Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has announced a recall for more than 1.1 million vehicles over a potential problem with the gear selector fitted to certain Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler models.
According to a statement from the brand, 811,586 vehicles in the US are affected by the recall, as well as 52,144 cars and SUVs in Canada; 16,805 models in Mexico; and 248,667 outside the NAFTA region – likely including Australia, though we’re yet to hear back from the company’s local arm. The total number is 1,129,202 vehicles.
The models affected by this recall are 2012-2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedan models, as well as 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee models. CarAdvice has repeatedly reported issues with the shift action in the latter model vehicle, as it is glitchy whether you’re shifting to D, R, P or N. Pictured at the top of the page is the offending shifter in the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee (vehicle image below).
The recall fix is said to “reduce the effect of potential driver error by enhancing warnings and transmission shift strategy”. According to the company statement, “an investigation by FCA US and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found some drivers have exited their vehicles without first selecting ‘Park’. Such behaviour may pose a safety risk if a vehicle’s engine is still running”.
The bad news is that, according to the company, 41 instances of people being injured may be related to the fault. “The vehicles involved in these events were inspected and no evidence of equipment failure was found”.
Instead, it is the selector – or the driver’s lack of understanding of how to get the gear shifter into P – that seems to be the problem, according to FCA.
“The vehicles affected by this recall are equipped with electronic shift levers that return to the same position after each manipulation. Gear-selection is conveyed to the driver by multiple sets of indicator lights, not gear-selector position, and unless due care is taken, drivers may draw erroneous conclusions about the status of their vehicles,” the statement read.
“The vehicles also deliver warning chimes and alert messages if their driver-side doors are opened while their engines are still running and ‘Park’ is not engaged. However, investigation suggested these measures may be insufficient to deter some drivers from exiting their vehicles without selecting ‘Park’, so FCA US will enhance the warnings and transmission-shift strategy on these vehicles.
“The enhancements will combine warnings with a transmission-shift strategy to automatically prevent a vehicle from moving, under certain circumstances, even if the driver fails to select ‘Park’.”
FCA changed the shifter design for 2015 models of the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, while a new shifter was fitted to the Grand Cherokee for 2016 models (see below).
Pictured: 2016 Chrysler 300 with new rotary dial shifter (top); 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee with new stick shifter (bottom)
Fiat Chrysler Australia has advised that the exact number of vehicles affected locally, as well as the fix involved, will be announced in the coming days.