Your Guide to the Origins and Practice of the Jeep Wave

Why do Jeep owners wave at each other? Learn how the Jeep wave originated and why it is still so popular today by reading this guide.

Have you ever wondered why Jeep owners wave at each other as they pass? Do you own a Jeep but aren’t sure why or how or when to wave? 

The Jeep Wave is part and parcel of Jeep ownership and culture. To be a real Jeep owner you need to know all about the wave and what it means.

Don’t miss out on one of the most fun parts of being a Jeep owner. Get in the know and start waving!

We’ve put together a handy guide to the origins and practice of the Jeep Wave. Read on to get all the knowledge you need.

What Is the Jeep Wave?

By official definition, there is no one, specific style of wave that classifies as the Jeep Wave. Where you live and what kind of Jeep you drive can cause you to use a different style of wave. The crucial thing is that owners of Jeep Wranglers wave. 

The wave can range from a hand or finger hung outside of the cab or above the roof to a vigorous, good, old fashioned wave. It can be slight, one finger barely raised above the steering wheel. Or it can be the full hand, held up for all to see.

Jeep Talk states that the “official” wave should be a “vigorous movement of one or both hands from side to side.” 

It’s a club. The official membership status is the vehicle you’re driving. It’s fraternity and sorority based on the Jeep you’re sitting in and the acknowledgment of your fellow Jeepers. 

How Did the Jeep Wave Start?

Owners of the CJ, YJ, TJ, and JK Jeep models first started to wave at each other. When Jeep started making the CJ in 1945, owners quickly began the practice. A camaraderie of sorts built up between owners of this WWII-inspired classic

The link to WWII, when many soldiers drove the military version of what would become the Wrangler, is said to be the reason for the Jeep camaraderie. Returning vets now driving CJs acknowledged each other when they pass on the road.

As other Jeep people saw the vets doing this, they began to adopt the practice themselves. It quickly caught on.

What Are the Rules and Regulations?

There are no official rules and regulations about the Jeep Wave. But there is an understanding that if you own a Jeep Wrangler you wave to other owners as you pass on the road. 

A hierarchy of sorts exists. The hierarchy is based on the type of Jeep you own, the age of the Jeep, and whether you have modified it or not. 

The hierarchy, or Jeep score, is determined by age and model. The older the Jeep the better it scores.

Next up is how thee Jeep is being used. Do you have the top off? Is your Jeep covered in mud?

Finally, how altered from the factory standard is the Jeep? If thee Jeep you’re passing has a lift kit, chunky tires, or rock-crawling modifications, it scores higher on the scale.

You can even check the score of your Jeep on a Jeep Wave Score Calculator.

This hierarchy leads to unofficial rules of waving. The owner of the lower-ranked Jeep waves until the wave is returned. The first waver continues waving until the wave is blatantly ignored. The owner of the lowe-ranked Jeep waves until the other Jeep has passed by.

Are There Any Circumstances Under Which I Shouldn’t Wave?

No. You should always wave. Simple.

Despite the club that Jeep owners automatically join when they purchase a Jeep, there is a little snobbery involved in the Jeep Wave. Hardcore off-roaders will sometimes snub a pristine, town-driving, factory original, new Jeep.

The Jeeper club has broadened a lot since Jeep introduced the 4-door version. Some true Jeepers just don’t like the crowd that has come along as a result of the newer models. 

Don’t be offended, though, if you’re in that group. Your Jeep scores lower on the hierarchy, so you should start the wave and keep doing it. 

Finally, the only time it’s not acceptable to wave vigorously to the passing Jeep is when road conditions don’t allow it. Better to be safe than sorry.

Is There a Price to Pay for Not Waving?

Having said that you should always wave, know that if you don’t karma might come back to haunt you. The unofficial rules state what will happen to Jeep owners who don’t wave.

It boils down to the idea that if you own, register, insure, or drive a Jeep then you will learn the wave rules and agree to abide by them. If, the warning states, you fail to keep to the spirit or the letter of these rules, you might find yourself being ignored by other Jeep owners when you need their help!

It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but you get the point. It’s not worth the risk. Wave merrily when another Jeep passes and you’ll enjoy good karma as long as you own your Jeep.

The only other price you might pay is simply not feeling part of the club. Keep the tradition going. Wave at Jeeps as you pass them and the spirit of those old WWII soldiers will remain.

Got a Jeep? Start Waving

If you own a Jeep and you’re not waving, start doing so immediately. If you’ve ever wondered why others are waving to you as you pass, now you know.

Learn the techniques, pay attention to what type of Jeep is coming along, and keep an eye out for the next Jeep on the road.

If you own a Jeep you’re part of an unofficial club. The wave is the signal to others that you know that and you get what it means. Enjoy the camaraderie.

For more articles about Jeeps and other incredible cars, check out our website. We keep updating the articles there so that you have information about the vehicle you love to drive or dream about owning. Check back often to see what’s new.

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