As a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), the Jeep Wrangler 4xe is supposed to let its engine shut down when it’s not needed. While that can turn off when you’re not always expecting it, it shouldn’t happen randomly. Thanks to an error that’s occurring in the powertrain and transmission control systems, Jeep has had to issue a recall due to the engine shutting down when it’s not supposed to, but that recall doesn’t contain a finalized fix yet.
The Jeep Wrangler 4xe is a wonderful PHEV off-roader because it does everything a standard Wrangler can do, but with electric-only range, a 2.0 liter turbocharged I-4, and fuel saving you’ll never get from an ICE only Jeep. It can be a bit surprising to new owners when the engine turns off and doesn’t start up again when driving it around at slow speeds.
What’s not supposed to happen is it randomly shutting the whole powertrain system completely off while it’s driving, which is the cause of this latest recall. What appears to be happening is a software glitch that occurs when diagnostic reactions to the powertrain and transmission faults occur. Those reactions cause a loss of communication between the engine and those systems and result in random ICE shutdowns.
What those particular faults are, what’s causing them, and the solution is currently still being investigated by Stellantis, according to the NHTSA report on the recall, which also shows that its only occurring on model year (MY) 2021 to 2023 Wrangler 4xes. This means that 62,909 Wrangler PHEVs are affected and include brand new units that might still be on dealer lots.
It Has an All-Electric Mode, but That Doesn’t Let It Keep Going
While the 4xe has an “EV” mode for slow speeds, it appears that it can’t work when this ICE fault occurs and you’ll lose all motive drive. The notice gives us a bit of a clue why that is the case. “Remedy is updated calibration software in the Transmission Control Module, Hybrid Control Processor and Auxiliary Hybrid Control Processor,” it reads.
Essentially, whatever is causing this issue involves all three systems of the ICE, hybrid motor, and the transmission. The notice also shows that they may have a calibration that works to prevent this as vehicles built after August 17, 2022 (as MY 2023 vehicles) are not affected by this recall. The notice states, “The suspect period began on September 2, 2020, when the 2021 MY production began and ended on August 17, 2022, when the 2023 MY production began with updated vehicle control software. The suspect period was determined using supplier and vehicle production records.”
Just because a powertrain and transmission control calibration is satisfactory for 2023 MY vehicles doesn’t mean it will work for anything before that. There may be changes, even small ones, throughout a production year run that can make that 2023 calibration not work with a 2022 or older vehicle. Just look at the issues surrounding the manual transmission 2022 Dodge Challenger, for instance.
No Stop-Drive, but a Stop-Sale and Only the Wrangler 4xe
While it can already be challenging to buy one from the dealer, any model 4xe built between September 2, 2020 and August 17, 2022 will have to be held on dealer lots thanks to this recall. Per national law, any vehicle (or any product) that has a recall must have that recall remedied before they can sell it to you.
Private party sales aren’t included in that requirement, but you should definitely get this recall repair performed when it’s ready. Fortunately for owners that have these Wranglers already in their possession, they may continue driving their 4xes on the roads, but to just be aware that this fault could happen to them. What’s also evident from the recall notice is that Stellantis is confident that it’s only this particular combination that is affected. The Grand Cherokee 4xe nor any other Stellantis PHEV product should experience this issue despite potentially using this same PHEV system.
Notifications and Previous Repairs
Jeep states that they will begin to send out notices about the recall to owners “on or about” January 12, 2023, but you can also contact Jeep by calling 1-800-853-1403 if you’re concerned about your Wrangler 4xe and this recall. You can also check to see if your PHEV Jeep is under recall by visiting the NHTSA’s website and inputting your VIN or checking by entering your vehicle’s year, make, and model information.
Also, if you have had a repair performed related to this problem before the recall was issued, Jeep will reimburse owners for that cost or repair. “FCA US has a longstanding policy and practice of reimbursing owners who have incurred the cost of repairing a problem that subsequently becomes the subject of a field action,” the recall notice states; “To ensure consistency, FCA US, as part of the owner letter, will request that customers send the original receipt and/or other adequate proof of payment to the company for confirmation of the expense.”
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