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Cherokee production and problems

by David Zatz on

According to normally reliable source oh2o, Jeep has produced a fairly wide mix of 2014 Cherokees so far at their Toledo plant.  oh2o wrote that the company has made mostly Latitudes (nearly 9,000 of them), with over two thousand Sports, four thousand Limiteds, and nearly two thousand of the off-road-specialized Trailhawks.

The FWD vs 4×4 mix is unknown, but given its friendly road manners, Cherokee is likely to have a higher proportion of 4×2 sales than the original XJ Cherokee.

dog-clutch

Though not a single Cherokee has been cleared for resale yet, due to ongoing software development, the factory returned to two shifts today. Reportedly, 17,000 Cherokees have been built but cannot be sold yet. The issue is, according to an Autoblog report, related to the dog clutches used in the axles and limited-slip differential; dog clutches have been used in past commercial vehicles but not “civilian” cars.

As far as we can tell, the company is still trying to work around issues with the clutches, which could involve timing, noise, and smoothness of engagement. Work done to make the system smoother and quieter has to be balanced by longevity, a serious issue given 100,000 mile powertrain warranties and an expectation that cars will last 200,000 miles before major issues. Dog clutch engagement is mechanical and will vary in time depending on where each clutch’s parts are, relative to each other, when they engage; while the nine-speed automatic’s timing can come down to nanoseconds. The system presumably already has safeguards to prevent one clutch from engagement if the other cannot, which could also lead to problems.

Overall, given the issues involves, software delays are not entirely surprising; Chrysler officials are apparently optimistic, since the factory is pumping out Cherokees full time again. Many consider the delay in resale to be a good sign — indicating Chrysler’s unwillingness to sell a car they know has a problem.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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