Lawsuit Seeks Buyback For Jeep Wranglers With ‘Death Wobble’
Imagine you are driving on a local interstate, at the speed limit, when your Jeep Wrangler hits a rather large pothole, and the front end begins to wobble uncontrollably. For those driving those vehicles, it is not only incredibly nerve-wracking, but also very upsetting.
Jeep Wrangler ’Death Wobble’ Worries Grandparent
For example, there was a report of the grandparent who was cruising with a grandchild when the vehicle hit a huge pothole, and it began to wobble and vibrate. The wobble was so bad that it was tough to pull into the emergency breakdown lane. After a bit, the driver managed to wrangle things over to the breakdown lane, naturally quite upset. Then, there was the driver who noted his Wrangler hit another large pothole at 70 mph and a huge wobble-front-end-vibration began. The wobble-vibration was at its worst from 50 to 70, though it did remain a problem at lower speeds. Even at lower speeds, as the Jeep was wrangled over to the breakdown lane, the wobble continued. It took until the vehicle was shut down for it to stop.
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Looking at the issues involved, it is far more than just the solution offered by FCA – a steering damper. The folks at XtremeTerrain.com have a good grip on the solutions to the problem. It[‘s far more than the steering damper. The steering damper is one of the least likely solutions for this problem. One source indicated that it might cover up the problem temporarily. However, it will return in a relatively short time.
So what is the problem? What causes “Death Wobble?” Among other things, it could be caused by:
- An out of alignment track bar
- Worn bushings
- Worn balljoints
- Worn bearings
- Control arm alignment
’Death Wobble’ Exasperation Leads to Lawsuit
Though FCA has made progress on some of its models, it is an exasperating situation that has finally led to a class-action lawsuit. FCA Improves Some Of Its Crossovers. This week, in a suit filed in U.S. District Court, the plaintiffs alleged that: “Rather than address it – or disclose its possibility and/or warn drivers at the point of sale – FCA simply claims that the ‘Death Wobble’ is not a “safety issue.” Further, the suit said that the wobble “can happen with any vehicle that has a solid front axle (rather than an independent front suspension), such as in the Wrangler.”
FCA said it hasn’t been served yet and refrained from comment on the suit’s allegations. The automaker did say, in a statement, “We note, however than any manufacturer vehicle equipped with a solid axle can experience steering system vibration and, if experienced, it is routinely corrected.”
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According to the suit, the “death wobble” occurs because the solid front axle cannot absorb bumps and vibrations as efficiently as a vehicle with a front suspension that allows each wheel to move independently. It says in a solid front axle, the front suspension and steering components can be jarred out of equilibrium. Drivers experience an "uncontrollable side-to-side shaking of a Jeep’s front-end steering components and – by extension – its steering wheel," the suit alleges.
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Jeep ’Death Wobble’ Lawsuit Calls FCA Fix ‘Band-Aid’
The suit accuses the automaker of offering a “Band-Aid fix.” The fix involves replacing steering damper if the vehicle is under warranty. This week’s action was for the vehicle owner, Clair Reynolds of New Jersey. She maintains that the damper in her Wrangler was swapped three times in six months and the problem persists. The suit claims the problem will return and that the only way to repair the problem properly is substantial suspension revisions and repair. Reynolds says that despite the changed steering dampers, the front end still shook. Reynolds vehicle is a 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4 X 4.
Reynolds suit is about a problem that has plagued the Wrangler for years. Drivers have complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for years. For example, one unidentified driver told the agency that:
“I first experienced the ‘DeathWobble’ within a year or so of purchasing my new 2016 Jeep Wrangler.” [It was] “very scary (seems to happen on rough spots in the road, traveling at 45 or higher). The front end was shaking so badly that I thought I had a flat tire, or that a wheel had fallen off. It has now happened at least eight times, and I no longer drive on any interstate highway.”
’Death Wobble’ Has Been Issue For Seven Years at Jeep Wranglers
Safety advocates have been pushing for an NHTSA or Congressional action since 2012. “The Jeep ‘death wobble’ is a serious safety issue that must be evaluated by NHTSA,” the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) wrote in 2012. The CAS, in a letter to former NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, stated: “It is also representative of the problems involving a lack of transparency and access to reliable repairs that are present in other safety and defect cases.” NHTSA had no comment. Wranglers Have Had Their Share Of Recalls.
The lawsuit seeks:
- Damages for affected drivers in the form of a buyback program
- The buyback would pay drivers for defective vehicles
- Payment for loss of value to the vehicles
- Loaners to be provided while repairs are pending
’Death Wobble Lawsuit Seeks Punitive Damages
The lawsuit also seeks punitive damage for “FCAs knowing fraud that put driver and members of the public nationwide at risk.” It also calls for FCA to order a recall. FCA Has Had A Wide Variety Of Recalls.
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Sources: The Detroit News and Extreme Terrain