7 Common Jeep Patriot Transmission Problems

The Jeep Patriot has always been highly regarded for its brand prestige and affordable price. However, one thing seems to be consistently associated with it – Jeep Patriot transmission problems. Because these failures are so extensive and happen so frequently, it has almost become an expectation that undermines the car’s reliability and overall performance. This guide aims to counter that perception by discussing the vehicle’s most common issues and how to fix them.

Common Jeep Patriot transmission problems include shuddering and whining noises. Generally, issues originate from a defective transmission but may also come from damaged brakes and tie rods or corroded sway arms. Inspecting transmission fluid levels is usually the first step to addressing them.

Here are the 7 most common Jeep Patriot transmission problems:

  1. Loss of acceleration power
  2. Transmission noises
  3. Overheating
  4. Stalling
  5. Shuddering/Shakiness
  6. Grinding sounds
  7. Transmission gear slippage

Unresolved transmission failures are an accident waiting to happen – hence, they should be treated with the utmost urgency. That said, if transmission and differential fluid levels are up to spec, then it is time to look into other components that may require a more laborious troubleshooting process. Don’t worry if you are new to all this, as this article has got you covered.

Common Jeep Patriot Transmission Problems

Jeep Patriot Off-Roading, Monument Valley, Utah

1. Loss of Acceleration Power (Failure mileage: 15, 000 – 130,000 Miles)

Problems with the 2011 Jeep Patriot transmission is the vehicle’s 2nd most prevalent issue, with approximately 17 consumers reporting issues, including one formal complaint logged with NHTSA (CarComplaints.com data). Of these transmission problems, loss of acceleration power is the most complained about. It also poses the greatest safety risk for Jeep Patriot owners, especially those utilizing their vehicles as daily commuters.

Among the factors attributed to the loss of acceleration, power is a faulty Transmission Control Module (TCM). When a TCM is defective, it causes your Jeep Patriot to barely start or, worse, lose power while driving (even at slow speeds). You may also notice the traction control, transmission temperature, and CEL indicator lights turn on as the issue happens.

This problem has reportedly occurred for vehicles regardless of whether they were stationary or in motion. And as luck would have it, it takes at least a full week for your local dealer to add a replacement TCM – leaving most owners no choice but to take the bus to go places.

Symptoms

Other than the above scenario, symptoms associated with this predicament can be pretty unpredictable. It may or may not accompany by loud popping noises or any other specific warning sign. However, the reverse would be true if a failed crankshaft sensor caused it.

In most cases, the vehicle gradually slows down from being pulled out of a parking lot or stops abruptly in the middle of busy traffic. At other times, the entire instrument panel lights up before loss of power occurs. Either situation still does not give drivers enough time to pull over to the median.

If anything, the closest thing one can get to a fixed pattern or indicator is that the problem occurs while driving for at least 45 minutes at speeds of 65-75 mph (105-121 km/h). But because it is almost impossible for the manufacturer to duplicate the issue, it cannot reach a permanent resolution. The same can be said about the extent of your dealer’s assistance.

2. Transmission Noises (Failure Mileage: 24,000 – 160,000 Miles)

Noise – roaring, whistling, gurgling, or whining – is the 2nd most reported issue across all Jeep Patriot vehicles, according to CarProblems.com. Transmission noises are pretty troublesome, not to mention difficult to nail down on your own due to the variety of its potential causes. As of late, the site received a total of 29 complaints affecting 2008 to 2017 production models.

Determining the source of transmission noises can go many routes, but there are several things one can check that will make pinpointing the culprit a lot easier. Usually, occurrences of transmission noise when a car is in reverse indicate a clogged transmission fluid line that may worsen if not addressed immediately.

On the other hand, constant whining when in gear signifies a problem with your torque converter, which requires immediate professional attention. Transmission noises typically become more apparent when driving uphill, but these high-pitched noises can also occur on the highway during a hot day.

Apart from the circumstances when these noises happen, pay mind to changes in acceleration or speed of your vehicle. Those who have experienced the issue notice either a drastic drop in RPMs despite burying the accelerator into the floor or little to no difference in speed alongside loud whining noises.

On rare occasions, some drivers have reported a gurgling sound rather than the usual whine or roar. Should you encounter the same, check that your transmission fluid level is up to spec, as extremely low fluid levels can cause severe damage to your transmission.

3. Overheating (Failure Mileage: 30,000 – 116,900 Miles)

Like the first item in this list, transmission overheating occurs during long road trips at speeds of 65-75 mph (105-121 km/h). It is often accompanied by whining noises and a vehicle’s gradual inability to accelerate. An early indication of transmission failure is not something to dismiss as a “fluke on the code,” as this can cause problems on the road.

When the transmission overheats, the vehicle reduces speed independently while RPMs increase, even with the accelerator pedal engaged. Performing initial troubleshooting steps using an OBDII scanner like Innova 5100 Pro CarScan Code Reader (view on Amazon) usually obtains failure codes P0777 or P0741. These codes should prompt you to check if your transmission fluid is dirty or too low, as well as visually inspect the line pressure solenoid ‘B’ valve harness, torque converter clutch solenoid valve, and related connectors. If these components check out, proceed with a transmission flush.

2012 Silver Jeep Patriot

Realizing that this problem exists in your car can be tricky since the engine temperature gauge does not always indicate overheating. There is also the misconception that it only happens to automobiles ridden in Arizona weather. While it is true that locations with warmer climates render the vehicle more susceptible to shutting, transmission overheating pays respect to neither weather nor riding conditions. It could happen to anyone who has a 2008 Jeep Patriot transmission or owns any vehicle’s model year.

4. Stalling (Failure Mileage: 12,000 – 150,000 Miles)

The most common feedback from Jeep Patriot owners is that their vehicles seem to stall right after refueling. This points to the fuel system and sensor issues as their main problem sources. However, some have reportedly experienced stalling after pressing the brakes. These incidents also seem to increase in frequency during the rainy season and often go with an illuminated Check Engine Light.

Most drivers find it frustrating that neither dealers nor the manufacturer can identify the real cause of the issue. This causes many to lose trust and choose not to report these failures.

Up until now, there is no single approach to prevent the occurrence of stalling. Replacing both lower control arms containing the ball joints, swapping all four tires to avoid irregular wear and tear, or doing periodic wheel alignment does not seem to do the job. Fixing leaks in the brake booster or breakage in the vacuum hose addresses stalling when hitting the brakes. However, the issue could still take place differently.

Stalling issues should never be confused with loss of acceleration power despite seemingly being similar. With the latter, high skill in driving with a bit of strategy can still get you to safety since the car is still moving (although very slowly). Stalling poses a greater risk to a driver attempting to cross lanes or caught in the middle of a busy highway. Because the vehicle can just abruptly die anywhere, it sometimes beats even one’s composure.

5. Shuddering/Shakiness (Failure Mileage: 42,000 – 96,000 Miles)

Violent shaking is another major complaint, which can either be standalone or a complication stemming from overheating or stalling. It is accompanied by unusually high RPMs when the vehicle hits 20 mph and an occasional helicopter-like sound coming from the car’s rear. Violent shaking has no specific triggers. However, shuddering or lagging occurs more frequently during stops when the Jeep Patriot is trying to accelerate or when it has been on the road for a considerable amount of time.

Given a few minutes of rest, the vehicle typically goes back to being operational and drives as if nothing wrong had happened. However, what is pesky about the issue is how soon it recurs, regardless of whether there were attempts to fix it or not.

It does not make sense for many Patriot owners that this predicament happens at such low speeds that would normally be insufficient to cause any shuddering. Sometimes, it also feels like the transmission is slipping, causing most drivers to get telltale signs all mixed up.

There are several resolutions from dealers and local mechanics – replacing the throttle body, sway bar, rear lower control arm, and ABS/stability control sensor, to name a few. Some even advise installing an exhaust spring bolt kit. However, most of these turn out to be aimless bullets.

Updating the Patriot’s ECM/PCM/ECU or replacing the stock copper spark plug with iridium seems to alleviate the problem to some extent. But sadly, the manufacturer has yet to get to the bottom of what causes shuddering instead of diagnosing it as a general transmission failure with no clear, permanent fix.

6. Grinding Sounds (Failure Mileage: 152,000 Miles)

More common in Jeep Patriot manual transmissions than automatic ones, grinding noises often occur during acceleration, when braking, or while idling and can be disconcerting if experienced for a long time.

When not severe, it is dismissed as normal noise brought about by the way the vehicle operates. But when pronounced, it could mean serious failure of your vehicle’s planetary gear system, leading to significant damage throughout the transmission.

Drivers liken the grinding sounds to a rocks-in-blender noise that happens more frequently in cold weather, prompting many to suspect the issue is strut-related, if not caused by cylinders seizing up when the car leans into a turn. Others describe it as bad creaking with a rhythmic rotating sound – similar to the noise made by the ABS (Anti-lock Brake System).

While no true warning signs that could perfectly prevent this breakdown exist, your vehicle has specific components where probable causes of grinding noises stem from. They are not as complicated as one would expect, which is why they tend to be overlooked.

White Jeep Patriot

8 Things to Check

Below are the eight things you will need to check on first before picking up the tab on a brand-new transmission (sources: Your Mechanic and MyNoisyCar.com):

  • Transmission fluid level – Low transmission fluid levels can cause grinding or growling sounds.
  • Transmission fluid contaminants – Buildup of fine debris and metal particles in your fluid eventually lead to weird noises and transmission damage, making regular transmission fluid change all the more important.
  • Differential fluid level – For Jeep Patriots with rear-wheel drive setup, grinding sounds could come from the rear or center/front differential for models with an all-wheel-drive setup. Make sure that lubrication and fluid levels for these components are up to spec.
  • Power steering fluid level – It is the main area to examine if you suspect that grinding links to your vehicle’s hydraulic system.
  • Bearings – Premature wear on bearings can cause grinding noises that specifically happen during cornering at low speeds. 
  • Fissured or damaged gear – If grinding noises remain consistent even with gear changes, then a broken or chipped final drive gear is most likely the culprit and would need to be reconditioned or replaced.
  • Steering pump – A tired steering pump, like worn bearings, leads to impaired performance of your vehicle’s steering belt and results in grinding or squeaking sounds when using power steering.
  • Defective synchronizer – Synchronizers make a huge difference in the smoothness of shifting. When worn out, they not only give the feeling of rough shifting but also produce grinding noises.

Prioritize Inspection

Inspecting these items first will save you half the trouble when narrowing down the problem source for the noise. It is also likely that one of these steps can resolve the issue. But if the occurrence of the grinding noise is more isolated – for instance, it only happens when hitting the brakes – then prioritizing inspection of the brake pads and rotors will make more sense.

You may be surprised to find blockage embedded in the brakes or discover that you only need to get high-quality brake pads to make the grinding noise go away.

7. Transmission Gear Slippage (Failure Mileage: 58,000 – 123,000 Miles)

The Patriot’s CVT transmission can act up in several ways, including:

  • Jumping out of gear
  • Delays/stuttering when shifting
  • Having trouble going into gear
  • Independently shifting from manual to automatic or from 4th gear to neutral
  • Getting stuck in reverse

Likewise, you may feel the V-belt momentarily slipping while driving or when on slick surfaces. These incidents have reportedly occurred 50-60% of the time without warning. More so, they began manifesting in as early as 2007 Jeep Patriot transmissions. Eventually, the manufacturer figured out the CVT was flawed and replaced it altogether in 2014.

Symptoms for CVT slippage – such as higher-than-usual RPMs and stalling – tend to overlap with transmission noises. These, in my opinion, can get confusing if you come from a conventional, automatic 5-speed and are unaccustomed to the high-revving nature of a CVT transmission.

But this is not to say that you should dismiss any feeling of slippage as just that. After all, a CVT will warrant replacement in the event of a problem, unlike traditional transmissions. Even in more isolated situations, you may still need to replace your gear shift assembly.

What to Check

When you notice your fuel mileage decreasing or any other early sign of your transmission slipping, it is advisable to start looking into your transmission fluid and its health. Get a color chart for reference, and make sure it is the right kind of fluid. Examine if transmission bands need adjustment or if solenoids need replacement.

For secondhand Jeep Patriot owners, check the condition of the transmission gears and torque converter, as they cause shifts to get rougher and RPMs to go higher when worn out.

Naturally, it is advisable to involve a professional or your local dealer should the discord between your revs and acceleration become too frequent. The only downside to this is the service manager’s obvious truth – that is how the Jeep Patriot should perform.

To save yourself the hassle of hearing this statement unnecessarily, it would be worth changing your transmission fluid, cleaning your filter, and buying a Jeep Patriot CVT transmission rebuild kit first. It may also help if you can test someone else’s Jeep Patriot for comparison.

Black Jeep Patriot

Other Jeep Patriot Powertrain Issues

Although this list covers the most reported set of problems with the Jeep Patriot, it is non-exhaustive. Other vehicle issues are as equally troublesome as the items above. Here are some of them:

  • Fractured transmission fill tube (usually a fault from the emissions facility)
  • Loud clunking noise (caused by corrosion in the sub-frame and control arms connected to the engine and powertrain)
  • Burning smell from beneath the hood due to oil leaks or burnt plastics
  • Hot water coming from clogged A/C drain tube, causing waterlogging and transmission module failure

Most of the problems Jeep Patriot vehicles have are in its 4WD system called Freedom Drive, which connects to a Jatco-built CVT. Since the 2007 production model, this transmission has proven to have an unfortunate proclivity to failure. What makes this worse is that the transmission is rarely serviceable, which means an expenditure amounting to $5,000 for the clueless vehicle owner. A cheaper alternative would be a rebuilt transmission. But even that option costs between $800 and $3,400 (sans labor and other extraneous fees).

Conclusion – Jeep Patriot Transmission Problems

In closing, here are the 7 most common Jeep Patriot transmission problems:

  1. Loss of acceleration power
  2. Transmission noises
  3. Overheating
  4. Stalling
  5. Shuddering/Shakiness
  6. Grinding sounds
  7. Transmission gear slippage

Though it is difficult to avoid these issues entirely, there are things you can do to ensure they do not prematurely manifest on your vehicle. Preventive measures include maintaining up-to-spec fluid levels, proper use of engine braking, staying within manufacturer-recommended towing capacity when hauling, and regular inspection of the transmission and its supporting components – among other things. These practices, along with the information in this guide, should help keep your Jeep Patriot transmission performing at its best well beyond its supposed 60,000-mile limit.

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

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