Fiat Chrysler will recall 1.28 million pickup trucks over a software issue with the vehicles’ crash-detecting sensors that may cause the failure of side airbag deployment and seat belt tensioning in a rollover. The vehicles involved are model year 2013-2016 Ram 1500s and Ram 2500s, as well as model year 2014-2016 Ram 3500s. Certain conditions, such as driving off-road, debris striking the vehicle while driving or even a crash prior to a rollover, can cause sensors to trigger a fault within the occupant restraint controller, which determines when to deploy airbags. If that happens, the side curtain airbags and the seat belt pretensioners will be disabled, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said in its recall notice.
If these two safety features are disabled, truck occupants face an increased risk of injury if a crash occurs, NHTSA said. Documents attached to the agency’s notice showed that Fiat Chrysler is aware of at least two injuries and one death that are possibly related to this issue. About 1.02 million vehicles in the U.S. are affected, as are 216,007 vehicles in Canada, 21,668 in Mexico and 21,530 elsewhere. The company said, that every one of these trucks is expected to have the same problem.
The company will notify owners and expects the recall to officially begin on June 23. Fiat Chrysler dealers will update each truck’s software free of charge, the company said. A warning light may notify drivers of the problem, and Fiat Chrysler said that normal functions can be restored by turning the truck off, then on again, but urged customers to follow the instructions on their recall notices and get the software fixed at a dealership.
Fiat Chrysler first became aware of a possible problem in early December, when the company’s general counsel told its vehicle safety and regulatory compliance organization about pending litigation involving a 2014 Ram 1500 that was involved in a rollover where the airbags and pretensioner didn’t work. On March 20, the company’s safety and compliance group, along with engineering and a parts supplier, analyzed the crash and the data from the occupant restraint controller, determining that the sensor that would have deployed the truck’s airbags was disabled during the crash prior to the rollover. Fiat Chrysler decided to institute a voluntary recall on May 2, the NHTSA said.
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