Jeep Recalls 45,000 Electrified Wranglers Over Fire Risk

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Following eight reports of vehicle fires, Jeep has decided to recall 32,125 examples of the Wrangler 4xe PHEV in the United States. The vehicles come from the 2021-2024 model year, with roughly 13,000 being situated outside the U.S. While parent company Stellantis has said the vehicles can continue being driven, it's advising customers against charging them and has likewise recommended parking them outdoors away from anything you might not want burned.

Out of the eight fires reported by Jeep, six reportedly had a Wrangler 4xe hybrid plugged into a charging port. Fortunately, the company said it's unaware of any injuries relating to the issue.

But that does make it sound as though the problem stems from the vehicle's relatively small 17.3-kWh battery pack and/or the charging system. Battery defects have been a sore spot for electrification as the technology matures. While often less rampant than the media likes to suggest, EV fires tend to be extreme in nature due to the way lithium-ion batteries combust.

Damage to the individual cells or internal short circuiting can create thermal runaway events that quickly encompasses the entire battery pack. In fact, most EV fires seem to happen immediately following a crash or when vehicles are plugged in and taking on power. Due to the high energy density of these batteries, the rustling fires are often incredibly violent and exceptionally difficult to stop. As a result, emergency crews often take special precautions when dealing with EV fires — focusing on containment as they allow the battery to burn itself out.

While Stellantis doesn’t appear to have any concrete answers on what’s happening with the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, the company does have a recall plan in place. Sadly, it’s the obligatory software update that seems to have become a catch-all remedy for modern vehicles suffering catastrophic failures. We’re not saying that’s not the best solution here, especially if the fault pertains to the Wrangler’s charging regimen. Modern vehicles are heavily reliant on computers and a few bad lines of code is certainly capable of causing problems.

However, the automotive industry has been leaning on “software updates” to address all sorts of issues lately. Software tweaks cannot solve mechanical problems and sometimes appear to be little more than a way for the company to buy itself some time in the early stages of a recall. They cannot solve any physical defects pertaining to the Jeep’s batteries or charging hardware. But they are significantly cheaper than having to pay for replacement parts and the necessary labor involved in most recall campaigns.

Though Jeep has said it would replace battery packs on Wrangler models where a specific error code is observed. This offers us a hint of where the problem area happens to be and also offers some peace of mind that Stellantis isn’t simply going to do a software flash before calling it a day.

If the software fix doesn’t work, we will undoubtedly see Jeep making more headlines as the Department of Transportation demands additional actions be taken. Concerned Jeep owners can head to the NHTSA recall website and input their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or contact the manufacturer at 1-800-853-1403.

[Image: Jeep]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 26 comments
  • Analoggrotto Analoggrotto on Dec 03, 2023

    Let’s face it , the kind of people driving these things are AFI: Asking For It.

  • Michael Posner Michael Posner on Dec 04, 2023

    I own a 2023 Sahara 4XE and my vin does not show a recall. "Never buying a crap domestic OEM trash box ever again." I love my Jeep, and I just drove a 3,000 mile two week road trip and it worked flawlessly.

  • IBx1 I had high hopes but forgot that people from Alabama live in Alabama
  • AZFelix Any chance of show casing a 4-door Sunfire of 2002 vintage, when they were still selling sedans?
  • Jalop1991 You do realize, you can get a $1 lease payment on any vehicle from any manufacturer, for any term.Just make a big enough "down payment". But hey, at least you have bragging rights, right?I keep seeing this insanity being marketed. "Polestar, only $399 month!" (with a huge "down payment"). Are people really this stupid?$7500 to enter into a lease just so you can say "but the payment is only $559!"??? Good God. And when some car full of Kia Boyz slams into you and totals it as you drive it off the lot, what then? The dealership will laugh at you as they count your $7500 and you stand there on the street looking like a fool.Why do people who lease, put any money down on a depreciating and very easily totalled asset like a car?
  • EngineerfromBaja_1990 A friend from college had its twin (2003 Cavalier 2dr) which fittingly re-named the Cacalier. No description needed
  • Lorenzo GM is getting out of the car biz, selling only trucks, EVs and the Corvette. They're chasing the bigger margins on lower volume, like the dealer trying to sell a car for $1 million: "I just have to sell one!"