Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator recalled for clutches that could catch fire

Problem generates intense heat, and a total of 33,237 vehicles are affected

According to documents from the National Highway Safety Administration, Jeep will recall a total of 33,237 of its 2018-2020 Wrangler SUVs and 2020 Gladiator pickup trucks equipped with manual transmissions due to clutch pressure plates that could overheat and fracture. That could lead to a fire, cause the vehicle to lose its ability to move, or result in debris that could damage other nearby components or fall onto the road. As you can imagine, none of those outcomes is good.

The recall covers Wranglers built between August 23, 2017, until the issue was discovered on February 13, 2020, and Gladiators built from December 21, 2018, until February 20, 2020. According to NHTSA's documentation (PDF link), Fiat Chrysler engineers were able to re-create the problem in the lab and found that the pressure plate can reach 1,100 degrees Celsius, which is hot enough for it to be "a competent ignition source."

So far, Jeep is aware of 13 field reports, 35 warranty claims, and one minor injury, but zero accidents related to the issue. Clutches that start to smell like they are burning and abnormal clutch pedal travel are early symptoms of an impending problem.

Jeep will recall the affected vehicles beginning April 22, 2020, but the remedy is "still under development." Owners concerned their vehicles may be included in the recall — and judging by the production dates and numbers, that's probably every owner of a current-generation Wrangler or Gladiator equipped with a manual — can contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403 and reference recall W12.

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