The Australian arm of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has confirmed it will recall 47,451 examples of its Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300, over concerns that visual and audio alerts for the ‘Park’ gear may be insufficient.
The announcement, posted in its entirety below, follows earlier confirmation of a wider global recall. It also comes after the issue was linked this week with a fatal accident in the US.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has confirmed that it will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of actor Anton Yelchin to determine if the gear shifter of his Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV was a factor.
FCA confirmed in April that it would recall 1.1 million vehicles featuring its electronic ‘monostable’ gear shifter, which has been linked to 41 injuries and 212 crashes. Yelchin’s death is the first fatality to be linked to the issue, although it has not been confirmed to have been directly related to the gear selection issue.
Yelchin’s death, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner, was a result of accidental blunt force asphyxia, after his Grand Cherokee rolled backwards down a steep driveway, pinning him against a brick mailbox and security gate.
It is unclear at this stage if Yelchin had been under the influence of any substances, with a full toxicology report still some weeks away.
FCA has promised a “thorough investigation” of the accident, with a spokesperson for the company in America telling media “it is premature to speculate on the cause at this time”.
The recall of models equipped with the ‘monostable’ shifter design, which returns to the centre position after a gear is selected, is expected to involve a software upgrade that FCA hopes to have ready in July or August – an accelerated timeline, compared to an initial goal of a late 2016 fix.
“The software updates required to remedy this situation are presently not available. An interim letter was mailed to all involved customer stating “FCA is working to finalize a remedy by the 4th quarter of 2016″,” the company said in a statement last month.
In the interim, FCA has asked owners of affected vehicles in North America to take extra care that the gear position is clearly indicated as being in Park before exiting the vehicle. The company has also mailed an instructional brochure to owners and published a walk-through video online.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia (FCA Australia) has confirmed it will begin recalling vehicles in line with availability of the promised software update.
The company’s full statement is posted below:
“FCA Australia is voluntarily recalling 47,451 vehicles to enhance transmission warnings and transmission-shift strategy.
“This recall affects 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2012-2014 Chrysler 300 vehicles equipped with electronic shift levers that return to a centre position after selecting DRIVE, NEUTRAL, REVERSE or PARK. The selected gear is conveyed to the driver by multiple sets of indicator lights. As a safety precaution, the vehicles deliver warning chimes and alert messages if a driver attempts to switch off the engine when in any gear other than PARK, or if the driver-side doors are opened while their engines are still running and PARK is not engaged. As a further safety precaution, it is also recommended that drivers engage the parking brake whenever they leave the vehicle.
“However, an investigation found these measures may be insufficient to deter some drivers from exiting their vehicles without first selecting PARK. FCA Australia will enhance the warnings and transmission-shift strategy on these vehicles via a software update. 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.
“Affected customers will be notified when service becomes available. In the interim, FCA Australia urges all customers to refer to their owner’s manual that outlines correct operation of the Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 transmission, including selecting Park, ensuring the engine is switched off and engaging the parking brake before exiting the vehicle. Alternatively, customers can contact their dealer for detailed instructions.
Although not confirmed, it is possible that FCA Australia will follow suit with the American arm’s move to distribute an instructional guide for operating the gear selector, although much of its details will likely mirror those found in the vehicle’s owner manual.