Are Jeep Wranglers Manual or Automatic Transmission?

Jeep Wranglers are sporty, fun to drive, and they do come with the options of automatic transmissions or manual transmissions. There are a lot of people who prefer manual transmissions. According to those drivers, the joy of driving a Jeep is lost when you have an automatic transmission.

There are also drivers who prefer an automatic, and there are a lot of features of the automatic transmission that make them better in certain driving situations. When driving an automatic vehicle switch from one gear to another without the driver pressing in on a clutch pedal, or choosing which gear to drive in.

Older Jeep Wranglers with Automatic Transmissions

You may find it difficult to locate an older model Jeep Wrangler with an automatic transmission. These include the LJ, YJ, and TJ trim levels. Newer Jeep Wranglers like the JK and JL are readily available with both the standard and the automatic transmissions in them.

The Jeep Wrangler was introduced as the Jeep CJ was replaced with the Jeep Wrangler YJ in 1987. From that introduction until 1994 all of the Jeep Wranglers had standard or manual transmissions in them. 

Common Jeep Wranglers Trim Levels That Include Automatic Transmissions Are:

a man is driving an jeep wranglers that include automatic engine
  • 1994 Jeep Wrangler YJ
  • 1997 – 2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ
  • 2006 – 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK
  • 2007 – 2011 JKU
  • 2018 – 2022 Jeep Wrangler JL
  • 2021 Jeep Wrangler Sport
  • 2021 jeep Wrangler Willy’s Sport
  • 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport
  • 2021 Jeep Wrangler Freedom
  • 2-21 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
  • 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
  • 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara Altitude
  • 2022 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
  • 2022 Jeep Extreme Recon

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Who Chooses the Automatics Transmission the Most?

jeep wranglers at gas station

For the most part the majority of people who want to have a Jeep Wrangler with an automatic transmission are people who do in-town driving more than the do open highway or off-road driving. 

When buying a vehicle that will be operated by a new or inexperienced driver the buyer normally chooses an automatic transmission. When driving a Jeep Wrangler with an automatic transmission the new driver can safely drive with both hands on the wheel in the 10 and 2 positions. If they had a manual transmission, they would have to steer with one hand and use the other to switch gears as needed.

People who drive frequently in steep or hilly areas. A manual transmission can make it very hard to take off from a dead stop if you are parked on a slope or steep incline. An automatic transmission in your Jeep will allow you to easily take off in these locations. 

People who have to drive in a lot of heavy traffic will want to choose a Jeep Wrangler model that has an automatic transmission. In heavy traffic situations, a driver has to start and stop frequently. This is not a problem if your transmission is automatic but if you are driving a standard style transmission starting and stopping become a difficult process. You will also take a risk of stalling because you did not get enough rpm going when you let off of the clutch.

Adventure seekers that do rock-crawling will want an automatic. Rock-crawling is done at very low speeds. The automatic transmission automatically adjusts and operates at a lower-end torque allowing you to maneuver slowly, and carefully over the sliding rock formations. People with manual transmissions that attempt rock-crawling in their vehicles often end up with very costly repairs being needed.

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Advantages & Disadvantages of Automatic Transmissions

hand holding automatic transmission in jeep JK


  • These vehicles are easy to drive because you do not have to listen to the motor and change gears accordingly
  • Easier to park if you are on a hill
  • Easier to take off from a red light or stop sign
  • Will not die when you are taking off because you did not have the clutch fully engaged
  • The Jeep with the automatic transmission is slightly safer to operate than one with a standard transmission. 
  • Automatic transmissions are less noisy when they shift gears.
  • Automatic transmissions are lower maintenance


  • A vehicle with an automatic transmission cost more than a vehicle with a standard or manual transmission
  • Repairs on an automatic transmission are more costly than repairs on a standard or manual transmission
  • Older automatic transmissions are not as efficient as the standard transmissions were
  • Towing a car with an automatic transmission may be more difficult
  • Vehicles with automatic transmissions do not get as many miles per gallon as vehicles that have standard manual transmissions
  • Manual transmissions are considered to be more reliable than the automatic varieties
  • A vehicle with a manual transmission can be push started, When the vehicle starts to roll you can hop in it and pop the clutch to crank the engine. You cannot perform this action when driving an automatic.
  • Vehicles with automatic transmissions are more likely to be stolen than vehicles with manual transmissions.
  • You do not have the same amount of control over the vehicle as you would have if you were driving with a manual transmission. When driving a vehicle with a manual transmission the driver can choose a lower gear and that will give their engine a boost of extra power.

When to Not Choose an Automatic Transmission for Your Jeep Wrangler

There are some time’s when an automatic transmission simply is not the right choice. If you are an adventurous person that does a lot of off-road driving then you may want to consider the old-fashioned standard transmission over the easier to operate automatic versions.

If you are going to be using the four-wheel drive feature of the Jeep Wrangler than you want to have a manual transmission. Your Jeep will burn a lot more fuel while being driven in four-wheel drive, and the manual transmission can reduce some of that usage and help save you some money.

If you are going to be driving n high-speed situations while you are off-road with your Jeep then go ahead and get a manual transmission. You have more control, you can boost the power when needed, and you determine how high the engine revs and how much torque it has. Manual transmissions are safer and let’s face it, they are more fun under these circumstances.

If you are towing heavy loads across off-road terrain then you want to have a manual transmission powering you. The manual transmission allows you to have the ultimate amount of power, and when towing heavy loads across uneven ground, or up a steep incline you need every bit of power that you can get.

How to Take Care of Your Jeep Automatic Engines

this jeep automatic engines are in good condition

If you decide to purchase a Jeep Wrangler with an automatic transmission you should properly care for that transmission to make it last longer. The pros gave us the following tips on how to care for an automatic tranny.

  • Check the fluid on a regular basis. This is easy to do and may save you a ton on repairs. If your transmission fluid is dark or cloudy, or it has an odor like bad fish, then seek professional help.
  • Check the owner’s manual to be sure you are buying the right transmission fluid for the model you drive.
  • Never change from drive to reverse, or vice versa, while the car is moving. Let the car come to a complete stop before switching gears.
  • Once a year take your vehicle to have the transmission flushed.
  • Keep the cooling system properly serviced. The cooling system works to stop the car from overheating and it also cools the transmission fluid so a properly working cooling system will lengthen the life of your transmission.
  • Let the car warm up before you start to drive. Crank the vehicle and five it a few minutes before you throw it in gear and race away. This allows the pressure in the system to be maintained, and although it is helpful in summer months it is critical in the winter months.
  • Do not drive on mismatched tires.
  • Do not tow items with your vehicle in hot temperatures.
  • Have the transmission filter changed regularly. Some of the newer vehicles do not have a filter that can be changed.
  • Have a certified transmission specialist check out your transmission once a year.

Final Thought

It is possible for you to have a Jeep Wrangler and an automatic transmission. You can have the look, the style, and the ground clearance of a Jeep paired with the ease of operations the automatic provides.

More Jeep Related Articles:
1. Why Is My Jeep Wrangler Jerking While Accelerating
2. Jeep Wrangler High Mileage Problems

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