These never-ending problems will affect the sales big-time if not sorted by the time Ford launch the much hyped and anticipated Bronco

Jeep has named all its products like they have got to do something with survival, or living through the hard, tough life by overcoming the oddities of nature; be it the Gladiator, or the Renegade, or any other product, for that matter.

And, from the looks of it, the automaker is living through a similar ordeal in the real world. The pain in its ass is the big watchdog called the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA is investigating the Jeep Wrangler this time for poorly welded frames that could affect the structural integrity of the SUV in the long run. In fact, this is not the first time this issue has come to light as it falls in line with another complaint on a similar trajectory from last year. Can Jeep catch a break?

A Job Not ‘Weld-Done’

Jeep Falls Victim to FCA Curse As The 2018-2019 Wrangler JL Falls Under Scrutiny for Bad Frame Welds and Steering Problems Exterior
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Back in 2018, an owner noticed issues on his Wrangler’s frame that included irregularities in the weld such as over-penetration and lack of weld penetration, welds being porous, and having excessive slag.

At some points, the weld had dripped and there was splash as well. Naturally, these issues did not bode well with the owner who reported them to the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) on October 24, 2018.

Back then, the ODI needed to evaluate the car further to see if the issue warranted an investigation moving forward. Finally, ODI granted the plea this month. The agency had sent an Information Request to Jeep’s parent group, FCA. The automaker is cooperating with the NHTSA, but the documents it shared do not present a clear picture of it causing any issues to the structural rigidity. This is a huge issue because it involves 270,000 examples of the off-roader manufactured between 2018 and 2019.

This Can Get Mighty Scary When Driving Fast On Highways

2018 Jeep Wrangler Exterior Wallpaper quality
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This is also linked to the ‘death wobble’ issue that came to light in the same timeline. As Extreme Terrain puts it, death wobble is a sudden steering wheel vibration while driving that’s so severe it "feels like your Wrangler is literally shaking itself apart."

Typically, the wobble occurs when a vehicle with worn-out front suspension components hits inconsistencies in the road at highway speeds and can sometimes only be stopped by bringing the vehicle to a halt.

The steering issue was reported by hundreds of owners and it soon turned into a class-action lawsuit against the automaker.

However, Jeep says that the steering issue is not linked to the weld issues and fitting a new steering damper solves the death wobbles.

Jeep Would Better Change The Off-Roader’s Name To Wobbler If It Can’t Fix The Issue

Jeep Falls Victim to FCA Curse As The 2018-2019 Wrangler JL Falls Under Scrutiny for Bad Frame Welds and Steering Problems Exterior
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The death wobble, like many other issues, is not new to the Wrangler. This has been consistent with the off-roader since 1995. According to an article from Autoguide seven years back, over 600 complaints were filed with the NHTSA against the Wrangler.

Fast forward to 2019, the current-gen Wrangler scored a one-star crash safety rating according to Australian regulators.

Despite all this, Jeep is seeing consistent growth in sales over the last decade, barring a couple of negligible dips in 2016 and 2017. For a pricey SUV that sold over 20,000 examples on an average last year, this is not acceptable. Jeep should better get its head around these issues and sort them to avoid any further problems that could hamper the sales volume.

Injuries Have Haunted The Wrangler Since Forever, And Now Even The Gladiator Goes Through The Same Ordeal

2020 Jeep Gladiator Exterior
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The Wrangler has been a victim of weld issues in the past as well. A year back, Jeep recalled 18,055 examples of the Wrangler for a separate welding problem that caused brackets attaching the front track bar to separate - that made steering the off-roader a lot more difficult. The front track bar is a critical component that links the front axle to the body.

Jeep recently even recalled Gladiators manufactured from mid-December 2018 to June 2019 regarding an issue with the rear driveshaft.

Subsequently, Jeep put out a recall statement that read like this:

"Certain 2020 MY Jeep Gladiator vehicles built from December 15, 2018, through June 25, 2019, may have a rear driveshaft that was assembled without grease in the monoblock joint portion of the driveshaft. The suspect population was determined by reviewing the supplier’s driveshaft production records from the beginning of production of this driveshaft to identify which driveshafts may have been assembled without grease."

2020 Jeep Gladiator Exterior
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This caused a stop-sale directive on the Gladiator. However, the automaker will change the rear driveshafts on the 3,427 affected examples of the revived truck free of cost. However, both these issues are not included in the latest ongoing investigation.

Speaking of the current-gen Jeep Wrangler, it comes with a 3.6-liter, V-6 engine that develops 285 ponies and 260 pound-feet of twist under the hood. This is the same mill that is present under the hood of the Jeep Gladiator. Power is sent to all the wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. An eight-speed automatic transmission is optional. Jeep offers a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged mill as an option on most models. In the Sahara trim, you can have it with the e-Torque assist system as well.

Final Thoughts

Jeep Falls Victim to FCA Curse As The 2018-2019 Wrangler JL Falls Under Scrutiny for Bad Frame Welds and Steering Problems Exterior
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Given the nature of the Wrangler, these complaints could prove a big hit on sales numbers. Such issues invoke a sense of fear amongst potential customers and it could affect the brand as a whole as well.

Fortunately, no injuries or casualties have been reported pertaining to this matter.

Nevertheless, this is the last thing Jeep would want right now especially with the upcoming Ford Bronco garnering a lot of attention and hype. So, the sooner Jeep fixes this and starts manufacturing trouble-free vehicles, the better it is for the company in the coming future to take on the Bronco injury-free.

If you happen to be a hardcore Wrangler fan and are in the market for one right now, would you purchase it amidst such news? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Further Reading

2018 Jeep Wrangler
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Read our full review on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Exterior
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Driving the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL

2020 Jeep Gladiator Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Jeep Gladiator.

Source: Car and Driver

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