FCA Hit With Class-Action Lawsuit Over Jeep Wrangler ‘Death Wobble’

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been slapped with a class-action lawsuit relating to the infamous ‘death wobble’ involving 2015-2018 Jeep Wranglers.

Filed in Detroit’s U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the lawsuit asserts that the issue occurs because the solid front axle of the Wrangler cannot absorb bumps and vibrations as efficiently as an independent front suspension. It is alleged that the front axle and steering components of the Wrangler can be jarred out of equilibrium, resulting in violent shaking of the vehicle at highway speeds.

The Detroit News reports that the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Claire Reynolds, the owner of a 2018 Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4×4 who claims the company offered to replace the steering damper if her vehicle was under warranty. She states that this is simply a “Band-Aid fix” and won’t prevent the issue from re-occurring.

Also Read: New Jeep Wrangler Owners Concerned With ‘Death Wobble’, FCA Says It’s Normal

FCA is well is aware of the problem. In fact, the Italian-American car manufacturer stated publicly last year that “vehicles equipped with a solid axle are susceptible to vibration” but claimed that it was “not a safety issue” and that “there are no injuries involving Chrysler Group vehicles related to this allegation.”

The lawsuit addresses these assertions from FCA and takes aim at the company for stating that the death wobble is not a safety issue “rather than address it, or disclose its possibility and/or warn drivers at the point of sale” about the issue.

The lawsuit seeks damages for affected drivers in the form of a buyback program which requires FCA to pay drivers for defective vehicles and provide compensation for the loss of value to the vehicles.

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  • Mr. EP9

    It’s easy to file a lawsuit but it’s much harder to win one. I’m curious to see how this will play out.

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  • Brian Regan

    It’s my understanding that the ‘death wobble’ has always been an unfortunate quirk of the Wrangler and doing even the most basic research into the car before buying one would have shown that. I suppose this is an issue with Jeep’s/Wrangler’s ever growing popularity. Now that they’re moving more up-market buyers are expecting more refinement that doesn’t behold to the Wrangler’s rough and tumble, rock crawling roots.

  • Stephen G

    Why would Claire Reynolds buy a Wrangler in the first place. This was never a secret. It’s like buying a steak knife and crying because you cut yourself.

  • Bash

    It has always been the same.

  • SgtBeavis

    I’ve got a Wrangler JLU and while there certainly is slop in the steering, I haven’t had any issues with actual death wobble. It seems to me, in many cases, FCA could have prevented this with beefier steering bushings and bearings as is done with many aftermarket kits that actually fix this, like those from SteerSmarts.

    The other aspect of this problem is when people lift their Jeeps but screw up the geometry of the steering. One way is if the angle for the axle is moved to where the bottom half is leading upper half. Dr DeathWobble, on Facebook has some good articles on that an other causes of actual deathwobble.

    But here’s FCA’s real problem. If this gets in front of a jury, that jury will be comprised of people that have never owned a Wrangler or even a vehicle with a solid front axle. When they see an actual video of death wobble, they’ll freak and FCA will lose. In other words, IMO, FCA is going to settle this one.

  • drumm888 D

    “In fact, the Italian-American car manufacturer stated publicly last year that “vehicles equipped with a solid axle are susceptible to vibration” What??? I’ve owned several solid front axle vehicles in my lifetime and have never had death wobble. Have a 99 Jeep TJ now and have never had death wobble in it (20 years old). So how does a 1 year old jeep have it?

  • Matteo Tommasi

    Every vehicle with solid front axle and high ride height can suffer this. It’s just the suspension geometry.

    That said, this lawsuit is just bullshit. It’s like promoting a lawsuit against Mazda because an MX-5 can’t climb rocks.

    • flyfish

      Doubt you would think it’s BS if you dropped 50+K on new JL or more on the new JT.

      I’ve have had 5 Jeeps, CJ, YJ, TJ, Grand Cherokee and Liberty, none had death wobble, my 05 Dodge 2500 does not have it, all have/had solid front axles.

      If interested, goto the JL and JT sites and take a look at the Issues sub-forum, there are thousands of posts related steering issues.

      It’s just poorly engineered suspension geometry.

  • SteersUright

    Vibration at any speed isn’t acceptable in a modern passenger vehicle that is also used to simply transport people, solid front axle or no. They need to put on their clever engineering hats and solve this for their customers.

  • Mr Nobody Important

    Everything from FCA is garbage.

  • Emoto

    If you deform suspension or steering parts by smashing into rocks, you can get a wobble. If you and your dimwit friend Jethro install a lift kit and/or various aftermarket suspension parts that are poorly designed, you can get a wobble. If you and you other idiot friend Cletus, install aftermarket suspension parts and fail to correctly align and position everything, you can have a wobble. If you kept your Jeep stock, but you regularly take it offroad and bounce it off of logs, rocks, and whatnot, wearing out all of the various bushings and fail to maintain (replace) them, you can get a wobble. My point is that well-maintained stock Jeeps do not suffer from this problem.

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