NHTSA Opens Investigation On Wrangler (JL)’s Questionable Welds:

An Estimated 270,000 Wrangler (JL) SUVs Are Being Investigated...

You might remember back in October of 2018, we reported that the Jeep® brand was recalling certain 2018 and 2019 Jeep Wrangler (JL), due to improper welds on the front track bar. It seemed that some of the iconic off-roaders had been built with a front track bar bracket weld, that was located off the seam. This issue could cause a potential break, separating the front track bar bracket from the frame and cause the vehicle to crash without warning.

2019 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. (Jeep).
2019 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. (Jeep).

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) estimated that about 18,055 Wrangler vehicles from the two model years were affected. As FCA has been issuing recall fixes for those affected vehicles, owners have raised enough concern to get the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to launch its own investigation into “questionable welds” on the legendary off-road SUV. The NHTSA investigation will now expand covering somewhere around 270,000 Wrangler (JL) vehicles.

The issue has been a popular topic on some Jeep Wrangler dedicated websites and follows the October 2018 recall for the welds on the front track bar.

Employees of the Toledo North Assembly Complex conduct final quality checks on the Jeep Wrangler before it leaves the plant. (FCA).

The NHTSA report goes on to say…

“In a letter received on October 24, 2018, a citizen petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a safety defect investigation into frame weld deficiencies on model year (MY) 2018 Jeep Wrangler (JL) vehicles. The petitioner described a broad list of frame weld deficiencies, including porous welds, excessive slag, lack of weld penetration, over penetration of welds, overweld or weld drip, and weld splash. The weld defects are allegedly located at a variety of locations on the frame assembly.

On November 16, 2018, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened a Defect Petition (DP18-004) to evaluate whether to grant or deny the petition. On March 8, 2019, ODI sent an Information Request letter to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) requesting information on frame weld related issues on all MY 2018-2019 Jeep Wrangler (JL) vehicles. Due to a previous steering related recall that was caused by a misaligned weld on the front track bar (NHTSA Recall No. 18V-675), ODI opted to include a request for additional information concerning reports of steering shimmy or wobble, loose steering, and steering lockup in the March request letter. ODI has performed a preliminary analysis of the information obtained from FCA. Based on ODI’s review of the applicable materials, NHTSA has decided to grant the petition.

While reviewing the applicable materials obtained from the manufacturer, ODI identified various reports and references to frame welded component detachments that were outside of the scope of NHTSA Recall No. 18V-675. Additionally, the information that FCA provided did not adequately address whether frame weld quality deficiencies compromise the structural integrity of vehicles, and therefore may pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety. Finally, ODI needs to further evaluate the alleged steering-related defects reported through MY 2019 and the alleged defects’ relation to weld quality.

ODI has granted the petition and is opening this investigation to further assess the scope, frequency, and potential safety-related consequences of alleged weld quality deficiencies and steering related concerns on the MY 2018-2019 Jeep Wrangler (JL) vehicles.”

2019 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. (Jeep).

So far there has been nothing said about the Wrangler’s sibling the all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator pickup, about similar issues.

An FCA spokesman talked to WXYZ Detroit and stated that “Jeep is cooperating with the investigation”. The spokesman also went on to mention the Jeep Wrangler “is the most awarded new vehicle of 2019, attesting to its build quality”.

2010 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (JK). (Jeep).

We know that Jeep was hoping the (JL) generation of Wrangler would get rid of the issues of build quality after owners experienced terrible “death wobble” situations at a certain speed on certain previous-generation Wrangler (JK) models. We are hoping that both FCA and the NHTSA, can find a solution facing these Wrangler owners soon.

No crash, injuries, or fatalities have been related to the issue as of the writing of this article.

Robert S. Miller

Robert S. Miller is a diehard Mopar enthusiast who lives and breathes all that is Mopar. The Michigander is not only the Editor for MoparInsiders.com, 5thGenRams.com, and HDRams.com but an automotive photographer. He is an avid fan of offshore powerboat racing, which he travels the country to take part in.

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