Auburn Hills, Mich. – Feb. 20, 2018 – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has recalled more than 180,000 vehicles potentially equipped with defective brake transmission shift interlock modules, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects multiple vehicles, including:
- 2017-2018 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup trucks produced between Jan. 1, 2017, and Jan. 13, 2018.
- 2017-2018 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup trucks produced between Jan. 1, 2017, and Jan. 10, 2018.
- 2017-2018 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup trucks produced between Jan. 1, 2017, and Jan. 24, 2018.
FCA suspects 3 percent of the models referenced in the recall actually contain the defective components.
Affected vehicles, all of which feature column gear shifting assemblies, come with BTSI systems that prone to dysfunction after long periods of use. Specifically, the plastic housing surrounding the BTSI components swells in high temperatures and causes the locking pin to remain in open position. When this occurs, drivers are free to shift the vehicle transmission out of park without depressing the brake pedal or even switching on the car. This defect poses increases the likelihood of unintended rollaway and therefore poses a serious threat to occupants. However, FCA has not received reports linking the defect to any accidents or injuries.
Timeline of Events
The FCA Vehicle Regulations Committee on Dec. 8, 2017, requested an internal investigation into vehicles produced after Dec. 31, 2016, suspecting that some may suffer from mechanical flaws. Roughly one month later, engineering personnel tested a BTSI solenoid by heating in an oven set to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. The component reached 250 degrees Fahrenheit within five minutes, indicating that problems could development in real-world operational environments. Soon after, members of the VRC requested insight into the production processes behind the development of the BTSI housing and pin components. FCA engineers looked into the matter and found that the fabrication process had remained consistent prior to and following Dec. 31, 2016.
The VRC continued to investigate the matter throughout January 2018, opening a nationwide field review and repair order search. The latter effort yielded three reports that referenced vehicles that suffered BTSI failure and were produced after Dec. 31, 2016. Owners reported being able to shift out of park without pressing the brake pedal or turning the ignition. On Jan. 26, 2018, the VRC found two additional field reports outlining the same issue.
On Feb. 1, 2018, the VRC decided that a voluntary safety recall was required.
FCA is currently working on a mechanical remedy, which it will offer free of charge through an owner reimbursement program. The automaker intends to notify both dealers and owners March 30, 2018. Owners in need of more immediate assistance can reach out to the NHTSA directly using its vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.