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FCA roll-away recall affects 47,451 cars in Oz

Idiot-proof: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will release a software update that makes it more difficult for owners of Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 vehicles to exit without first selecting park on the transmission shifter.

Software to ensure park selected before exiting Jeep Grand Cherokee or Chrysler 300

Jeep logo22 Jun 2016

THE global recall of 1.1 million Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 vehicles to reduce the potential for roll-away incidents extends to 47,451 vehicles delivered in Australia, it has been confirmed today.

In April Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced the worldwide campaign due to a risk that the joystick style automatic transmission shifters used in the affected vehicles might lead to drivers failing to select park before exiting, potentially leading to it rolling away on an incline.

The matter was brought into sharp focus this week when Hollywood actor Anton Yelchin was found dead, having been pinned against a mailbox and security gate at the bottom of his steep driveway, by one of the Grand Cherokee models caught up in the recall.

In the United States, FCA spokesperson Eric Mayne told Reuters the company would conduct a “thorough investigation” of the incident that killed the Russian-born 27-year-old Star Trek star. However, Mr Mayne added: “It is premature to speculate on its cause at this time.”

In April FCA admitted it was aware of 41 injuries potentially related to the transmission selector recall, which was prompted after the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation after receiving numerous complaints and reports of incidents in which people were hurt.

A recall notice on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website went live today and FCA Australia issued a statement confirming the recall affects model-year 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees and MY2012-2014 Chrysler 300s “equipped with electronic shift levers that return to a centre position after selecting drive, neutral, reverse or park”.

9 center imageLeft: Deceased actor Anton Yelchin.

“The selected gear is conveyed to the driver by multiple sets of indicator lights. As a safety precaution, the vehicles deliver warning chimes and alert messages if a driver attempts to switch off the engine when in any gear other than park, or if the driver-side doors are opened while their engines are still running and park is not engaged. As a further safety precaution, it is also recommended that drivers engage the parking brake whenever they leave the vehicle,” said the statement.

“However, an investigation found these measures may be insufficient to deter some drivers from exiting their vehicles without first selecting park. FCA Australia will enhance the warnings and transmission-shift strategy on these vehicles via a software update. The enhancements will combine warnings with a transmission-shift strategy to automatically prevent a vehicle from moving, under certain circumstances, even if the driver fails to select park.”

It has been reported that FCA is accelerating the development of its software fix, previously estimated by FCA as becoming available in the fourth quarter of this year, and that it could be released as early as next month.

Because no parts or tools are required, GoAuto understands it is likely that once the software update is available, the recall will be enacted world-wide as quickly as owners can get their cars into dealerships.

The FCA statement says owners of affected vehicles “will be notified when service becomes available”.

“In the interim, FCA Australia urges all customers to refer to their owner’s manual that outlines correct operation of the Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 transmission, including selecting park, ensuring the engine is switched off and engaging the parking brake before exiting the vehicle. Alternatively, customers can contact their dealer for detailed instructions.”

Overseas, FCA is also sending information packs to customers explaining how to avoid roll-away incidents. GoAuto understands the Australian operation is considering similar action.

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