Jeep Cherokee is a long-running series of SUV models, which are currently marketed as compact SUV models.
They are made by Jeep, which was historically part of Chrysler, then FCA, and now Stellantis.
The Cherokee comes in a number of trims and is the smaller sibling of the very well-known Jeep Grand Cherokee models, which arrived in the early 1990s.
This article answers the question “Do Jeep Cherokees Rust?”…
Do Jeep Cherokees Rust?
Jeep Cherokees are known for several reliability issues, but rust is not usually one of them. A Jeep Cherokee is only susceptible to rust in the same ways that any car is if the local environment is conducive to rust.
For example, if you have a harsh winter where they lay down a lot of road salt, then some rust is more likely.
Equally, pairing that with a coastal region also increases rust chances. It is not inevitable, however.
Are The Newer Models Still Rusting?
Newer models of Jeep Cherokee suffer from a number of reliability issues, but overall rusting is not a top one that owners worry about.
There is some concern about corrosion problems on the inside of the doors.
It has been spotted by some Jeep Cherokee owners that the inside of all four doors seems to occasionally develop rust spots.
The main theory is that there is a manufacturing problem with the seam, but as of yet Jeep has not officially commented.
If the doors seam has not been sealed properly because of some poor workmanship in the factory production process, then it is likely that all Cherokee models have the possibility of this issue, and that includes the newest models.
What Causes A Cherokee To Rust?
There are several key factors that could cause rust in a Jeep Cherokee. The first is a driving environment in which road salt is commonly used.
The Jeep Cherokee is a popular choice for those who live in areas with harsh winters because it’s a decent rugged 4WD winter vehicle.
The consequence, however, is constant exposure to road salt, which if not washed off properly can lead to fast corrosion, especially around the wheel arches and on the undercarriage of the vehicle.
The second main cause is instances of poor workmanship in the manufacturing process.
Some have pointed the finger at automated processes within Jeep production that have left some door seams poorly finished.
An improperly sealed seam somewhere like the door is just as bad as if the car had been impacted and damaged in an accident.
With the inner metal exposed to the elements, the potential for rust is very strong.
The door areas are doubly susceptible to rust because they are also home to drain holes, which if plugged up can cause water to build up in that area.
The water buildup sits there with the exposed metal for however long it’s there, causing oxidation and corrosion all the time.
Is The Cherokee Paint Galvanized?
Yes, all Jeep models after 1995 were put through the galvanization process.
Though this doesn’t prevent rust from taking hold in a Jeep Cherokee, it is a huge step towards stopping it from being inevitable.
The galvanization means that the base metal is, in general, protected against rust, but not impervious to rust.
The best protection that it has is the layer of paint and clear coat on the top.
Is The Cherokee Paint Water-Based?
Though older Jeep Cherokees and other models used lacquer paint, the modern models after 2000, and some earlier, now use water-based paints.
Like just about all other competitors, the Jeep Cherokee consists of a layer of primer, followed by many coats of base coat, and then several layers of clear coat on top of that.
What Parts Of The Cherokee Are More Likely To Rust?
The most likely part of the Cherokee to rust is the inside section of the driver and passenger doors (all 4 are vulnerable).
While its undercarriage and wheel arches are also susceptible to rust, that’s true of just about every car.
The problem with the inside of the doors is unique to the Jeep Cherokee and that has been put down to particular production problems which still exist on very new models.
With How Many Years Cherokees Start To Rust?
In the case of door rusting due to improperly sealed seams and/or plugged-up drain holes, the rusting can start quite rapidly, perhaps within 2 years of purchase.
A damp environment where road salt is used will exacerbate and accelerate the problem.
If the paint of the Cherokee is properly cared for and the Cherokee avoids excessive exposure to salt and other conditions that can cause rust, then there’s no reason at all that it should rust.
The Cherokee is no more susceptible to rust on its wheel arches or undercarriage than any other vehicle out there.
Does Waxing Avoid Rust?
Waxing a Jeep Cherokee can be a positive step to avoid rusting on painted surfaces of the car.
It isn’t, however, a viable solution to rusting on the undercarriage or other non-painted parts for which you don’t usually apply a layer of wax or sealant.
The most common cause of rusting on painted vehicle surfaces is where there has been an impact that has exposed the layers of the vehicle beneath the clearcoat and the base coat.
When this is exposed to moisture and oxygen, then it quickly turns to corrosion and rust.
Properly coating your paint with wax, especially paint sealant or ceramic coating, provides a solid layer of protection for the surface.
These things won’t protect against the effects of a collision or similar impact, however.
Is There A Special Liquid To Wash Off Salt?
There are available products that can be used to effectively remove salt from the vehicle’s surface.
You can easily find these on online platforms but also at any good auto supply store.
If you’re driving a Jeep Cherokee in the winter and there is a lot of road salt, then it’s important that you wash it off as quickly as possible, and as thoroughly as possible.
Using the special solutions you applied directly to affected areas with either a soft-bristle brush (not painted) or a cloth (painted), you can thoroughly clean off the salt.
If you’re on a budget, then you can also use a mixture of warm water and white vinegar in equal parts.
The water/vinegar solution is very effective at dragging up small amounts of more deeply embedded salt grains, which you can then just wipe away with a microfiber towel.
Does Jeep Have A Corrosion Policy?
Jeep’s standard warranty (including for Cherokee) provides a 3-year unlimited mileage anti-corrosion warranty that covers all Jeep panels, including the door panels.
There are corroborating stories of Jeep Cherokee owners getting multiple door insides sanded and repainted, or sometimes replaced entirely and the warranty covering these costs.
The warranty will not cover rust damage that is determined to have been caused by a modification that you made to the Cherokee.
This is something owners will have to be careful about.
Are There Anti Rust Treatments In A Car Wash?
Some car washes offer waxing as part of their package deal.
If that is applied by hand or with buffers, then it’s worthwhile as a step to take in safeguarding your paint against rust problems.
If you’re worried about the undercarriage, or your wheels, however, then the best thing you can do at the carwash is to use a power washer to ensure that the undercarriage and wheels are thoroughly cleaned of any salt residue.
The blast of a power washer should be enough to dislodge any and all damaging salt that is there.
Where To Check For Rust When Buying An Used Cherokee?
The first place you should look on a Jeep Cherokee is the inside of all four doors, and also the rear door.
There’s always a chance that there’s rust there and it’s not necessarily the fault of the current owner.
Rust on the inside of one of the doors would be hard to miss, but if it’s happening on a rear door, it’s conceivable that a driver (who presumably never sits in the back of the Cherokee) isn’t aware of it.
Other areas to look for rust on a Cherokee include the undercarriage, the wheel arches, and the lower body panels.
These are the areas that are most exposed to road salt and therefore are the most likely to experience that kind of corrosion.
You should also check the engine bay for signs of rust, just in case, especially surrounding any major bolts, clamps, or connectors.
Can A Previous Collision Cause Rust?
Yes, it definitely can. If a Cherokee gets into an accident or collision with another car, then the bodywork of the Jeep will likely be dented or scratched.
This surface damage strips away the protective layers of paint clear coat and base coat that are meant to prevent oxidizing of the base metal.
If a collision has resulted in damage that wasn’t quickly repaired, or even not repaired at all because it is normally concealed by another part of the vehicle, then the rust might develop unnoticed.