Auburn Hills, Mich. – Feb. 16, 2018 – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has recalled more than 39,000 vehicles potentially equipped with defective brake pedal switches, according to documentation submitted to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects multiple vehicles across two brands, including:
- 2017 Jeep Wrangler sport utility vehicles produced between Aug. 7, 2017, and Sept. 20, 2017.
- 2017 Dodge Caravan minivans produced between Aug. 7, 2017, and Sept. 18, 2017.
FCA suspects just 1 percent of the models referenced in the recall contain the defective parts.
Affected vehicles could contain brake pedal switches prone to malfunction. In the event that these fixtures fail, shifting out of park without depressing the brake pedal becomes possible. This poses a serious safety hazard to occupants. However, FCA has yet to receive reports connecting any accidents or injuries to the defect.
Owners operating vehicles equipped with the defective brake pedal switches have noticed that rear brake lights and interior malfunction indicator lamps illuminate continuously when failure has occurred.
Timeline of Events
Engineers conducting end-of-line production testing on Sept. 11, 2017, at the Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada encountered a vehicle with an out-of-position brake pedal, according to an NHTSA chronology document. The FCA engineering team immediately notified Multicraft International, the U.S.-based vendor responsible for manufacturing brake switch components. The firm immediately quarantined the potentially defective parts. FCA initiated containment protocol, requesting the staff at the Ontario facility and Toledo South Assembly Plant in Toledo, Ohio to set aside all brake switch parts that arrived from Multicraft.
The vendor inspected its production processes between Sept. 13, 2017, and Sept. 15, 2017, and ultimately found that the brake switches manufactured at its space in Pelahatchie, Mississippi were not properly ratcheted at the minimum required standard of seven pounds. The error occurred due to gas buildup in a plunger mold tool core and resulted in the production of between 90,000 and 180,000 out-of-specification parts.
FCA filed a Product Related Issue report for the defective brake pedal switches Oct. 8, 2017. And, on Oct. 24, 2017, the FCA Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance took up the issue.
The American automaker conducted an extensive read-across investigation throughout the remainder of October and November. The inquiry revealed that the brake switch had been used across multiple models but that it did not pose a serious issue for some due to production quirks or the presence of brake system redundancies. On Dec. 8, 2017, engineering personnel conducted an internal test evaluate the impact of the defective brake switch and determined that drivers with manual vehicles could shift out of park without depressing the brake pedal. A similar test involving a vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission was conducted Dec. 19, 2017, and yielded identical results.
On Feb. 1, 2018, the FCA Vehicle Regulations Committee reviewed the matter opted to launch a voluntary safety recall. As of Jan. 26, 2018, FCA has received two customer assistance inquiry records and five field reports related to the defective brake pedal switches.
FCA intends to direct dealers to replace the brake pedal switches in affected vehicles free of charge, according to an NHTSA recall acknowledgement document. The company will notify both dealers and owners March 30, 2018. Owners in need of more immediate assistance can contact FCA customer service at (800) 853-1403. They should use the internal recall reference code U09 when calling. Owners can also reach out to the NHTSA directly using its Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.