Woman standing on a Jeep waving

It’s A Jeep Thing- The Tradition Of The Jeep Wave

What is it about owning a Jeep? From the infamous Jeep Wave, to ducking, to unique modifications, Jeep owners stand out from the rest of the crowd.

On any given day you can find a Jeep owner cruising with the doors off, the top down, and the music cranking on any road in America, regardless of weather conditions. They enjoy the freedom that only a Jeep can provide.

Jeep Wave Sticker

If you know a Jeep owner, then you have probably heard them say, at least once, “It’s a Jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand.” And they’re right. Only Jeep owners completely understand that life is much more enjoyable in a Jeep.

jeep wrangler on mountainside

When you buy a Jeep, you’re not only getting an iconic piece of Americana, but you are also joining a family, of sorts. Jeep owners are proud of certain traditions that have been passed on through generations before them.

There is a mutual respect that is unspoken. You see it in the Jeep Wave, or a friendly nod to one another. It’s almost like an unspoken language as if to say, “Hey, nice Jeep!!”

In this article we are going to take a closer look at some of these time-honored traditions. Plus, we are going to cover other rituals that keep this group of like-minded people enjoying life. In a Jeep!

Let’s jump in…

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What Is The Jeep Wave?

There are two different types of the Jeep Wave. The first is a VIP program offered by Jeep to it’s owners. We’ll get into that later.

The second is just like it sounds. It’s a wave.

But not just any wave.

Like the wave motorcyclists give each other as they pass, the Jeep Wave is a universal gesture of respect given to a fellow Jeep owner. As you pass another Jeep, you give them a wave.

Often, the Jeep Wave is accompanied by a slight head nod, depending on what parts of the country you’re in.

What Is The Story Of The Jeep Wave?

There are a few different stories about how the Jeep Wave started. However, the most popular is that it started in WWII to salute a passing officer without saluting.

In times of war, it is especially important not to bring unneeded attention to ranking officers.

An example of this is in the movie “Forest Gump”. When Forest and Bubba met Lt. Dan for the first time, he told them not to salute him because a sniper would, “love to grease an officer.”

EcoFlow Delta2 US

Another belief is the Jeep Wave, again, started in WWII as a way for soldiers to tell the difference between friend or enemy, or as to signal “V” for victory.

The third belief is the Jeep Wave started after the war. As returning soldiers were becoming civilians, many of these veterans were Jeep owners, and the wave was a gesture to “thank” another for their service.

Regardless of the origins of the Jeep Wave, it has become a Jeep tradition that we all hope will stand the test of time.

How To Do The Jeep Wave

The Jeep Wave can be accomplished in one of several methods. The style is completely up to the Jeep owner. Like Jeeps, their owners are totally unique, even when throwing out a wave.

  • A peace sign tossed up from the steering wheel
  • A single finger pointed up from the wheel
  • Vigorous side to side motion of the hand (again, think about Forest Gump waving to Lt. Dan on the dock)
  • All four fingers raised with the palm of the hand on the wheel
  • A hand extended from the window, or in a downward motion if the doors are removed

As I mentioned above, the Jeep Wave is a mutual sign of respect, a common courtesy among fellow Jeep owners. The way in which it is extended is totally and completely up to the Jeep owner.

What Are The Rules Of The Jeep Wave?

There are only a few rules when it comes to the Jeep Wave.

  1. The first rule is that Jeep owners are responsible for continuing the tradition of the wave.
  2. There is a hierarchy that determines which Jeep owner initiates the Jeep Wave. These factors include the model, year, and overall maintenance of the Jeep. For instance, a new Jeep that is in pristine condition, like the electric Jeep Wrangler, is required to initiate the wave when passing a much older, well-maintained Jeep.
  3. Finally, Jeep owners must return the wave.
vintage jeep wrangler

These are the “rules” of the Jeep Wave; however, many do not follow them or may not know about them.

Is The Jeep Wave Only For Wrangler Owners?

For as long as Jeeps have been on the road, the Jeep Wave has been that symbol of brotherhood among fellow Jeep owners. While some Jeep owners only reserve the iconic wave for “real Jeeps”, the Jeep Wave isn’t just for Wranglers.

It is a tradition that can be shared among any model of Jeep. After all, it’s a Jeep thing…

Do People Still Do The Jeep Wave?

Will the Jeep Wave stand the test of time as a symbol of brotherhood (or sisterhood)? I think it depends on what part of the country you’re in.

What Kellie and I have noticed is that there is a definite decline when it comes to throwing out the Jeep Wave at oncoming Jeeps as they pass.

Yes. People do still do the Jeep Wave, but not as much as they used to. The newer generation of Jeep owners may not know or appreciate the history and tradition of the Jeep Wave.

Maybe it’s because they see their Jeep as a mere mode of transportation to get them from point A to point B.

But it is much more than that.

If they only knew what they’re missing out on…

Other Jeep Traditions

As you can tell by now, Jeep owners are all about tradition. And the traditions don’t stop at the Jeep Wave. Below are a few more Jeep rituals and traditions that Jeep owners participate in.

  • Naming Their Jeep – It is also well-known that Jeep owners have a custom name for their Jeep, displayed on the side of the hood. However, on the Jeep Gladiator, the bed is commonly used to display the name. These names are a representation of the Jeep, as well as the personality of the owner. For example, Kellie named her Jeep “TX MENACE”. Our neighbor was joking with her one day and told her that when she gets behind the wheel, she’s a menace to society. And since we hail from the great state of Texas, you get the TX MENACE.
  • Modifications – Another tradition of Jeep owners is modifications. Most Jeep owners will immediately start upgrading their Jeeps as soon as they get them home. The most common upgrades are tires, lift kits, light bars, and any other, off-road accessory they can find. Jeep owners will spend hours on end searching for the perfect equipment and add-ons to personalize their ride. When Kellie got her Gladiator, the first thing she did was replace the rock rails with step rails to keep us from ruining the seats when we exit the truck.
  • Stickers – Many Jeep owners will display stickers or decals on their Jeeps as well. The famous Jeep Wave sticker can be seen on many Jeeps wing mirrors, as a sign of understanding the wave tradition. Other stickers you have probably seen are:
  • Ducking – Yes ducking. Unlike the Jeep Wave, Jeep ducking has only been around for a couple of years. Jeep ducking is when one Jeep owner leaves a rubber duck on a fellow owner’s Jeep. Some will leave a little message on the duck like, “Nice Jeep”, or “You’ve been ducked.”
  • Easter Eggs – Easter Eggs on Jeeps are small hidden icons that can be found almost anywhere on your Jeep, but you’ll have to look for them. These fun little icons can be any symbol from a pair of flip-flops to a miniature Jeep Willy climbing up the corner of your windshield.

Jeep owners not only hold tight to older traditions and rituals, but they also create more as time goes on.

modified jeep

What Is The Jeep Wave Program?

The Jeep Wave program is an owner loyalty program that offers certain benefits and perks to Jeep owners. As a member of the Jeep Wave program, owners get three free oil changes and tire rotations for the first three years.

Other membership perks include:

  • Free same-day car rental for routine maintenance, trip interruption coverage, (up to $1,000), and 24/7 roadside assistance for the entire duration of the 5 year/60,000-mile warranty
  • 24/7 Jeep owner support
  • Jeep Wave members also receive VIP treatment at Jeep brand events across the country
  • 6-month subscription to On X Offroad Elite, where Jeep owners can access over 500,000 miles of trails and roads in the App.

For more detailed information on the Jeep Wave program, click here.

In Conclusion

There are many benefits that go with Jeep ownership. The lifestyle that goes along with it is shared by thousands of other Jeep owners, so you will become part of a very large, and proud, family. If you find yourself behind the wheel of a Jeep, don’t forget to wave at other passing Jeeps. In addition, if you see another Jeep in the parking lot or on the trail somewhere, leave a duck for them.

What are your thoughts on these time-honored traditions? Are you a Jeep owner? If so, do you do the Jeep Wave? Do you practice any of the other Jeep traditions? Leave us a comment in the section below and let us know.

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