2016 was such a troublesome year for Fiat Chrysler due to the vehicle recalls it had to distribute. Back in May, Chryslers were included in the largest recall in U.S. history due to defective airbag inflators. In July, 410,000 of its vehicles were recalled due to a wiring issue and in September, another 1.9 million were recalled because of another airbag defect.
Now that 2016 is almost over, Fiat Chrysler may just be ready to leave this year behind and focus on what is yet to come. Unfortunately, it looks like the recall ghost of 2016 will be haunting Chrysler through the next year.
On Tuesday, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has launched a "preliminary evaluation" of about 1 million Dodge Ram trucks and Dodge Durango sport utility vehicles for reported rollaway issues even when the vehicles are in Park mode.
The reports are based on 43 complaints, which have already caused 25 crashes and nine injuries so far.
This investigation will review 2013-2016 Dodge Ram 1500 trucks and 2014-2016 Dodge Durango SUV models that are equipped with an electronic transmission with a rotary shifter for gear selection.
According to the NTHTSA documents, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) states that "the reports alleged that the unintended motion occurred after the driver moved the transmission gear selector to Park and exited the vehicle."
The documents also reveal that 34 of the complaints indicate that the vehicle was moving while the shifter was in the park position. Many of the incidents also alleged that the engine was running. However, a few of the cases note that the engine was off.
Interestingly, the ODI also noted that none of the reports indicate that the parking brake was applied at the time of the incidents, a very important safety precaution to prevent vehicle rollaways.
The rotary gear selector replaced the traditional stick shifter and was introduced in the 2013 Dodge Ram truck. It is also used in other Chrysler vehicles and cars from Ford and Jaguar.
This rollaway issue mirrors the defect that was the reason for the recall of 1.1 million Fiat-Chrysler vehicles including the Jeep model that was linked to the actor Anton Yelchin's death.
The agency also announced that similar investigations concerning unintended rollaways of 2012-14 Land Rover Evoque and Jaguar XF vehicles are being launched. These vehicles are also equipped with the same rotary shifter system for gear selection.