Jeep Death Wobble Has Returned – This Time with a Service Bulletin and Class Action Lawsuit
We are beginning to see clients suffering from the so-called Jeep “death wobble” — a rapid oscillation/vibration in the vehicle’s steering and suspension components that results in the steering wheel moving very quickly from side to side (see the video below). It typically happens after the car has driven over some sort of bump or other road imperfection at relatively high speed (more than 45 miles per hour) but it can start in other circumstances too.
The 2019 Jeep Wrangler seems to be the recent model with the most death wobbles, but the drivers of 2015-2018 Wranglers and other Jeeps like Grand Cherokees have also reported it. The defect has earned its name because the shaking is so severe that the steering column feels like it’s breaking apart, the vehicle is hard to control, and you can only get the wobble to subside by slowing down or coming to a complete stop.
This is not a new issue for Jeep – older models of the Wrangler dating back to 2012 have suffered from death wobble to varying degrees.
New FCA Service Bulletin
In an attempt to get ahead of the issue, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has issued a new Service Bulletin that promises owners suffering from wobble a free-of-charge installation of a new steering damper or stabilizer that’s intended to manage the vibrations generated by the front axle and suspension system.
But auto design experts are skeptical that the tacked-on component can solve for a fundamental design defect caused by a solid front axle and a suspension system subject to loosening connections as the vehicle racks up the miles. The severe shaking from each death wobble just makes those connections weaker and leads to more wobble incidents.
Jeep owners will receive a letter in the mail offering them a new steering damper, but for now the issue is being treated like a Service Bulletin and not an official recall. FCA denies that the defect creates a safety issue, but the drivers experiencing death wobble strongly disagree and believe it’s only a matter of time before injuries or fatalities are caused by the problem.
Class Action Lawsuit in Michigan
The death wobble issue has already generated a class action lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Filed in June 2019 on behalf of the owners of 2015-2018 Jeep Wranglers with a solid front axle, the complaint alleges that:
- The defect causes the steering wheel to shake violently at highway speeds.
- FCA has failed to disclose it to drivers or warn them that it might occur.
- FCA has instead taken the position that the defect is a standard risk with any vehicle with a solid front axle (rather than an independent front suspension).
- 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.
- The front suspension and steering components can be jarred out of equilibrium.
- The problem can only be remedied by substantial revisions and repair to the suspension.
The suit was filed on behalf of Claire Reynolds, a New Jersey resident who owns a 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4×4.
The class action seeks damages in the form of a buyback program that compensates drivers for defective vehicles and the loss of value to the vehicles. The suit also seeks punitive damages from FCA for fraud and calls for regulators to order a recall for the affected Jeeps.
Contact Timothy Abeel & Associates About Your 2019 Jeep Wrangler
If you own or lease a 2019 Jeep Wrangler (or other recent model year Wrangler) that is malfunctioning or has been repaired more than once for the same issue, The Law Offices of Timothy Abeel & Associates can help you. These SUVs are known to suffer from death wobble and other major steering and suspension system defects and failures. If you are experiencing these or other issues with your Wrangler, you may be entitled to a new car, a full refund, or a cash settlement depending on your particular situation.
Contact us today for a free consultation.