Jeep Wrangler that could have a death wobble defect.

Dodge/Ram/Jeep Death Wobble Defects

By Sepehr Daghighian

For years, CCA’s attorneys have heard complaints by Dodge, Ram, and Jeep customers about a disturbing suspension defect ominously dubbed the “Death Wobble.”  While FCA US LLC (Dodge, Ram, and Jeep’s parent company) has attempted to address many of the customer concerns through a series of recalls and service bulletins, unfortunately for many FCA customers, this dangerous and terrifying defect remains unresolved.  As recently as September of 2019, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) was reportedly investigating suspension defects in Jeep Wranglers, which result in the dreaded Death Wobble defects.  

What is a Death Wobble?

The Death Wobble has been described as a mechanical defect that exists in the front end of vehicles, which results in a violent shaking or wobble that makes the vehicle hard to control.  Drivers complain that at certain speeds or when the vehicle hits a bump in the road, the vehicle will suddenly start violently shaking or wobbling uncontrollably. Death Wobble typically occurs at speeds above 45 mph and in most cases requires a trigger like hitting a bump or a pothole. Drivers describe the condition as terrifying and a feeling as if the vehicle is out of control or falling apart.  

With Death Wobble, drivers describe that it becomes extremely difficult to control the vehicle and that the only way to get it to stop is by slowing down. 

What Causes Death Wobble defects?

Death Wobble is caused by loose, damaged, misaligned, or incorrectly designed steering parts, which begin to violently oscillate under certain conditions.  Automotive engineers typically design vehicles with damping mechanisms that avoid harmonic oscillations. However, in certain vehicles and under certain conditions, violent oscillations are creating, resulting in the notorious Death Wobble.  

Which FCA Vehicles Suffer from the Death Wobble? 

Death Wobble has been reported in numerous FCA vehicles over the years. Most recently, the Death Wobble in 2015-2018 Jeep Wranglers have been the subject of increased scrutiny from media outlets and government agencies investigating FCA’s vehicles. On NHTSA’s website alone, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler features over 750 complaints by consumers for suspension issues. However, FCA’s difficulties with the Death Wobble didn’t begin in 2019 and didn’t begin with the Jeep Wrangler.  Ram trucks dating back to 2003 suffered similar Death Wobble complaints, repairs, and recalls. In fact, in 2015, FCA agreed to pay NHTSA a $105-million fine (then, the largest fine ever from NHTSA), submit to three years of oversight of recalls, buy back half-a-million vehicles and offer financial incentives for repair of 1 million vehicles. In 2015, FCA admitted that it failed to timely notify its customers and timely fix its vehicles that suffered from a serious suspension defect. While numerous years makes and models of Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks suffered from suspension defects, NHTSA found that FCA did not act with sufficient urgency and diligence in remedying its customers’ defects.  

Death Wobble in Dodge Ram Trucks

FCA’s recalls relating to suspension difficulties date back to its 2003 trucks.  In February of 2009, FCA issued Recall H36, which addressed a defect in 2008-2009 Dodge Truck’s steering drag link inner joint, which could fracture under certain driving conditions. FCA’s recall admitted that the fracture could result in a loss of steering control and cause a crash without warning.  The problems didn’t end there.  

In May 2009, the recall was revised and expanded to include more vehicles, including the following:

  • 2003-2004 (DR) Dodge Truck 4×4 (2500/3500 series)
  • 2005 (DH) Dodge Truck 4×4 (2500/3500 series)
  • 2006-2009 (DH) Dodge Truck 4×4 (2500/3500 series or 1500 Mega Cab)
  • 2006-2009 (D1) Dodge Truck 4×4 (3500 series)
  • 2007-2009 (DC) Dodge Truck (3500 series cab chassis)

The problems didn’t end there. In December 2013, FCA issued recalls N62 and N49, which attempted to address suspension concerns on the following trucks:

  • 2008 (DH) Dodge RAM Truck (1500 series 4×4 Mega Cab)
  • 2008 – 2009 (DH) Dodge RAM Truck (2500 / 3500 series 4×4)
  • 2008 – 2009 (D1) Dodge RAM Truck (3500 series 4×4)
  • 2010 – 2012 (D2) Dodge RAM Truck (3500 series 4×4)
  • 2010 – 2012 (DJ) Dodge RAM Truck (2500 series 4×4)
  • 2008 – 2010 (DC) Dodge RAM Truck (3500 Cab Chassis)
  • 2011 – 2012 (DD) Dodge RAM Truck (3500 Cab Chassis)
  • 2003 – 2004 (DR) Dodge RAM Truck (2500 & 3500 series 4×4)
  • 2006 – 2008 (DH) Dodge RAM Truck (1500 series 4×4 Mega Cab)
  • 2005 – 2008 (DH) Dodge RAM Truck (2500 series 4×4)
  • 2005 (DH) Dodge RAM Truck (3500 series 4×4)
  • 2006 – 2008 (D1) Dodge RAM Truck (3500 series 4×4)
  • 2007 – 2008 (DC) Dodge RAM Truck (3500 Cab Chassis)

As mentioned above, in 2015, NHTSA found that FCA did not act with sufficient diligence in addressing customers’ dangerous suspension issues.  Therefore, FCA was fined in excess of $105-million as a result of its failures. However, FCA’s problems with the Death Wobble didn’t end there.  

Death Wobble in Jeep Wranglers

More recently, Jeep owners have complained extensively of suspension problems arising from their 2015-2018 Jeep Wranglers.  Jeep owners, for example, have complained, “On the highway when I hit bridge seams or bumps the Jeep goes into a shaking pattern that makes it near to impossible to steer. You have to hit the brakes and slow down to about 40 MPH to get it to stop. Extremely dangerous and I fear the next bump will be the one to kill me.”  Another Jeep owner described the Death Wobble as, “The car shakes uncontrollably when driving on the highway and after hitting a bump or imperfection in the road. I have had the problem fixed once before a few months ago.” Also, Jeep owners have complained that Jeep’s repair efforts are ineffective: “The jeep shakes uncontrollably at freeway speeds… This is my 3rd time taking the Jeep in for the same death wobble that FCA can’t seem to fix or doesn’t want to fix [it]. [Jeep has] already replaced my steering stabilizer 4 times which obviously does not fix the problem.”   

CCA’s attorneys possess extensive experience in handling lemon law cases arising from suspension issues, including the FCA Death Wobble.  If your truck has terrified you with its Death Wobble, has spent too much time in the shop, or remains unfixed, we invite you to call our experts for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-FIRM.

Woman driving a car with a faulty Dodge Dart transmission.

Faulty Dodge Dart Transmissions

By Sepehr Daghighian

Owners of Dodge Dart have complained for years of shifting issues arising from their vehicles’ defective transmission components. For instance, drivers complain that their gear selectors lock up, they are unable to shift in and out of gear, their vehicles spontaneously drop into neutral, their transmission makes strange grinding noises when shifting, their transmission jerks when shifting, or (in some cases) the transmission completely dies. Frustratingly for many consumers, Dodge has been addressing their customers concerns by oftentimes installing the same defective parts back into the vehicles, thus, effectively kicking the proverbial can down the road.  

CCA’s expert lemon law attorney has advocated for Dodge Dart owners and obtained exceptionally favorable settlements from FCA (Dodge’s parent company) for clients that have suffered through frustrating repeat repairs to their transmissions. California’s strong lemon law, the Song-Beverly Act, provides that manufacturers must repurchase or replace vehicles when they are unable to fix them after a reasonable number of repair attempts. CCA has observed that, oftentimes, customers take in their FCA vehicles for repair of transmission concerns over-and-over again, to no avail. FCA’s dealerships oftentimes apply “band-aid” repairs, which don’t correct the condition or send the customer home because they could not detect a problem. Fortunately for our clients, our lawyers possess the legal and technical acumen to obtain speedy and exceptionally favorable results when the manufacturer is unable to repair their vehicles.  

In April of 2019, FCA announced that it was recalling every automatic transmission Dart in the U.S. to address problems with the transmission shifter cable.  Dodge recalled a total of 298,439 of the 2013-2016 Dodge Darts because of defects in the 6-speed transmission shifter cable. According to documents filed with NHTSA by Dodge, “The shifter cable bushing on the transmission end of the shifter cable could deteriorate and become detached from the transmission which could result in the inability of the driver to actually shift the transmission, even though the driver may move the shifter handle.” Dodge admits that the defect can be dangerous, stating: “If the shifter cable becomes detached from the transmission, the vehicle may not perform the shifts intended by the driver… In addition, if the driver’s door is opened while the transmission is not in PARK, the vehicle not in PARK and door ajar messages will display on the instrument cluster and audible chimes will sound. If these warnings are not heeded, unintended vehicle movement and vehicle crash can occur.”  

Transmission issues are oftentimes the most frustrating of vehicle problems. They are frustrating and dangerous for drivers and, oftentimes, difficult for technicians to repair, resulting in a cycle of warranty presentations without repair. Fortunately, CCA’s attorneys are experts in California’s Lemon Law and can apply our State’s strong consumer protections to resolve our client’s vehicle issues. For a free consultation with a lemon law expert, please call us today: (833) LEMON-FIRM.  

The Lemon Firm discusses the common stalling concerns with Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos.

Jeep Grand Cherokee & Dodge Durango Stalling Concerns: The Hits Just Keep on Coming

By Sepehr Daghighian

Owners of FCA’s 2011 to 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durango have suffered through years of frustrating vehicle defects, repair half-measures, recalls, visits to the dealership, and continued vehicle defects.  Most recently, on November 14, 2019, FCA (Jeep and Dodge’s parent company) announced yet another recall to address the Grand Cherokee and Durango’s notorious stalling problem.  

Owners of 2011 to 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durango began complaining as early as 2011 about an extremely dangerous tendency by their vehicles to spontaneously shut off or not start.  Vehicle owners complained, particular while making turns, that their Grand Cherokees and Durangos would suddenly turn off, resulting in a loss of power and difficulty controlling the vehicle. Also, Grand Cherokees and Durango owners found that their vehicles would intermittently not start.  Adding insult to injury, when taking their vehicles under warranty to their authorized Jeep/Dodge dealerships, all too often, vehicle owners were told that there was “no problem found” or that nothing was wrong with their SUVs.  

By May of 2013, FCA traced the root of the dangerous stalling condition to the vehicle’s TIPM or Totally Integrated Power Module.  The TIPM serves as the electronic distribution system in Grand Cherokees and Durangos, distributing power to all of the vehicle’s components, including the fuel pump.  FCA found that, when the TIPM failed to provide power to the fuel pump, the fuel pump wouldn’t supply fuel to the motor, and the vehicle would either stall or not start.  By May of 2013, FCA prescribed a fix for the beguiling TIPM problem in the form of Star Case No.: S1308000399.  While the Star Case prescribed externalizing the fuel pump’s relay to the TIPM, the Star Case’s remedy was not immediately deemed a mandatory recall.  Therefore, countless Grand Cherokee and Durango owners continued to suffer through frustrating and dangerous no-starts and vehicle stalls.  

On August 21, 2014, the Center for Auto Safety (“CAS”) sent an investigation demand to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) wherein it lambasted FCA for its TIPM and the half-measures, which had been implemented to address the stalling concerns.  The CAS Petition described, “The TIPM consists of a computer, electric relays, and fuses, and is responsible for distributing power throughout the entire vehicle. Not only do Chrysler’s faulty TIPMs result in vehicle stalling, they have also been implicated in airbag non-deployment, random horn, headlight, taillight, door lock, instrument panel and windshield wiper activity, power windows going up and down on their own, failure of fuel pump shutoff resulting in unintended acceleration, and fires.”  Many of these same defects have been experienced by CCA’s attorney’s clients. The Petition went on to state, “Chrysler owners seeking relief of these conditions are currently being forced to pay for TIPM replacement, and wait weeks or months for the part to become available, due to incredible demand. In the interim, these owners remain at the mercy of a defect which many have likened to the vehicle being possessed and uncontrollable. A look at consumer complaints filed with CAS suggests a better name for the TIPM – Totally Inept Power Module.”  

Only after CAS had petitioned NHTSA did FCA issue its first recall for the TIPM defect.  In December 2014, FCA issued Recall P54, which essentially prescribed the same fix that FCA was aware of in May of 2013 in the above Star Case.  Therein, FCA admitted that: “The Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) on about 188,000 of the above vehicles contains an internal fuel pump relay that could operate intermittently or fail without warning. An intermittent or failed fuel pump relay could cause the engine to stall while driving and cause a crash without warning.”  However, the P54 recall only applied to owners of 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos. Incredibly, owners of 2012-2013 vehicles, which were equipped with the same TIPM and suffered from the same dangerous defect, did not receive a recall. What is worse, even after P54 was applied to their vehicles, many Grand Cherokee and Durango owners continued to suffer from vehicle stalls and no-starts.  

Inexplicably, FCA waited until July 2015 (a full year and a half later) to issue recall P54 for 2012-2013 Grand Cherokee and Durango owners.  This new recall was called “R09” and also prescribed the same fix as the Star Case from May of 2013.  No explanation was given as to why FCA waited over 2-years to implement this fix as a recall.  What is worse, vehicle owners continued to suffer through vehicle stalls and no-starts even after the recall was applied to their vehicles.  Frustratingly, the FCA dealerships continued to tell them that “nothing was wrong” or would charge them for expensive repairs.  

Only very recently did FCA acknowledge what its customers have known all along: that the half-measures prescribed by the Star Case, Recall P54, and Recall R09 were insufficient to adequately address the stalling concern.  On November 14, 2019, FCA issued Recall V62, wherein it acknowledged that “Some 2011 through 2013 MY Dodge Durango vehicles that are included in the NHTSA Recalls [P54] and [R09] vehicle population may have had a fuel pump relay installed as a recall remedy that is susceptible to silicon contamination of the relay

contacts that can cause the relay to fail.  The vehicle population was determined to be all vehicles that are included for NHTSA Recalls [P54] and [R09], including all remedied and unremedied vehicles… The total affected vehicles for this model is 147,846.”  Incredibly, while some of the Durangos and Grand Cherokees are now nearly a decade old, the initial recall does not yet issue a fix for the TIPM problems, stating, “The remedy is currently under development.”

CCA’s attorneys are some of the most experienced in California with regards to the history of vehicle stalling and no-starts afflicting FCA’s vehicles (Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, Fiat, and others).  If you’ve suffered through excessive repairs or if your FCA vehicle hasn’t delivered the quality that you were promised, we invite you to call us today for a free consultation with a Lemon Law professional: (833) LEMON-FIRM.