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Is There a Fix for the Jeep Gladiator’s Loose Steering?

Jan 28, 2021

The Jeep Gladiator made its big entrance in 2019 to the excitement of loyal Jeep fans, who quickly boosted it to 4th place in midsize pickup truck sales in the U.S.A. It is the first Jeep pickup truck released since the Jeep Comanche was discontinued in the early ‘90’s. Although the Gladiator takes its name from an earlier model Jeep pickup, the new truck is based on the popular Wrangler platform.

What’s the problem? 

The Gladiator has inherited some of the Wrangler’s popularity and its problems (which we discussed in a recent blog article.) The steering on the Wrangler and the Gladiator is a constant sore point with Jeep owners, and both are the subject of a class action lawsuit in California courts. Steering problems led to a massive 110 of the 147 complaints about the 2020 Jeep Gladiator already registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While the Wrangler is notorious for its death wobble – a violent shaking of the steering wheel that typically happens after hitting a bump in the road, – concerns about a death wobble in the Gladiator have been overshadowed by complaints about the Gladiator’s loose steering.

Gladiator owners overwhelmingly report that the steering on their new pickup truck is dangerously loose, particularly at highway speeds and in warmer weather, requiring constant correction to prevent the truck from wandering into other lanes. Some owners describe it as loose steering, wandering, drift, excess play, pulling to the left or right, or inches of play to the left and right of center. However it is described, it is a significant problem that owners should not have to deal with in their brand new, expensive truck (current MSRP of the most basic Jeep Gladiator Sport is $33,545.) We obtained a video of the problem as it is actually happening, showing how concerning and dangerous it is for Gladiator drivers:

Will my dealer fix it?

Gladiator owners have tried numerous DIY fixes for the wandering steering, from simply changing the tire pressure to making manual adjustments to the steering box. Owners tried asking their dealers for help too but, until recently, many Jeep dealers would not even acknowledge the problem. Finally, in August 2020, Jeep released a Technical Service Bulletin addressing a “pull” or “excess play” in the Gladiator steering. Since that first TSB, Jeep has released eight more TSBs specifically about the loose steering, with the most recent in November 2020. The November 2020 TSB advises dealers dealing with this problem to replace the steering gear and update the electric hydraulic power steering (EHPS) software, check sales codes, and perform vehicle reconfiguration, if required.

Owners have begun reporting their experiences now that Jeep has acknowledged the steering problem. Some owners have been faced with dealers who do not know (or claim they do not know) that the TSB even exists. Some dealers are aware of the TSB but do not have the necessary parts to make the repairs, and wait times for parts are generally running longer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those lucky owners who have succeeded in getting their Gladiator repaired have generally felt that the steering is significantly improved, though there are some reports of the repaired steering feeling “notchy.” We will have to wait a little longer to be fully convinced that the wandering steering problem of the Jeep Gladiator is gone for good.

Do I have to pay for the repairs?

For now, no, but only because your Gladiator should still be covered by your warranty. You may, however, have to pay for the repair up front and request reimbursement under your warranty because Jeep issued a TSB rather than a recall for this problem.

A technical service bulletin (or TSB) is not the same as a recall. A recall is issued when the vehicle defect is safety related or breaches minimum safety standards, and so the manufacturer or dealer must repair the vehicle at no cost to the owner. A TSB is issued when there is a technical problem with the vehicle that is not a safety concern. (Evidently, the Gladiator driving itself into other lanes at high speeds was not considered dangerous enough to be a safety concern.) A TSB tells owners and dealers about the problem, and how to repair it, but does not make dealers or the manufacturer pay for the repairs. In the case of a TSB, standard warranty laws apply, and the owner will have to pay for the repairs out of their own pocket unless they are reimbursable under the vehicle warranty. When your Gladiator is outside the warranty period, any repairs following a TSB will likely be paid for out of your own pocket.

The standard basic warranty on the Gladiator covers the first 3 years of ownership or 36,000 miles. The standard powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 100,000 miles. As the Gladiator is a brand new model, owners should still be well within the warranty period and should be reimbursed for the cost of their repairs.

Where can I get help?

Some Jeep Gladiator owners are still stuck with a wandering pickup truck that their dealer cannot, or will not, repair. Others have had to pay for expensive repairs, either under the TSB or attempted fixes in the months prior to the TSB release. If you are struggling to deal with your dealer, manufacturer, or vehicle, Timothy Abeel & Associates may be able to help. We have years of experience helping Jeep owners, and have obtained cash reimbursements, buy backs, refund of the purchase price and return of the vehicle for our clients. The law is here to protect you.

Contact us via our website for a free case review to find out how we can help you too.

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