Fiat Chrysler Recalls 811,000 Sedans and SUVs for Poor Shifter Design [UPDATE]

2013-dodge-charger-sxt-shift-lever-photo-521990-s-986x603

German transmission supplier ZF has taken a lot of flack for its rough-shifting, occasionally misbehaving nine-speed automatic across multiple automakers. Now comes word that the shifter it designed and supplied to some automakers who use its eight-speed automatic transmission has been subject to a large recall.

After an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fiat Chrysler is recalling 811,586 vehicles to update the transmission software and include more visual warnings and chimes that the vehicles are not in park. All eight-speed 2012–2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans and 2014–2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee models are included. NHTSA had investigated the cars since August 2015 and recorded at least 686 complaints about the shifter, including 266 crashes and 68 injuries. The death of actor Anton Yelchin, who was pinned against his driveway fence by his 2015 Grand Cherokee, is also under investigation. In its concluding report dated June 24, NHTSA wrote that the shifter’s design “appears to violate several basic design guidelines for vehicle controls.”

2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack

The shifter in question always returns to a center position after gear selection and has very small detents that can make it difficult to select a gear; some drivers were then inadvertently leaving their vehicles in gear when they intended to select park. The vehicles also have ignition-button programming that won’t shut the engine down if the vehicle is not in park, meaning that some vehicles rolled away even after drivers exited them. FCA recently replaced the shifter with a more traditional PRNDL lever (pictured above) that has separate stops for each gear, a change made effective for the 2015 model year on Charger and 300 sedans and for the 2016 model year on Grand Cherokee SUVs. The current Audi A8 uses the exact same shifter and is not under a recall or investigation at this time.



FCA will not replace the shifters with the current design. Instead, the fix 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,’ ” according to FCA. This likely will include automatically engaging park when the driver’s door is open and the engine is running, for example. Another 317,616 cars are affected outside the U.S.

UPDATE 6/28: This story, which originally published on April 25, has been adjusted to include the latest statistics about accidents and injuries. Also, we’ve added a 2013 video from Chrysler that shows how to operate the shifter in question.


from Car and Driver Blog http://blog.caranddriver.com/fiat-chrysler-recalls-811000-sedans-and-suvs-for-poor-shifter-design/

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