Auburn Hills, Michigan – Dec. 15, 2017 – Chrysler recently issued a recall of nearly 26,000 Jeep Compass sport utility vehicles from the 2017 and 2018 model years over concerns related to the photo sensor calibrations that may lead to the instrument panel not lighting up during day-to-night transitions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Federal vehicle safety standards require that backlighting for dashboard panels come with at least two brightness settings, but this issue means some Compasses may not meet that standard. Moreover, the dimmer settings on the dashboard panel will not be able to manually override the setting, putting the vehicles out of compliance with federal standards.
In all, about 10 percent of the Compasses in the recall – all produced between July 29 and Sept. 11, 2017 – are expected to carry this defect.
Specifically, an investigation found two engineering changes made to the light sensors’ calibrations affected its ability to allow the dashboard panel lighting to transition properly from day mode to night mode. That means that when drivers are operating the vehicle late in the afternoon or before dawn, the dashboard panels might not dim properly as natural light fades.
That issue, in turn, may lead to reduced driver visibility and a higher risk of crash or injury.
Chrysler was able to identify many of the vehicles affected by the issue using part traceability.
Timeline of Events
In mid-October 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration informally asked Chrysler to investigate a complaint about an inability to dim a Compass’s instrument panel cluster. Five days later, the company’s Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance organization started that investigation after reviewing a number of similar complaints and records, and in doing so identified the engineering changes that affected the dimmer.
The same day, Chrysler and the supplier of the parts in question reviewed the light sensor performance to determine just how widespread the issue might have been, then began a thorough search of part numbers and vehicle ID numbers to determine the plants from which these problems may have arisen.
By Oct. 31, Chrysler and the supplier reviewed a sample field return of the panel cluster, and on Nov. 31, Chrysler’s Vehicle Regulations Committee determined it would initiate a recall.
Chrysler plans to reimburse owners for any costs they incur – or have already incurred – repairing the issues in the recall, and asks Compass owners send the original receipt or other proof of payment to confirm the cost.
On Nov. 21, Chrysler announced it would notify both dealers and owners of the recall on Jan. 10, 2018.