Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has issued a vehicle defect recall for about 4.8 million vehicles in the United States over a defect that could prevent drivers from deactivating cruise control. According to a Reuters news report, the automaker has warned vehicle owners not to use the function until after they get software upgrades to rectify the defect. Chrysler says it doesn’t know of any injuries or car accidents linked to the large recall, but said it had received one report of a driver of a 2017 Dodge Journey rental car who was unable to deactivate cruise control in the vehicle.
Details of the Recall
The recall essentially addresses what the Italian automaker has referred to as an “extremely rare” series of events that could lead to drivers being unable to cancel cruise control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has strongly encouraged owners of these recalled vehicles to follow the warning and refrain from using cruise control until the vehicles are repaired. There is a way drivers could override the system by forcefully applying the brakes until the vehicle stopped. Fiat Chrysler says the vehicle can also be stopped by shifting into neutral and then applying the brakes.
FCA noted that the cruise control systems could also suddenly accelerate. This feature was intended to help drivers maintain speeds. However, if an acceleration occurs at the same time as a short circuit in a specific electrical network, the driver won’t be able to deactivate cruise control.
The vehicles involved in this recall are in the 2014 through the 2019 model years. They include a number of popular models including Chrysler 200 and 200, Pacifica, Dodge Charger, Challenger, Journey and Durango, and Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler. Some Ram pickups are also included in the recall. Once the recall begins, dealers will do the repairs free of charge.
Importance of a Timely Recall
Fiat Chrysler has gotten into trouble before for dragging its feet on vehicle recalls. In 2015, NHTSA imposed $175 million in civil penalties on FCA for safety lapses. Also, in July 2015, FCA agreed to pay a $105 million settlement to federal regulators for improperly handling several vehicle recall campaigns covering 11 million vehicles.
Federal auto safety laws exist so consumers are promptly informed about vehicle defects that could have an impact on their safety. Automakers have the responsibility not only to manufacture vehicles that are safe, but also inform consumers when there is a problem. If you have been injured as the result of a defective auto, please contact an experienced auto defect lawyer who will help you recover compensation for your losses and hold that at-fault parties accountable.