Fiat Chrysler says they’ve got a fix for the dreaded Wrangler “Death Wobble.”
If you’re not a Jeep owner, you might be wondering why a car with a “Death Wobble” hasn’t been recalled yet. Frankly, so are some Jeep owners. The Death Wobble describes how solid-axle Wranglers will occasionally start to wobble violently after hitting a bump like a pothole.
It’s strong enough to cause a driver’s hands to slip from the steering wheel if they’re not paying attention, although no accidents or injuries have been reported as a direct result of the Death Wobble.
The worst part is that nobody knows exactly what’s causing it. People suspect it has to do with the steering or suspension, but nobody knows exactly what part, or why it happens. Fiat Chrysler has previously blamed suspension modifications for the Death Wobble, but 11 NHTSA complaints say that it’s happened on completely stock Wranglers.
It’s gotten enough attention that a class-action lawsuit was filed in June over 2015 to 2018 Wranglers. More on that later.
According to the Detroit Free Press, FCA now has a fix for the Death Wobble and an explanation for what causes it. To fix the Death Wobble, FCA will install a steering damper (also known as a stabilizer) that should kick in whenever the wobbling starts. Jeep dealers will install the damper on Wrangler owners free of charge.
As for the source, FCA chief technical compliance officer Mark Chernoby says it’s all to do with unwanted resonance on the front suspension. If the car is moving at just the right speed and it’s just the right ambient temperature, a bump can just like hitting a tuning fork.
“If you bang it with that frequency it’ll just sit there and keep going forever. It won’t slow down, it won’t dissipate, and that’s essentially what we’re talking about here with the vibration in the new Wrangler,” he said. “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.”
While the steering damper is likely to be well received by Jeep owners, lawyers for the class-action suit say it’s a “band-aid fix” and that there is something seriously wrong with the Wrangler’s suspension. Worse, some folks who have already got the damper installed say it didn’t work.
You can read the full story over on The Detroit Free Press.