Jeep is recalling nearly 43,000 of its popular vehicles because an overheating clutch can trigger a fire risk. The recall only involves vehicles with manual transmissions. Jeep is calling back 2018-2021 Jeep Wranglers and 2020-2021 Jeep Gladiators. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the clutch pressure plate may overheat and fracture.
Jeep issued a similar recall last March but apparently now they have new software to better correct the problem. NHTSA says that if the clutch pressure plate overheats it can break and cause a fire, plus it could force the vehicle to lose power and potentially cause an accident.
The Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Gladiator are both incredibly popular vehicles. The recall affects 36,692 2018-2021 Jeep Wranglers, built from Aug 23, 2017 - Jan 22, 2021. It also involves 6,195 2020-2021 Jeep Gladiators built from Dec 21, 2018 - Jan 22, 2021. Again, the recall only involves vehicles with manual transmissions. Jeep says it is aware of one accident but no injuries related to this problem. Jeep identified approximately seven customer assistance records, six warranty claims, and one field report related to this issue, at least three involved fires.
NHTSA Safety Report
According to the NHTSA Safety Report, “When a pressure plate fractures, it may result in cracks or holes in the transmission case, allowing heated debris to be expelled from the transmission case. Heated debris expelled from the transmission case may come in contact with combustible materials in the vehicle, potentially leading to a fire. A fire can result in increased risk of occupant injury and injury to persons outside the vehicle.”
NHTSA goes on to say that in some cases, the driver may smell a burnt clutch odor prior to the clutch failure.
How Jeep Will Fix the Problem
Jeep and its new parent company Stellantis will conduct a voluntary safety recall on all affected vehicles to add software to reduce engine torque capability when clutch assembly temperatures rise to a level that may damage the inner pressure plate. In other words, if the software detects that the clutch is starting to overheat, it will automatically reduce the engine torque. The fix does not require any new parts, only new software. The recall and repair will be free. The NHTSA campaign number for the recall is 21V028000.
The recall is expected to begin March 19, 2021. Owners may contact Stellantis LLC customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov.
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