The Jeep Wrangler is one of the most popular SUVs in the country, and the world.
But lately a growing number of owners have been raising questions about the frames under those vehicles. And they don't know if a recent recall of some models is enough to fix the issues.
Benjamin Rutter's 2019 Jeep Wrangler is spotless. But when this Jeep enthusiast was recently cleaning the underside after a drive, he was puzzled.
"These welds are nowhere near what I expected," he said.
Rutter knows a bit about welding,and saw what looked to him like breaks in what should have been a solid weld.
"You've got an inch or so of completely missed bead on this part of the rear frame," he said.
He is concerned about what could happen down the road.
"My biggest fear is if I went off-roading," he said, "and did a full flex on the wheels, that frame rail could completely pop."
Roy Carl is a Jeep customizer and restorer, and owner of Performance Off Road. He has been working on Wrangler frames for 20 years, often replacing the entire frame in a complete restoration.
He claims he has been seeing questionable welding on several newer-model Wranglers that came into his shop.
"They didn't penetrate the metal good enough with the weld," he said. "I think it's a huge safety concern."
Government launches investigation
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has now launched an investigation into frame welding on a quarter-million 2018 and 2019 Wranglers, following complaints about questionable welds.
Jeep forums have hundreds of posts about this topic.
This follows a recall of 18,000 2018 and 2019 9models for possible steering failure due to bad welds on the front track bar, a condition that enthusiasts say can lead to what they call a "death wobble" while driving at highway speeds..
We contacted Jeep parent Fiat-Chrysler, where a spokesman could only tell us "Jeep is cooperating with the investigation," but reminded us the Wrangler "is the most awarded new vehicle of 2019," attesting to its build quality.
But restorer Roy Carl says it's worth having someone inspect your 2018-19 Wrangler if you have have noticed any particularly questionable welds.
"We saw some welds we didn't like and advised our clients to send them back to the dealership," he said, where some were able to get repairs done under warranty.
Do you have questions? Check with your dealer or an independent repair shop, and hopefully they can provide you some answers, so you don't waste your money.
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