2017: The Year of FCA Recalls

All automotive manufacturers issue recalls from time to time, and it will likely remain that way as more safety standards come into play and vehicles become more complex. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) have had their fair share of recalls in recent years. 2017 was a particularly hard year for the automotive company. The latest recall may be one of the strangest recalls yet, but it is nothing to laugh about.

An incredible 1.8 million FCA vehicles were affected by the most recent recall, announced in December of 2017. Most of the susceptible vehicles were heavy-duty Ram trucks. The problem was a risk of “runaway vehicles.” Shifters located on steering columns (and only this design), fail to remain in Park. The system at fault is known as the Brake Transmission Shift Interlock, or BTSI. Its job is to keep the transmission in PARK until a key is inserted and the brake is applied, as all automatics should. However, under conditions where the BTSI system is subjected to high heat for “a long duration of time,” the system will fail. The vehicle can then remove itself from the park and simply roll away, if the parking brake is not engaged.

What FCA Says

FCA released several statements via press release on their website, and as noted by Autozin.com, the recall due to the BTSI system is voluntary. According to an FCA press release from December 22, 2017, the manufacturer was aware of seven potential injuries caused by the defect, as well as a handful of other accidents. This recall covers various models made prior to Dec. 31, 2016. The press release also gives a generic overview of which vehicles may be affected:

“Affected are certain 2010-2017 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups; 2011-2017 Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs; 2016-2017 Ram 3500 chassis cabs with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of less than 10,000 lbs. Certain 2009-2017 Ram 1500 pickups are also included in the campaign, but heavy-duty trucks represent the majority of the affected vehicles.”

Other Major FCA Recalls

The BTSI debacle adds insult to injury after the two other recalls declared in 2017. The first in May was instigated by a serious safety system programming fault. It caused malfunctions with seatbelts and airbags, preventing them from deploying in a rollover crash. This flaw is thought to be responsible for at least one death, and two injuries. FCA stated, “The error code associated with the warning may temporarily disable side airbag and seat belt pre-tensioner deployment for that ignition cycle, which would then be unavailable in the event of a vehicle rollover.”

The problems for FCA did not stop there.

A mere four months later, FCA recalled half a million Ram pickup and heavy-duty trucks because the water pump could potentially overheat, and spark an engine fire. The only engine known to have the issue is the 6.7-liter turbodiesel Cummins. Vehicles equipped with other engine types are not affected. Often a warning light will illuminate if one of these pumps fails, and ignoring that warning may end terribly. FCA had 60 days to reach out to owners of affected vehicles, which means owners who were part of this recall should have been contacted by now.

Be Aware

It is unfortunate that the FCA recalls are related to such serious problems. A faulty headlight may not make news, but it generally won’t directly cause any serious bodily harm. Most recalls surface years after the cars were driven off dealership lots, and buyers of all new vehicles need to remain vigilant even after their warranties have expired. With a full line of new 2018 makes and models out, it is to behoped FCA has worked out their problems.

Awais Ahmed is a student, blogger and digital marketer who helps small entrepreneurs to improve their online presence. He has a range of interests including technology, apps and small business.