Fiat Chrysler Recalls 550K Vehicles Over Gear Shifter

Image courtesy of Ralph Krawczyk Jr

Six months after Fiat Chrysler first recalled 811,586 vehicles equipped with a confusing gear shifter that has been linked to one death, 68 injuries, and hundreds of crashes, the carmaker has issued a similar recall for 505,000 vehicles that are equipped with another version of the automatic transmission shifter. 

FCA is recalling a variety of vehicles that include a nine-speed automatic transmission manufactured by German transmission maker ZF after receiving hundreds of complaints from owners that the gearbox unexpectedly shifts into neutral.

According to a notice [PDF] posted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, insufficient crimps in the transmission wire harness are thought to be the cause of the issue.

Vehicles equipped with the 9HP include model year 2014 to 2015 Jeep Cherokee and 2015 Chrysler 200, Jeep Renegade and RAM ProMaster.

The issue was first identified by supplier KE Electronik in July 2014 after a single failure during transmission testing. By the end of 2015, FCA reported receiving an increased field failure rate.

It’s unclear how many vehicle owners have reported the issue the NHTSA, but a search of the agency’s complaint database turns up several narratives.

“In my driveway, sometimes the engine just revs instead of moving the car like it is in neutral but I have it in drive,” the owner of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee writes. “It is like the car shifts itself into neutral and it doesn’t matter if I am sitting still in the driveway or going 70 MPH on the highway.”

“My 2014 Jeep Cherokee shifts brought in lower gears, shifts into neutral when driving on the highway or coming down hills, and does not accelerate at all when stepping on gas and moving out into traffic,” another Jeep owner writes.

The owner of a 2015 Chrysler 200 tells NHTSA that while driving at approximately 45 mph, the transmission independently shifted into neutral.

ZF and Chrysler say that a fix for the issue will include a software update. Dealers are advised not to attempt to fix the wiring harness itself.

[via AutoBlog]