Chrysler Recalls and Malfunctions
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Chrysler Defects and Recalls
The automobile manufacturer Chrysler was founded in the United States in the 1920’s and has long been known as one of the “Big Three” automotive companies in the states along with General Motors and Ford. In its early years, Chrysler was best known as a private contractor with the U.S. government and military, creating vehicles, aircrafts, radars, and missiles. After the 2008 financial crisis, Chrysler was acquired by the Italian corporation Fiat and is now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The company remains a top competitor in the worldwide automobile industry.
Fiat Chrysler vehicles have been the subject of a number of recalls in recent years. This section will give a brief overview of some of the largest of these recalls. Please note that this is not a complete list of all recalls that Fiat Chrysler has issued. To search for recalls related to your vehicle, check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or Chrysler’s website.
Some of Chrysler’s largest recalls and customer complaints have centered on engine issues. Unexpected engine stalls and failures are some of the most reported issues for Chrysler customers.
In December of 2016, Chrysler recalled three 2016 car models for electrical sensor failures in the crankshaft, causing engines to stall. Four more models bought between 2007 and 2014 were recalled in October 2016 for defective amp alternators that could fail suddenly or short-circuit and ignite, causing engine failure and fire risk. Chrysler has struggled with recalls relating to defective accelerators for some time and the 2016 recall was an expansion of past recalls for amp accelerators.
Chrysler also had issues with ignition switches in 2014 when the company found that 2 million vehicles dating back to 2008 had faulty ignition switches that could shift out of the “on” position causing the engine to stall and the air bags to become disabled. There were several additional recalls relating to the ignition switches after the initial recall. These recalls led Chrysler to launch a new office of Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance.
In 2012, two U.S. Representatives asked Chrysler to alert its customers with Jeep Wranglers to a problem with their vehicles. The problem was dubbed the “Jeep Death Wobble”, and occurs when the Jeep Wrangler’s front axle begins to oscillate from side to side, making the vehicle difficult to control. The 24/7 Wall Street blog ranked the Jeep Wrangler among the most dangerous vehicles in the states in 2012. The poor ranking focused on the likelihood of a rollover upon impact.
There are no recalls for Wranglers relating to the “Death Wobble” issue, but other models have faced similar problems. After Chrysler issued massive recalls of Dodge Rams for steering issues related to a defective left tie rod stud, a class-action lawsuit was launched against Chrysler alleging that the tie rod was directly related to the Ram’s “Death Wobble” issue.
Air Bags and Seat belts
Like most car companies, Chrysler was affected by the Takata airbag crisis, recalling hundreds of thousands of vehicles relating to exploding and defective Takata air bags. But Chrysler has also faced its own issues with air bags. These issues include: overly-sensitive impact sensor calibrations that unexpectedly deploy airbags, improperly placed steering wheel wiring harnesses that can rub against the driver side air bag causing unexpected deployment, air bags susceptible to moisture accumulation that causes immediate deployment, and side air bags that won’t deploy due to issues in the installation process.
Chrysler also recalled close to 1.5 million vehicles with electrical issues that prevent the front air bags from deploying and seat belt pretensioners from securing drivers and passengers.
In 2016, Chrysler recalled 811,000 vehicles after the company was made aware of 41 injuries related to unclear electronic gear shifters that confuse drivers, leading them to believe their vehicles are in park when they are not. The shifters in certain models use indicator lights instead of gear position to signify the current gear. Hundreds of drivers complained of rolling cars as a result of the ambiguous light system where the drivers believed their car to be in park, and got out, only to find their car rolling away.
In 2015, Chrysler recalled nine models created between 2013 and 2015 due to software vulnerabilities that allowed third-parties remote control and access of vehicle control systems.
Chrysler has also recalled cars with electrical issues relating to defective fuel pump relays inside the Totally Integrated Power Module that can cause the engine to fail without warning, defective Trailer Tow Lighting Control Modules with a software error that could prevent illumination of the back brake lights, short-circuiting in the vanity light in the sun visors that can cause a vehicle fire, overheating electrical connections in diesel fuel heaters, and the non-deployment of active head restraints.
In 2015, Fiat Chrysler agreed to pay $105 million in fines and penalties to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), allow federal oversight, and buy back close to half a million recalled vehicles due to the company’s “lax attitude toward addressing safety issues in millions of its vehicles.” This is the largest penalty the NHTSA has ever issued and was a response to the company’s low completion rates for recall campaigns of over 11 million vehicles.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded two top safety picks to Chrysler cars: the 2017 Chrysler 200 for midsize cars and the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica for minivans.
But the IIHS has also awarded Chrysler vehicles a number of “marginal” and “poor” ratings for issues with side safety cage driver and passenger injuries, poor child latches, and issues with head restraints and seats.