Fiat-Chrysler Confusing Shifter Recall

“Confusing Shifter” Forces FCA to Recall Over 1.1 Million
Vehicles Worldwide

As the automobile world continues feeling the effects of the
mammoth Takata
airbag recall, another recall is in the offing. This time,
it is affecting FCA vehicles.  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
has said that it is recalling over 1.1 million vehicles
worldwide because they have a confusing shifter. FCA added that
41 injuries have been reported all linked to the shifter.

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Fiat-Chrysler Confusing Shifter – Is the shifter faulty?

Well, it cannot be said that it is faulty; a better term to
define the issue is “confusing”.  Those who have been
affected say that the vehicles roll away after the driver exits
having had put them in the Park state. How is that a problem,
you might ask. Well, the issue affects vehicles with ZF 8-speed
automatic transmissions. The problem lies in the
console-mounted shifter which acts as a rocker switch. The
switch usually returns to the middle position after the driver
moves it.

This usually confuses drivers such that some exit the vehicle
thinking they have selected Park only for the car to roll away.
During its testing, NHTSA observed that the shifter was not
intuitive and that it provides poor visual feedback and tactile
to the driver which increases the potential for unintentional
gear selection.

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Unlike regular shifters which indicate gear selection by
changing gear selector position, this shifter conveys the
selection by using indicator lights which cause some drivers to
assume they have put their vehicles in the Park.

NHTSA has confirmed that the shifter in itself is not faulty
and has classified the problem as a safety issue. In addition
to 41 reported injuries, NHTSA has said it has received 414
complaints including some 121 crashes.

Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles has promised to update the vehicles
automatically to hinder them from moving even when the driver
forgets to put the vehicle in Park. The automaker, however, has
not said when the remedy will be available.

In addition, the automaker will upgrade the vehicles’ warning
chimes such that that alert messages displayed in case the
driver’s door is opened while still the engine is running.
Conversely, the transmission will prevent the vehicle from
moving when the door is open even when Park is not selected.

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To ensure FCA does this, NHTSA will monitor the entire recall
carefully to ensure the solution is safe and that it is done
with as soon as possible.

Affected vehicles

According to FCA, affected models include:

  1. 2012–2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans
  2. 2014–2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs

Fiat-Chrysler Confusing Shifter is encompassed in total over
1.1 vehicles and will be recalled, out of those vehicles,
811,586 are in the US. In Canada, around 52,144 vehicles will
be recalled and 16,805 in Mexico. The rest, around 248,667
vehicles are from different countries in the world.

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Fiat-Chrysler Confusing Shifter Recall – What is the way
forward?

FCA will notify owners of the affected vehicles when the recall
service will commence. In the meantime, FCA is advising drivers
to be more careful with the shifter and use instructions in the
owner’s manual.

Critics have however questioned FCA’s move to change the
shifter from the traditional PRNDL arrangement which used to
work just fine. They observe that the automaker wanted to add a
sophistication that does not add that much value to customers
…talk of fixing what is not broken!