Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling more than 500,000 Jeep Wrangler SUVs from the 2007 to 2016 model year. According to FCA, some of those vehicles may have developed problems with their airbag systems that could prevent the devices from deploying during collisions.
The problem is rooted in the Wrangler's clockspring, which may be affected by dust and dirt--ironically, the very stuff that the off-road-friendly Wrangler would seem to attract. FCA explains:
"Located in a vehicle’s steering wheel, a clockspring forms part of the circuit that helps control airbag function. An investigation by FCA US determined excessive exposure to dust and dirt – consistent with extensive off-road driving or driving with a vehicle’s top and/or doors removed – may compromise the clockspring and eventually prevent driver-side airbag deployment in a crash."
The good news is, FCA knows of no accidents or injuries linked to the problem. Also, if a Wrangler's clockspring has been compromised, the airbag warning light will be illuminated, giving the owner a heads-up.
The bad news is, the recall affects more than half a million vehicles. Most are from 2007-2010 and include 392,464 Wranglers registered in the U.S., 35,412 registered in Canada, 8,529 registered in Mexico, and 62,580 registered elsewhere.
FCA says that an additional 7,435 special-duty, right-hand-drive Wranglers from 2011-2016 are also affected in the U.S.
FCA will mail recall notices to owners, asking them to take their vehicles to Jeep dealerships for service. Dealers will install new a back cover for the steering wheel and a new shroud for the steering column.
If you believe that you own one of these vehicles and have questions, you're encouraged to contact the FCA US Customer Care Center at 1-800-853-1403.