Jeep is recalling 18,000 Wrangler JLs, and now we know just exactly how Fiat Chrysler plans to make repairs.
Earlier this month, we found out that a few newer-model Wrangler JLs had some factory defaults that caused a few welds to be out of whack. This is bad since welding is kind of important to keep all of a car’s bits and pieces in proper alignment.
The issue was that a front track bar bracket weld was performed off-seam by a glitchy robot. This could cause the entire front track bar bracket to become separated during driving and result in greatly reduced steering performance and, as FCA put it, "crash without prior warning."
Which is awful--everyone wants at least a little bit of warning before crashing.
FCA issued a recall for 18,000 Wrangler JL’s built between May 7, 2018, and August 21, 2018, at their Toledo North Assembly Plant. Of that 18,000, about 720 (or roughly 4%) are expected to have the faulty welds that lead to the unexpected crashing. Previously it was reported by Jalopnik that every Jeep would be inspected manually, but that has since changed after dealer repair instructions got posted to a JL owner’s Facebook page.
The process for determining which cars need repairs and which don’t will actually be done digitally so that FCA doesn’t need to send out a welder unless they find an actual problem. To do that, the first step is to determine if the car was actually built at Toledo between May 7, 2018, and August 21, 2018. That’s relatively easy--a code on the frame will tell the dealer that information immediately.
After determining if the Wrangler was built in that date range, dealers will clean the weld locations, crank the steering wheel all the way to the left, and paint the Jeep’s 3-digit VIN near the weld. Then the photos are sent to FCA for inspection. If they determine based on the photos that the welds are in the wrong spot, then a "Technical Weld Specialist" will come in to make repairs.
However, if weld repairs are necessary, then the Wrangler’s front end needs to be almost completely disassembled. The entire process takes all afternoon, and you can read about it over at Jalopnik if you’re at all curious. Suffice to say, it’s not an easy job.
Good thing Wrangler owners don’t have to pay for it.