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Jeep Wrangler under scrutiny over welds

Weld woes: Jeep’s new JL Wrangler has already been recalled in the US over a misaligned steering component weld, but now faces a broader investigation over frame welds.

US road safety authority announces formal investigation into Jeep Wrangler

23 Sep 2019

THE Jeep Wrangler’s safety credentials have taken another hit with the United States government road safety watchdog formally announcing an investigation into alleged frame weld deficiencies on the latest JL model.


The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last year ordered a safety recall on 18,000 left-hand-drive Wranglers for a misaligned weld on the steering track bar after owners reported steering shimmy or wobble – a problem that is now the subject of a class action in the US.


The latest investigation dates back to October last year when a citizen – presumably a Wrangler owner – asked the organisation to investigate Wrangler frame weld deficiencies, including porous welds, excessive slag, lack of weld penetrations, over-penetration of welds, over-weld or weld drip and weld splash on a variety of places on the frame.


After a preliminary look at the problem and correspondence with Jeep parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, NHTSA formally announced last week that its Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) had formally granted the petition to look into the case.


Specifically, the safety authority said the ODI would investigate “potential safety-related consequences of alleged weld quality deficiencies and steering related concerns on the MY 2018-2019 JL Jeep Wrangler vehicles”.


Announcing the move, NHTSA said a review of materials from FCA had identified “various reports and references to frame welded component detachments” that were outside of the scope of the previous recall for the faulty steering track bar weld.


“Additionally, the information that FCA provided did not adequately address whether frame weld quality deficiencies compromise the structural integrity of vehicles, and therefore may pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety,” it said.


“Finally, ODI needs to further evaluate the alleged steering-related defects reported through MY2019 and the alleged defects’ relation to weld quality.”


Launched in Australia in May this year, the new Wrangler got off to a rocky start when the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) followed the lead of Euro NCAP and awarded it a lowly one-star safety rating.


The 2019 Wrangler’s base variant was launched in Australia without autonomous emergency braking and blind-spot warning, but Jeep Australia has taken steps to introduce those safety functions for MY2020.

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