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Here’s Why Your Jeep Cherokee Is Sputtering

Here’s Why Your Jeep Cherokee Is Sputtering

The Jeep Cherokee has been in production since 1974 and is currently in its fifth generation, with compact crossover (KL) and midsize SUV (Grand Cherokee WK2) models on the market. Cherokees are popular choices for Jeep fans but can face some common issues, like sputtering, that may require some maintenance.

On average, Jeep Cherokees can sputter due to a problem with either the ignition system, the exhaust system, or even the fuel system. It could indicate malfunctions related to leaks, sensors, or converters, but also several other elements in the car.

If you have a Jeep Cherokee that is sputtering, read on to find out more about what may be causing it and how to fix it.

Why Do Jeep Cherokees Sputter?

Jeep Cherokees are an affordable and popular vehicle that continues to rank in the top 10 of most-bought SUVs.

Although they have suffered from some reliability issues, they provide excellent 4×4 ruggedness and power that is suitable for light off-roading with minimal wear. At times, you may encounter sputtering from your Cherokee while driving.

These are a few of the most common issues that can cause Jeep Cherokees to sputter:


Leaks can be the cause of engine sputtering. On Jeep Cherokees, they usually occur in the exhaust manifold and the vacuum system.

A leaking exhaust manifold can quickly become a more significant issue because it causes fumes and gases to escape from the exhaust system, which can severely damage the engine and other elements and even contaminate the cabin.

  • You will notice the engine will sputter, and it will have significantly inferior performance.
  • The check engine light may appear on your dash, and the engine could quickly descend into making a lot of noise and even stalling.

If a leak happens in the vacuum, the engine will initially sputter, and then you’ll notice a lot of hesitation in its response. This issue can also lead to stalling and further damage to the engine.


When dirt accumulates on specific elements across the Jeep Cherokee car systems, they can cause malfunctions that can result in sputtering. You will usually face these issues with the fuel injectors, the airflow sensors, and the spark plugs.

The spark plugs are an essential part of the ignition system. At times, they can get dirty from constant use or an unrelated leak. If this happens, they can cause sputtering in the Jeep Cherokee engine.

  • The airflow sensor will get regularly cleaned at most check-ups, but it might get too dirty to function correctly before the next visit.
  • This may cause it to send erroneous data to the Jeep Cherokee computer, which will then send a fuel amount that does not fit the needs of the car.

The fuel injectors can easily get dirty and may require frequent replacements to make sure they are working correctly. In the fuel system, the injectors deliver it to the cylinders. A sputtering engine and slow response are common symptoms of fuel injector issues.


Different parts of the Jeep Cherokee breaking or malfunctioning may become typical issues for owners, depending on the model. You will usually experience problems with misfiring oxygen sensors and catalytic converters.

  • The good thing about malfunctioning catalytic converters is that they are easily identifiable.
  • When you notice your engine sputtering, accompanied immediately by a smell of rotten eggs, this is a strong indication it is caused by the catalytic converter.

A failing catalytic converter won’t be able to properly break down sulfur emanating from the engine, which will make the problem apparent. If the issue persists, the Jeep Cherokee may not be able to start at all.

An oxygen sensor getting too dirty to accurately perform its duty will also send the wrong information to the Jeep Cherokee computer, which will lead to too little fuel being sent to the engine. This will cause sputtering, and it would be a good sign that it’s time to replace the sensors.


Age and frequent use can cause problems that have engine sputtering as a symptom. On the Jeep Cherokee, a common issue can be found with the gaskets in the exhaust system. It is recommended to stick to a regular replacement system for them.

The gaskets are quickly affected by wear, and if they are not replaced in time, they will cause the engine to sputter. If the problem persists, it will start affecting the exhaust manifold, which may create widespread damage.

Here’s a great video with some tips to fix a sputtering Jeep, with more info below.

How to Fix a Jeep Cherokee Sputtering

If you notice that your Jeep Cherokee engine is sputtering, you should take it for a check-up immediately. Specialists will be able to determine the cause and give you detailed insights into how to repair the problem. 

Most times, you may have to get parts cleaned to get the engine to stop sputtering. This includes fuel injectors, spark plugs, and air sensors. Other times, you may have to get full replacement parts like oxygen sensors, converters, and exhaust manifolds. 

Time is of the essence when the issue starts. If the situation is ignored, it may escalate, and you may require more extensive replacements. Getting a new fuel pump might be necessary or even in-depth repairs for the exhaust system.

If you have enough expertise, you may be able to diagnose the cause of the sputter on your own through various at-home tests. This is only advisable if you have enough knowledge to do so. Even so, you may still have to go to a specialist for the right solution to fix the engine sputtering.


A Jeep Cherokee can sputter for various reasons. The most common ones are related to leaks, accumulated dirt, malfunctioning elements, and excessive wear. Some of these causes can be easily identifiable, while others will require more in-depth analysis. If these issues don’t get treated in time, extensive repairs may be required on your vehicle. When you start to notice your Jeep Cherokee sputtering, it’s time for you or a trusted mechanic to give it a thorough examination.

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