The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

FCA Recalls SUVs, Sedans for Confusing Gear Shifters

April 22, 2016

Screen capture of Jeep Grand Cherokee electronic shifter courtesy of Mopar via YouTube.
Screen capture of Jeep Grand Cherokee electronic shifter courtesy of Mopar via YouTube.

FCA US is recalling 811,586 SUVs and sedans in the U.S. so that dealers can take measures to mitigate a rollaway risk arising from driver confusion about the electronic gearshift assembly.

The recall covers 2012-2014 model-year Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans, along with 2014-2015-MY Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) US said in a released statement.

Some drivers are mistakenly exiting their vehicle after assuming they’ve placed it in park and turned off the engine when, in fact, they haven’t. The confusion has been linked to the design of the electronic shift levers — a design that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigators have previously called counter-intuitive.

FCA US said the company is aware of 41 injuries that are potentially related. “The vehicles involved in these events were inspected and no evidence of equipment failure was found,” the automaker said.

In these vehicles, the electronic gearshift lever returns to the same position after each manipulation; it doesn’t move into a detent the way conventional gearshift levers do.

“Gear-selection is conveyed to the driver by multiple sets of indicator lights, not gear-selector position, and unless due care is taken, drivers may draw erroneous conclusions about the status of their vehicles,” FCA US explained.

“The vehicles also deliver warning chimes and alert messages if their driver-side doors are opened while their engines are still running and “PARK” is not engaged," FCA US said. "However, investigation suggested these measures may be insufficient to deter some drivers from exiting their vehicles without selecting “PARK,” so FCA US will enhance the warnings and transmission-shift strategy on these vehicles.”

The enhancements will combine warnings with a transmission-shift strategy to automatically prevent a vehicle from moving, under certain circumstances, even if the driver fails to select “park.”  

FCA is also recalling 52,144 vehicles in Canada, 16,805 in Mexico, and 248,667 outside the NAFTA region to address the same issue.

Affected vehicle owners will be notified when service becomes available. In the interim, FCA US urges drivers to follow the instructions in the owner’s manual.

The automaker began equipping the Charger and 300 with a new shift-lever design in model-year 2015. The Grand Cherokee’s shift lever received an update in model-year 2016.

Vehicle owners can reach the FCA US Customer Care Center at (800) 853-1403.

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Please note that comments may be moderated. 
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  1. 1. Art Meyer [ April 26, 2016 @ 08:40AM ]

    Its time maybe we need to look at who gets to drive rather than try to fix stupidity on the drivers fault for nor not being smart enough to put a car in Park.. You can only hold the industry responsible to a point and then driver training and common sense( I forgot we don't have that anymore, it's not politically correct.) should hold the driver responsible.

  2. 2. Brian Keegan [ April 26, 2016 @ 11:24AM ]

    I just drove this car and it was difficult to shift properly. It has nothing to do with intelligence or experience as I am quite capable of driving a standard shift in various forms.
    It was extremely easy to overshift into a different gear as an electronic contact has a light touch.I am sure you could get used to the feel , but as i was only in the vehicle for two days , I can understand the danger and the recall. It was especially difficult to find reverse as most time I ended back in Park , which is I guess a good thing. Any frustration means it is probably a poor design and the recall confirms it.

  3. 3. Ed Bretthauer [ April 29, 2016 @ 10:04AM ]

    What ever happened to the practice of engaging the parking brake before turning the engine off? I'm amazed at the number of people I know who do not use the parking brake. Isn't it taught in the Drivers Ed courses anymore?


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