More precisely, the 2009 model year has been singled out following a tragic fire last December.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has officially opened an investigation into the 2009 Dodge Journey following a fatal fire in one example last December. The government safety agency says that roughly 82,500 units are affected but no recall has been decided at this time. The Journey was discontinued back in 2020.
Here's what we know: On December 9, 2022, 73-year-old Mary Frahm from Wisconsin was forced to pull over her '09 Journey when the dashboard warning light turned out, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
She called her fiance because a lot of strange things then began to happen, such as the windshield wipers suddenly turned on, the horn began honking, and the speedometer was "going crazy." Also, the windows refused to be lowered and, even more scary, the electric door locks stopped functioning. She called her fiance back again only a few minutes later to report that smoke had begun entering the cabin through the dashboard. Frahm called 911 next but by the time the fire department arrived it was already too late.
The vehicle was completely engulfed in flames with Frahm trapped inside. "The driver was unable to exit the vehicle, resulting in her death," the NHTSA stated. Dodge's parent company, Stellantis, released this statement: "We extend our deepest sympathies to the friends and families of this customer and will cooperate fully with the NHTSA."
Fortunately, no other similar incidents with the '09 Journey or another model year have been reported, but the now-discontinued crossover has been recalled in the past.
Back in 2009, a total of 17,000 units were recalled to fix - and this is worrying - an electrical connector that could erode, leading to a fire. But, Frahm's Journey was not part of that recall. Older Chrysler vehicles, including the Journey, also have a component called the Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) which has a history of causing electrical issues. Frahm's Journey had a TIPM.
Now, it is possible to manually unlock the Journey by pulling up on a component at the very top of the door panel but Frahm clearly didn't know that. The owner's manual does provide those instructions but it should have been easier for Frahm to manually unlock and escape. In an emergency situation, like the one Frahm was in, digging out the owner's manual from the glovebox is not something most people are going to do while panicking.
Furthermore, the windows are hard to break because they're laminated, a design feature used to prevent people from being thrown from the vehicle in a crash. Hopefully, there will be more updates to this investigation in the coming weeks.
Join The Discussion