Stalling Danger? Federal Regulators Urged to Recall Chrysler Models

Forbes.com

November 22, 2017

Christopher Jensen

A consumer advocacy group is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to recall 150,000 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivans due to owner complaints about stalling.

“This has left drivers unable to accelerate, decelerate, or utilize power steering. It is well established that stalling vehicles have resulted in serious injuries and deaths,” the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety said in a petition sent Monday to federal regulators.

The group said its request was prompted by about 50 complaints to NHTSA, which are posted without being checked for accuracy.

“On six different occasions, my 2017 Chrysler Pacifica has shut down while driving,” an owner from Illinois wrote the agency in September.

“The car is in motion and the engine turns off. The screen says, ‘Put car in park and press start button.’ At this point the car is coasting along the road. You have to attempt to get off the road and put the car in Park to restart. The car does restart but this is highly dangerous.”

There were no reports of crashes or injuries.

A Fiat-Chrysler spokesman said the company takes customer concerns seriously, “routinely monitors the performance of its vehicles” and responds when the information it collects shows it is warranted.

The center said some of those who complained said they lost power five times within the vehicle’s first 205 miles. For others, the problem began after several thousand miles. The petition said the automaker seems unsure of what is causing the problem or how to fix it.

“Chrysler needs to recall these vehicles, provide alternatives for owners in the meantime, and figure out how to fix the problem,” Jason Levine, the executive director of the center said in a news release.

The center was joined in the petition by Adam J. Cohen, a Pacifica owner from Leesburg, Virginia.

Federal regulations allow anyone to file a petition with NHTSA requesting an investigation into a safety problem. The agency is then required to look into the allegations and decide whether to grant the request. If granted, it would then begin a “preliminary evaluation” looking at the issue.

However, typically the agency opens preliminary evaluations based on owner complaints. It has opened such investigations based on as few as two complaints.

The 2017 Pacifica has been generally praised by automobile enthusiast magazines, but has also been recalled four times for other problems.

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