Transmission Problems

Introduced in 2007, the Jeep Compass is among the ‘baby’ labels of the Jeep brand and is currently only in its 2nd generation. Like many other vehicles launched in the early 2000s, this crossover SUV was expected to deliver great results from the get-go.

Sadly, things did not turn out as initially planned for the compact 4×4, as its earlier iterations mainly brought transmission problems to its ardent patrons.

Jeep Compass transmission problems include shifting difficulties, drivetrain noises, loss of power, and other performance issues. Most of these drawbacks are attributed to its JF011E (a.k.a. RE0F10A, Nissan Xtronic CVT) transmission, while the rest are due to flimsy gearbox/clutch components.

In particular, here are 12 of the most prevalent Jeep Compass transmission problems:

  1. Transmission failure
  2. Jerking and loss of acceleration
  3. Grinding and clunking
  4. Slamming into gear
  5. Power loss with Hot Oil Light on
  6. Long-distance driving hiccups
  7. Automatic Transmission Overheating light on
  8. Jolting on acceleration
  9. Inability to shift gears after a complete stop
  10. Automatic transmission slips
  11. Downshifting problems
  12. Failure to accelerate and change gears

The objective of today’s article is not to deter you from patronizing the Jeep Compass but to loop you in on potential problems you may encounter.

2019 Jeep Compass versions are replete with advanced tech and a more robust transmission and should not be cause for concern when purchased. However, it is a different story for pre-2018 models, which is what the content of this guide is all about.

Common Jeep Compass Transmission Problems

White Jeep Compass

1. Transmission Failure

(Failure Mileage: 42,342—125,517 miles)

This issue is the most prevalent of all 2007 Jeep Compass transmission problems. On average, the failure manifests at just over 200,000 miles or barely five years after acquiring the vehicle brand-new.

Telltale signs include the 4×4 jumping like it was skipping gear or acting like it was in neutral when beginning to accelerate. In some cases, models with automatic transmissions are ironically unable to shift automatically but can do so manually.

Many Compass owners have attempted to resolve the issue by doing a transmission fluid flush but to no avail. The only fix that seems to work is a complete transmission replacement costing roughly $2,400—$4,000.

2. Jerking and Loss of Acceleration

(Failure Mileage: 600—134,000 miles)

Automatic transmission problems reported to NHTSA and affecting 2007 Jeep Compass models detailed these two, alongside stalling and an illuminated transmission overheat light. Interestingly, some of these incidents occurred right after the owners had their vehicles brought to the dealership and tuned up.

What makes these unusual behaviors dangerous is that Compass owners reportedly encountered them while on the freeway or during high-speed driving.

Affected drivers have observed, too, that the transmission overheat light goes off, and their 4×4 slightly decelerates on warm days when the automatic transaxle oil becomes extremely hot, causing the transmission to overheat.

Usually, this traces back to dirty fluid in the system, a leak, low fluid levels, or a broken/displaced transmission filler tube — all of which signify potential internal damage or a transmission fluid issue.

3. Grinding and Clunking

(Failure Mileage: 22,500—72,500 miles)

Unusual drivetrain sounds top the list of 2016 Jeep Compass transmission problems, and a faulty clutch is to blame for these noises.

Initially, the sounds occur synchronously with the manual transmission slipping out of 2nd gear and popping into neutral. However, these odd behaviors quickly escalate to a complete breakdown or non-responsiveness of the gears.

If identified in its early stages, the problem can be adequately fixed via a clutch replacement. However, be careful not to have this remedial action done by an independent mechanic, as some Compass owners have reportedly been denied warranty coverage later on by doing this.

Bear in mind, too, that installing a brand-new clutch kit like BuyAutoParts 60-85885RK AC Compressor & A/C Kit (view on Amazon) does not permanently solve the problem. Complainants who replaced their clutch later found themselves replacing the entire transmission just to eradicate the worrisome drivetrain noises.

4. Slamming Into Gear

(Failure Mileage: 63,380—72,500 miles)

Slamming into gear is often preceded by clunking or grinding noises (as detailed above) and is among the most reported (not to mention unsuccessfully resolved) 2018 Jeep Compass transmission problems.

The reverse of delayed shifting, this issue is predominantly resolved by replacing either the clutch or the entire transmission. However, it can also be blamed on defective accumulators.

These components affect transmission shift timing and quality and become prematurely flawed due to frequent hard acceleration and downshifts.

According to affected Jeep owners, their vehicles seem to slam into gear between 2nd and 3rd gears or when approaching slow-speed areas such as a church or school zone. The jerking is severe enough that it creates an unpleasant whiplash.

Unfortunately, dealers do nothing but offer disgruntled customers a PCM/TCM reflash and software update. Needless to say, these solutions are both futile.

5. Power Loss With Hot Oil Light On

(Failure Mileage: 26,240 miles)

Among the known 2014 Jeep Compass transmission problems is transmission overheating alongside a loss of power. But instead of the transmission overheating light, this issue triggers the hot oil light — followed by a supercharger-like whining sound that grows louder by the minute.

Based on Car Complaints data, it is an overheating problem specifically tied to Jeep Compass models with the JF011E transmission (a.k.a. RE0F10A, Nissan Xtronic CVT).

Upon further research, the said transmission is also used in some Dodge, Renault, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and Nissan models as far back as 2007. This CVT utilizes a self-adjusting “band suspended between two pulleys.”

While its layout claims to offer the perfect equilibrium between fuel economy and vehicle performance, its valve body (among other components) does not prove to be up to the task.

JF011E Problems

Several TSBs have been released concerning JF011E transmission-related issues, mainly from Nissan’s end. Because Daimler-Chrysler has not done the same, many customers are left blindsided.

To bridge this gap, I have gone ahead and consolidated important details respective to these bulletins for your reference:

TSBProblem DescriptionSolution
TSB NTB10-143a Wind noise coming from CVT at highway speedsPronounce whining/grinding noise can be heard when accelerating or driving at highway speeds. Sometimes, the sound is mistaken for differential noise.Replacement of pulley bearing races, gears, oil pump, or valve body (depending on findings)
TSB NTB14-002d Reduced performance due to failsafe modeCVT goes into ’failsafe mode’ alongside a significant reduction in speed and vehicle performance after hours of driving at high RPMs or above 65 mph (105 km/h). A rattling noise may sometimes occur.Replacement of the control valve assembly or valve body (view on Amazon); In worst-case scenarios, complete transmission replacement
TSB NTB14-002d RPM surge or chatter during acceleration; Slipping push belt and pulley fractureLoss of pressure control to the secondary pulley causes a shattering sound when the accelerator pedal is depressed, push belt slippage, or scraping of metal parts.Replacement of the control valve assembly or valve body; In worst-case scenarios, complete transmission replacement
(Source: Transmission Repair Cost Guide)

6. Long-Distance Driving Hiccups

(Failure Mileage: 81,000—110,000 miles)

White Jeep Compass Off-Road

Behavior-wise, this problem is quite similar to the one listed above — except that this transmission failure only occurs during long trips. When driving the Jeep Compass for hours, the transmission overheats, becomes non-responsive, and disintegrates the transmission fluid.

Dealerships are not much of a help on the said issue, reportedly hiding behind the excuse that since a long-distance test cannot trigger an illuminated transmission overheat light, the transmission failure cannot be covered under OEM warranty. This response has upset a lot of loyal Jeep patrons who primarily brought Jeep Compass models to be able to take out of town.

7. Automatic Transmission Overheating Light On

(Failure Mileage: 80,000 miles)

Transmission overheating proves to be a widespread problem even for 2014 Jeep Compass models. But in this specific scenario, the issue is attributed to ill-fitted radiator/cooler (view on Amazon) hoses.

Overheating of the said components is characterized by sporadic stalling and seems to be triggered when driving at speeds of at least 60 mph (96.6 km/h).

8. Jolting on Acceleration

(Failure Mileage: 59,256—125,000 miles)

This issue is among the top 2012 Jeep Compass transmission problems reportedly affecting Base and Sport Utility models with automatic and CVT transmissions.

Generally, the vehicle starts jerking when riding at highway speeds or whenever there is an attempt to shift from 4th to 5th gear. It is often accompanied by an overheated transmission, leading many Jeep followers to believe that the vehicle is not the best pick for driving in Floridian or Vegas weather.

When brought to the dealership, the recommended solution is to replace the transmission altogether. This is welcome news for complainants still under warranty.

However, the solution becomes a drawback since the replacement transmission is refurbished/remanufactured and not brand-new, causing the problem to persist in just a few months. This has created a poor customer service experience for many Compass owners, who had to replace their defective transmission at least twice a year.

9. Inability to Shift Gears After a Complete Stop

(Failure Mileage: 10,000—53,000 miles)

Another transmission failure linked to 2007 Jeep Compass models is that the transmission tends to not engage after coming from a halt (for instance, trying to accelerate from a stop light). The issue gets so troublesome for Compass owners that they experience stalling and jerking bad enough to cause their seatbelts to lock up.

Worse, all that they are told at the dealership is that nothing is wrong with their automatic transmissions — only to encounter the same problem a few weeks later.

10. Automatic Transmission Slips

(Failure Mileage: 60,000 miles)

If your Jeep Compass has had multiple instances of retarded shifting responsiveness, stalling, or getting stuck in gear, this incident is likely to follow. It is the 2nd most common transmission issue associated with ’07 Jeep Compass models, also known to have bad engine problems.

Resolving existing engine issues is strongly advised to get to the bottom of your automatic transmission slipping. It would also help keeping an eye out for compromised solenoids, frequent jerking, or low fluid levels.

While at it, check on the overall health of your transmission and transmission fluid. Refer to a transmission fluid color chart when checking for contaminants or oxidation.

11. Downshifting Problems

(Failure Mileage: 2,200—80,156 miles)

Non-responsive gears are another concern linked to both automatic and manual-transmission Compass models, and they seem to affect both secondhand and fresh-off-the-showroom units.

This gearshifting issue appears to be intermittent for both vehicle types, with some customers doing Band-Aid fixes like turning off the engine and turning it back on to try to override the gears’ non-responsiveness.

The remedy seems to work in some instances, but only momentarily. That said, the only long-term solution is to replace the clutch and CVT, which would cause Jeep owners at least $1,400.

In one NHTSA complaint, the inability to shift gears happened while driving 65 mph in 6th gear with overdrive activated, resulting in a crash.

According to the affected owner, his Jeep Compass did not downshift when he needed to. By the time it finally did, the car shifted back into 6th gear without any warning.

Whether or not the incident has been successfully addressed, it poses a serious safety risk for folks who own a 2007 model.

12. Failure to Accelerate and Change Gears

(Failure Mileage: 58,416 miles)

Regarding 2014 Jeep Compass models, issues with the torque converter are among the least experienced but one of the most taxing, nonetheless.

According to affected Jeep Compass owners, telltale signs of the issue include the inability of the 4×4 to accelerate, failure to shift from’ park’ to’ drive,’ and an activated Circuit Low warning indicator.

But unlike most Jeep Compass transmission problems, it does not seem contingent on a specific speed range, making it quite unprecedented and difficult to spot early on. It also does not help that most incidents are brought to the attention of independent mechanics and not directly to the OEM.

Note that the pain points in this guide are based on Car Complaint’s data from 2007 to 2018. While not in the exact order as in other online sources, these transmission problems are generally the most prevalent for the said Jeep label.

Of the lot, 2007 Jeep Compass iterations seem to be plagued with the most issues, which are often transmission or engine-related (or both).

Conclusion – 12 Common Jeep Compass Transmission Problems

Jeep Compass Off-Road in Water

In summary, here are the top 12 Jeep Compass transmission problems:

  1. Transmission failure
  2. Jerking and loss of acceleration
  3. Grinding and clunking
  4. Slamming into gear
  5. Power loss with Hot Oil Light on
  6. Long-distance driving hiccups
  7. Automatic Transmission Overheating light on
  8. Jolting on acceleration
  9. Inability to shift gears after a complete stop
  10. Automatic transmission slips
  11. Downshifting problems
  12. Failure to accelerate and change gears

A big chunk of Jeep Compass transmission problems between 2007 and 2018 traces back to the infamous JF011E CVT transmission, while the remainder is due to flimsy or worn components. However, the label’s manual transmission is not spared from taking the blame for the label’s soiled reliability and reputation.

While transmission issues seem to have died down after 2012, the label has yet to fully regain the trust of its loyal following. With its most recent offering — the 2022 Jeep® Compass — and its 6-speed automatic transmission, the Jeep Compass will finally be able to lay its perennial transmission issues to rest.