NHTSA Investigates Poor Frame Welds on Jeep WranglersDecember 13, 2019
NHTSA Investigates Bad Frame Welds on 2018-2019 Jeep Wranglers
A recent investigation by the NHTSA into alleged bad frame welds on Jeep Wranglers has determined steering issues can result from the poor welds. Thousands of Jeep Wranglers manufactured in 2018 and 2019 are being investigated after an owner of a Jeep Wrangler complained about the frame of his vehicle being poorly welded. This particular owner found porous welds, dripped welds, and splashed welds on various locations of his Wrangler. Prior to engaging in a full-blown investigation, the NHTSA asked Jeep for additional information regarding frame-weld problems, which could result in what is known as a “death wobble.”
What is “Death Wobble?”
The term “death wobble” was originally coined by Harley Davidson motorcycle owners in the 1970s; England bikers called it a “weave,” while Harley riders dubbed it the “death wobble.” In certain motorcycles, the death wobble occurred at higher speeds, when the bike’s rear kicks back and forth. Whether caused by too much play in the swing arm, low pressure in the tires, or uneven weight distribution, the death wobble allegedly only occurred on certain Harley series. Once the wobble begins, it continues to worsen, usually to the point where the rider is unable to maintain control and ends up crashing—hence the name.
What Causes the Death Wobble in a Vehicle?
On a vehicle, like the Jeep Wrangler, a death wobble, or shimmy, could be the result of incorrectly installed steering or suspension components, damaged steering components, or poor frame welds. The death wobble is a vibration in the front end of the vehicle, which can be extremely dangerous to those inside the vehicle. While the NHTSA has not yet released its findings, the agency has uncovered enough evidence to point to frame weld problems on the Jeep Wrangler. Investigators are working on determining whether the steering problems found on the Wranglers are directly tied to the botched welds.
Will Jeep Be Forced to Recall the Wranglers?
If the NHTSA does determine the poor frame welds is resulting in a serious “death wobble” issues, Jeep will be forced to launch a costly recall campaign. So far, there have been no reported injuries or deaths as a result of the allegedly bad welds. Those who keep up with vehicle recalls will remember that Jeep recalled the fourth-generation Wrangler over frame-related problems, claiming a bracket could separate from the front part of the frame the bracket is welded to, causing drivers to lose control. More than 18,000 recalled vehicles were repaired in that specific campaign. Jeep has thus far refused to link defective welds to the death wobble, instead of stressing that there are no safety issues involved and claiming a new steering damper would eliminate the problem.
Close to 4,000 Current Complaints Regarding 2018-2019 Jeep Wranglers
According to Fox News, there have been 3,566 complaints, as well as one petition, filed by owners of 2018 and 2019 Jeep Wranglers. There are approximately 270,000 Wranglers manufactured during these years that could potentially have the welding issues noted in the complaints. Fox News said the complaints include a variety of frame weld quality concerns, including “excessive slag, lack of an/or over-penetration, overweld or weld drip, weld splash, and porous welds.” These frame weld issues can lead to looseness, wandering, steering shimmy, steering wobble, or intermittent lock-up of the vehicles. Jeep, and its parent company, Fiat, are cooperating with the investigation, and want consumers to know that 2020 Jeep Wranglers are not a part of the investigation.
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