The Jeep Wrangler has been an immensely popular off-road SUV since the 1980s. And the Gladiator pickup truck has sparked a new interest over the past couple of years. But owners and buyers beware: Last month, Jeep began recalling some 2018 to 2021 Wrangler and 2020 to 2021 Gladiator models.
The recall doesn’t involve all models. In fact, only ones with a manual transmission are affected. So what’s going on?
The problem with manual transmissions on recent Jeep models and what to do
The Jeep recall involves nearly 43,000 vehicles with manual transmissions. The problem is that the clutch plate can overheat and fracture, according to Car and Driver. This can lead to an increased fire risk.
According to Jeep’s filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this isn’t due to a faulty part. It’s a design issue that a software update can fix. The update will reduce engine torque when the temperature of the clutch assembly rises too high. Check the NHTSA website to see if your Jeep is included in the recall. Have your vehicle’s VIN handy. If your number doesn’t come up, check back later because the recall could be updated with additional affected vehicles, Consumer Reports suggests.
If your Wrangler or Gladiator is included in the recall, you should contact your dealer as soon as possible. Set up an appointment for your free software update.
The not-so-popular Jeep Gladiator
Let’s be honest. In 2020, only 40,000 Gladiators sold. That’s 40,000 out of roughly 3 million pickup trucks sold last year. In 2019, Statista averaged that 3 million figure and estimated an even higher figure for 2020. So it’s safe to say that Ford, Chevrolet, and other manufacturers continue to sell well.
Drivers praise the Jeep Gladiator for its powertrain, towing ability, and character. That’s about it. On the downside are its handling, rough ride, fuel economy, and wind noise.
Some drivers love their Jeep trucks. We hope you’re one of them. But if it has a manual transmission, get the clutch software updated.
The Wrangler keeps on chugging
On the upside for Jeep, the Wrangler remains popular on the street and off-road. It sold much better than the Gladiator, with over 201,000 units sold, according to CarFigures. That’s down a bit from 2019, however, which was down from 2018.
Many Jeep Wrangler drivers are Wrangler drivers for life. But there are some complaints. Older-model drivers have experienced the “death wobble.” While driving along the highway, those drivers experienced a major steering problem when hitting a bump or pothole. If this has happened to you, get it fixed ASAP.
Other problems have included a fault in the wireless control module, a sudden loss of power from the totally integrated power module, manifold cracks in older models, and water leaking through the doors.
Former Jeep recalls
Recalls are not unusual for any auto brand. Toyota had the most recalls in the first half of 2020. Not all recalls are safety issues, and some can be quite simple.
Recalls are not new to the Wrangler. Models from 2007 to 2016 were part of the Takata airbag inflator recall, Kelley Blue Book reported. That issue caused the largest auto recall in U.S. history. In more recent years, the 2018 Wrangler and 2014 to 2018 Cherokee and Grand Cherokee were part of a Fiat Chrysler recall of 4.8 million vehicles due to driver problems canceling the cruise control.
To be clear, if you’re shopping for a new or used vehicle, don’t let a recall turn you off. Investigate before deciding. Most recalls are easily fixed. But make sure any recall issue has been addressed before you purchase the vehicle. If you already own a Wrangler, Gladiator, or another model that’s under or has experienced a recall, make sure you address the issue right away.