2018 JL Loose Steering Daily Journal

Rdmitch

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I am part of that group of JL owners who have loose steering. It's hard to explain but it feels as if you can just take 2 fingers, put them on the steering wheel, and just move it around and turn. There is a lot of play in the steering wheel before the wheels actually turn. This makes staying in your lane very difficult and actually dangerous, especially on the highway and on back country roads with oncoming traffic..... down the rabbit hole we go...

Jeep:
  • 2018 JLU Sahara
  • 6 speed Manual
  • 5,000 miles
  • Upgraded wheels and axles from the factory
  • Build Date: Will input in once I have this info
The Journey Begins:
Back in October I realized that my steering just wasn't right. This is my 4th Jeep (YJ, 2x JKU, JLU) and the steering on this just feels super loose. I just assumed maybe this was due to the new hydro-electronic steering??? I continued to drive for a bit, but I found myself drifting in my lane during highway drives. I also live in an area where the roads are 2 lanes, surrounded by fields, with no shoulders. When you are passing other large vehicles if you aren't exact you are either going to clip mirrors or go slightly off the road. After struggling with this for a few weeks I brought it into the dealer on October 23rd, 2018.

Trip 1 - October 23rd, 2018:
I took it in and was given a loaner Wrangler (Sahara, Manual). After 2 days they called me and told me they couldn't find any issues. It drove "like a Jeep". I dropped off the loaner and took my Jeep back. Obviously they didn't fix anything so it drove the same.

Trip 2 - November 9th, 2018:
This time I took it back, same steering issue. They gave me another loaner Wrangler (Sahara) which again, drove great. I could immediately feel the steering was much more stiff. After 4 days, they called me up and told me that they had found some loose bolts and tightened everything down and it felt much better. I swung in and picked up my Jeep. Again, immediately I knew that the issue was not fixed. The holidays were coming though and I had some plans to be out of town and just kept my Jeep.

Light-bulb Moment - January 31st, 2019:
I was reading some more on here with the issues and saw JeepCares mention to have folks PM them. I went ahead and did this and within a couple days of back and forth (I needed to set up a new appointment, etc) we had a case opened up with FCA. I got a case # from them, etc. I was told a rep would be contacting me, but that actually has not happened yet. (As of 2/14/19 @ 9:15am EST)

Trip 3 - February 13th, 2019:
I brought it back in and got another loaner (Sport, Automatic) which again, drove fantastic with no steering issues. They told me they had been putting new steering stabilizers on some of the Jeeps with similar complaints and hadn't heard back from the customers so they are assuming it fixes the issue. From reading on here I felt that was a long shot, but said go ahead. Later that day, they called me and it was ready to be picked up. Again, less than 100 feet and I knew it didn't fix the issue. They said, "You won't be able to tell until you hit a bump on the highway... it will fix the "death wobble" you were having." I sort of looked at them with a blank expression and went back to square 1 explaining the issue I'm having with my steering. Needless to say, I did not take my Jeep and told them I was going to be leaving it with them until they fixed it this time. I took the loaner and headed out. I messaged JeepCares again and filled them in on the situation (assuming they are filling in my FCA rep, hopefully).

When I explained they didn't fix the issue they were receptive this time to keeping it and continuing to work on it. I'm hoping between that, JeepCares, and FCA I can get a resolution to this obvious issue with steering. As it stands now, I do not plan to take my Jeep back from the dealer until the issue is resolved. Simply put, it's just not safe.
  • 2/14/19 - 1:55pm est: Just got a call from my service advisor (Brandon) at FCA. He said he called the dealership and explained to them that they have multiple bulletins out for this exact issue. He then described the issue to me over the phone without me having to prompt him of what the issue was. He hit the nail right on the head. It appears they are wising up hopefully to this? We shall see. Anyways, they are saying the first step (of many apparently) is to do a "body control module update". The factory configuration for the wheel tension was lost. So they are resetting it to gain that wheel tension back. Again, he said this was the first step of many to see the exact fix. I'll keep you posted.
  • 2/14/19 - 4:30pm est: Steve (Executive Referrals Manager for FCA) reached out to me today via phone and let me know he would be taking over my case from the customer service reps at FCA. He would be contacting the dealer directly to fill them in on the next steps to get the issue resolved.
  • 2/16/19 - 10:00pm est: I have forwarded both the JeepCares and Steve a list of potential fixes for this issue. Not sure if it helps as I have to assume they already have something like this.

Attempted Fixes:
  1. Tightened bolts under Jeep - Didn't fix issue
  2. New steering stabilizer - Didn't fix issue
  3. Body Control Module Update - Awaiting results
I will continue to edit this thread with more details as each day passes and with all comments made by the dealer as to keep a public log of the events in hope that one day, all this hassle will help another Jeep owner.
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Rdmitch

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Thanks for the continual uploads on the issue. This could become a epic novel by the time it’s done

Keeping records of dates and times will help greatly.
 
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millerb7

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What is a super loose steering wandering Jeep?

With the ignition on ACC, when you wiggle the steering wheel—how much play do you have moving the wheel left to right?

Have you experienced uneven tire wear?

What is your steer axle tire inflation?

Have you had any TSB steering updates performed?

Just Curious
If you're asking me... all the basic stuff is covered (tire inflation, no uneven wear, etc etc) it is 100% with the steering unit, not some outside source effecting how the steering "feels".

I can move my wheel 15-20 degrees left and right as much as a want driving down the highway and my front wheels will not move a single degree. This makes it very very hard (and super unsafe) to stay in your lane while driving at 70 mph.

As far as any updates performed, just the things listed above have been done thus far. I am updating that every single day I do anything or hear from anyone.

I can take 2 fingers, place them on the wheel, and just fully turn it all I want. In every single loaner vehicle I have been given, it takes a bit of "effort" to actually turn the wheel. A much heavier feeling.
 

Jimac

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Thanks for the continual uploads on the issue. This could become a epic novel by the time it’s done

Keeping records of dates and times will help greatly.
How’s this for keeping records: 2018 JL steering problems, 2019 JL steering problems, 2020 Gladiator????? Can’t wait to see that forum!!!! I must say I am one of the lucky 2018 Rubicon owners that in 8 months and 8000 miles with no mods to tires, wheels and/or suspension to have not experience any problems. I daily drive, off road and flat tow with motor home using BlueOx.
 
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millerb7

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sooo.. you drive it yet??
Yes. It's fixed. I have a slight "about 3/4" movement (dead spot)" when the wheel is perfectly straight so just going to have them tighten that up a bit during my next oil change. But yep.... it's a totally different vehicle.

To fix this super minor wiggle when the wheel is straight, they are just going to adjust the toe.
 
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californiajeeping

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Yes. It's fixed. I have a slight "about 3/4" movement (dead spot)" when the wheel is perfectly straight so just going to have them tighten that up a bit during my next oil change. But yep.... it's a totally different vehicle.
What was done to fix it?
 

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millerb7

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What was done to fix it?
I've updated my initial post... but essentially I was told there are bad stabilizers going on Jeeps from Chrysler themselves. These are in turn ruining the steering gear boxes apparently.

My fix was a new, beefier stabilizer + a totally new steering gear box. It really is night and day difference on the play in the wheel... rather incredible honestly.

I believe I was treated with a little more care as my Jeep 100% sat very nicely right in the lemon law in my state. It qualified on all points and was really a home run Lemon case. I explained this to them, and even spoke with an attorney before doing this process. I must say, while not having my jeep for a few weeks sucked... I was given a loaner Wrangler the entire time they did the work... and the dealer and Chrysler corporate never gave me much hassle at all. They honestly seemed like they wanted to get this issue resolved. I guess I may be one of the lucky ones as most of the stories I read on here sound pretty terrible as far as customer experience goes.
 

Rdmitch

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I've updated my initial post... but essentially I was told there are bad stabilizers going on Jeeps from Chrysler themselves. These are in turn ruining the steering gear boxes apparently.

My fix was a new, beefier stabilizer + a totally new steering gear box. It really is night and day difference on the play in the wheel... rather incredible honestly.

I believe I was treated with a little more care as my Jeep 100% sat very nicely right in the lemon law in my state. It qualified on all points and was really a home run Lemon case. I explained this to them, and even spoke with an attorney before doing this process. I must say, while not having my jeep for a few weeks sucked... I was given a loaner Wrangler the entire time they did the work... and the dealer and Chrysler corporate never gave me much hassle at all. They honestly seemed like they wanted to get this issue resolved. I guess I may be one of the lucky ones as most of the stories I read on here sound pretty terrible as far as customer experience goes.

I’m so glad,you got it done that is wonderful news. What I don’t get is my steering is not really loose...it,just drifts around. It has done this since the day I drove it off the lot with 25 miles on it, so a bad stabilizer most likely would have had no time to damage a steering box.
They are going to replace the track bar...probably the same thing and the steering box. They said 2 days once the parts arrive. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. They just better not give me another Cherokee to use...didn’t like that car at all.
 

californiajeeping

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I’m so glad,you got it done that is wonderful news. What I don’t get is my steering is not really loose...it,just drifts around. It has done this since the day I drove it off the lot with 25 miles on it, so a bad stabilizer most likely would have had no time to damage a steering box.
They are going to replace the track bar...probably the same thing and the steering box. They said 2 days once the parts arrive. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. They just better not give me another Cherokee to use...didn’t like that car at all.
For drifting, also check all bolts, nuts, etc. on the steering and suspension system for the proper torque - many have reported finding these very loose, check the toe - even if it is in spec, change it anyway to the other end of the spec, try tire pressure at 37 and 33, tire balance. Might be caster, but that would take longer lower control arms.
 

Rdmitch

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For drifting, also check all bolts, nuts, etc. on the steering and suspension system for the proper torque - many have reported finding these very loose, check the toe - even if it is in spec, change it anyway to the other end of the spec, try tire pressure at 37 and 33, tire balance. Might be caster, but that would take longer lower control arms.
Yep...everything was checked carefully by the Jeep dealer and tire pressures were tried ranging from 32 to 38 psi
 

californiajeeping

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Yep...everything was checked carefully by the Jeep dealer and tire pressures were tried ranging from 32 to 38 psi
Did they say the toe was in spec or did they try different numbers within the spec and re-test drive each time? Check out this video where he talks about 1/8" toe at 4 minutes 30 seconds.

 

x7tristan

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*** ISSUE WAS FIXED. PLEASE READ BELOW ***

I am part of that group of JL owners who have loose steering. It's hard to explain but it feels as if you can just take 2 fingers, put them on the steering wheel, and just move it around and turn. There is a lot of play in the steering wheel before the wheels actually turn. This makes staying in your lane very difficult and actually dangerous, especially on the highway and on back country roads with oncoming traffic..... down the rabbit hole we go...

Jeep:
  • 2018 JLU Sahara
  • 6 speed Manual
  • 5,000 miles
  • Upgraded wheels and axles from the factory
  • Build Date: Will input in once I have this info
The Journey Begins:
Back in October I realized that my steering just wasn't right. This is my 4th Jeep (YJ, 2x JKU, JLU) and the steering on this just feels super loose. I just assumed maybe this was due to the new hydro-electronic steering??? I continued to drive for a bit, but I found myself drifting in my lane during highway drives. I also live in an area where the roads are 2 lanes, surrounded by fields, with no shoulders. When you are passing other large vehicles if you aren't exact you are either going to clip mirrors or go slightly off the road. After struggling with this for a few weeks I brought it into the dealer on October 23rd, 2018.

Trip 1 - October 23rd, 2018:
I took it in and was given a loaner Wrangler (Sahara, Manual). After 2 days they called me and told me they couldn't find any issues. It drove "like a Jeep". I dropped off the loaner and took my Jeep back. Obviously they didn't fix anything so it drove the same.

Trip 2 - November 9th, 2018:
This time I took it back, same steering issue. They gave me another loaner Wrangler (Sahara) which again, drove great. I could immediately feel the steering was much more stiff. After 4 days, they called me up and told me that they had found some loose bolts and tightened everything down and it felt much better. I swung in and picked up my Jeep. Again, immediately I knew that the issue was not fixed. The holidays were coming though and I had some plans to be out of town and just kept my Jeep.

Light-bulb Moment - January 31st, 2019:
I was reading some more on here with the issues and saw JeepCares mention to have folks PM them. I went ahead and did this and within a couple days of back and forth (I needed to set up a new appointment, etc) we had a case opened up with FCA. I got a case # from them, etc. I was told a rep would be contacting me, but that actually has not happened yet. (As of 2/14/19 @ 9:15am EST)

Trip 3 - February 13th, 2019:
I brought it back in and got another loaner (Sport, Automatic) which again, drove fantastic with no steering issues. They told me they had been putting new steering stabilizers on some of the Jeeps with similar complaints and hadn't heard back from the customers so they are assuming it fixes the issue. From reading on here I felt that was a long shot, but said go ahead. Later that day, they called me and it was ready to be picked up. Again, less than 100 feet and I knew it didn't fix the issue. They said, "You won't be able to tell until you hit a bump on the highway... it will fix the "death wobble" you were having." I sort of looked at them with a blank expression and went back to square 1 explaining the issue I'm having with my steering. Needless to say, I did not take my Jeep and told them I was going to be leaving it with them until they fixed it this time. I took the loaner and headed out. I messaged JeepCares again and filled them in on the situation (assuming they are filling in my FCA rep, hopefully).

When I explained they didn't fix the issue they were receptive this time to keeping it and continuing to work on it. I'm hoping between that, JeepCares, and FCA I can get a resolution to this obvious issue with steering. As it stands now, I do not plan to take my Jeep back from the dealer until the issue is resolved. Simply put, it's just not safe.
  • 2/14/19 - 1:55pm est: Just got a call from my service advisor (Brad) at FCA. He said he called the dealership and explained to them that they have multiple bulletins out for this exact issue. He then described the issue to me over the phone without me having to prompt him of what the issue was. He hit the nail right on the head. It appears they are wising up hopefully to this? We shall see. Anyways, they are saying the first step (of many apparently) is to do a "body control module update". The factory configuration for the wheel tension was lost. So they are resetting it to gain that wheel tension back. Again, he said this was the first step of many to see the exact fix. I'll keep you posted.
  • 2/14/19 - 4:30pm est: Steve (Executive Referrals Manager for FCA) reached out to me today via phone and let me know he would be taking over my case from the customer service reps at FCA. He would be contacting the dealer directly to fill them in on the next steps to get the issue resolved.
  • 2/16/19 - 10:00pm est: I have forwarded both the JeepCares and Steve a list of potential fixes for this issue. Not sure if it helps as I have to assume they already have something like this.
  • 2/18/19 - 1:40pm est: I am just adding another source of possible "fixes" for this issue, thanks to a kind submitter below. I have also forwarded this link to Steve and JeepCares as well.
  • 2/18/19 - 4:08pm est: My dealer called me to give me an update. I missed the call but he just said he was filling me in to let me know they hadn't forgotten about me. They have been working directly with Chrysler and feel they have a good direction to start heading in to get this fixed up. Next step is replacing the steering gear box. He is also going to touch base with them before they do the replacement to get a few other items on the list to replace as well.
  • 2/20/19 - 2.55pm est: Got a call from FCA updating me. They are telling me that the engineers are working directly with the dealer to get this remedied. After the module update, they noticed the steering was moving in an oblong rotation vs a circular rotation. From that they are replacing the steering box. They are also authorizing the dealer to get a Teraflex (aftermarket) steering stabilizer and putting that on as well. They actually said a new stabilizer is under development in-house, but it'll be awhile before it's fully ready. Honestly not entirely sure why they decided to go this route as replacing my steering stabilizer with a new one (still Jeeps though) did absolutely nothing for me. I have my doubts that the beefier aftermarket one will do anything either. We shall see.
  • 2/21/19 - 2:30pm est: I was just called by FCA and told that the Jeep was done. They did the new steering stabilizer and the new gearbox. According to the dealer it is a "night and day" difference, and is fixed. I will be going to drive it this evening to see. If it is not fixed, I'm instructed to call FCA back and let them know (they will be checking in with me tomorrow regardless). If not fixed, I'm to take it back to dealer for them and Chrysler to do more work on it to fix it.
  • Fixed on 2/21/19 pickup.

Attempted Fixes:
  1. Tightened bolts under Jeep - Didn't fix issue
  2. New steering stabilizer - Didn't fix issue
  3. Body Control Module Update - Didn't fix issue
  4. Steering gear box replacement - Fixed Issue
  5. Aftermarket steering stabilizer (dealer providing Tereflex) - Fixed Issue
So it appears the issue here was a bad stabilizer. That then ruined the steering gear box. There's something (sorry, I'm an IT guy, not a mechanic) in the steering gear box that's suppose to move in a circular motion. Mine was moving in an oval motion. So they replaced the stabilizer and the gear box and now it's about a 9/10. Before I would have said a 2/10... so drastic improvement. The only issue left now is that at the straight position, there is about a 3/4" "dead spot" in the wheel... but that's easily adjusted by adjusting the toe, so just going to do that on next oil change (in about 1,000 miles). Please note, this little minor wiggle I'm having now is absolutely nothing like the "loose steering" issue. That issue, at least for me, is now fully resolved.

Another interesting note is I was told by Chrysler that they are aware of this issue. The root cause is a bad stabilizer that's apparently ruining the gear box. They are working on manufacturing a new stabilizer to start putting on the Jeeps that are assembled but don't have an exact completion date for that. Until then, they are authorizing dealers to use beefier aftermarket stabilizers for replacements before they do the steering gear boxes.

If you have any questions for me about how I went through this process and the specific people I contacted at FCA and other places, please let me know.

I will continue to edit this thread with more details as each day passes and with all comments made by the dealer as to keep a public log of the events in hope that one day, all this hassle will help another Jeep owner.

Any recommendations on how to get the dealer/fca to do your remedies? I've gone to the dealer and they just told me to upgrade the steering stabilizer
 

Rdmitch

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2020 JLUR, ford transit 250, 2017 Wrangler Smoky Mountain Edition
Occupation
Mechanical designer /contractor and musician
The stabilizer seems to be more of a solution for the DW, not what I experience yet. It seems like a great idea for that problem and I think I’m going to push for that to be done at the same time other repairs are done as a preventative measure. I really got,very minimal response until I got a little firmer in my stance with FCA and said this drifting is totally unacceptable and starting talking buy backs and legal action since I recently came within 1 inch of a semi as I drifted into his space. Fortunately the tech at the dealership with 20 yrs of Jeep experience substantiated that there is a real issue here.
I’m hoping to get a steering box and whatever a track bar is. If I can also convince them the yeti stabilizer would be a benefit itsmthe perfect time to do it.
They have done alignment, realignment and whatever else they could.

Update....I just looked online at what a “track bar” is, and it appears to be exactly the same item as the YETI stabilizer so maybe that’s what they plan to install anyway. It would be nice.
 
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