Does Your Wrangler or Gladiator Have ‘Death Wobble?’ Jeep Will Now Cover It
The dreaded Jeep “death wobble” is ubiquitous. Popping up for years, it happens when the front end begins a harsh shaking. The wobble usually begins when the car hits a bump or pothole. Slowing down tends to stop the concerning trait. Now, Jeep says it will help fix the problem and pay owners, too.
How long have there been death wobble complaints?
Jeep death wobble incidents are many, with owners complaining about the issue for years. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration complaints began around 2012. In 2019, the problem came to a head with two announcements. First, a class-action lawsuit was filed, and Jeep issued a fix. Jeep dealers replaced steering dampers for free.
Some owners, however, say the damper replacement is nothing more than a “band-aid.” They question why it is necessary to correct a built-in design problem with a damper, or what Jeep calls a “stabilizer.” Instead, the lawsuit says the death wobble “can only be remedied by substantial revisions and repair to the suspension.”
While the offer took care of new death wobble incidents, there are many owners that paid to get it fixed before and after the lawsuit was filed. That is the reason for the lawsuit, which took until now to finally resolve. In the lawsuit, it describes the wobble as “seemingly uncontrollable side-by-side shaking of the Jeep vehicle’s front end steering components and, by extension, its steering wheel.”
Is the Jeep death wobble a safety risk?
But Jeep says it doesn’t pose a safety risk. It instead, calls it a “vibration.” At the time of the fix announcement, the then-FCA chief technical compliance officer described the issue as “resonance,” like what happens to a tuning fork. He also said this happens with all solid front-axle vehicles.
But besides owner complaints at the dealer level, the NHTSA had a long list of complaints about the death wobble, too. Its Office of Defects Investigation soon requested information from Jeep about any warranty claims or complaints, as well as any know injuries caused by the vibration.
How does the new warranty fix the problem?
Prompted by a 2019 class-action court settlement, Jeep announced it is extending its warranty coverage for affected models. It is increasing warranties to eight years or 90,000 miles, whichever comes first. According to the Detroit Free Press, it expressly calls out that this includes “all parts and labor needed to replace a failed front suspension damper.” It applies to 2018 to 2020 Wranglers and 2020 Gladiators. A 2020 lawsuit amendment estimates there are almost 200,000 Wrangler and Gladiator vehicles affected.
Formerly, Jeep’s standard warranty was for three years or 36,000 miles. If you have already paid for the repairs to fix your Jeep’s death wobble, it will reimburse the owners. To get the reimbursement, you need to go to Jeep’s website and fill out the information included. Beyond this, parent company Stellantis is also covering plaintiff attorney fees up to $3.95 million, with class representatives each receiving $4,000.
For now, the finalized settlement is waiting for a fairness hearing set for mid-April.