Posted Jul 9th 2012 10:29AM
If the adjective "death" was applied to any item, incident or location that had been involved in a single fatality, then we'd all be imbibing death drinks while driving death cars on death roads from our death jobs to our death homes to be with our death spouses, death kids and death pets. Yet when it comes to the wobble that's been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by hundreds Jeep Wrangler owners, the report of one "fatality related to the suspected condition" has earned it the moniker "Death Wobble" on the television news.
In response to the newscast in question, Congressional representatives Anna G Eshoo and Henry A. Waxman sent a lengthy list of questions to NHTSA in order to find out more about the issue and requested an investigation. NHTSA declined to investigate, saying that the issue "does not result in a loss of control."
So now, according to a report in The Detroit News, Eshoo and Waxman have gone directly to Chrysler seeking "an outreach campaign to its customers, such as a Customer Satisfaction Campaign, to notify Jeep owners of the risk of the 'wobble' condition ... and the possible methods for repairing and preventing the problem." Chrysler has said that the Wrangler has an excellent safety record and reiterated its position that "most reported incidents – in all manufacturer vehicles equipped with or without a solid axle – are often linked to poorly installed or maintained after-market equipment, such as lifters, oversized tires, etc."
No one denies that a wobbling event has occurred for some Wrangler drivers when they hit something like a pothole at speeds beyond 72 km/h (45 mph), and the situation could probably be addressed by something better than a corporate statement that owner modifications or carelessness have caused it. While Chrysler also states that any vehicle with a solid front axle is prone to such wobbling, Automotive News' Larry Vellequette wrote a well reasoned piece that goes into detail about how the Wrangler has been caught in a bit of a bind: the same steering and front axle setup that make the Wrangler great for off-roading can lead to such wobbling on-road at speed, and the Wrangler's increasing popularity with the average driver unfamiliar with those kinds of compromises has led to everyone getting the short end of the stick.
It's unclear what will happen to resolve it, but it's clear that something will have to happen. Scroll down for the original newscast as well as videos showing some owners experiencing the wobble in question.