— A Jeep Wrangler casting sand lawsuit alleges sludge blocks radiators, engines and oil coolers due to excess sand left from the casting of the engines during manufacturing.
The class-action lawsuit says 2012-2017 Jeep Wranglers have excess sand left in the cylinder heads that seeps out gradually as the vehicles are driven.
The plaintiffs say all the sand must be removed or destroyed during production of the cylinder head or other component engine parts will suffer serious problems. Specifically, any residual sand that remains from the sand-casting process in the engine can also circulate through the vehicle’s cooling system and settle in the heater core, radiator, and oil cooling systems.
The sand forms a sludge-like build-up in the bottom of the radiator reservoir that continues to accumulate until heating and cooling systems malfunction and fail.
In July 2013, Donna and William Mooradian leased a new 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited that came with Chrysler's New Vehicle Limited Warranty and Powertrain Limited Warranty. In October 2016, the heater started blowing cool air from the vents, including while trying to use the defroster to melt ice on the windshield.
In January 2017 and with the odometer at 33,000 miles, and after repeatedly experiencing the same problems for several months, the plaintiffs took the Jeep for repairs and were told a sludge-like residue was found in the radiator and oil cooler. The sludge had caused the problems by restricting air flow through the cooling system.
The class-action lawsuit alleges the sludge-like residue had been building up in the radiator for a number of years from residual sand from the engine casting process.
The plaintiffs were informed the radiator, oil cooler and heater core would need to be replaced, something that would cost $2,600 to fix because the warranty had expired. After speaking with the service manager, the price was dropped to $300, with the dealer eating the rest of the cost.
The plaintiffs say Chrysler never told them about the sludge problem because the automaker knew it would never sell the Jeep. With the sand and sludge problem, the lawsuit says the value of the Jeep Wranglers has decreased in every way, including trade-in and resale values.
Jeep owners ask the automaker to repair the sludge problems within the warranty period but Chrysler refuses to cover the costs, telling the plaintiffs the problems aren't included in the warranty, or the warranty has expired.
The plaintiffs say the automaker knew or should have known about the sand and sludge in 2011, especially due to the complaints lodged by Wrangler owners starting in 2012. Once owners brought the Jeeps to dealerships, those owners were never told the real cause of the problems and then were told warranties wouldn't cover the cost of repairs.
According to the lawsuit, there were thousands of Jeeps manufactured using the sand-casting method since 2012, and numerous complaints across the Internet attest to the problems caused by the sand.
"I bought my 2012 Jeep Wrangler used in February 2015 with approximately 11,110 miles. By this winter (2016) I had put approximately 26,000 miles on the vehicle. When I went to turn on the heat the driver's side was blowing cold air and the passenger's side hot. I took it to my local garage and they said I had casting sand built up and suggested I replace my heater core and radiator."
The owner says he was advised to contact Chrysler about a "good faith" warranty replacement since Chrysler knows about the problem. The automaker told him the heater core had been replaced once already and probably needed to be replaced again.
- "Soooo, my heater core was flushed and now I have heat again. However, if this is a problem that results from casting sand build up (which the dealership mechanic said it was) won't this just happen again? In summary, at 11,000 miles the heater core was replaced. The new heater core needed to be replaced after 26,000 miles, but was flushed instead. I'm thinking of trading in the 2012 model for a newer one if this is a known problem with this year..."
Another 2012 Wrangler owner says the cost to fix heater problems is keeping him from having the heat he needs.
"I bought my 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport JK new in 2012 and it was awesome. At the time, I lived in Arizona and I never really noticed the heating problem until I moved to Missouri and last winter, I noticed it. The left side was not blowing near as hot as the right side. Its barely warm on the left. I have read many posts about the casting sand issue and I have had it flushed and it was better for a day or two. It did come back and its like before. I hear that the job is a new heater core and will cost me upwards of $2000 and I'm not in a position to pay that right now so I am just dealing with it. Jeep should take care of this as many many JK owners have dealt with this in the past."
According to the Wrangler lawsuit, many automakers create engine parts using a sandcasting method that uses sand molds to form metal parts from alloys. The Jeep Wranglers have Pentastar V-6 3.6-liter (Penstar) engine blocks made by using a die-casting method rather than a sand-casting method.
However, the cylinder heads that are located on top of the engines are made using a sand-casting method. And according to the plaintiffs, this is not the first time Chrysler has experienced issues with its cylinder heads in the Penstar engines. In 2012, Chrysler recalled 7,500 cylinder heads due to a “ticking” sound in the engine, stalling and other problems.
Jeep Wrangler owners do not learn of the existence of the alleged defects until the heating and cooling systems fail even though the sand starts to shed from the cylinder heads and collects in the radiators immediately after the vehicles are driven.
The problems also allegedly cannot be fixed by normal maintenance because regular engine flushes do not remove the thick sludge-like sand residue at the bottom of the radiator. Any relief provided by a routine engine flush is, at best, only a temporary improvement because the casting sand has already circulated within the vehicle and continues to build up in the engine.
The plaintiffs say all the problems will continue until new engines are installed in the Jeeps, engines that don't contain any casting sand.
The Jeep Wrangler radiator and engine sludge lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio - Mooradian et al v. FCA US LLC.
CarComplaints.com has complaints about the model year Jeeps named in the casting sand lawsuit: