For the second time in 18 months this is happening.
Last June tragedy struck when actor Anton Yelchin was struck and killed when his new Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backwards after he mistakenly left it in Neutral instead of Park. Only a few months prior, in April, did Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) recall 1.1 million vehicles that also featured the same three-position shifter due to rollaway concerns; Yelchin sadly did not have his Grand Cherokee serviced before the accident.
And now, according to Automotive News, for the second time in less than 18 months, US safety regulators are investigating another shifter issue: the "four-stop rotary dial shifter FCA began using in 2012...in the center console of its Ram 1500 pickup." This same rotary dial, which creates extra space on the center console, is also used in the new Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Durango and the now discontinued Chrysler 200. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is specifically looking at 2013-16 Ram 1500s and 2014-16 Durangos featuring that rotary shifter. Turns out there are "more than two dozen reports of unintended rollaways," some of which involve injuries.
Basically, investigators don’t know whether these rollaways and subsequent injuries occurred as a result of driver error or mechanical issues. It’s entirely possible, however, that some owners aren’t familiar with the "operation of new shifter designs," but still, this isn’t good news for FCA. A transmission shifter is one of the most basic and important mechanisms in all vehicles, and the fact that this issue plagues the automaker twice in less than a year and a half isn’t very reassuring.