America’s best-selling plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has another battery recall on the books. Jeep has just posted recall “B9A” (aka National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall 23V-787) for the Wrangler 4xe, and it’s a strange one: The recall focuses on a potential fire risk with the 4xe’s 17.3kWh battery, And until it’s fixed, owners are encouraged to stop charging their car and park it outside away from other vehicles:
“An internally failed HV battery may cause the vehicle to fire when the ignition is turned on or off. Vehicle fire may increase the risk of injury to occupants and/or persons outside the vehicle, as well as property damage… Customers are advised to Avoid recharging vehicles and do not park them inside or near buildings or structures. Until final repairs to the vehicle are completed.
Stellantis (Jeep’s parent company) is aware of eight incidents of 4xe battery fires, six of which occurred during charging. More than 42,000 4Xs are being recalled, mostly in the US, although it is expected that only 1% are likely to catch fire. The solution is simple: new software is loaded into the car, and if a specific malfunction is later found, the entire battery will need to be replaced.
If you have a Wrangler 4xe, you can enter your VIN on the Jeep recall site to see if your car is affected. However, that’s only the beginning: Jeep says in the recall notice that it hasn’t yet distributed the software to dealers to fix this. You can sign up to be informed about Is Ready, but that won’t make owners feel any better about driving the car now that they know there’s a fire risk (no matter how small) associated with it.
Any risk of battery fire, no matter how small, will make owners uneasy.
My own 2022 Wrangler 4xe is one of the affected cars, and like many people, I live in a city and don’t really have the option to park outside of garages and away from structures. So, hopefully the software will be available soon and I can fix it. I won’t be charging my car until then, which is a real shame; Although the 4xe’s battery is relatively small, it makes a big difference to the overall fuel economy for short city-centric driving.
Unfortunately this is not the first recall for the 4xe’s battery system. Just over a year ago, Jeep issued recall “Z71” which focused on replacing the wrong fasteners on the hybrid battery, which could cause it to fail and cause the car to lose all power while driving. That recall, which only requires a simple inspection and replacement if faulty fasteners were discovered, took over a month from the time I was informed to the time I could address it.
If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that previous recalls have been successfully addressed (including my own car), and this week’s recall only affects Some? 4xes. Additionally, since Jeep has been using the exact same hybrid battery for the Wrangler 4xe for the last four model years, it’s a well-known system and Jeep probably has a pretty good handle on it.
But it’s just another example of the growing pains associated with our transition to PHEVs and EVs. big batteries can do Can be dangerous if not constructed and operated properly, and even the largest automakers that build hundreds of thousands can encounter problems.