June 20, 2016
Actor’s Death is Latest Example of Inadequate Recall Response; CAS Lays Out Action Plan for Chrysler to Prevent Further Deaths and Injuries due to Transmission Defect
Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin was killed June 18 when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him against his mailbox in a rollaway incident. Yelchin’s death is unfortunately the latest example of industry and government incompetence in the face of vehicle safety defects.
On April 22, 2016, Chrysler issued a recall of 2014-2015 Grand Cherokees, as well as 2012-14 Chrysler 300s and Dodge Chargers, in order to add an additional part to enhance the Jeeps’ monostable gear selector. The design of the monostable gear selector has been the source of much confusion for Chrysler owners, resulting in hundreds of rollaway incidents reported to both Chrysler and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Chrysler notes in its chronology that as of April 12, 2016 “FCA US has identified approximately 700 field reports potentially related to this issue which includes 212 crashes, 308 claims of property damage and 41 injuries.”
The vehicles involved had been under investigation by NHTSA since August 20, 2015, when the agency opened PE15-030. When NHTSA upgraded the investigation to EA16-002 on February 3, 2016, the agency noted 121 crashes and 30 injury incidents in its opening memo.
Despite a clear defect affecting hundreds of owners with injury and potential death, Chrysler issued a Part 577 interim notification letter to owners promising to develop a fix by the 4th quarter of 2016. Just how quickly this fix would be available to owners is unknown, and given Chrysler’s recent recall efforts in fire-prone Jeeps, owners would be potentially subject to lengthy delays when seeking a remedy.
In a letter to Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, CAS Executive Director wrote:
The Center for Auto Safety calls on Chrysler to:
· Notify owners not to drive these vehicles until repaired under the safety recall.
· Provide free loaner or rental cars of comparable value to all owners until the vehicles are repaired under the safety recall.
· For owners who cannot wait until a recall repair is available, buy the recalled vehicles back at original purchase or lease cost with no deduction for use as is done under state lemon laws where the defect exists on the day the vehicle was bought.
· Provide a detailed public timeline within 10 days of what is being done to make a recall remedy available, when parts will be available for all vehicles and who is doing the engineering for the recall.
· Sergio Marchionne should publicly go and apologize to the family of Anton Yelchin.
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16V-240 Third Amended Part 573 – 6/21/16
16V-240 Advance Dealer Alert – 4/22/16
Consumer Reports Videos on Confusing Gearshifts