FCA is paying dearly for trying to make shifting an automatic more fun.
Just like the VW Group can’t seem to rid itself of the trouble surrounding its dirty diesels, FCA is feeling the sting of improperly designed shifters. Last April, the automaker recalled over 1.1 million cars including the 2012-2014 Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger and the 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee because the gear selectors in these cars didn’t do a great job of specifying when they were placed into park, causing owners to leave the car in gear when parking. According to Automotive News, the same issue is plaguing FCA’s Ram lineup.
The issue with the shifters in the previous recall is that they return to their original position after a gear has been selected, making it easy for owners to forget if they put the car in park. If the owner did this and left the car on a slope, the vehicle could then roll away without anyone inside to stop it, potentially causing injuries or worse. The issue has been attributed to the death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, which was one of 266 reported crashes that caused 68 injuries. This time around the issue affects all 2013-2016 Ram 1500 trucks and 2014-2016 Dodge Durango SUVs equipped with rotary shifters. These shifters are different than those involved in the previous recall.
However, they are no less dangerous since the NHTSA alleges that the units are responsible for 25 crashes that have caused nine injuries. As such, it's investigating the matter alongside FCA, which has said it will cooperate fully with the investigation. It’s unclear whether the issue with the shifter is that it makes it easy for owners to commit errors as with the previously recalled gear selector or if the rotary units are defective, but the government has asked owners of affected vehicles to apply the parking brake before leaving them. If a recall is issued, around 1 million FCA vehicles will be affected, not something an automaker that’s hurting for cash wants to hear.