In November of last year, Chrysler issued a major recall of approximately 744,822 Jeep SUVs due to an airbag problem. Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty models may have been manufactured with defective air bag control modules that could unexpectedly fail. The NHTSA investigated the problem and discovered that at least 215 drivers had experienced inadvertent airbag deployment while driving, and 81 injuries were reported as of November 9, 2012.
Now Chrysler has announced another massive recall of Jeep SUVs to update circuit board software that may cause the vehicles to shift into neutral without warning. The recall affects 2005 to 2010 Grand Cherokees and 2006 to 2012 Commanders. Of the 469,000 SUVs recalled, approximately 295,000 are in the United States, 28,500 are in Canada and 4,200 are in Mexico. The rest of the recalled vehicles are outside North America.
Circuit boards of the recalled vehicles may be transmitting signals that inadvertently trigger the gear shifts to neutral, and The Washington Post reports that a crack in the circuit board can signal the four-wheel-drive-system to turn on and off. According to official documents filed with NHTSA, “[i]f the vehicle shifts into neutral, it may roll away increasing the risk of a crash or personal injury.” The issue has been under investigation since January 2012 when a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee owner reported that his vehicle started rolling away after using his remote starter.
According to Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne, the company has received reports of 26 crashes and two injuries associated with the gear shift problem. Chrysler will begin notifying owners of the recalled vehicles in June, and dealers will update the software on the final drive controller at no charge. If owners have questions or concerns in the meantime, they can contact Chrysler at 1-800-247-9753.