Auburn Hills, Michigan – Jan. 9, 2018 – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recently announced a recall of more than 1.48 million of its Dodge Ram pickup trucks, from model years 2009 to 2017, over concerns about the vehicles’ potential to roll away in certain situations, according to a filing made with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Specifically, this recall affects Ram trucks of various types, but all of which were equipped with a column shifter, rather than a floor shifter. In certain situations, the shifter can move the transmission out of “park” without a key in the ignition or the brake pedal being applied, which can lead to rollaways and, potentially, vehicle crashes or injuries.
The recall affects nearly 1.483 million Ram trucks, though only 3 percent are expected to carry this defect. The first vehicle group includes model year 2016 and 2017 Rams 3500 cab chassis with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,000 pounds. These vehicles were produced from April 22, 2015.
The second group is model years 2011 to 2017 Ram 4500 and 5500 cab chassis, produced starting on Feb. 3, 2010. The third includes Ram 1500s from the model years 2009 to 2017, produced beginning on May 28, 2008. The fourth includes model years 2010 to 2017 Ram 2500s produced starting Aug. 31, 2009. The fifth includes Ram 3500s from model years 2010 to 2017, produced beginning Sept. 1, 2009. The sixth and final group includes Ram 3500 cab chassis from model years 2011 to 2017, manufactured starting on Feb. 3, 2010.
All affected vehicles had production end dates of Dec. 31, 2016, but there is a lack of field input beyond that date.
The issue arises when the vehicle is running and in park, and the brake pedal is depressed. This energizes the vehicle’s brake transmission shift interlock. When the BTSI is energized for too long, it can overheat, causing its housing plastic to grow in size and the grease around it to degrade. That, in turn, could lead to the system’s locking pin to be stuck in the on position. When that happens, the vehicle can be shifted out of park without the brake pedal being depressed again or a key in the ignition.
Unfortunately, this defect would not be in any way detectable for consumers.
Timeline of Events
Beginning March 3, 2017, FCA’s Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance organization opened an investigation into the defect stemming from a 2016 model year Ram with a column shifter being involved in a rollaway incident that led to driver injury.
A few months later, in May, the organization began searching for customer complaints related to the column shifters in Ram trucks and began further reviewing warranty part return data in June. It was then that the potential cause of the defect – the BTSI locking pin – was first suspected.
On June 22, the VSRC was made aware of a test fleet of 240 Ram trucks, in which 72 were able to move the shifter out of park upon replicating the above conditions. Over the next several months – from June to December – the organization visited with suppliers, tested parts and conducted field surveys to determine the scope of the issue.
Finally, on Dec. 18, 2017, FCA determined that it would need to conduct a voluntary safety recall of all affected vehicles.
The fix for the defect is currently being developed by FCA, but the company will reimburse owners for the cost of repairing the issue when applicable. It asks that owners provide the receipts for the service so they can be reimbursed in full.
FCA will begin contacting both Ram owners and dealers about the recall Feb. 8, 2018.