Jeep’s Transmission Recall Repair: Clutch Plate Problems Pose Fire Hazard in Jeeps with Manual Tranny’s

Fiat-Chrysler recently issued a recall for nearly 43,000 Jeep Wranglers and Gladiators with potentially faulty pressure clutch plates. When these clutch plates become too hot, they can fracture, causing a host of other problems down the line when the transmission overheats, including a fire in the engine bay. Learn more about the vehicles that are affected by this recall and what Fiat Chrysler plans to do to fix the issue below.

How Vehicles are Affected

According to the bulletin Fiat Chrysler filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in October 2020 they launched an internal investigation after one of their vehicles caught fire on the assembly line.

The NHTSA quickly discovered the design flaw in these pressure clutch plates, and by January 21, 2021, they identified around a dozen different claims related to this issue (including six warranty claims and seven customer assistance records). Fiat Chrysler then issued a pressure clutch plate recall, intending to notify all affected owners by mid-March 2021.

This pressure clutch plate recall applies to all 2018 through 2021 Jeep Wranglers and 2020 and 2021 Jeep Gladiators with manual transmissions because they have faulty parts, and it affects approximately 42,887 vehicles in total.

When this plate transfers power to the clutch, it can easily reach ultra-high temperatures. Too much heat and this pressure plate fractures, allowing the transmission case to crack and spew hot debris, potentially igniting any combustible filters, stray leaves, or other materials in the engine bay. Fortunately, as of the time the recall was issued, there were reports of only one accident and zero injuries related to this design flaw.

Faulty Jeep Transmission Parts & Component Failure

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The faulty transmission part failures reported by Jeep owners below were investigated by the NHTSA and included in the safety recall report.

  • 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 Jeep Wrangler: transmission overheating of the intermediate clutch pressure plate
  • 2020 & 2021 Jeep Gladiator: overheating manual transmission clutch pressure plate component casing fractures and transmission failure or combustion

In some situations, the driver could smell a burnt odor before the pressure clutch plate poses any safety issues. Pulling over immediately and allowing the clutch to cool down may be enough to help prevent the plate from fracturing — that time.

But in other situations, the first the driver may know of any issue is when smoke begins to billow out from the engine bay. As a result, Fiat Chrysler is committed to notifying all affected drivers and quickly correcting this defect.

Jeep’s Repair Strategy

Surprisingly, Jeep won’t need to physically replace these pressure clutch plates to solve the issue. Since this isn’t a part defect but instead a design flaw clutch repair won’t actually be necessary; instead, it can be corrected with a software update designed to reduce the torque of the engine whenever the clutch assembly temperature exceeds a certain level. This should prevent the pressure clutch plate from ever overheating.

Jeep Transmission Recall Repair Reimbursement

This software update should be a fairly quick, easy, and inexpensive fix (considering Fiat Chrysler claims to reimburse vehicle owners for any cost associated with the recall repair). If vehicle owners incur any costs while having the recall repair completed, they can be reimbursed by providing Fiat Chrysler with their original receipt (or any other proof of payment).

If you own a Jeep Wrangler or Gladiator from the affected model years, you can see if your vehicle is included in the recall by looking it up on the NHTSA recalls website.

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