Fiat Chrysler Recall 1.1 million vehicles worldwide due to faulty gear selector
In April 2016, Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.1 million vehicles (Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300) worldwide due to the gear shift design which makes it difficult to tell what gear the vehicle is in.
Unlike most gear selectors, which are in forward or back positions depending on whether the car is in Park, Reverse, Neutral or Drive, the gear selector in these vehicles always remains upright. The driver moves it forward or back to select a gear but it then returns to its original upright position. Indicator lights tell the driver what gear the vehicle is in. If the driver opens the door when the vehicle is not in Park a warning chime sounds and an alert message is displayed in the gauge cluster. Even so, some drivers still got out of the vehicle without putting it in Park.
The late Anton Yelchin, who played Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek film trilogy, was crushed to death by his Chrysler Jeep Grand Cherokee when it rolled backwards down his driveway and pinned him against a security fence and a brick mailbox.
An investigation in the USA by Chrysler and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discovered at least 700 complaints about the issue, including 266 accidents, of which 68 involved injuries that may be related to a new design for the vehicle’s gear shifter.
“Drivers erroneously concluding that their vehicle’s transmission in the park position may be struck by the vehicle and injured if they attempt to get out of the vehicle while the engine is running and the parking brake is not engaged,”
the NHTSA said in its safety recall report.
A proposed class action lawsuit was filed in California federal court on 23rd June 2016 by other Jeep Grand Cherokee owners alleging that the auto maker hid information about the e-shift gear selector design defect that may allow the vehicles to roll away.
The complaint filed by a group of three plaintiffs alleges that the shifter defect was responsible for Yelchin’s death, as well as at least 300 other accidents. The lawsuit lists several vehicles that may have the alleged defective gear shifter including 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers and 2012-2014 Chrysler 300s.
Another Fiat Chrysler safety recall of 1.4 million US cars and trucks occurred in 2015 after cyber security experts Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek remotely commandeered a Jeep Cherokee, made by Chrysler, to demonstrate the vulnerability of the vehicles’ electronic systems.