Some vehicles primarily help get drivers from point A to point B. Others become a central part of the driver’s lifestyle — helping them pursue their passions and display a bit of their personality to the world. Jeep is a great example of a brand that exemplifies this “lifestyle” idea.
So, it makes sense many drivers behind the wheels of Jeeps feel connected to other Jeep drivers they encounter, even if they’re just passing each other on the road somewhere.
There’s actually a code of conduct for this situation called “The Jeep Wave.” Have you heard of it before — or have you even done it yourself from behind the wheel of your Jeep?
Here’s more on the Jeep Wave: who does it, what it means, and why it exists.
Basics of the Jeep Wave
Put simply, the Jeep Wave is a rite of passage that occurs when two Jeeps are passing each other. According to the rules of the “secret social club” that is Jeep ownership, the drivers are supposed to lift their fingers off the steering wheel in acknowledgement.
The possible configurations are as diverse as Jeep drivers themselves and certainly leave room for interpretation. For instance, some drivers may exhibit a full-on wave in which their hand leaves the steering wheel. Others may lift between two to four fingers. The exact form seems to matter a lot less than the meaning of the gesture — the mutual acknowledgment between two people who are loyal to the same type of vehicle and all it entails.
What Are the Criteria for Doing the Jeep Wave?
You’ve scoped out the Jeep lease deals or financing deals available in your area and are itching to sign the paperwork. If it’s your very first Jeep, you may be curious about road etiquette after you join “the club.”
According to Jeep Fan, the tradition can apply to all Jeeps. However, on the road you may notice that some drivers seem more prone to partake than others, particularly any Wrangler or Gladiator model. However, many drivers of other models — like Grand Cherokees, Compasses and others — may also participate, in which case the recipient should return the Wave.
According to one Jeep dealership, there are two basic rules to know about the Jeep Wave:
- All Wrangler drivers must wave.
- The newer Jeep waves first — but when in doubt, both can/should.
Another dealership cites these criteria as determining whether or not to participate in the Jeep Wave according to the “ranking” of your vehicle:
- Age: Older models have seniority in the hierarchy, making them the proper recipients of the first wave.
- Dirt: Dirtier vehicles take precedence and therefore deserve to receive the first wave.
- Top: Jeeps without a top rank higher than those with tops.
- Parts: More “hardcore” accessories, like those used for off-roading and rock climbing, bump up your vehicle in the hierarchy.
- Model: Wranglers typically get deference over other models as a general rule of thumb.
Generally, when in doubt, it’s more polite to give another Jeep driver a wave than to hold back, assuming you’re in conditions where it’s safe to do so. Think of it like greeting an old friend with whom you share at least one important characteristic — the type of car you both drive. At the end of the day, many drivers believe the spirit of camaraderie and respect seems more important than assessing the exact model of another Jeep and parsing the rules for technicalities. But hey, to each their own. What matters is that you enjoy your Jeep and all the amenities it affords you.