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NHTSA Investigating 2018–2019 Jeep Wrangler over Frame, Steering Complaints

Owner complaints lead the agency to investigate about 270,000 Wranglers for wobbly steering and frame-weld quality.

© FCA   Owner complaints lead the agency to investigate about 270,000 Wranglers for wobbly steering and frame-weld quality.

By Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened investigations into frame welds and steering problems in about 270,000 2018–2019 Jeep Wrangler SUVs.
  • A complaint by the owner of a 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL prompted NHTSA to investigate weld issues, which the agency then expanded to include more than 3000 owner complaints of wobbling or "shimmy" in the steering.
  • The investigation, which is not a recall, doesn't include 2020 Wranglers, and no accidents or injuries have been reported.

Late-model Jeep Wrangler JL SUVs allegedly have welding defects in their frames that could potentially pose a safety risk, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. No accidents or injuries have been reported, however.

In response to the owner of a 2018 JL Wrangler who complained to the agency last year, NHTSA has opened an investigation to determine if poor-quality frame welds "compromise the structural integrity" of 2018 and 2019 model JL Wrangler SUVs. At issue, according to NHTSA, are welds with holes, welds with improper penetration, too much slag (a coating, like a scab, that forms on top of welds), and splash (bits of the weld material splattering onto the metal) that can be found "at a variety of locations on the frame assembly."  

Fiat Chrysler had recalled 18,055 early-build JL Wrangler models in September 2018 for a separate welding problem that caused brackets attaching the front track bar, a critical component that links the front axle to the body, to separate and make the vehicle difficult to steer. In relation to this recall that involved a "misaligned weld," NHTSA said it asked FCA for additional reports of steering problems related to shimmying, wobbling, loose play, or lockup. At least 3566 owners have complained of such problems on 2018 and 2019 Wrangler models, NHTSA's investigation announcement says, with another 152 owners complaining about weld issues. NHTSA is investigating if there is a relationship between the alleged steering problems and the frame welds.

© FCA   2019 Jeep Wrangler interior

FCA told Car and Driver it is informing JL Wrangler owners that it will replace steering dampers free of charge if they experience any steering problems. The action, which is not a technical service bulletin, is unrelated to the 2018 track-bar-bracket recall, an issue that has since been corrected in production, an FCA spokesman said. It is also unrelated to the Gladiator driveshaft recall earlier this month.

No accidents or injuries have been reported. Under the NHTSA investigation, FCA does not have to recall any vehicles unless the agency determines a safety problem exists. As always, owners who experience these issues—or problems with any vehicle that may not be readily known—should report them to NHTSA.

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Autos Magazine: NHTSA Investigating 2018–2019 Jeep Wrangler over Frame, Steering Complaints
NHTSA Investigating 2018–2019 Jeep Wrangler over Frame, Steering Complaints
Owner complaints lead the agency to investigate about 270,000 Wranglers for wobbly steering and frame-weld quality.
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