Park­ing brake con­fu­sion sparks move by firm

7 Days in Dubai - - BUSINESS -

Fiat Chrysler is re­call­ing more than 1.1 mil­lion cars and SUVs world­wide be­cause driv­ers can­not tell if they’ve put the ve­hi­cles in park.

The con­fu­sion can in­crease the risk of a roll­away ac­ci­dent.

The re­call cov­ers the 2012-2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans and the 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Chero­kee SUV.

Fiat Chrysler, known as FCA, is re­call­ing 811,586 ve­hi­cles in the United States, 52,144 ve­hi­cles in Canada; 16,805 in Mex­ico; and 248,667 out­side North Amer­ica.

The ve­hi­cles have an elec­tronic shift lever that moves for­ward or back­ward to let the driver se­lect the gear in­stead of mov­ing along a track. A light shows which gear is se­lected, but to get from ‘drive’ to ‘park’, driv­ers must push the lever for­ward three times.

The ve­hi­cles sound a chime and is­sues a dash­board warn­ing if the driver’s door is opened while they aren’t in ‘park’.

But the push-but­ton ig­ni­tion doesn’t shut off the en­gine, in­creas­ing the risk of the ve­hi­cles rolling away af­ter driv­ers have ex­ited.

FCA said it’s aware of 41 in­juries po­ten­tially re­lated to the prob­lem.

The US govern­ment opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ve­hi­cles in Fe­bru­ary af­ter re­ceiv­ing re­ports that they were rolling away when they were sup­posed to be parked.

The Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion found that the shift lever “is not in­tu­itive and pro­vides poor tac­tile feed­back to the driver,” ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments posted on the agency’s web­site.

The agency had at least 121 re­ports of crashes re­lated to the is­sue.

USA To­day pub­lished some of the com­plaints sent to the Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

One owner in Wal­ton, In­di­ana, said he left his 2015 Jeep Grand Chero­kee run­ning when drop­ping off a DVD when he thought he had pushed the shifter in the right di­rec­tion. “My 23-year-old son was in the pas­sen­ger seat and yelled out, ‘Dad, the car is mov­ing,’” he wrote.

“I jumped back in and put my foot on the brake and watched the shift in­di­ca­tor as I slowly moved the shifter up so it in­di­cated ‘park’.”

An­other driver from Rochester Hills in Michi­gan said he was con­fused about whether the ve­hi­cle was in re­verse.

“In­tend­ing to back into my drive­way, I shifted into re­verse,” the com­plaint read. “The ve­hi­cle was not in re­verse and crashed into the ve­hi­cle that was parked ... across the street.”

One ex­pert, Sean Kane of Safety Re­search and Strate­gies, a firm that re­searches car-safety is­sues, told USA To­day: “It’s a high num­ber of in­juries.

“I think it’s a com­plete lack of hu­man­fac­tors engi­neer­ing and a lack of built-in fail-safes.”

Own­ers will be no­ti­fied about the re­call, the com­pany said. Deal­ers will up­date the shifters so the ve­hi­cles won’t move once the driver has ex­ited.

They will also add en­hanced warn­ing sig­nals. FCA says cus­tomers should care­fully fol­low the in­struc­tions for op­er­at­ing their shifters un­til their ve­hi­cles are re­paired.

FCA changed the shifter de­sign on the Charger and the 300 in the 2015 model year. It changed the Grand Chero­kee’s shifter in the 2016 model.

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