“Death Wobble.”

Most drivers have no idea what it is. Jeep Wrangler drivers know it, warn each other about it, and write an encyclopedia’s worth of bulletin board posts about it every year.

It doesn’t stop them from buying Wranglers. Jeep’s iconic off-road SUV still has an army of loyalists few vehicles in history could ever match. But the issue has resulted in a lawsuit and may soon mean many Wrangler owners qualify for an extended warranty.

Jeep has offered to settle an ongoing class action lawsuit over the issue. The company’s lawyers are offering extended warranties and cash for repairs to a group of owners who have sued over the long-known issue.

The offer doesn’t end the lawsuit. Plaintiffs still have to decide whether to accept it, and a judge must certify it at a fairness hearing scheduled for April.

What Is Death Wobble?

First things first – the name is misleading. We’re aware of no deaths due to the feared wobble. The lawsuit alleges no deaths. Just fear and repair bills.

Jeep Wranglers and Gladiators are among the few vehicles available in 2023 with solid front axles. That means what it sounds like: The front wheels are connected by a single axle that is then connected to the vehicle’s frame.

An old-fashioned design prized for its sturdiness and reliability, a solid front axle gives a vehicle great wheel travel and means that when a bump pushes one wheel up, the axle pushes the other down for more traction.

That’s useful on unstable off-road surfaces.

Solid front axles used to be common on SUVs and pickup trucks. But in 2023, they’re almost gone from the market. Automakers have perfected the alternative – independent front suspensions where each front tire moves on its own – to the point that even off-road monsters like the Ford F-150 Raptor use that approach instead.

Solid front axles have at least one major drawback. A bump to one wheel can destabilize both front wheels if anything is loose or damaged in the steering or suspension system. In a worst-case scenario, that leaves the steering wheel oscillating back and forth with the wheels, shaking the whole car.

Who Is Suing Over It?

A group of six Wrangler and Gladiator owners sued Jeep in a 2019 lawsuit over the threat of death wobble. Those six aren’t the only ones eligible for Jeep’s settlement offer, but they are the ones who will have to decide whether to accept it.

The plaintiffs claim Jeep knew of the issue and has failed to address it.

What Is Jeep Offering To Settle the Case?

According to the Detroit Free Press, Jeep is offering owners a warranty extension “for up to eight years or 90,000 miles” that would cover “all parts and labor needed to replace a failed front suspension damper.”

The company would also pay attorney’s fees and “allow owners or lessees of the affected vehicles who paid for a repair related to a front suspension steering damper to submit a claim for reimbursement” at the website www.fcarecallreimbursement.com.

Jeep admits no wrongdoing as part of the agreement.

Which Vehicles Would Be Covered?

The settlement would be limited to owners of 2018-2020 Wranglers and 2020 Gladiators. According to a 2020 addendum to the lawsuit, that could include up to 192,000 Jeep owners.

But it doesn’t cover them all. Members of Congress first asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate the issue in 2012. Internet message boards show complaints about the issue even earlier.

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