Long Live the Jeep® Wave

Photo Credit: The FunTimesGuide.com

We’re getting on in years. In fact, we’re about to celebrate our 70th anniversary as a brand that builds some of the world’s greatest off-road machines. And while we could throw some big party to mark the occasion, we’re opting for something a little more low-key. We want to resurrect the Jeep® Wave.

The Jeep® Wave is an endangered form of communication wherein Jeep® owners acknowledge each other as kindred spirits – people who refuse to let something as foolish as pavement determine where life takes them. It may be as simple as a single hand over the windshield frame in an open top or out of the body tub. Or, the Jeep® wave could just be a few fingers of acknowledgement above the steering wheel in some parts of the country.

No matter how you display the wave to the other Jeep® owners on the road or on the trail, it’s important to remember the rules of engagement. Deference always goes up the chain according to the extent of vehicle modification, the amount of suffering at the hands of climate, and most importantly, the nostalgia factor. All hail the old metal.

While older or more modified rigs should always receive a wave from newer models or those closer to stock, owners of the wild stuff are strongly encouraged to wave back. It’s part of being a community of owners who know that the trail is more important than the destination.

55 Responses to “Long Live the Jeep® Wave”

  1. This may only be my observation, but I have noticed that JK owners must not know about the Jeep wave and, the older the Jeep at which I wave, the more likely I am to get a wave in return from that Jeep’s proud owner.

    Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?

    • MariaLinda

      In response to Jim- I have noticed this…I just bought a 2011 unlimited 4door- and I have noticed that other “new” Wranglers don’t wave- very offensive!
      I did some research and found that older Wrangers respect the wave but sometimes don’t like to return the Wave to Jks..especially ones that look untested- perhaps for the reason that many people that buy these new kind of “fancy” (especially Sahara) Wranglers are not cut from the same cloth as the people who were attracted to the model say 20- years ago.

      I am a 37 year old mother of three who chose to buy and drive around in a wrangler all day. It may not go off road the way some might- BUT I bought it (and wanted one for a really long time) out of a deep respect for its history and off road capabilities. I think that counts doesn’t it?
      I just love the sense of “brotherhood” and camaraderie that you feel when a Jeep Wave is returned! My take on it is if the person is in a Wrangler- WAVE- regardless of model year or how dirty it is!
      (thanks everyone!)

  2. Yep I had noticed the same thing, the one exception is if the JK has been modified.
    I also found that if you are in an area where Jeeps are very common, (NV) the wave is less frequent & is mainly limited to modified ones.

  3. I have a Modified 2008 JK Unlimited and had a 71′ CJ 5 as well. I get Jeep waves all the time from many JK’s , TJ’s and others as well! I wave every time too! Time to time I have a soccer mom in a JK not wave….. but I see the Jeep wave as a solid tradition thats going strong!

  4. this is my first winter w/ my first jeep, an ’08 grand cherokee that i bought used. i’ll never drive anything else now! my girlfriend, however, thinks i’m nuts to do the jeep wave.
    i’m definitely a jeep newbie, but my jeep is no pavement princess; i put her through her paces!
    point being, i try to wave, but rarely get a wave back. is it only when you’re off-road?

  5. I drive a JK and have a heck of a time getting a wave out of Jeeps other than TJ’s, CJ’s and YJ’s!

    • MariaLinda

      I totally agree

      BTW- I just found this blog now- these are all kind of old postings- anyone still out there?

  6. Chris Miramontes

    I have an 07 JK . I love the fact that the wave is only a Jeep thing. Makes me feel warm inside.

  7. Lee Ann Z

    A return wave always makes me smile. I have a ’92 YJ and LOVE the wave, but do notice the response is mainly from the older models. Most often, I get a blank stare from the newer ones….. Doesn’t deter, though.

  8. William Jordan

    I have the same response as Lee Ann but I still wave at all my Jeepin Brothers and Sisters. I have even turned around if I knew the Jeeper that just passed me and followed them for a short distance to let them know how the wave works.
    So a BIG JEEP WAVE and happy new year to all my Jeep Brothers and Sisters.

  9. I’ve been waving since my 93 YJ was bone stock in 1993! It’s grown taller, faded a bit, heavier and tougher over the years but it’s still a JEEP! I’ll wave and it won’t hurt my feelings if rookie owners don’t wave back, they’ll get it sooner or later. Hey Jeep are you building us a new truck for the anniversary? I’m keeping my fingers crossed…unless I’m waving!

  10. JeepJess828

    Jeep, you should bring this up on your facebook page : ) We love the wave! I think Jeep traditions should be explained in a little booklet when you purchase one from a dealership. Welcome to the tribe and let them know what it means to own a Jeep. We’re proud of our family, let’s let every new owner know they’re not just buying a Jeep, they’re getting a huge support group.

  11. I own an ’09 JK and find that newer model drivers like my own are less likely to participate in a jeep wave than those who drive previous models. It could have something to do with where you live. Also, it could be that its not told to those who buy new jeeps. My bud sold me my first jeep (he owning ’98 & ’02 TJs before he got his own new JK) and he went through the “rules” of the jeep wave.


  12. Kristopher

    Sorry but… Cherokees, Liberties and Patriots do not earn the Jeep wave from me… Am I misguided?

    • kristopher,

      i’m curious as to why the those models aren’t worthy of the wave. are they not jeeps as well? as mentioned in my earlier posting, i drive an ’08 grand cherokee. it has certainly proven itself to be a competent vehicle many times over. a wrangler doesn’t suit everyone’s needs…

    • Kristopher


      I live in Nevada and have tons of space offroad. Some roads in the desert only a “Jeep” can go on… Some… I can drive a Mustang on. Do you know how many Liberties, Cherokees and Patriots I have seen on either road type?

      About the same as the number of Liberties, Cherokees and Patriots that I have seen actually wave back at me.

      So yeah… The Wrangler doesnt suit everyone’s needs…

      And that is pretty much why the other vehicles dont get the wave. Usually the person in the Liberty isnt the same type of person in the old CJ5. Doesnt goes offroad. Doesnt live the same lifestyle. Cant let their hair go wild because they cant take off their roof.

      As such… I got tired of waving at them only for them to think I was hitting on them. Granted at times I might have been…

      So… No more waves.

      Now if your Cherokee has a couple extra inches in the tires… and perhaps some mud on it… or an extra light or four… I would reconsider and you would probably get a wave…

      If we were on dirt…

      And if nobody was with me…

      And if nobody else saw…


  13. The jeep wave always brings a smile to my face and a warm feeling someone else lioves their vehicle as much as me.

  14. Thank you to everyone that has contributed their experience and interest in continuing the Jeep wave. There is more in store this year as we celebrate our 70th anniversary with all of you, so please stay tuned!

    In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to continuing adding your comments to this thread!

  15. Kristopher, I drive an 2005 Grand Cherokee and love the wave. No mods, no lift, but I still wave. I feel that my Jeep is worthy. While it is more of a pavement lover, I take it through the challenges of life. 5 years, being t-boned by a snowplow, 150,000 miles later, and still going strong, she has proven herself worthy. Going through the 4 foot snow bank at the end of my street when nobody else can and making it through New England winters where others cannot, I feel it earns itself a wave. I feel that the biggest determining factor of whether the wave is no or go is the Trail Rated seal.

    • Kristopher


      I have perhaps met the only two GC drivers that would wave back… Perhaps an acceptable alternative is for me to wave in response to a GC, Liberty or Patriot driver?

      So… While I would not rule out the wave, I would not initiate one…


      Perhaps you guys can get out of your denial and make it easier for everyone else and just trade them in for an unlimited?


  16. I enjoy the wave. I own a 96 Cherokee, it is one of the many lifted Cherokee’s in FW IN.

    Kristepher: How can you lump those 3 vehicles in the same group? Or more importantly their drivers. I could agree w/your original statement if you had limited it to patriots.

    I have test driven and researched JK’s since 07. Waiting for a better engine. Maybe a nice inline 6. I’ve seen to many mini vans detonate at 120k mi.

    • Kristopher


      Yeah… If I am offroad and I stumble upon a Cherokee.. and it happens to be lifted, or has lots of lights, then I *might* initiate a wave…

      But for the most part Cherokees out here are non-existant.

      As are Patriots.

      So… Perhaps you Cherokee drivers can convince me otherwise and start waving at me instead?

      I agree that the old inline six was a great engine. I had one in my old CJ5. But having said that… The newer Rubicon is an amazing vehicle that goes absolutely everywhere.

      As a side note…

      When I bought mine in 08 I asked the salesman when Jeep was coming out with a hybrid engine for the Wrangler. He sort of laughed me off and said “well Jeep owners dont really care about fuel consumption.”…

      I went on to explain that every Jeep owner I have ever met, myself included, would love to have a 1000 mile range without refueling.

      So if you are going to wait you might want to consider one with double the gas mileage so that you can make longer treks into the great unknown.

  17. kristopher,

    if i saw you on a trail, i would wave. to borrow a phrase, it’s a jeep thing. it’s what you do. maybe i’m too new to this, or naive, but why discriminate based on model? we all know that even the worst jeep is better than anything else. if the driver is putting the jeep to it’s right use (taking it off road, getting it dirty, & generally putting the vehicle thru it’s paces), then i would think that warrants the wave.
    as for not driving a different model, the WK i currently drive is what fits my needs. i was looking for an XJ originally, but i wanted something low-mileage. i didn’t find any w/ less then 70k. i found my 08 WK & jumped. i couldn’t be happier. maybe one day i’ll have a wrangler type jeep solely for off roading, but i doubt it.
    there’s a guy i work w/ who i go off roading w/ now & then who occasionally pokes fun at my “luxury jeep” who drives an 87 XJ, but he’s got a lot fewer comments now that he’s seen that i can keep up w/ him.

  18. Kristopher, I would love to swap for a Wrangler. I actually would have loved to have been able to get a Wrangler from the get go. However, practicality with a family of 5 plus one dog came into mind.
    And I wouldn’t put the Grand Cherokee in the same group as a Patriot. They are two very different vehicles.

  19. I like what I’m seeing here. At 43 I finally got my first Jeep last summer (a 2003 Wrangler). Living over here in Germany takes the Jeep wave to the next level. Whenever I see another Jeep amongst all the BMWs, Benz’s, and other Euro-cars I definitely know I’ve met a kindred spirit. Besides, with my Jeep I’ve had the opportunity to pull one Renault and two Mercedes out of the snow this winter… just spreading international good cheer one car at a time.
    As a biker of 20+ years who loves my two-wheeled brothers & sisters I’m glad to meet a whole other tribe I feel at home with.
    CJ in Germany

  20. Tiffany Libman

    I was driving to run an errand and noticed someone wave at me that was also driving a Jeep as well. I didn’t notice that he was waving at me until he actually nodding at me as well, like, oh yeah, we drive the best cars on earth. So, since then, every time I am out and about, I always give the wave to salute to those who appreciate a great car!

  21. Driving around in my ’11 JK, I notice(like previous posters have stated) that most of the Jeep owners that acknowledge “the wave” are driving CJ’s, TJ’s. I have yet to receive a wave from a Commander, Patriot, Liberty, Compass, or Cherokee.

    And another thing… LADIES… If you’re driving your (or your man’s) Wrangler, keep the wave going! I wave not because you are attractive; I wave because of the seven-slotted grill we have in common!

    Unfortunately, I have limited my wave initiation to only those people driving Wranglers, as it seems we’re the ones with the highest % of “getting it.” No disrespect to the others who DO wave, just wish non-wavers would join the club and wave. 🙂

  22. Give the wave! i’ve been getting and giving them especially when i drive the old CJ7 from fellow CJer’s the newer wranglers like the TJ not so much…hahha a TJ is newer to me thats how long i’ve been driving my CJ…anyway i work in advertising and that is a brilliant ad waiting to happen because it demonstrates it’s more than an automobile it’s a community and a friendly one. And that is something the world is craving….a sense of belonging to community…the success of facebook proves that.

  23. Kristopher

    I have just returned from a small trip to Southern California. I drove everywhere from Point Loma to Pala and waved at every Jeep vehicle I saw for five days.

    To my surprise I only received two waves back during the entire trip. One was an early 90s Jeep, the other was an 80s pickup truck.( I was on a dirt road(sorta) and, as such, most vehicles get some sort of a wave or nod from me…)

    After waving at dozens and dozens (perhaps hundreds and hundreds) of Jeeps…

    I have reasonably concluded that people from Southern California no longer earn the wave as well.

    So… now if you drive one of the above stated vehicles OR if you drive a vehicle with a California plate… Then you have got to wave at me first.

    If I dont get some waves soon then I’m just going to pretend my Jeep is a Harley and start doing the finger point instead.

  24. Or try the dual thumbs-up! That one is sure to make even “The Fonze” want a Jeep. 🙂


  25. Another TRULY Jeep tradition was the annual Camp Jeep, which Jeep abruptly ended with no explanation. When we went, in 2006, we were told that Camp Jeep was recognized by (I think) JD Powers as the most popular and celebrated customer loyalty event in the world.
    Not only did Jeep end Camp Jeep without telling LOYAL CUSTOMERS why, they didn’t even answer my email messages asking why.
    Some customer loyalty. Some customer service.

  26. I’m a Patriot owner who waves. Since it’s newer and stock (for now), I’m supposed to initiate, and I expect one back, no matter what Jeep you drive. I got the Pat because I spend a lot of time in the mountains and around town. Best of both worlds. =)

    Oh, and to a couple posters above, please don’t say stupid things like “Well, don’t lump those 3 in the same group, but if you were only talking about the Patriot…”

    Go drive one, and then take back your ignorance, please. =)

  27. I love the jeep wave. My son inlaw got me hooked on jeeps the first time he took me off road.i called him the first time I got the jeep wave in my new to me used jeep. I had to hide the fact I had a tear in my eye I was so happy. I was in the club.the town near me gets snow so there is tons of us around. Sad to say Ido the jeep wave solo often. I think we should start putting notes on parked jeeps and tell them how we love the jeep wave. And pass it on. A tj wave to ya.

  28. I got my first Jeep Wave today!! I have a 2005 wrangler sport TJ and so did he maybe a year or 2 younger. Both Jeeps pretty much stock except for taller tires and KC headlights. He was an older man. Full head of white hair and he waved to me! I had heard of this tale but never seen it! Very exciting! I immediately googled it and now really know what it all means. I’ll 26 and will be keeping the jeep wave alive!!

  29. i just purchased a 2012 wrangler sport and have been initiated into the wave by all my fellow wrangler drivers in the area!!! i did not know what the wave was until i kept getting waved at all over the place by so many different wranglers. (thankfully, i had the presence of mind to return the wave, perplexed tho i was…) it seems to me that the drivers of other jeep models in my area do no partake in this time honored tradition, however, the wave is alive and well within the wrangler population!!! such a great feeling!!!

  30. Raybo!

    What floors me about all the postings on the WWW is that NO ONE really knows the origin of the ACTUAL WAVE. Well let me share a secret with everyone out there that’s NOT old enough to the the truth about the wave. It all started in WWII with Officers that were driven around in General Purpose Vehicles (AKA GP’s where the name came from, sound out G then P or Jeep) The letters JEEP later came to be from a Popeye character named Jeep. Whatever, anyway Officers did not want the enlisted men to salute them when they drove by in there GP and instead opted for a wave instead of a salute (and the wave is first introduced the JEEP world). Later, and I do recall reading a 1970 JEEP owners manual that references not only to wave to fellow Jeepers, but also the WWII reference to the origin of the wave.

    So, say all you want but eh jeep wave was protocol during WWII and made it’s way back to the entire Jeep community after the war.

  31. Rambo. Thank you for the info. On the jeep wave. I thank the guys for the time in the service and the wave. If your in a jeep and wave it’s a ass kickin great day. Fill those seats up and go for it.

  32. I have a 2009 liberty rocky mountain edition i wave to every jeep i see and usually get one back to me a jeep is a jeep and as long as you have the trail rated badge your drving the best car out there

  33. Chelsea

    I just picked up my new 2010 Unlimited Sport 4-door and got my first wave today! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did however come across some newer models like mine, and they did not wave back. They’re missing out!

  34. Excellent web site. Lots of useful info here. I’m sending it to a few pals ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thank you in your effort!

  35. Just got my first wrangler. 2012 wrangler unlimited sport. Gecko green. Absolutely love it. Turns heads right and left. Maybe it’s te color, maybe the vehicle itself or perhaps the driver:a female. Either way I love it. Got my first jeep wave on the second or third day of having it. Absolutely brought giggles and joy to me. Was glad I knew about it. Also recieved my second wave today and gave the wave today. Pretty cool. Gonna baby it for a while then gonna go take it out. 🙂

  36. My Jeep Wrangler Sahara, is not mine. I’ve been driving it for the past 2-1/2 months, rented from Avis for the summer. Forest green with the body color top. It’s really beautiful. First, thanks to everyone for waving. I’m kind of a quiet person, and it’s nice to have paople saying ‘hi!’ I always return the wave, and initiate it as well! Second, I feel a smile on my face everytime I turn the key, Freedom Top removed, sun on my face. For a vehicle to make someone smile, is pretty amazing imo. Returning it to Avis on 9/6, buying one on 9/7 – Unlimited Sahara, Deep Cherry Red. Love you guys. Peace to you all, and thanks… for saying ‘hi.’ You all rock. =)

  37. I have a 2012 Gecko Green Jeep 2 Door Wrangler Rubicon.  I knew about the Jeep Wave before I got my Rubi.  I ALWAYS give the wave to Wranglers.  I did notice, however, that when I first got the Jeep, and gave  the wave to non Wrangler Jeeps, they all ignored it.  So, though I try, the only waves I get all the time are from Wrangler owners.

  38. Never stop waving. Always wave first! If they don’t wave, so be it. They’re not a a true Jeep owner. Period. All good Jeep owners wave. “Keep on Wave’n!

    Check out my(our)website!

  39. I have a spanking new 2013 Wrangler Sport Gecko Green. I wave all the time and have yet to receive a wave from non Wranglers. My sister has a 2011 Wrangler Unlimited and if she didn’t tell me about the wave and me coming across people complaining about the lack of waving I would have never known about it. Jeep should have the dealers tell new owners about it.

  40. Rubi Rub

    I live in the South… Mississippi to be more precise. Almost everyone, no matter what vehicle he/she is driving, either initiates the wave or waves back. I have always appreciated the Southern driving etiquette, but it does take away from the nostalgia of the “Jeep Wave.”

  41. Emily

    A little late to the game, but I’m wanting some feedback. I’ve been lusting after a Wrangler for over a decade, but the funds constantly eluded me. Finally, I saved enough to grab a Grand Cherokee with a straight six. It’s not my dream, but you can be damn sure I love it and baptized it in the mud immediately. I’m waving, but don’t get too much love. If the Grand Cherokee initiates, would you wave back?

    • 05/08 Rubis

      i wave at lifted Grand Cherokees but not stock ones i did for a while and they looked at me like i was crazy haha but the lifted Grand Cherokees always wave back

  42. 05/08 Rubis

    i have a tj rubi and a jk rubi both lifted on 35s and when im in my tj everyone waves but in my jk only modded tjs wave and i will pass the same yjs on the street and they wave at my tj but not my jk… WTF


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