1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems
Excessive gear noise can indicate differential bearing failures.

Electrical contacts in the tail lamp housing tend to break or melt, which can cause the brake lights to fail or work intermittently. Complete inspection of the tail light housing and bulbs is recommended before replacing any parts.

If the downstream (rear) oxygen sensor wiring harness contacts the propeller (drive) shaft, it can damage the oxygen sensor and the wiring harness for the sensor, and/or cause Check Engine Light illumination. The wiring harness should be repaired and secured away from propeller shaft.

Leaks at the front and/or rear differential pinion seal and from the transfer case are common. Leakage from the transfer case normally occurs at the case-mating surfaces and require removal of the transfer case to reseal.

Failure in the blower motor power module (automatic temperature controls) or resistor block (manual AC) may cause the heater blower motor to work only on the high setting. The connector to the power module/resistor block is known to overheat (and sometimes melt). The connector or terminals should be replaced; a replacement connector is available.

Loose or worn suspension and steering components can cause a wobble or shaking in the steering wheel. It may happen at a certain speed and subside as the vehicle accelerates through the range. Tire balance can contribute to this as well.

The AC/heater (HVAC) system may unexpectedly switch to the defrost mode when accelerating. This system is operated by engine vacuum and should be inspected for any vacuum leaks if this problem develops.  There is also a revised vacuum check valve available to address this concern.

The AC evaporator drain commonly clogs and causes water to leak onto the passenger side floor. A sloshing noise may also be heard from the water inside the heater housing. Decaying organic debris in the housing may cause an odor. A service bulletin (TSB 24-06-96) was released; it describes how to clean the drain tube without removing the heater AC housing.

The power window motor commonly fails in the front and rear doors. This may require replacement of the complete window regulator assembly which will include the window motor.

Jeep issued an emissions recall in late 2006 to update the powertrain control module (PCM) software on certain 1996 vehicles. As part of the recall, the catalytic converter will also be inspected for damage and replaced as necessary. To see if your vehicle is included in the recall you can visit the Jeep website (owners' section) that allows owners to input their VIN number and check the recalls on their vehicle.

External oil leaks from the valve cover gaskets, intake manifold gaskets (front or rear), and the rear crankshaft seal area are common. The rear main seal is an unlikely source. Normally, leaks in this area are from the bearing cap mating surfaces as well as the sealing surface between the oil pan and bearing cap.

If the fuel gauge operates intermittently, an update the powertrain control module (PCM) software may be needed.

On the 3.9L V6 and 5.9L V8 the engine oil leaks at the distributor can be misdiagnosed as leaks from the intake manifold seal, oil pan gasket, or rear crankshaft (rear main) seal. A revised distributor is available if oil is found inside the distributor.