Jeep preparing to recall new Wranglers over frame-weld defect

Jeep Wranglers are displayed at a dealership in New York City on July 23, 2018. (Bloomberg pic)

NEW YORK: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is preparing to recall about 18,000 Jeep Wranglers because of a faulty weld in the frame of the popular sport utility vehicle that can cause a sudden crash.

The automaker will begin the recall before the end of the year, according to a dealer notice posted Friday on a Wrangler owner forum that was confirmed by the company. Some vehicles have a faulty weld on the front track bar, which keeps the axles centred. That can allow the bar to separate from the frame and interfere with the steering, “which can cause a vehicle crash without prior warning,” according to the notice.

Fiat Chrysler isn’t aware of any accidents or injuries related to the flaw, which exists on about 4% of the recalled vehicles, said a spokesman.

The Wrangler is Fiat Chrysler’s second-best selling vehicle in the US and the icon of its Jeep brand, which accounts for more than 70% of profits, according to analysts’ estimates. The model’s off-road capabilities and distinctive, boxy styling have built a loyal customer following, and a pickup version is slated for 2019.

Some of the defective vehicles haven’t been sold yet, so the company ordered dealers to halt sales of the recalled Wranglers until vehicles are inspected and repaired, if needed.