Auburn Hills, Mich. – Sept. 20, 2017 – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has recalled more than 47,000 minivans possibly equipped with defective second-row seatbelts, according to documentation filed with the National Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2017-2018 Chrysler Pacifica minivans with production dates ranging from Nov. 1, 2015 to Aug. 24, 2017. FCA estimates that all of the vehicles named in the recall contain the defective safety features.
The affected models contain second-row center seatbelt assemblies that were installed in such a way that can cause the left outboard seatbelt buckle may to come unlatched. This poses a serious safety risk to passengers in the left seating position in the second row, as they could be left unrestrained in the event of an accident. However, FCA has not received reports connecting crashes or injuries to the defective fixtures.
Timeline of Events
On May 12, 2017, members of the FCA Interior Restraints Engineering Department notified the company’s Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance of an issue involving second-row seatbelt assemblies installed in 2017-2018 Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Engineers for the department had seen the left outboard seatbelt buckle in one recently assembled vehicle come unlatched during a chassis validation tests involving a water dummy ballast. From May 13 to Aug. 2, members of the FCA VSRU reviewed field information and conducted an investigation to see if the problem could be duplicated for testing. The automaker’s Vehicle Dynamics team succeeded in duplicating the issue during a laboratory test July 31.
On Aug. 2, the VSRU further reviewed the vehicle at the center of the original report and met with engineers from the VD group who confirmed that they had duplicated the issue described in the internal communication. The FCA Vehicle Regulations Committee reviewed the matter Aug. 24 and decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall to address the defective second-row seatbelt assemblies. The car company notified owners of the intended action Aug. 31.
FCA has directed dealers to install shortened second-row seatbelt buckles designed to prevent unlatching free of charge, according to an NHTSA recall acknowledgement. The automaker will notify owners via first-class mail Oct. 20. Those in need of more immediate assistance can contact Chrysler customer service personnel at (800) 853-1403. Callers should use the internal recall identification code T54. Owners can also reach out directly to the NHTSA via its Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.