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The Jeep Wave: Fact or Fiction?

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Hand on Steering Wheel Jeep Wave

Photo: Pixabay

Owning a Jeep is like joining a super secret club. Somehow, everyone seems to be friends for no other reason than you all own Jeeps. But there’s a bit of confusion as to whether or not the well-marketed sense of camaraderie translates onto the open road.

In the past, Jeep has highlighted the family dynamic that comes with owning one of its vehicles: “Jeep vehicle owners are unlike any others,” said Jeep in a press release. “From those who embrace the ‘Jeep wave’ to those who look forward to helping a fellow off-roader along the trail, there is a sense of community and passion among Jeep owners that make our brand unique.”

While many Jeep owners swear up and down the ‘Jeep wave’ is a universal language, David Tracy at Jalopnik argues that not every Jeep owner seems to be fluent.

First of all, what is the ‘Jeep wave’? To put it simply, it’s when two Jeep owners are driving past one another and simply lift their fingers off the steering wheel to ‘wave’ at one another. Seems straightforward, right?

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Well, it turns out the super secret Jeep club is even more exclusive than most people think. Whether or not someone waves at you depends on a handful of criteria. David Tracy pointed out that while he’s owned five different Jeep models, he only ever saw the wave while driving his Willys CJ-2A — a vehicle that screams “Jeep” with its styling. In fact, The Jeep Guide says there are three main criteria for whether or not the ‘Jeep wave’ applies: the year, model, and any classic Jeep add-ons.

There’s no doubt the ‘Jeep wave’ exists. However, if another Jeep driver doesn’t wave at you, it probably doesn’t have anything to do with how cool your car is. A lot of new Jeep drivers don’t wave simply because they don’t know. Think about it: you’re cruising along on your way home from work, and a random person going the other way waves at you. A million thoughts might run through your head: “Do I know that person? Was that Joe Schmoe from high school? Were they warning me about a cop ahead?”

So, yes, the ‘Jeep wave’ exists. But fortunately or unfortunately, stopping by the dealership to pick up a new Wrangler doesn’t mean every other Jeep owner will wave at you on the road. And if you own a Jeep and wave at someone, don’t be offended if they don’t wave back — they probably just don’t know any better.

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Sources: Jalopnik, Jeep, The Jeep Guide