Chrysler recalls Jeep Wranglers and Gladiators for burnt-out clutch

Auburn Hills, MI – February 11,  2021 – Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU), which owns the Jeep brand, is recalling 42,887 Jeeps because a part of the clutch may overheat and fracture, creating the risk of a fire. The recall includes the following manual transmission vehicles:

  • 2018 Jeep Wranglers
  • 2019 Jeep Wranglers
  • 2020 Jeep Wranglers
  • 2021 Jeep Wranglers
  • 2020 Jeep Gladiators
  • 2021 Jeep Gladiators

Recall summary  

The recall concerns the clutch, specifically the clutch pressure plate, which temporarily stops the “transmission of engine power” to allow the driver to switch gears. Due to excessive friction because of a design error, the plate may overheat. The heat may fracture the pressure plate and the resulting hot debris could land on flammable parts of the car, causing a fire.

Prior recall

All vehicles that were part of a similar Jeep recall in 2020 are included in this latest recall. In this recall, Jeep blamed the problem on “air in the hydraulic system,” and the repair involved rerouting the vehicles’ wiring. Testing performed for this recall showed that with excess friction, the clutch could reach 2,012 degrees Fahrenheit, plenty hot to ignite other parts of the car. It is not clear whether this latest recall supersedes the first one.

Recent Jeep recalls

A Jeep recall in 2019 of 2011-2018 Wranglers concerned a weak seat belt mount which could fracture and separate from the seat, rendering the belt useless. 

‘The entire vehicle was burned to ashes’

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received numerous complaints describing burning clutch smells, fractured clutch pressure plates and clutch-related fires in vehicles included in the 2020 and 2021 recalls.

Many drivers reported a “burning clutch smell.” This odor may be a sign that the clutch pressure plate is about to fail, according to Chrysler’s report to NHTSA.

Other complaints illustrate the worst-case scenario. “While my 16-year-old daughter and I were driving on the FL 528/Beachline Expressway, the entire clutch pressure plate assembly exploded off my vehicle,” said one Florida driver’s  report. “Fluids drained and ignited. The entire vehicle was burned to ashes.”

Despite the dramatic nature of the accident, no injuries have been reported thus far in connection with the latest recall.

Safety concerns

Chrysler acknowledged that a fractured clutch pressure plate could also generate road debris, creating a hazard for other drivers on the road.

Vehicle fires increase drivers’ and passengers’ risk of injury or death. You can read more about what to do if you smell something burning while driving in this article about a 2020 Audi recall.

Repair

Chrysler will add software to affected Jeeps that will reduce the engine torque – essentially how hard the engine works – if the clutch starts getting too hot. Owners who have already paid to repair their clutch pressure plate may be eligible for reimbursement. Recall notification letters will be sent to owners on March 21.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 42,000 vehicles are included in this Chrysler recall. To see if your Jeep is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Rebecca RandChrysler recalls Jeep Wranglers and Gladiators for burnt-out clutch

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