Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is the latest vehicle manufacturer to be hit with allegations of defective windshields on select models. Three plaintiffs from as many different states now allege the company’s 2016-present Jeep Wranglers and Gladiators contain defects that leave windshields prone to cracking, fracturing or chipping.
Plaintiffs Jacob Reinkraut, Steve Smith and Matthew Chapman allege in their New Jersey District Court complaint that the vehicles in question are designed and manufactured “with one or more” design and manufacturing defects. They say the alleged defects make the vehicles’ windshields “extremely prone to cracking, fracturing or chipping.”
The plaintiffs argue that windshield damage occurs in circumstances where a non-defective windshield would experience no issues. The plaintiffs cite the use of the defroster and “small pebbles” as examples.
Smith writes in the complaint that he purchased a new 2021 Jeep Wrangler in November 2021 before experiencing issues in the fall of 2022. He says he pulled the vehicle from the garage and turned the engine off while chatting with a neighbor in 75-degree weather. Smith says his windshield was cracked upon reentering the vehicle. Additionally, in the spring of 2023, Smith alleges that a gnat caused a chip to appear in his replacement windshield, necessitating a repair.
FCA is also accused of concealing the defect from consumers while continuing to sell and market Wranglers and Gladiators. The plaintiffs argue the manufacturer did so even though it knew, “or was reckless in not knowing,” that the alleged defect was present.
However, based on an “extensive number” of customer complaints, field investigations, communications with dealerships and more, the plaintiffs say FCA would have known of not only the alleged issue but the safety risks it posed.
Additionally, the complaint notes windshields may fail shortly after the expiration of the express warranty and that warranty coverage may be denied based on applicable exclusions. Furthermore, the plaintiffs call Jeep’s written warranty “procedurally and substantively unconscionable” as it failed to inform consumers of the alleged defect while also containing “grossly inadequate” warranty time limits. “Environmental factors” are also excluded within the warranty, according to the complaint.
“FCA’s basic limited warranty lasts for 36 months from the date it begins or 36,000 miles on the odometer, whichever occurs first,” the plaintiffs write in their complaint. “However, FCA limits the warranty on the windshield to only 12 months or 12,000 miles.”
The plaintiffs levy approximately 10 charges against FCA, including common law fraud, fraudulent concealment, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, unjust enrichment and more. The plaintiffs demand a jury trial. FCA has yet to file a response with the court, as the plaintiffs filed the lawsuit earlier this week on Tuesday, May 23.
FCA is not alone in facing allegations of defective windshields on certain models, joining Kia and Jaguar Land Rover North America. On a separate but still glass-related note, a number of vehicle manufacturers are also being sued with respect to allegations of defective panoramic sunroofs. Again, the plaintiffs in those cases allege manufacturing defects that leave sunroofs prone to breaking or shattering. Vehicle manufacturers facing those lawsuits include Mercedes, Toyota and Nissan.