Texas Drivers: Have Your Recalled Vehicles Repaired Now

by Terry Bryant

Fiat Chrysler

According to Bill Vlasic’s New York Times article published June 22, 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) first notified Fiat Chrysler about numerous driver complaints concerning shifting mechanisms in 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs, some 2012-14 Dodge Chargers, and Chrysler 300 sedans as early as August 2015. However, the company failed to issue a recall until April of 2016. That delay may have played a direct role in allowing numerous new injuries to occur – and possibly even contributed to the death of actor Anton Yelchin in June 2016.

If You Drive Any of the Models Referenced Above – Is Your Gearshift Slipping?

Although the investigation into Anton Yelchin’s death is still ongoing, it currently appears that he may have thought he had placed his Jeep Grand Cherokee in park, when it suddenly rolled backwards in his driveway, crushing him to death. Fiat Chrysler claims that such events only occur if drivers have “misused” their gearshift mechanisms. Many drivers who’ve encountered this problem disagree and believe the mechanism either slips — or misleads a driver into thinking his/her vehicle has been properly placed in “park.”

If you drive one of the vehicles named above and have experienced any slippage or failure of the vehicle to shift properly into “park” (and stay in that position), contact your auto dealer to see if your model is under a current recall. It may need to be immediately repaired, even if it’s not technically listed in a recall. As the New York Times article indicates, by April of 2016, Fiat Chrysler already knew about 200 crashes and 41 injuries attributed to this gearshift problem – based on consumer complaints.

What Type of Reputation Does Fiat Chrysler Have Regarding Past Recalls?

Fiat Chrysler is definitely in “damage control” mode now, particularly as it’s been chastised by the government in the past due to its poor handling of recalls. According to the Times article, Fiat Chrysler even agreed back in 2015 to pay federal penalties (about $105 million) for its substandard handling of nearly two dozen recalls since 2013.

Despite Fiat Chrysler’s past handling of recalls, at least up until the recent tragic death of Anton Yelchin, sales of Jeep SUVs in America have remained strong. The company’s current promise to rush new computer software to dealers to repair the gearshift problem must go smoothly for the company to avoid incurring further harm to its brand name among consumers.

However, Fiat Chrysler is quick to point out that it did send out special brochures to its customers concerning the recalled Jeeps, explaining how drivers needed to shift the gears properly. At this point, no one knows for sure if Mr. Yelchin had received one of those brochures or had time to read it – before his fatal accident.

How Can the New Recall Gearshift Software Help Protect You?

According to Fiat Chrysler, once this new “recall” software is installed in an affected vehicle, it will automatically shift the vehicle into park once the driver’s door opens – regardless of whether or not the driver has left it in drive – or placed it in neutral or reverse.

Although the company had been planning first to make this new software available in either July or August – Fiat Chrysler now reports that it began delivering some of it to its approximate 2,400 dealers during late June.

While all Texas drivers must determine if their vehicles are part of this recall – those whose listed vehicles have a 3.6-liter or 5.7-liter engine — account for the majority of the vehicles with the faulty gearshift mechanisms.