The National Highway Traffic Safety Administraion (NHTSA) has announced that they are expanding their investigation into nearly 900,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Charger, and Chrysler 300 models due to confusion over the position of the gear shift lever.
The NHTSA has said they are upgrading their investigation to an engineering analysis of 2014-2015 Grand Cherokees and 2012-2014 Charger and 300 models equipped with the 3.6L V6 engine. They have identified 306 incidents of vehicles rolling away after the driver had intended to place the vehicle in park. This is alleged to have caused 117 crashes, 28 of which reportedly caused injuries and seven requiring hospitalization.
The issue appears to be with the ZF provided “Monostable” electric gear shift assembly. It springs back to a center position after you change gear (much like a turn signal stalk). Testing by the NHTSA found that it is not intuitive and “provides poor tactile and visual feedback to the driver, increasing the potential for unintended gear selection”. The cars have a chime and a message alert which appears on the instrument cluster, but it appears that this is not always sufficient to notify drivers. Especially drivers who intend to leave the car running when they exit the vehicle.
There is no recall planned at this time, and Fiat-Chrysler stated they have changed the design of the shifter in early model-year 2015 for the Charger and 300, and the Grand Cherokee in model-year 2016.
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