Loose steering is one of the most common NHTSA complaints with the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL made some major improvements over the old JK’s design. It has a fresh new look, more upscale interior, and a more refined driving experience both on and off-road. 2018 has been one of the best years for Jeep’s best-selling model. More people are buying new Wranglers, and they’re also having steering issues soon afterward. One owner, Brian, recently reached out to TFLcar to tell us his story.
Brian bought his Wrangler in June 2018 with 50 miles on the clock. He immediately noticed something was off with the steering. It didn’t get any better over time, so he took the car into his local Jeep dealer. After about a week, they returned the Wrangler, claiming they fixed the problem. However, the on-center steering play persisted, and he talked to Jeep Cares – the brand’s customer service arm – to try and get to the bottom of it.
Does anyone else have tons of play in the steering wheel and has the dealer fixed it for you?
Posted by Brian Countryman on Saturday, July 14, 2018
A little while ago, Brian posted this video to Facebook, demonstrating the problem. After his first experience, Jeep Cares asked him to take his Wrangler back to the dealer for another look. He drove the car with the service shop foreman. After that, “[the shop foreman] told the service tech there is an issue and to take it back.”
Getting to the root of the problem
The next day after Brian dropped off his Jeep again, he got a call from the dealer. “No issue found,” they said. He decided to e-mail FCA corporate to see if they had an answer to the problem. He has also been working with another JL owner with the same issues. They both have talked to FCA with no results, at least at this time.
“I have checked all the bolts that they said were tight and they are loose.” Brian continues to work with his local dealer and FCA to get to the root of the issue, but the problem continues with his 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL. “I have not changed or taken any action myself to fix the issues because I want the car as it was built from the factory.”
Similar problems with other Wranglers
One of the questions we were left with after the initial message was whether there are any open recalls on the issue. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s website, there are currently five open recalls on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler. One campaign, published May 25, 2018, notes a potential failure of the intermediate steering shaft. However, that recall only affects 539 models. That also relates to an actual mechanical failure, whereas this just deals with an issue of the system giving a lot of play in the steering.
However, an issue becomes more apparent in the “Complaints” section. While there are a handful of complaints for suspension, electrical and engine issues, steering seems to be a common thread. At time of writing, there are 111 complaints about the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL’s steering. Comments since June 2018 carry a similar theme:
Apart from the play in the steering, some owners also claim to have issues keeping their cars in a straight line. We reached out to FCA for comment, and they responded that they look into issues as they arise. “We continually monitor the performance of our vehicles in the field, and we invite customers with concerns to contact their dealers.”
What Can Be Done?
Potential fixes for the steering issue range from making sure all the bolts in the steering system are properly torqued to Jeep dealers recalibrating the PCM software to change the steering feel. Others suggested making sure your tire pressures are correct, and to test drive a Wrangler JL for a good distance – at least 25-30 miles – to identify whether that particular vehicle drives as you feel it should.
There is no open recall on a loose steering issue in 2018 Jeep Wrangler JLs. Given the Jeep Wrangler’s popularity – particularly that of the JL – the complaints seen above represent a small fraction of all examples of the model out on the roads. However, it does seem that loose steering is an issue in the new generation, and owners are looking to FCA to sort the problem.