Mazda boss: Long live Miata, Jeep’s “death wobble” case update, NHTSA probes 1.9M Ford Explorers

Cameron Neveu

Miata will always be the answer, says Mazda boss

Intake: The Mazda MX-5 Miata will live forever, according to Mazda Europe’s CEO Martijn ten Brink. In a statement that will delight the Miatarati, he told Autocar that: The car “will never die … I think it will continue to exist forever and it will have to go with the times. That’s a super challenge, and people are passionate about this car.” Brink admitted that exactly how Mazda would manage to keep the Miata alive in an electrified future was still under discussion. “How do you stay true to the concept of what the car stands for taking it into the next generation of technologies? That’s not been decided. But I think for Mazda it would be fair to say that the MX-5 will never die.”

Exhaust: Mazda’s Vision Study Model has already given us a hint at what a lightweight electric sports car might look like, but it’s doubly reassuring to have one of the brand’s high-ups confirm that the Miata will always be part of the lineup. — Nik Berg

Mazda Vision Study
Mazda

Jay Leno’s Garage drives an early K-code Mustang

Intake: Scott McMullen shows Jay Leno the ins and outs of his rare, early Mustang equipped with a high-performance 289-cubic-inch V-8. McMullen has lots of interesting tidbits to share about the development of the K-Code V-8 as well as the Mustang’s chassis development. The two take the freshly restored car out for a drive and we get to hear the exhaust that’s only found on the early K-code models.

Exhaust: Whether you’re a Mustang fan or not, there are a lot of facts and trivia to learn about the history of the archetypal pony car and this car has a great story of its own. — Brandan Gillogly

Jeep “Death Wobble” settlement extend warranty, reimburse for repairs

2022 Jeep Wrangler 4XE front three-quarter
Cameron Neveu

Intake: Owners of 2018–2020 Jeep Wranglers and 2020 Jeep Gladiators may soon find reimbursement checks in their mailboxes and notifications that their warranties have been extended. According to the Detroit Free Press, a proposed agreement is on the table currently for a class-action lawsuit filed against Stellantis for a phenomenon in these Jeep models that’s come to be known as “death wobble,” a rapid vibration caused when the vehicle hits a bump at highway speeds, causing the front steering components to shudder. The possible agreement will involve a warranty extension of up to eight years or 90,000 miles and would cover “all parts and labor needed to replace a failed front suspension damper,” the component Jeep blames for the issue, which it refers to as a “vibration.” (Bit friendlier than “death wobble.”) The proposed agreement stipulates that Jeep denies any admission of liability or wrongdoing. In 2019, Jeep did issue a “fix” for the issue involving the replacement of the steering damper, but owners feel that the solution was merely a band-aid. The proposed agreement is waiting on a fairness hearing scheduled for April 19, 2023, in Detroit.

Exhaust: Both sides have a case. From the owner’s side, a car shuddering back and forth at highway speeds certainly warrants a complaint to the manufacturer. But in Jeep’s defense, it is not the only brand whose products have this issue. In fact, any solid-front-axle vehicle is vulnerable to death wobble, just by the nature of the engineering design. Owners of Ford Super Duty pickups, which also have a solid front axle, have also experienced the sensation. We’ll see if the proposed agreement passes muster in April. Until then, mind the rudder if you’re piloting a Wrangler or Gladiator out on the interstate. — Nathan Petroelje

Lincoln will pay Navigator buyers to wait for a ’23

Lincoln

Intake: Lincoln is paying $5000 to Navigator buyers who have orders in for 2022 models—if purchase a 2023 Navigator instead. Essentially, they are being paid to wait. Cars Direct said the news came via a bulletin sent to Lincoln dealers this month saying the $5000 discount is being given to some customers with an unscheduled 2022 Navigator order toward the purchase or lease of a 2023 model. The program is called the “2023-Model Navigator Connect Model Year Transition Private Offer” and is available to “select customers” toward either a 2023 Navigator or Navigator Black Label for vehicles sold between January 12 and April 3, 2023. Eligible customers will be given a certificate worth $5000 off MSRP.

Exhaust: Apparently Lincoln is having trouble filling all the 2022 orders for its most popular vehicle, likely thanks to supply chain issues. The 2022 model starts at $77,635, while the 2023 model starts at $79,725. Shipping for the 2023 model is $1895 and the “acquisition fee” is $645, while the 2022 model ships for $1695 with the same acquisition fee. On either model you order, you must acknowledge this disclaimer: “In light of high demand and supply chain constraints, some models, trims, and features may not be available. Please contact your local Lincoln Retailer for updates and assistance.” — Steven Cole Smith

NHTSA investigates Ford Explorer over windshield trim issues

2019 Ford Explorer Limited exterior front three quarter
Ford

Intake: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a safety probe into nearly 1.9 million Ford Explorers following reports of windshield trim detaching while driving at highway speeds, says Automotive News. NHTSA has received 164 complaints on 2011–19 Ford Explorers about the issue. Some of the complaints allege that “the driver of the vehicle following behind the subject Ford vehicle allegedly was startled when the trim piece hit the windshield and momentarily lost control of the vehicle,” according to a report released that NHTSA released on Tuesday.

Exhaust: A Ford spokesperson told Automotive News: “We’ve received notice from NHTSA, and we plan to work with them as we always do.” NHTSA’s preliminary investigation will “assess the scope, frequency, and potential safety risks of the alleged defect.” Ford can present the results of its own investigation and a recall could be issued if necessary. — SCS

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Comments

    “How do you stay true to the concept of what the car stands for taking it into the next generation of technologies?”
    Don’t try to make it a mini Tesla Roadster. If they have to electrify it, put the motor behind the front axle and nerf it enough that it won’t tear up a manual trans. 180-200hp would be more than enough if they can keep the weight down. Centralize the batteries and controller as well to keep a 50/50 distribution. Surely Mazda can do that…

    Ford is just terrible at preordering and then honoring the order. I’m surprised they are giving money to the Lincoln Navigator customers because they have not been to anyone else that I am aware of. I have a few friends that gave up on Ford and their games.

    Death wobble is terrifying and has been with us forever but is easy to prevent. My 1978 K10 would do it and not settle down until slowed below 30MPH. $23 damper cured it for the rest of its life.

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