Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC (FCA US) has recalled approximately 1.1 million mid-size SUVs and full-size cars worldwide over an issue in which vehicles may roll away after the driver has exited without fully engaging the “park” function, even though they may believe they have done so. The issue – which has led to 41 potentially related injuries to date – includes 811,586 vehicles in the United States, plus about 52,000 vehicles in Canada, 16,000 vehicles in Mexico and nearly 250,000 vehicles outside North America, affecting certain model-year 2012 to 2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans and model year 2014 to 2015 Grand Cheep Cherokee SUVs, FCA US said in a statement.
The potential rollaways can occur when a driver leaves a vehicle without first selecting “park” and the engine is still running, according to an investigation by the automaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A driver may mistakenly believe a car is in the “park” position because the affected models contain electronic shift levers that return to the same position after each gear adjustment, the statement said.
FCA US, which hadn’t provided a date of service availability at press time, said it will enhance warnings and “transmission shift strategy” on these models to “automatically prevent a vehicle from moving, under certain circumstances, even if the driver fails to select the park setting.” No known evidence of equipment failure was detected in the cases that led to the 41 injuries, according to the automaker.
This recall announcement comes on the heels of various other recalls issued in recent months by the automaker, including one in February to supply vehicle owners with tire chocks for about 441,000 Dodge sedans, which reportedly caused several injuries when the jack wasn’t placed in a specific position during tire changes; and a recall in October of 180,000 vehicles due to a potential fire hazard in Jeep Cherokees and a problem with the rear axle of Ram 1500 pickups.
The automaker has also been levied with huge fines in the past year, including a $70 million penalty in December by NHTSA for its admission that it underreported key warning data to auto regulators, such as reports of deaths and injuries related to its vehicles. Last July, additionally, Fiat Chrysler US was hit with a $105 million civil penalty by NHTSA, the largest fine ever issued by the regulator, for failing to complete 23 recalls covering more than 11 million vehicles – a penalty that included agreeing to oversight by federal monitor for three years.
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