FCA will Install Steering Dampers to Address 2018 and 2019 Jeep Wrangler ‘Death Wobble’ Issue
All ModernJeepers Know Death Wobble!
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has a fix that is circulating around the internet. We have reported on this condition before and explained how hanging on for dear life is an experience none of us want!
It’s known as “death wobble”, where the front wheels shake violently under certain conditions, like hitting bumps a certain way at highway speeds. Spokesperson Eric Mayne said FCA is still determining how many vehicles are affected.
The company will install a new steering damper, a part also known as a stabilizer, in affected Jeep Wranglers in an effort to address the steering wheel vibration reported by some owners after their vehicles hit a bump at highway speeds, an experience many describe as frightening. Mailings announcing the campaign were to be sent to customers recently.
New steering stabilizer part number on right (subtle but important changes in the engineering and design).
To date, FCA contends the vibration is not a safety issue. Rather, the company notes the issue can occur with any solid front axle video. We learned that FCA’s proposed fix for the Wrangler has not been classified as a recall yet, per recent reports. Instead, a company spokesperson said this is a “customer satisfaction note,” saying they may go to a dealer and replace their steering damper free of charge.
2019 Jeep Wranglers that haven’t been sold yet have already been receiving the new part.
On top of anecdotal evidence from owners, some filed a lawsuit against FCA over the death wobble problem. Those owners insist the steering issues are a serious safety concern, despite FCA’s statements to the contrary. At this time, Fiat Chrysler representatives say the company is not aware of any deaths or injuries from the steering vibration issue.
From our friends at the Detroit Free Press
Going by the Free Press report, though, it seems FCA will take steps to try and correct the issue. At least, that’s the case with certain affected Wranglers. According to Mark Chernoby, FCA’s chief technical compliance officer, the problem is not with defective parts, but “a combination of design and manufacturing process.” He likens the problem to a tuning fork, as the vibration comes about from resonance caused by hitting bumps at certain speeds in certain conditions.
‘Like a tuning fork’
Tuning forks vibrate under certain frequencies, and “if you bang it with that frequency, it’ll just sit there and keep going forever…and that’s essentially what we’re talking about here with the vibration in the new Wrangler. When you hit a bump in the road, if everything is just right, this suspension can set off that resonance and what we started seeing is as soon as it got cold this past fall, early winter, we started seeing complaints,” Chernoby said.
Proper install of steering stabilizer
We have heard reports from many Jeep owners over the years about death wobble in many models with aftermarket serious mods.
Wrangler owners will keenly point out that the vibration issue is not unique to Wrangler JL or JK models. The pending class action lawsuit includes 2015 – 2018 Wrangler JKs as well. Naturally, the filing offers a different perspective on what originally caused the issue. “Jeep vehicles contain a defectively designed and/or manufactured front axle and damping system that causes the steering wheel to shake violently when operating at highway speeds after encountering common and expected road vibrations.”
From what we have heard, FCA is reportedly seeking dismissal of the lawsuit.
We will keep you posted, as always, on issues of safety and drivability of Jeep vehicles, and of any updates on death wobble.
Thanks to Jeep for the informative pics.