What is The Jeep Wave? Jeep Hand Signs & Rules!

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Now this is something to write about “What is The Jeep Wave?” why are Jeep Wrangler drivers waving at you, what each wave means, how do you wave back, and are there any rules and etiquette to follow?

The Jeep Wave is a special “Jeep thing” where Jeep owners wave at each other, the driver with the newest Jeep waves first as an honor to the driver Jeeping it old school”

Jeep Wave should not be confused with the Jeep Wave Program, we have covered the benefits and perks in detail on the Jeep Wave Program Post.

The Jeep Wave also factors how dirty the Jeep is; according to the Jeep community, dirty Jeeps deserve respect, and a clean Jeep is less cool, Jeeps customized for offroading get more respect and are a big positive amongst Jeep Wavers and get you higher in the Jeep Wave Hierarchy.

We have owned Jeep Wrangler for 20 years and participated in Jeep communities and meet-ups. Just simple Jeep things are part of the Jeep family, such as the Jeep Wave, Ducking Jeeps, and Jeep Easter Eggs, which are all symbols of having a common bond of owning a branded vehicle.

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Some people “especially those who don’t own Jeeps,” think The Jeep Wave is a strange or even silly thing, but first, before judging, let’s dig up the origin and history of the Jeep Wave and consider this:

The Jeep Wave – This History Behind it:

There are three different theories on the origin of the Jeep Wave:

World War II: Some Jeepers say the Jeep wave started during World War II by servicemen to differentiate the enemy and an ally. Jeeps were used during World War II by the United States military to perform different administrative tasks, such as transporting wounded soldiers and military officials, such as commanders and generals. Allied forces such as Canada, Australia, Britain, and New Zealand also used Jeeps for military purposes.

After World War II: Other Jeepers suggest the Jeep wave started after World War II. This is because, after World War II, soldiers bought their Jeeps and waved at each other using the Jeep wave, knowing the other driver might be a fellow soldier; today, Jeepers use the wave to honor the veterans from World War II.

The 1970s: There are also theories the Jeep Wave started in the 1970s After Jeep was purchased by American Motors Corporation (AMC) and they began mass-producing Jeeps for civilian use, Civilian Jeepers mainly used the Jeep for off-roading and recreational purposes, and they created the Jeep Wave to recognize each other shared interest.

Jeep Hand Signs

In the image below, we have an infographic detailing the various kinds of Jeep Hand Signs and when to apply them:

Jeep Hand Signs or The Jeep Wave Signs with 12 Jeep Hand Signs.
Jeep Hand Signs

We have also included the table below to explain when each type of Jeep hand sign shown in the image above should be applied:

Jeep WaveWhen to apply them
The Classic WaveWindshield
The DeucesWindshield
Thank God for JeepsWindshield
The PriusWindshield
Ageless HowdySteering
Just ChillingSteering
Who Dat Was!Steering
Floor BorderSteering
The PollyDoorless Jeep
You Good! I’m GoodDoorless Jeep
The ShooterDoorless Jeep
Naked AussieDoorless Jeep

Jeep Wave Rules

Jeep wave rules have much to do with who is supposed to wave first; the Jeep wave rules highlighted below explain how to score the other Jeep to determine your Jeep hierarchy in just a few seconds. Below are the Jeep wave rules.

Jeep Owners Are Responsible For Continuing The Jeep Wave.

Jeep owners are obligated to continue with the Jeep Wave; you don’t have to sign-up for it; the simple Jeep Wave is a social exchange among Jeep owners. As your drive your Jeep and pass another Jeep, determine your Jeep wave hierarchy and wave; if the other driver waves at you, you naturally give a wave back in their direction.

As a Jeep owner, there are various ways to continue the Jeep Wave culture; for example, you can purchase Jeep Wave apparel with slogans and symbols representing the Jeep Wave movement; this will help raise awareness and help keep the traditions and customs associated with the Jeep Wave alive.

Join the Jeep Wave Revolution and Grab your Jeep Wave Apparel Today!

Understand the Jeep Wave Hierarchy.

You don’t throw every wave at all Jeeps, there is a hierarchy in the Jeep wave, and factors such as the Jeep Model Year, on-road and off-road driving habits, and mods to the Jeep are some of the factors to consider.

You can also use the Jeep Wave Calculator to get your Jeep Wave score based on the individual modifications and type of your Jeep. The higher your score, the higher you will be on the Jeep Wave Hierarchy. We have found that using this calculator is difficult since you have to calculate each hierarchy factor upon seeing a vehicle driving by, and we decided to include our short table to understand your score below:

Pre CJ30 Points
Pre AMC CJ27 Points
CJ25 Points
YJ (Year 86-96)16 Points
TJ (Year 97-06)15 Points
JK (the Year 2007 – Date)14 Points

Jeep Owners with the lowest score have to initiate the Jeep wave.

Jeep owners with the lowest score must initiate the Jeep wave until the wave is returned, ignored, or the other Jeep driver has passed.

Jeep owners must return the Wave.

As a Jeep owner, you are obligated to return the wave if you didn’t initiate the Jeep Wave.

Our experience with the Jeep Wave!

The Jeep Wave Hand Sign

Sometimes we wave at fellow Jeep drivers; sometimes, we don’t; it depends on the state; for example, in Texas, everybody waves at each other, whether you have a Jeep or not. In places such as Houston, jeepers wave, and we always wave back because, in Houston, it’s common for Jeepers to wave at each other. In Michigan, we get almost 90% Jeep wave participation – and that’s why we love Michigan.

Interested in related guides? Here’s one we think you’ll like: What Does Jeep Stand For?

We have also seen some funny things about the Jeep Wave, and one of the funny things we have seen is that Jeepers wave at modified Jeeps only; if it’s a stock Jeep, they completely ignore the Jeep Wave. We have had talks with Jeepers who say that owners of stock Jeeps are not part of the Jeep community and don’t understand Jeep kinds of stuff as much as owners of lifted Jeeps. We wave on all Jeeps, whether a stock Jeep or a Modified Jeep; we wave at them and wave back if they wave at us.

It’s frustrating not to get a wave back; we get a return wave of almost 60% sometimes, Jeepers will wave at us, but being a Jeep guy for the whole of my life, I naturally wave first. The 40% of the people who don’t wave back are mostly women and jeepers with new Jeeps – When riding with our children, they all love the “Jeep Wave” and say it’s cool; they also get upset when other Jeepers don’t wave at us or wave back!

The people weakening the Jeep Wave and Jeep Traditions are classified into two, the people who buy a Jeep without the intention of using it off-road and deem a Jeep as any other SUV in the market, “The Soccer Mom and Mall Crawlers,” group two are extreme Jeepers who have heavily modified their Jeep and feel like Jeepers with stock Jeeps doesn’t deserve the Jeep Wave.

We used to not to Jeep wave the Cherokee, but we were once in a rock crawling event in Chokecherry Canyon, New Mexico, and saw the capabilities of the Jeep Cherokee XJ during the event; this changed our mind, and now every time a Jeep Cherokee passes by I either wave or they wave back at me on my Wrangler.

Long story short, we wave at all Jeeps, especially the Wrangler; as long as our hands are not occupied, we don’t expect Jeep Waves and are not offended if we don’t get the wave back; we love every part of the Jeep Wave and feels good to be involved with the Jeep community.


So, if you are lucky enough to own a Jeep, are passionate about the brand, and are a true member of the Jeep community – Pass the wave and check out our other posts on Jeep parts, Jeep accessories, and Jeep Guides for more content like this one.

Do you Jeep Wave, and Who do you Jeep Wave to? There are kinds of Jeeps that we would like to know, so leave a comment below, and we will reply.

Last update on 2024-06-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

James Ndungu - Jeep Runner Writer

Author: James Ndungu

James is an Automotive Service Writer, I4WDA certified trainer, Jeep enthusiast, and shop owner specializing in Jeep parts, accessories, and Electric Vehicles Charging Station Installation services. His interest and first-hand experience in electric vehicle charging technology motivated him to achieve certification through the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP).

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