The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reportedly started investigating 2018 and 2019 models of the Jeep Wrangler as it looks to determine whether or not the newest JL-generation off-roader has substandard frame welds and if those can cause steering problems.
That is according to Autoblog, who also report that the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) began looking into the matter after a Wrangler owner complained about an improperly welded frame during October of last year. It's understood that some of the welds were porous while others dripped or splashed. Said owner is said to have found several defects in different locations of his vehicle's frame.
The ODI asked Jeep for more information relating to weld problems and the wobbly steering that some early JL owners complained about before deciding to open an investigation. The above would lead to a lawsuit and, while NHTSA hasn't published its findings, the agency found enough evidence to start investigating the company over improper frame welds.
FCA is complying with investigations but it's reported that the documents they shared with the NHTSA did not help the agency in determining whether or not the issues "compromise the Wrangler's structural integrity." This happens to be a major issue for the NHTSA but they also want to know if the steering problems are related to the welding defects.
The agency hasn't said how long its investigation will take but, if found to have contravened compliance regulations, Jeep will have to recall thousands of vehicles. To date, the automaker hasn't been made aware of any injuries or death resulting from the welds or the vehicles being structurally dangerous.
They stand to lose lots of money over the aforementioned problems especially after having previously recalled the fourth-generation Wrangler due to frame-related issues. A safety bulletin from last October explained that brackets could separate from the front part of the frame it's welded to in some SUVs, causing drivers to lose control. This all resulted in approximately 18,000 cars were repaired.
Jeep insists that its vehicles having defective welds isn't a safety issue and they've seen nothing indicating that it should be linked to steering wobbles.