The feds are now investigating.
Owners of the now-discontinued 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan or a Chrysler Town & Country beware. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into both minivans after receiving 476 owner complaints alleging problems with not being able to open the sliding doors.
"One or both power sliding doors can become inoperable, preventing them from being opened either by mechanical or electronic means," the agency says in the official document.
Stellantis, the world's fourth-largest automaker that resulted in the merger of FCA and the PSA Groupe, pledged its "full cooperation" during the investigation.
Owners have been complaining that rear-seat passengers are being forced to exit through the windows, rear hatch, front doors, or the other sliding door, assuming it still works. This is not only an unnecessary inconvenience but also potentially very dangerous if there's an accident when occupants need to exit the vehicle quickly.
The government safety agency has not provided any additional information at this time, but it is examining a Technical Service Bulletin released in 2016 relating to sliding door problems. Dealership technicians were instructed to replace either one or both lock actuators if deemed necessary when customers complained the doors wouldn't open.
A "loud buzzing noise" during the lock/unlock operation would also require replacing the actuators. The NHTSA is examining a possible defect in that lock actuator described by the automaker. If this is indeed the case, then it'd probably explain why the doors aren't opening and/or making that buzzing noise. However, the feds' document doesn't link the TSB to the potential new problem, at least not at this time.
The investigation is currently underway and other owners who are experiencing this same issue are encouraged to report it to the NHTSA. We should know fairly soon whether this will require a recall and, if so, which models years.