Chrysler recalls vehicles with defective occupant restraint features


Auburn Hills, Mich. – Nov. 3, 2017 – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has recalled more than 414,000 vehicles potentially equipped with defective occupant restraint controllers, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects models across multiple brands, including:

  • 2012 Jeep Liberty sport utility vehicles manufactured between June 17, 2011 and Aug. 16, 2012.
  • 2012-2013 Chrysler 200 midsize sedans produced between June 25, 2011 and Jan. 15, 2012.
  • 2012-2013 Dodge Avenger midsize sedans produced between June 25, 2011 and Jan. 15, 2012.

FCA speculates that approximately 5 percent of the vehicles named in the recall contain defective parts.

The Defect

The models referenced in the action may come equipped with damaged ORC assemblies that are prone to jumper resistor failure, a condition that materializes following prolonged electrical overstress. ORC shutdown may cause the active headrests in affected vehicles to malfunction. This poses a serious risk to occupants involved in collisions, as the lack of AHR support may increase the likelihood of cranial concussion. That said, FCA has yet to receive field reports connecting the defective ORC assemblies to any accidents or injuries.

The air bag warning light normally illuminates in vehicles with defective ORC assemblies.

Timeline of Events

On July 2, 2013, FCA launched a voluntary safety recall for 2012 Jeep Liberties, 2012-2013 Chrysler 200s and 2012-2013 Dodge Avengers, after discovering that these vehicles contained integrated power modules that were causing ORC failure and inhibiting AHR operation, according to a chronology document. Dealers reprogrammed the TIPM units in these models to address both issues. Almost four years later on May 16, 2017, the NHTSA contacted FCA and notified the company of several driver complaints referencing the three models included in the 2013 recall. These reports described instances in which the air bag warning light turned on with no clear explanation, apparently indicating some safety feature malfunction. On May 19, the FCA Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance group launched an investigation into the reports. One day later, the auto conglomerate ordered parts from the field for analysis. The NHTSA opened a concurrent inquiry June 1.

Throughout June and August, FCA received 13 ORC assemblies from the vehicles mentioned in the initial NHTSA reports. In July, the car company determined that at least two parts showed signs of jumper resistor failure due to electrical overstress. On Aug. 11, FCA engineers pinpointed a third part that ceased working following overstress and on Oct. 2, they encountered a fourth problematic component. Two days later, the FCA Vehicle Regulations Committee determined that a voluntary safety recall was necessary.

As of Sept. 29, FCA has received 122 vehicle owner questionnaires, 367 customer assistance inquiry requests and 2,453 warranty claims related to defective ORC equipment.

The Solution

FCA intends to direct dealers to replace the ORC assemblies in affected vehicles free of charge, according to a recall acknowledgment document submitted to the NHTSA. The vehicle manufacturer will notify both dealers and owners on or about Nov. 29. The latter should expect to receive word from FCA via first-class mail. Owners in need of more immediate assistance can contact FCA customer service at (800) 853-1403. Callers should use the internal recall identification code T56. Owners can also reach out the NHTSA directly using its vehicle safety hotline at (888) 327-4236.

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