Auburn Hills, Mich. – March 21, 2017 – Fiat Chrysler has recalled more than 25,000 vehicles with incorrectly calibrated software. The recall affects Fiat 500L compact cars produced between March 6, 2013 and Oct. 21, 2014, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Models named in the recall are equipped with incorrectly calibrated powertrain control module software, which has been shown to limit engine capabilities. Drivers have experienced instances in which their vehicles will only idle even when the accelerator is fully engaged. Many have been able to regain normal operation after depressing and then releasing the gas pedal, but this can make it difficult to maintain consistent speeds when navigating roadways. This can increase the likelihood of an accident, though no crashes or injuries have yet been connected to this defect.
Timeline of Events
- On June 14, 2014, engineers at Fiat Chrysler discovered the issue after updating the PCM software on newly produced 500L models, according to the NHTSA. Roughly one month later, the automaker initiated an investigation and ultimately correlated the problem to faulty accelerator calibration. In September, production staff implemented new gas pedal assemblies to improve accelerator calibration.
- On Dec. 2, 2016, Fiat Chrysler received a field report that indicated diminished drivability among 500L models. The car company launched an investigation and reviewed the performance data included in the field report. Seven days later, engineers determined that accelerator calibration was once again to blame. On Dec. 14, engineers developed revised calibration standards, which were finally published Feb. 6, 2017.
- On Feb. 10, Fiat Chrysler’s Technical Service Organization issued a service bulletin outlining proposed PCM software updates for 500L models. The car company’s Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance group reviewed the draft document and outlined risk factors associated with the vehicle, including delayed throttle response and vehicle hesitation. Six days later, the VSRC launched an investigation into the 500L, and after an initial data review upgraded the inquiry Feb. 21.
- On March 2, VSRC notified the Fiat Chrysler home office in Italy and continued to review field reports and other data. By March 6, the group had seen 35 warranty claims, 16 computerized accident reports and 13 field reports related to the defect. On March 9, Fiat Chrysler connected with NHTSA to review the investigation. On March 16, the car maker decided to initiate a voluntary safety recall.
Fiat Chrysler is expected to request that dealers update the PCM software on affected models. The car company will reimburse owners for the repair. However, owners must submit service receipts or alternative proof of payment following the update. Both owners and dealers will receive official notifications May 5, 2017.