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Jeep Finally Fixes The Wrangler's Biggest Flaw

Off-Road / 10 Comments

But it won't be issuing a manufacturer recall.

The current-generation Jeep Wrangler is one of the most capable off-roaders on the market, but it has one major flaw. Last year, owners complained about experiencing a notorious "death wobble,” in which the steering would shake violently after hitting a bump or pothole due to its solid front axle.

This is nothing new to Wrangler enthusiasts, but it’s a frightening experience for new adopters. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is even facing a lawsuit over the well-publicized issue. However, according to The Detroit Free Press, FCA is finally offering a fix.

To address the unwanted steering vibration, FCA will install a new steering damper or stabilizer in affected Jeep Wranglers. However, while most safety issues like this result in a manufacturer recall, FCA insists this is not a safety problem.

Instead, the company is calling the campaign a "customer satisfaction note.” Affected customers will receive a letter in the mail inviting them to visit their local dealership and receive a new damper free of charge. Wranglers that haven’t been sold yet have already had the new part installed.

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FCA’s chief technical compliance officer, Mark Chernoby, said the vibration can happen with any solid front axle vehicle and is therefore not unique to the Wrangler. He added the death wobble is an issue of resonance and described it as the equivalent to hitting a tuning fork. "If you bang it with that frequency it’ll just sit there and keep going forever. It won’t slow down, it won’t dissipate, and that’s essentially what we’re talking about here with the vibration in the new Wrangler,” he said. "When you hit a bump in the road, if everything is just right, this suspension can set off that resonance and what we started seeing is as soon as it got cold this past fall, early winter, we started seeing complaints."

FCA is currently seeking dismissal of the lawsuit. According to Chernoby, complaints about the Wrangler’s death wobble represent around two percent the approximately 370,000 new Wranglers built as of June.