It’s hard to deny that I am a devoted Jeep enthusiast. I drove my 1997 Wrangler every day for almost 5 years before purchasing a 2012 Jeep Patriot (4X4, 5 speed) in February of 2012, to take over daily driving duties. Overall I’ve been pretty satisfied with the Patriot; it’s a comfortable, capable, daily driver. It’s performed well in winter weather, and light off road situations. Despite being the opposite of the “get new people interested in the brand” target buyer – it fits my needs perfectly. Now a year into ownership, I figured it was time for a recap.
The first few weeks with the Patriot were great. It was nice to drive something a bit more comfortable, and more reliable, than the aging TJ. The first disappointment came a few weeks later, when I discovered that my salesman didn’t know much about the vehicle he sold me. When I test drove the Jeep I told them that I was hesitant because I really wanted the all weather package, and a sunroof. He informed me that the 5 speed manual was only available on the Sport Model, which did not have the option of a sunroof, and finding another 5 speed 4×4 with the all weather package would be nearly impossible. They offered to install a sunroof for an additional $1500. I declined. I found out later on, that the other models are available with the manual transmission, and the sunroof. I got over my sunroof fixation, and decided that I’ll just install the tow hooks myself, the main reason I wanted the all weather package; the manual transmission was more important.
As I approached 3,000 miles I noticed a whining noise while at highway speeds. It was faint, and easily drowned out by the radio; so it may have been making this noise all along. My initial research prior to buying the Patriot hadn’t revealed any whining noise issues, but once I dialed in my searching; I found pages of forum threads from other 5 speed owners experiencing similar sounds. I monitored the noise a bit, and determined that the transmissin was the source. The noise was only present when the transmission was under load. (the sound only happened when the Jeep was in gear, and when the throttle was being applied.) It was most apparent in 5th gear, at 70mph. I made an appointment with the dealer to have the first oil change done, and have the noise diagnosed. I was given a complimentary oil change, and was told that everything was fine with the transmission. The service writer informed me that the whine was a normal characteristic of the 5 speed. A similar response that other forum members had received from their dealers when the noise was mentioned. I continued to drive the Jeep regularly since the service department assured me that all was fine. I tried to ignore it, hoping it would just go away on its own, but at 10,000 miles, the transmission still whined at highway speeds. I had mentioned it at every oil change, and was assured each time that everything was OK.
The Jeep was nearing 12,000 miles when I started to notice a new noise. A whistling noise that changed pitch with engine speeds, that was also only audible while the transmission was under load. I made another appointment with the dealer, and again was told that all was fine. I started to get a bit aggravated, but didn’t feel that there was much else I could do.
Three days later I was stopped at a traffic light when I noticed a loud rattling noise while in neutral. When applying the clutch pedal, the noise would slow down and stop, then start up again once I released the pedal. I called the dealer to set up another appointment. The service writer that I had been dealing with the whole time asked me to bring the Jeep in during the week, and leave it for one of his top techs to take a look at it. I informed him that I wanted to drive the vehicle with the tech, (so that they’d have to tell me to my face that they didn’t hear the noise, or that all was normal.) He didn’t object, and sensing my frustration, supported the idea.
I left work early, and got to the dealer just before closing. The tech walked out to the Jeep, got into the passenger seat, put his seat belt on, and asked me to start it up. As I started to explain to him what was going on; he asked if we could take a ride so he could hear it for himself. I started the Jeep, took my foot off of the clutch, and the loud rattling made the tech’s jaw drop. He immediately unbuckled his seat belt, got out, and crawled under the Jeep. He had me put the clutch in, and release it a few times, then we took a quick test drive.
We got back to the dealership and walked into the service area. He informed the service writer that he was pretty sure the throw out bearing was shot. I made an appointment to bring it back a few days later, as they needed to order the parts.
They informed me that they would likely need it for a few days, to fully diagnose and repair the transmission. I received a message the following day informing me that they needed a few additional days with it; they had to order more parts.
I called in for a status, and was told that after pulling the transmission, they found a few issues needing repair in addition to the throw out bearing. Since the cost of repairing the transmission was greater than 75% of the cost of a replacement transmission, they had ordered a new one, and would be replacing it under the warranty.
Having a transmission replaced at 13,000 miles is not something that any new car buyer expects. But these things happen; that’s why they come with warranties after all. Despite my initial aggravation, my experience with Baker Jeep in Princeton, NJ was as good as I could have expected, and then some. The service writers and techs stayed late on several occasions to accommodate my work schedule, and once diagnosed, fixed the problem quickly. Now, as the Jeep creeps up on 20,000 miles, there have been no signs of any issues with the new transmission. Hopefully, it’ll last to my 250,000 mile goal for the vehicle. I have a lot of big plans for the little Jeep, and look forward to many more years enjoying it. Over the first 18,500 miles the Patriot has averaged 22 miles per gallon. My daily commute is mostly back road stop and go. My best tank to date was 28.5 MPG (about 75% highway driving, and 25% city.) The Jeep performed really well in the recent snow storms we’ve had in the northeast, and did well through the muddy path to the garden spot my fiance and I will be planting soon. Its good to know that we’ll be able to get the Jeep back there to load tools and supplies to our vegetable garden; hopefully it will carry us to at least a few camping trips this summer too. Any other 5 speed Patriot owners out there with transmission issues? I want to hear about them in the comments?