2007-2017 Jeep Compass: Used Car Review

May 14, 2020
2008 Jeep Compass
2016 Jeep Compass (MK49). Photo: FCA

The first-generation Jeep Compass is a compact crossover, a close relative of the Dodge Caliber and Jeep Patriot. The Compass is smaller than the Toyota RAV4 but taller than an average sedan or hatchback.

Introduced for 2007 it had round Wrangler-like headlights. The interior was upgraded for 2009, For 2011, the Compass received fresh styling with rectangular headlights that made it look like a compact Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The first-gen. Jeep Compass comes with front or all-wheel drive, with a 4-cylinder engine and a choice of a manual or continuously variable transmission or CVT. For 2014, a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission was added as an option.

2010 Jeep Compass interior
2010 Jeep Compass interior

Trail Rated 4x4 capability with Freedom Drive II Off-Road package appeared for 2011. When the second-generation Compass was introduced for 2017 both the first and second generations were sold as 2017. The second-gen. Compass is a different vehicle and is not covered in this review. A used Jeep Compass is not very expensive, but is it a reliable car? What are the reported problems?

Jeep Compass problems:  Electrical problems are fairly common. Corrosion at the relay box located in the left front wheel well (in front of the left front wheel) can cause the car not to start. We are sure many Jeep owners thanked engineers for placing it there. Luckily there are many YouTube videos available on repairing the issues. This video explains it well.
Issues with TIPM modules can cause variety of electrical faults; more problems have been reported in early model years. TIPM is the main fuse box under the hood and is expensive to replace. Cheaper aftermarket TIPM modules are available, but the replacement module might need to be reprogrammed. Tip: with any electrical issue, check the related ground wire connection. The one that commonly gets corroded is on the rail (frame) near the alternator; watch this YouTube video.

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A whining noise from the alternator can be caused by a bad alternator decoupler pulley, we found a few videos explaining the repairs.
A failed throttle body can cause the throttle control warning light to come on and possibly some other issues including going into the limp mode. This problem also affected mostly early model years (2007, 2008). An OEM throttle body is quite expensive. An aftermarket part is cheaper, but the quality of aftermarket parts is not always up to the standards.

Other reported repairs include wear items that are common to fail in all cars, such as wheel bearings, tie rod ends, sway bar links and control arms. Replacing one wheel bearing costs from $350 to $520. A bad wheel bearing can produce a humming noise when driving at highway speeds. Expect to pay $210-$360 to replace one lower control arms or $150-$280 for one tie rod end, plus the wheel alignment.
A bad or rusted rear wheel bearing can even cause the ABS light to come on (the wheel speed sensor is attached to the bearing). The scan may show the code for the rear speed sensor. Other reported problems that can cause an ABS light include corroded wiring under driver's footrest and a bad wheel speed sensor.
There have been issues with rust damage. FCA issued Warranty Extension X69 to address front and rear crossmember corrosion in the 2008-2012 Jeep Compass in the Canadian market and in salt belt states.
FCA also issued several PCM and TCM software updates and a few recalls. Check for recalls at the NHTSA website.

Reliability: As of 2020, Consumer Reports didn't show any ratings for the Jeep Compass, although in the press releases from previous years they mentioned that the Jeep Compass didn't score well. J.D. Power rated the first-generation Jeep Compass for 'Quality and Reliability' between 64 and 75 out of 100, which is close to average or slightly above average; scores for 'Driving Experience' were the lowest.

Engines: The first-generation Compass comes with the 2.0L or 2.4L inline-4 DOHC engines known as World Gas Engine.

FCA world gas engine
FCA World Gas Engine (GEMA).

The 2.0L offers 158 horsepower and is only available with front-wheel drive. The 172-hp 2.4L is a similar engine with more power. Both engines are a bit loud and not super refined but both have been mostly solid through the years. The EPA rates the 2011, 2012 Jeep Compass with a 2.0L engine and CVT transmission at 23/27 mpg. The 2014-2015 4WD Compass with a 2.4L engine gets 21/27 mpg city/highway. Since the difference in gas mileage is small, the 2.4L engine is a better choice in our view, as it offers a bit more power.

Timing belt or chain: Both the 2.0L and 2.4L engines have a timing chain (in the photo). There is no timing belt.


Pros: Affordable price, easy to get in and out of, front headroom, optional AWD, solid engines, attractive styling, available 6.5-inch screen and other cool features.

Cons: Slow acceleration, noisy engine, fuel economy could be better, CVT transmission, questionable reliability, doesn't hold its value well, could be pricey to keep on the road at higher mileage.

Read also: Pros and cons of buying a car with a CVT transmission.

Overall: The Jeep Compass owners reviews online range from "Don't buy it" to "It's a bit slow and not very good on gas, but I love it!" Government crash-test ratings are not great with 3 out of 5 stars for frontal crash in the 2013-2017 model years. The Jeep Compass is unlikely to outlast some Toyota or Honda and could be costly to keep on the road at higher mileage; it also doesn't hold its value well.
On the plus side, the Compass is available with all-wheel drive and is not very expensive on the used car market. It has a practical interior with a clean dash layout and is easy to get in and out of. Both the 2.0L and 2.4L engines are mostly solid. The overall quality has improved to a degree in later model years. In our view, the 6-speed automatic in the 2014-plus models is a better option than CVT.
Early model years should be avoided. If the long-term reliability is important and you don't need the all-wheel drive, check out the Toyota Matrix with a 1.8L engine; it's a reliable spacious car with good gas mileage. We would also recommend the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V although they all tend to be a bit more expensive. Honda HR-V is another great vehicle of the same size.

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What to look for when buying a used Jeep Compass: Check the roof liner and the dome light for water marks and possible leaks from the sunroof. Watch out for rust damage. Test all electrical features carefully, including the horn, A/C, power windows, wipers, etc. Check all the door handles and locks. During the test drive, watch out for whining or humming noises, as they could be coming from the transmission or the engine. Avoid the car if any of the warning lights coming on while driving or if you suspect electrical, engine or transmission issues or if the vehicle shows signs of overheating. A blue smoke from the exhaust is another reason to pass on the vehicle. We recommend having the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before buying. The underneath of the vehicle needs to be inspected for leaks, rust damage, suspension and other problems. Read more: How to inspect a used car - illustrated guide. By Samarins.com Staff

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