Car Culture: What is the Jeep Wave?

Wave If You Love Jeeps

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as being a kid and flailing your arms up and down at a semi-truck driver in the hopes they’ll honk the horn as you pass by and then listening as the air is filled with sweet, sweet (loud) honking behind you. Well, maybe there is something quite like it…

Adults everywhere have come together to create a new way to connect with other drivers on the road and it’s oddly specific. The Jeep Wave is the latest and greatest car subculture to come to life that has connected Jeep loyalists everywhere and left other non-Jeep drivers’ minds boggled. So, what’s the deal with waving from one Jeep to another?

Multiple Jeeps lined up
@Jeep on Twitter

The Jeep Wave: A History

Jeeps have been a fan favorite ever since their inception. Though the Jeep Wave (as in the hand motion) has no official birthday, there is one theory that makes a little bit of sense. Shortly after WWII, veterans that returned home from war didn’t leave their army vehicles behind. Jeeps were often driven by soldiers during this time and many believe that the Jeep Wave started as a way for one veteran to thank another for their service, while also showcasing their affinity for Jeeps. Maybe the Jeep Wave should be called the Jeep Salute instead?

The Jeep Wave originally only included owners of CJ, YJ, TJ, JK, and Jeep Wave (classic, right?) models. Now the wave has encompassed all Jeep models and has become a sign of kinship between all Jeep drivers.

What Makes the Jeep Wave Special?

The Jeep Wave is not just a simple raise of the hand. Oh no, no. The wave that Jeep owners expect to see is a quick two-finger and thumb lift off the steering wheel. It’s a refined, yet rugged take from the traditional wave, which is exactly what Jeeps are known for. If you’re feeling overzealous, you can take a stab at the “Naked Aussie” Jeep Wave where you stick your barefoot out the window, but it’s not exactly the safest way to say hello to your mate whilst driving.

The Rules of the Jeep Wave

Not only is the wave special, but it also comes with its own set of rules. When two Jeeps approach either other on the road, the newest year model must initiate the wave with respect for the older model from which its own foundation came.

Some say that there is a rule for modified vs. stock jeeps, too. Stock jeeps are supposed to initiate the wave to modified jeeps, as they haven’t put in as much elbow grease as modified owners have. Though this hierarchy may not be ideal for some Jeep owners, it’s become a sort of code to those who take Jeeps seriously.

one Jeep owner waving to another
via The Jeep Blog

What matters most is that there is a wave in the first place. You can dishonor the Jeep Wave legacy if there is no wave exchanged when another Jeep passes by, so be sure you wave if you feel like the other Jeep driver isn’t going to initiate it. There is honor in this, young Jeephopper.

Do the Wave

The lesson we can all take away from the Jeep Wave is that being kind to the driver next to you can be as simple as lifting a few fingers. Though it may seem exclusive to Jeeps, waving to the person next to you on the highway has been something that big city and small-town drivers have come accustomed to seeing, so why not give it a try?

Whether you want to join in on the Jeep Wave fun or want to start your own Chevy Traverse or Kia Soul handshakes, being kind is just a few fingers (not one!) away.

What do you think about the Jeep Wave? Are you a Jeep owner that follows the Jeep Wave code? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Erin Maxson

Erin loves nothing more than a good road trip. To her, getting behind the wheel is one of the biggest adventures you can take because it can lead to anywhere. Alongside her Toyota Tundra, you'll find her co-pilot pup, Rory, and a 1976 Airstream Argosy in tow. Her motto: Life is a scenic road, take your time and enjoy the ride.

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  1. Shanon August 18, 2019

    I absolutely love and respect the history of Jeep and have wanted obey since I easy 14vyears old. I have no problem initiating the Jeep wave a d my Jeep is not modified as of yet. (Just maintenance. And gas. Uggg)
    Im thinking about starting a group called, Save the Wave to get new Weepers on board. Say tuned for details. ?

    1. Team August 23, 2019

      Thanks for sharing Shanon! Keep us updated!

    2. Christy Jeep JK Newbie March 12, 2020

      Great idea!!

      1. Team March 12, 2020

        Isn’t it!?

  2. Janice December 1, 2020

    Just got my first Jeep. Still learning but so fun and so much love!

    1. Team December 1, 2020

      What kind of Jeep? You’ll love the Jeep Wave!


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