Jeep owners are among the most loyal and rabid fans of any vehicle brand out there. The number of Jeep-related events, accessories, and media entities is staggering. All that Jeep positivity is impressive, but there’s one significant problem that unites the brand’s owners like no other: “Death Wobble.” The issue became so widespread that owners banded together on a class action suit, and we recently learned the case’s outcome.
As part of its settlement, FCA, Stellantis’ U.S. division and Jeep’s owner, will offer some owners warranty extensions and could reimburse owners for expenses already incurred related to the problem. The new eight-year/90,000-mile warranty covers replacement parts and labor related to a failed front suspension damper. “Death wobble” occurs at highway speeds. When the driver hits a bump, the vehicle’s steering wheel, wheels and tires, and suspension can vibrate or shake. From the driver’s seat, it feels like a temporary loss of control, and outside the vehicle, the shaking wheels can look quite dramatic.
The suite has been working its way through the courts for years. First filed in 2019, the case still needs to pass a fairness hearing in April before being finalized. FCA has always maintained that the issue is not a safety concern, but many disagree. Some reports of the issue go back even further, causing congresspeople to draft a letter to then-CEO Sergio Marchionne and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012.
“Death wobble,” primarily associated with the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator, can apparently happen in any vehicle with a solid front axle. FCA’s former chief technical compliance officer compared the issue to the resonance that builds after striking a tuning fork, as the suspension and components tend to vibrate back and forth when the wobble strikes.
We don’t know how much the class action will cost FCA, but a case update in 2020 noted 192,000 affected Jeep owners. Given that Jeep sold more than that in Wranglers alone during 2018, 2019, and 2020, the number of owners may grow before the dust settles.