Laguna Hills, CA – Oct. 3, 2019 – Chrysler has notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of a recall pertaining to certain Jeep Wrangler right hand drive vehicles produced between late 2010 and early 2018. The reason for the recall is a defect involving the driver’s seat belt buckle mounting strap.
The manufacturer sells a small number of right-hand drive Jeep Wrangler vehicles to American consumers – in addition to the left hand drive-style vehicles that are standard in the U.S. – for very particular reasons, at least in theory: They are made specifically for rural mail carriers, who benefit from the unusual design in a number of ways.
“Right-hand drive Wranglers are intended for rural mail deliverers who need to deal with both intense climates (hence the Wrangler) and mailboxes mounted on the passenger side of the vehicle (hence right hand drive)”, stated a report published by AutoTrader three years ago. “These postal workers don’t drive to one spot in the neighborhood and walk around to all the houses, since each one of their deliveries can sometimes be several miles apart, so they deliver mail directly from their vehicles.”
While the vehicles are made specifically for these mail carriers, there are no restrictions on who is able to purchase them, so the vehicle is available for sale to the general public as well.
According to the safety recall report filed by Chrysler, the defect essentially creates the possibility that over time the seat belt system may become inoperative.
stated a report published by AutoTrader three years ago explained that if the seat belt buckle is “fatigue-loaded” – subjected to excessive stress over time – its mounting strap can fracture and separate from the seat cushion’s frame.
The manufacturer estimates that roughly 11,463 vehicles could potentially be involved in the recall, although it also estimates that only 1% of those vehicles contain the defect. Information on the cause of the flaw has not been included in any of the documents currently available.
Timeline of Events
The first notice of the possible defect came out March 20, 2019, when the NHTSA provided Chrysler with a vehicle owner questionnaire that described a driver’s seat belt buckle strap separation on a 2015 Jeep Wrangler right hand drive vehicle.
Chrysler then conducted a number of tests on the failed buckle strap, and identified a “fatigue failure near the buckle strap mounting hole” as the reason for the problem. Additional, similar reports involving 2016 vehicles then followed, leading Chrysler to continue the investigation.
Chrysler examined field data including customer complaints, vehicle owner questionnaires and warranty claims between July 24 and Aug. 8 and conducted engineering evaluations. These efforts led the automaker to conclude that only 2011-2018 Jeep Wrangler RHD vehicles built for rural mail carriers and sold in the U.S. market were affected.
On Sept. 19, 2019, following the identification of a number of additional warranty claims and other reports pertaining to the same defect, Chrysler decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall of the affected vehicles.
The recall is still in its early stages, so Chrysler is not planning to notify dealers or vehicle owners until Nov. 15, 2019. At that point, those who own the affected vehicles will bring them into an authorized dealership, where the seat belt buckle assembly will be repaired or replaced as is necessary at no cost.
For information on additional Chrysler recalls, visit MotorSafety.org.