Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE: FCAU) has issued a recall for more than 5.3 million vehicles in North America because of a defect that could prevent drivers from deactivating the vehicle’s cruise control feature. The company announced that it would begin alerting affected customers as early as next week and that the recall repairs would be free of charge. The company did not say how much the recalls would cost.
The recall covers more than 4.8 million vehicles in the United States and 490,000 in Canada. The company said it is recalling an unspecified number of additional vehicles in Mexico and other markets. The recall involves certain gasoline-powered vehicles with automatic transmissions built from 2014 through the 2019 model year.
The list of vehicles being recalled is extensive. The list includes the Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300, Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Journey, Dodge Durango, Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks and Ram 3500/4500/5500 cab chassis trucks. Some Fiat Fremont vehicles built on the same platform as the Dodge Journey are also being recalled.
Fiat Chrysler said tests its engineers had conducted uncovered an “extremely rare” series of events that could lead to drivers being unable to cancel cruise control after it has been engaged. If the cruise control system automatically initiated acceleration simultaneously with a short-circuit in a specific electrical network, the driver could be unable to deactivate the function. Disengaging cruise control after the short-circuit required forcefully applying the brakes until the vehicle stopped or shifting into neutral and braking.
No injuries or accidents have been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as being a result of the issue, but there had been one report of a U.S. driver being unable to deactivate the cruise control. According to a complaint filed on March 2, the driver of a 2017 Dodge Journey rental car from Avis rental car in Olathe, Kansas had an issue while traveling at 70 miles per hour with the cruise control engaged. The driver reported the wipers turned on by themselves, the dashboard instrumentation dials fell to zero, and the cruise control would not disengage.
Fiat Chrysler is warning owners of the affected vehicles to stop using cruise control on the recalled vehicles until repaired. Mark Chernoby, Fiat Chrysler’s chief technical compliance officer, said in a statement, “We have a remedy and a widespread network of engaged dealers who are preparing to deliver service. … We urge customers to follow the instructions on their recall notices.”