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I leased my 2018 Jeep Compass Altitude 4x4 in April 2018. I’ve had 5 issues with it as of now. My most recent complaint is that the transmission does a hard shift between 2nd & 3rd gear. Picked it up from the dealership last night and they told me they did a software update to fix the problem. Drove it home, it seemed fine. However this evening drove to take my son to practice and it hard shifted again. I’m pissed so I call the dealership, this was the 4th visit to the dealership for issues, and the guy who answers tells me it takes a good 1,000 miles for the transmission update to take effect as it has to learn my driving habits and how to shift properly. I said they did not tell me that when I picked it up last night, and also that seems extreme as that would take me 2+ months to put the 1,000 miles on it. Has anyone else had an issue with the transmission and been told this? In my mind the transmission is being damaged by all the hard shifts and having to drive it another 1,000 miles is just an excuse to not service it again for a couple months. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!
 

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I've not had your problem, but then again, I'm a pretty easy driver.

However, there is an element of truth to the transmission having to learn your driving style. Performance and fuel economy will be adapted to how you drive it. If you drive it hard, it will adjust the shift points so you accelerate faster; if you drive it easy to achieve better fuel economy it will never be snappy away from a light, and it will find the higher gears sooner.

Just curious -- if you use autostick and take it through the gears, do you still get the hard shift?

I had a Pontiac Grand Prix that around 225,000 miles started slamming the gears when it shifted. I learned that if I turned it off (say maybe to fill up or buy a cup of coffee) it would shift smooth all day after that. Just a thought. Let me know if it works.
 

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Your better off pulling the negative off the car for about 10 minutes, come back, hook it up and "that" will actually do a re-learn, all they did was change pressure and shift points with the update. For a real re-learn your better yanking the battery for several minutes. It will learn your habits all over again. Right now it has your present habits cached.
 

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I have had this very same issue - hard shifting. Mine is between 2nd and 3rd, as well as 3rd and 4th. I've taken it to the dealership but they, of course, couldn't replicate the issue. They did a software update, but that did nothing to fix the issue. I know that until they can replicate it themselves, they won't be able to figure anything out, despite the fact I've seen these issues posted by many others in other places.
Mind you, this is one of many, many issues I've had with my Compass; they all seem to be electrical issues - they even replaced the computer in it at one point, but I continue to have issues with it.
It's been extremely frustrating experience, owning this Compass, and very disappointing.
 

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Read this:

The ZF transmission is junk. It is not properly engineered. Fiat also did a lousy job programming it.
 

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Other than a huge gap between 5 and 4 when downshifting, I've not had a real problem with the ZF tranny. With so many gears I have to expect it to gear-hunt on hills or when accelerating. They're trying to do with gears what the CVT did naturally.

The real test for me is durability -- can I expect a couple hundred thousand miles out of it or is it going to fail half way there?
 

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Rockdog said:
The ZF transmission is junk.
I don't think the transmission itself is [mechanically] junk, but the shift schedule/programming for it on the Compass is terrible and that trans really has no business being hooked up to a naturally aspirated 4 cylinder gasoline engine, in any car but especially not this one. Should have been a 5 or 6 speed, but they got some kind of "deal" or bulk pricing on the 9 speed and then tried to justify it by programming the car to reach for gears it isn't actually capable of pulling with the little weezing 4 banger they offer us in north america.
 

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I don't think the transmission itself is [mechanically] junk, but the shift schedule/programming for it on the Compass is terrible and that trans really has no business being hooked up to a naturally aspirated 4 cylinder gasoline engine, in any car but especially not this one. Should have been a 5 or 6 speed, but they got some kind of "deal" or bulk pricing on the 9 speed and then tried to justify it by programming the car to reach for gears it isn't actually capable of pulling with the little weezing 4 banger they offer us in north america.
I admit, the ZF performs much better in the Cherokee with the 6 cylinder engine. One of my biggest complaints with the ZF is when you go from reverse to drive. There is a pause before the car engages and moves forward. In cars without this transmission, once you put the car in drive and take your foot off the brake, the car moves forward. My teenaged boys got used to driving a Cherokee or Grand Cherokee that had a normal performing transmission. When they drove my Compass, they both commented how the car underperformed compared to the Cherokee and GC. The Compass has many different engine and transmissions available outside the NAFTA region. Why FCA limited the NAFTA Compass to only the 2.4L Tigershark and ZF transmission is baffling. I mean, this engine is not powerful enough to move the Compass which is a heavy, overweight vehicle.
 

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I admit, the ZF performs much better in the Cherokee with the 6 cylinder engine. One of my biggest complaints with the ZF is when you go from reverse to drive. There is a pause before the car engages and moves forward. In cars without this transmission, once you put the car in drive and take your foot off the brake, the car moves forward. My teenaged boys got used to driving a Cherokee or Grand Cherokee that had a normal performing transmission. When they drove my Compass, they both commented how the car underperformed compared to the Cherokee and GC. The Compass has many different engine and transmissions available outside the NAFTA region. Why FCA limited the NAFTA Compass to only the 2.4L Tigershark and ZF transmission is baffling. I mean, this engine is not powerful enough to move the Compass which is a heavy, overweight vehicle.
I think the theory behind mating the 2.4 and the ZF is that when it downshifts to twice the ratio the cylinders are firing twice as often and so a 4 cyl @ 5000RPMs = an 8 Cyl @ 2500. I'm sure someone who took high school physics could give us a more detailed equation, but you get the gist of it. Of course when an 8cyl downshifts and turns 5000RPMs its putting out twice the power it was at 2500RPMs so our 4cyl gets left in the dust. <cough, cough>
 

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Rockdog said:
I mean, this engine is not powerful enough to move the Compass which is a heavy, overweight vehicle.
Again, I almost agree with your statement. The Compass is not heavy for its size, it saves a fair amount of weight compared to a Cherokee which is hardly larger. But I agree it needs to be motivated by a V6 or a turbo if its going to have 6+ gears.

Jasmine said:
I think the theory behind mating the 2.4 and the ZF is that when it downshifts to twice the ratio the cylinders are firing twice as often and so a 4 cyl @ 5000RPMs = an 8 Cyl @ 2500.
Yerp but its not programmed right, it needs to keep the RPMs up more and thats what I just had to do for 3,300 long miles over Christmas driving the interstate (94/90) out west and back. Unloaded and empty our long legged (3.73 ratio) Compass can sometimes pull 8th gear on the highway IF you have flat ground and a tailwind. Throw on a 17 inch tall Thule cargo box like we did to carry our skis and boots and other gear, and boom, now you can no longer pull anything over 6th gear at interstate speeds, not even downhill. After eleventeen downshifts the computer will start to only go for 7th instead of 8th, but it can't pull that either, so you end up forced to use manual mode to hold it in 6th and turn 2800-3300 RPM for the entire 3,300 mile trip. It felt pretty stupid but we had no choice, it was that or let the transmission shift itself to death.

And EXACTLY what I was thinking as we journeyed along is that it all boiled down to cylinder count. 2000 RPM is basically 4000 "power strokes" per minute for a 4 cycle 4 cylinder, while at the same 2k RPMs a V6 is getting 6k power strokes in the same minute, and a V8 is getting 8k power strokes in a minute, and so on. Assuming FCA engineering is making similar power per-cylinder at a highway traveling load, if its going to take say 6000 "power strokes", or 6000 units of cylinder work to climb a given hill for one minute without loosing speed then the 4 cylinder engine has to downshift and get those RPMs up. Either that or greatly increase the overall % load on the engine to get more work out of each power stroke but that simply doesn't (and didn't) happen for this motor pulling this car along, especially not at high altitude. Without the cargo box it can squawk it out (sometimes, downhill, with a tailwind), with the cargo box the limits the engineers designed up against are vastly exceeded due to the increase in drag, and its unable to account for it, making for just a bad, bad time on the highway for thousands of miles.

Our gas mileage, the overall efficiency, still probably stayed the same as any comparable V6 SUV roaming the interstate with us with a similar cargo box (we saw many on our trip). Same gas mileage, same amount of fuel burned to climb hills and maintain speed on the flats, the only difference is we had to spin our crankshaft and camshaft bearings 33% more to do the same work.

If you're curious, we got 20.2 MPG for the whole trip which wasn't bad considering we drove a loaded car through both the rockies and the cascades with a 17" tall cargo box on top, and kept up with traffic in the beautiful 80 MPH state of Montana. Perfectly respectable winter mileage for the circumstances, just hella-high RPMs the whole way to do it.

Reprogram this thing to only use gears 1 through 6th with a bit more load-handling intelligence, and ignore your RPMs on the interstate, and then everything is fairly OK performance-wise with this thing. Take off the cargo box and it becomes OK to visit 7th when commuting empty, but I need some kind of mode to lock out 7th for towing and cargo box purposes.

If I ever get my hands on a legitimate programming for the TCM... one or two of those fancy off-road modes are going to be re-purposed to have the shift schedule(s) this thing should have had from the get-go, and there will be no such thing as going into 7th or 8th+ gears.
 

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Oh but you know what else? Three thousand miles at three thousand RPM with mountains and 80 MPH speed limits, barely used not even half a quart of oil ?
 

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I'm sure when FCA designed this engine, selected and programed the transmission, they had a poster of the CAFE standards on the wall of their office! So the Compass was planned to get the best fuel economy under ideal conditions. That you or I pack in the wife and kids, stuff the cargo area with luggage, stack a cargo box on the roof and tow our second home is not their concern. Its city people who can only think about commuting who came up with those CAFE standards, not real people living a real life. That's the pitch the government threw at them and Jeep had no choice but to swing at it.

Really we shouldn't think of a Jeep as a commuter vehicle, but that's how most get used. A Jeep is a utility vehicle -- it should be hauling stuff, plodding through the snow, and bring our friends up to a hunting lodge in the mountains. Buzzing down the interstate at 70, then wading through stop & go traffic is a waste of its potential!
 

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I'm sure when FCA designed this engine, selected and programed the transmission, they had a poster of the CAFE standards on the wall of their office! So the Compass was planned to get the best fuel economy under ideal conditions. That you or I pack in the wife and kids, stuff the cargo area with luggage, stack a cargo box on the roof and tow our second home is not their concern. Its city people who can only think about commuting who came up with those CAFE standards, not real people living a real life. That's the pitch the government threw at them and Jeep had no choice but to swing at it.

Really we shouldn't think of a Jeep as a commuter vehicle, but that's how most get used. A Jeep is a utility vehicle -- it should be hauling stuff, plodding through the snow, and bring our friends up to a hunting lodge in the mountains. Buzzing down the interstate at 70, then wading through stop & go traffic is a waste of its potential!
Keep in mind however, the 2.4L engine was also used in the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 (and the base Cherokee). Both of which are much lighter with better aerodynamics. The Renegade offers a 1.3L turbo that really moves the car along well. I often wonder how the 1.3 turbo would fair in the Compass.
 

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Rockdog said:
I often wonder how the 1.3 turbo would fair in the Compass.
There is supposed to be a hybrid version of the Renegade and Compass coming out in the next year or so that combines a FWD setup with the 1.3 turbo with an independent electric RWD propulsion system, supposedly they can work together to get the car to 60 in under 7 seconds and net the performance of 230 HP or something along those lines. I am eager to see what it looks like when it actually comes out, FCA is famous for making claims that the production vehicles do not live up to. I remember back when they were teasing the Renegade in 2013/2014 and they were saying stuff like "All models will get over 30 MPG on the highway, easily, all trims, 4x4 and all, no problem" and then no matter how many times they asked the EPA to re-evaluate the vehicle the 4x4s could never net 30 MPG average in their tests. I'm afraid we may see something similar with the PHEV version of the Compass when it shows up, but we'll see.
 
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