Regulators Open Investigation Into Jeeps That Just Roll Away When Parked

When putting your vehicle in the “park” position, you probably have the expectation that your car won’t be moving. That’s apparently not the case for more than 400,000 Jeeps now under investigation by federal regulators because they have a tendency to simply roll away after being parked.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a probe into 408,000 model year 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees after receiving 14 consumer complaints about the vehicles rolling away from their parked position.

According to a notice [PDF] posted by NHTSA, the Jeeps are equipped with an electronic gear selector. The gear selection is made by pressing the shifter-paddle forward or backwards; the shifter does not move along a gate path as with conventional gear selectors.

Of the complaints received by NHTSA, five have included crashes, resulting in three injuries.

“The vehicle was put in park while running,” one complaint reads. “The vehicle then started to roll backwards while still in park and then collided into another parked vehicle… three occupants proceeded to evacuate the vehicle before it collided with the parked car. The two children and adult passenger evacuated the vehicles as they thought it might roll into street traffic and be struck. A child was injured exiting the vehicle as the vehicle collided with another parked vehicle and then continued on rolling into a ditch.”

“I was backing my Jeep into my yard with a utility trailer attached,” another complaint filed in February states. “I heard a noise and I pushed the gear shift up into park and opened my door to step out of the vehicle and make sure I had not hit something. As I stepped out the vehicle started moving backwards and the driver door struck me knocking me to the ground on my back. The left front tire rolled over my pelvic area causing serious injury.”

NHTSA says its Office of Defects Investigation opened the probe into the Jeeps to determine the scope, frequency and consequences of the potential defect.

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