Laguna Hills, CA – June 10, 2019 – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles LLC (FCA) is pulling nearly 300,000 Ram 1500 trucks – model years 2019 and 2020 – from the marketplace due to an onboard software flaw that may prevent the vehicle’s air bag from deploying in the aftermath of a crash, thus increasing the risk of injury. The automobile’s seat belt pretensioners may also fail to function due to the tech defect. The company says it will reach out to Ram 1500 owners by mail later this summer, advising them to take their trucks to their nearest Chrysler dealership so repair work can be arranged. The fix will come at no cost to drivers.
According to documents submitted to and produced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 295,981 2019-2020 Ram 1500s are due for recall because the truck’s occupant restraint controller (ORC) system may not work properly in the event of a traffic accident. Specifically, the issue seems to affect the ORC’s flash memory, in which the computer module doesn’t reset as it’s supposed to when powering down the vehicle. This reset failure could then prevent the airbags and/or seat-belt pretensioners from operating correctly in a collision-related event.
In a statement acknowledging that the company is aware of the problem, FCA said that while they are making this move out of an abundance of caution, the chances that such a scenario occurs for motorists is highly unlikely.
“Data collected by FCA US indicate the potential for such an event is highly remote,” the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based manufacturer said in a press release. “Further, the Company is unaware of any related injuries or accidents.”
Timeline of Events
The issue came to FCA’s attention April 8, when an engineer on the manufacturer’s Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance team observed a corrupted software notification that occurred when turning off the truck. A formal investigation by Fiat Chrysler occurred in the immediate aftermath, which extended to May 3. The inquiry determined that the flaw had the potential to prevent the seatbelt pretensioner or airbags from serving their purpose during an accident. However, through May 20, the company wasn’t aware of any operator complaints or injuries that occurred – in the U.S. or elsewhere – related to the software glitch. This may be due to the fact that many of the affected automobiles – up to 33% – are still at dealerships, yet to be purchased by would-be operators. Those impacted were likely assembled at some point between Oct. 31, 2018 and April 29, 2019.
FCA deemed it appropriate that a voluntary recall be ordered for the Ram 1500s, which is what prompted the safety notification to NHTSA.
On June 1, FCA sent out letters to dealerships, informing them of the problem and that 2019-2020 Ram 1500s should be set aside for the time being. Current operators will also be made aware of the glitch, which is slated to begin on July 20. Owners are urged to bring their trucks to their nearest FCA dealer so the ORC can either be reprogrammed or replaced, whichever fix is deemed appropriate by the attending mechanics. This repair will be free of charge.
To learn more, dial 1-888-327-4236, which is NHTSA’s vehicle safety hotline. You can also enter your VIN at MotorSafety.org to see if your make and model is under recall.