Lemberg Law is investigating multiple consumer reports relating to 2021-2023 Jeep Wrangler PHEV vehicles with batteries that can cause them to catch fire. Dozens of owners whose vehicles have been recalled urgently have lodged official complaints with the NHTSA because the parts needed to repair them aren’t available. In the meantime, they have been told there is a safety risk and advised not to recharge their Jeeps. They should also park away from structures until the repair is completed.
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Battery Issue Explained
There certainly is a battery/fire issue with the 2021-2023 Jeep Wrangler Plug-In Hybrid Electrical (PHEV) vehicles. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has issued an urgent recall for 32,125 Jeeps, warning owners that the “high voltage battery may fail internally and lead to a vehicle fire while parked or driving.”
NHTSA Campaign Number 23V787000 warns that the high-voltage (HV) batteries in 2021-2023 Jeep Wrangler PHEV vehicles “may fail and cause fire”. Issued on November 22, 2023, it advises owners “not to recharge their vehicles, and to park outside and away from structures until they are repaired.” Dealers have been instructed to update the high voltage battery pack software and replace the battery pack assembly if necessary, free of charge.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was notified of the recall on November 22, 2023, but letters advising owners about the defect were only due to be mailed on January 11, 2024. Nevertheless, many owners learned about the recall when it was issued, and were able to confirm that their Jeeps were included in the recall by submitting the vehicle’s VIN to the NHTSA online. There is also evidence that some owners had received the recall notice in December 2023. The problem is that the software and parts needed to fix the vehicles weren’t, and still aren’t, available. This has led to dozens of complaints being sent to the NHTSA by angry owners who are severely compromised by the serious safety risk.
Previous Battery Recalls
This is the third recall affecting 2022 and 2023 Jeep Wrangler PHEV vehicles. The first, NHTSA Campaign Number 22V768000 was issued on October 13, 2022. The second, NHTSA Campaign Number 23V303000 was issued on April 27, 2023. They affected 13,722 and 2,564 Jeeps respectively. Both stated, “Excessive heat may cause the fuse to fail and result in a loss of drive power, increasing the risk of a crash.”
While there is no fire warning, the recall states that the high-voltage battery pack assembly was built with incorrect fasteners to secure the 200-amp fuse. This “can generate excessive heat.”
It is interesting to note that on January 30, 2023, more than three months after recall 22V768000 was issued, the parts needed to repair the faulty batteries weren’t available. Dealers had been instructed to “inspect and replace the HV battery fuse” and also “inspect the battery assembly for damage and replace it, if necessary.”
After losing motive power on a highway and having the Jeep towed to the dealer, an owner from Florida was told that the parts needed for the recall repair “were on a national back order.” As a result, the vehicle wasn’t diagnosed or repaired.
Most of the complaints lodged with the NHTSA about battery failure and potential fire problems relate to the fact that the parts for the recall aren’t available. Furthermore, the majority of complaints come from 2021 MY owners. However, the very first complaint was from a 2022 MY owner in Florida on November 22, the very day the recall was launched.
“The dealership is telling me I need to take the vehicle even though they cannot fix the recall. This is a liability to society and myself. People’s lives are at risk. There is a fire risk recall on the HV battery.”
The owner of a 2021 MY Jeep filed a complaint on December 9, 2023, before receiving the official letter from FCA. “There’s currently no remedy. It’s the third recall on this vehicle. I’m also wondering why Jeep or anyone has (not) contacted me about this. I had to find out on the internet (and) then make phone calls to confirm. Telling us to not park our cars next to buildings or other cars is unrealistic. Like where? Up in the mountains? We are in southern California.”
More Complaints about the Recall Issue
The most recent complaint on file with the NHTSA is from an owner in California who wanted to place on record that it was 30 days since the recall and “no remedy has been made available. No replacement or temporary replacement such as a loaner or rental car has been made available to customers.” The complaint goes on to say that the situation is untenable. “We do not have off-street parking, and cannot park it in our driveway or garage. We are paying for not being able to charge the vehicle and using gas instead. Chrysler needs to replace these vehicles now. We are in contact with our lemon lawyers.”
Another owner from California states “I have nowhere to park my Jeep but inside my garage as I live in a HOA housing development with limited parking. My family feels terrified and we would like to have the Jeep fixed ASAP or bought back.”
A complaint from an owner in Nevada filed in January, gives the “incident” date as December 18, 2023. After receiving the recall notice, the owner learned that “the root cause is still being investigated and there is no fix at this time.” The complaint goes on to say, “I have followed up with FCA and Jeep Care and have not heard back from them. It’s been several weeks. This should be a lemon and bought back as it cannot be used as intended.”
An owner from Illinois contacted FCA Support for more information after receiving the recall notice. They “indicated that I should continue to operate the vehicle and should schedule a service appointment with a dealership… “In other words, FCA has instructed me to continue operating a vehicle it has deemed unsafe. Alternatively, the vehicle is rendered totally inoperable and no remedy has been offered.”
Fire Implications Complaints
In March 2021, an owner from New Jersey notified the NHTSA about a fire that seemed to have started in the engine of the Jeep. However, there is no clarity on the cause of the fire. “Our 2021 Jeep started smoking in the engine and within 10 minutes burst into flames. The entire front end was damaged beyond repair.” The fire department had to extinguish the fire. “My daughter, dogs, and I were able to make it out of the car, but (it was) very scary.”
A complaint from a Texas owner tells how, in May 2023, less than 24 hours after taking delivery of a 2021 MY Jeep Wrangler PHEV with 76 miles on the odometer, there were numerous error messages. These included the check engine light, a vehicle charge fault, and a message to service the hybrid electrical vehicle system. The next day, the dealer diagnosed “a P0AA6-00 ‘Hybrid Battery Voltage System Isolation Fault’,” but stated the Jeep was safe to drive until the repair parts were received.
Little more than two weeks later, the dealer said that according to FCA, the indicator lamp module they had ordered would not correct the issue. They refused to return the vehicle to the owner stating that: “FCA said vehicle can not be placed back on road as it may catch fire or explode.”
After seven months, the dealer had “changed 1 indicator lamp module, 2 battery heater/chiller modules, 3 PHEV main wire harnesses and have requested a 4th as they have not been able to make the previous 3 work/function.” The complaint states that additional parts wouldn’t be available for at least another month. Meanwhile, the vehicle now sits with 17 unresolved trouble codes.
The question is, did FCA know about the battery fire risk this long ago?
What Should You Do if Your Wrangler Hybrid Has Battery Issues?
If you have issues with your 2021-2023 Jeep Wrangler PHEV that relate to the battery failure/fire recall, Lemberg Law would like to hear about them. We will evaluate your problems free of charge, and see if you are eligible to join our current class action investigation.
All you have to do is fill out a contact form or call our Helpline. It’s not going to cost you anything because the law says FCA must pay the legal bills for lemon law cases.