Auburn Hills, Mich. – June 13, 2017 – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has recalled more than 200,000 minivans that could be equipped with defective wiring. The campaign affects Dodge Caravans manufactured between August 2010 and July 2015, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The car maker estimates that the defect is present in 1 percent of the vehicles named in the recall, 87,000 of which came from Canadian showrooms.
Models named in the recall contain steering wheels with trapped wire harnesses. The electrical lines within these fixtures, some of which support driver-side front air bag functionality, can snag on a tab located between the back of the steering wheel cover and the horn plate. This contact can wear down the wire insulation, eventually causing complete breakage and resulting in inadvertent air bag deployment. This increases the likelihood of an accident. Vehicles with this issue have been shown to warn drivers when a dangerous situation is developing. The illuminated air bag indicator may come on prior to untriggered air bag deployment. Additionally, tests revealed that windshield wipers switch on and steering capabilities decrease immediately following the severance of air bag wires within the steering wheel.
The defect has caused no accidents to date, according to FCA. However, the automaker has connected eight driver injuries to inadvertent air bag deployment stemming from disconnected wires.
Timeline of Events
A recent internal investigation revealed the problem, according to a press release from FCA.
The car maker has ordered dealers to inspect steering wheel wiring harnesses and replace them if necessary. FCA will reimburse owners for the expense. However, they must submit proof of payment before receiving refunds. The company notified dealers June 13, 2017 and plans to send communications to owners on or around July 28, 2017, according to a recall acknowledgment filed with the NHTSA. Owners in need of more immediate assistance are encouraged to contact the FCA customer service department or call the NHTSA Safety Hotline, (888) 327-4236.