Auburn Hills, MI – July 31, 2022 – The U.S. government auto safety regulator is investigating a series of incidents with Stellantis (NYSE:STLA) vehicles whose parking brakes may activate while driving. If that happens, the car would stall and stop on the road, increasing the risk of a crash and injury.
This investigation, if it leads to a parking brake recall, could affect an estimated 1.34 million 2014-2020 Jeep Cherokee SUVs.
The regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), opened an investigation on July 22, 2022, following 80 complaints about unexpected and sudden handbrake activation in affected Jeep Cherokees.
These SUVs have an Electronic Parking Brake (EPB), which allows the driver to activate it by a push of a button instead of pulling a lever. Parking brake activation is performed by an electric motor, with an EPB module controlling its operation. Based on initial findings, water may find its way into the module and cause electrical shorts. This could lead to unintended parking brake activation while driving.
It appears that Jeep was aware of the problem as early as 2016 when it issued dealer communication advising dealers to check for “corrosion” if there was an issue with the parking brake not releasing. There was also a recall issued in 2015 which dealt with short circuits inside the liftgate module caused by water leaks. Although the “symptoms” are unrelated, both modules are located in a similar area within the SUV.
A vehicle that unexpectedly activates its parking brake may be hit from behind by oncoming traffic. In addition, a sudden activation may confuse the driver and cause it to lose control of the vehicle.
Potential warning signs
Drivers have reported that either the parking brake or ABS light or “most warning lights” would come on prior to the handbrake activation. However, in some cases there was no warning.
Other Jeep recalls
Apart from this ongoing investigation, there were several other Jeep Cherokee recalls in the past. Among them, the one from May 2022, caused by a transmission leak, is the most recent.
Is your vehicle part of a recall?
This investigation into the Jeep electronic parking brake issue may eventually lead to a recall, possibly affecting over 1.3 million vehicles. In the meantime, you could do a Jeep recall check for your vehicle using MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.