FCA Canada Recalls 216,000 Ram Pickups For Airbag Fault

Big trucks are big business in Canada, and the Mexican-built Ram 1500 is the number-two overall seller in Canada's light vehicle market, behind the juggernaut that is the Ford F-150. Parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles builds the light-duty 1500 and its heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 siblings in Saltillo, located in northeastern Mexico.

The Canadian arm of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has recalled more than 216,000 of its Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks to fix a software fault that could prevent airbag deployment in a rollover.

According to an FCA press release, the manufacturer began an investigation into the fault in December 2016 after it was served with a lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged the truck’s airbags failed to deploy in a rollover crash.

FCA’s research revealed that in trucks including the 2016 Ram 1500, as well as those sold from 2013 through 2015, a significant underbody impact could trick the airbag module into “thinking” there was a fault in the airbag system and deactivate it until the next time the truck was turned off and re-started.

The automaker says this is actually a feature behaving badly, not a bug: an airbag deployment suppression provision is programmed into the software to prevent inadvertent activation in the event of a sensor failure.

However, FCA will reprogram the airbag modules to better recognize the difference between a failed sensor and underbody hits that can be a routine occurrence in trucks regularly used off-road. The company is notifying owners of the affected trucks — which total more than 1.25 million worldwide — and says recall work will begin in late June.

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Chris Chase

Chris Chase

As a child, Chris spent much of his time playing with toy cars in his parents’ basement; when his mother would tell him to go play outside, he made car sounds while riding his bicycle or dug roads for his toys in the flower garden. Now he gets to indulge his obsession playing with real cars that make their own cool noises, and gets paid for it.