Exploding Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator Manual Transmission Clutches Force Recall: No Fix Yet
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just announced a recall of almost 70,000 Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler vehicles with manual transmissions. Clutch plates are exploding due to overheating, with the potential of creating a fire. Unfortunately, Jeep has no fix for now.
Have there been injuries from Jeep manual transmission issues?
One injury has already been reported, according to the NHTSA. Jeep says friction is causing the overheating, which, in turn, causes the clutch plate to fracture. Shards of broken clutch material can explode through the transmission case, causing injury.
There is also the possibility of the hot material causing a fire if it comes in contact with an ignition source. And, debris from the clutch can potentially be hazardous to surrounding vehicles.
Which manual transmission Jeeps are in the recall?
Those affected are the 2018 to 2023 Wrangler, and 2020 to 2023 Gladiator models. It is an expansion of a similar March 2020 Jeep recall. Jeep issued a similar recall back then over “clutch pressure plate problems.”
Fracturing pressure plates can cause vehicles to lose power, create debris, and in some cases, create a fire risk. It warned drivers to pay attention to any abnormal clutch pedal travel, warning light, or a burning clutch smell.
How many Jeep vehicles are in this recall?
The 2020 recall involved 33,237 Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator models built between 2018 and 2020 with manual transmissions. When the recall was announced, there were 35 warranty claims and one injury reported. 2020 was also the last year for a manual transmission in Jeep Compass models, making the Wrangler and Gladiator the last two Jeep products available with a manual transmission.
With the 2020 recall, Jeep said it had no fix to resolve the problem. For the recall today, Jeep says this is not a defect with the clutch disc. Instead, it is a “design flaw,” so as of now there is also no fix. However, Jeep says it is in development with a design update.
In January 2020, it inspected a returned transmission under warranty that had “catastrophic damage” related to the issue. What is unusual is that in most cases, a shattered clutch disc won’t cause catastrophic damage to a transmission. Nonetheless, it illustrates the damaging amount of energy an exploding clutch can create.
How can I find out if my Jeep is one of them?
Those that had their Jeep products fixed at the dealer level in 2020, now must return them to dealers for this recall as well. An additional repair is necessary, according to Jeep. If a transmission redesign is necessary, as the recall indicates, then it is presumed all Jeep products involved in both recalls will have replacement transmissions installed.
If you have questions or concerns about this recall, you can contact either the Jeep Recall Center or the NHTSA website. The Jeep reference number is 19A, and the NHTSA campaign number is 23V116. You’ll need to have your VIN number handy to plug into either system. Notices will go out to owners starting April 14, 2023.