The brand’s always in hot water.
Last summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into 400,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees after owners reported that the SUVs would roll away after being shifted into Park. The NHTSA has just expanded its investigation to roughly 856,000 2014 to 2015 Grand Cherokees, 2012 to 2014 Dodge Chargers and 2012 to 2014 Chryslers 300s because the electronic gear shifter confuses drivers.
The NHTSA blames the poorly-designed shifter that doesn’t adequately indicate to drivers that the vehicle is or isn’t in park. According to a report from The Detroit News, the NHTSA is conducting an engineering analysis on more than 856K Fiat Chrysler cars after receiving 314 roll-away incidents. The incidents involved 121 crashes and 30 injures, which were caused when drivers exited the car after thinking that they had shifted into Park. While the initial investigation treated the issue as a mechanical defect, it looks like a problem has something to do with driver incompetence and a poorly-designed shifter. All of the models come with a push-button console shift lever that looks like a traditional PRNDL shifter, but works in an nontraditional fashion.
The electronic shifter works in a similar fashion to a joystick and returns to its center position after selecting a gear. In testing, the NHTSA found that the electronic gear shifter’s operation was “not intuitive” and offers “poor tactile and visual feedback to the driver, increasing the potential for unintended gear selection.” It’s kind of funny that drivers are having problems with something that should be as simple as a shifter, but, apparently, it’s a major issue that Fiat Chrysler drivers are facing. As of right now, no recalls have been announced.