According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 100 accidents have been linked to Jeep Grand Cherokees rolling away despite having been parked with non-intuitive electronic gearshifts. This led NHTSA to announce an investigation into Chrysler’s other vehicles. NHTSA is adding 2012-14 Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s with 3.6L engines to its investigation of the 2014-15 Grand Cherokees. With the latest additions, nearly 856,000 vehicles are now under investigation by NHTSA, compared to the previous 408,000 of just Grand Cherokees.
The issue lies with the vehicles’ gearshift assembly, which electronically transmits the gear selected by the driver to the transmission control module. Once the driver selects a gear and lets go of the shifter, the gearshift springs back into a neutral position. However, if the driver’s side door is opened while the shift is not in park, a message will be displayed in front of the driver and a chime will sound. The vehicle will also not shut off properly if the vehicle does not sense it is in park. NHTSA described the shifting issue in the following statement:
This logic may provide feedback to drivers who attempt to turn the engine off when the transmission is not in park. However, this function does not protect drivers who intentionally leave the engine running or drivers who do not recognize that the engine continues to run after an attempted shutoff.
NHTSA has received more than 100 alleged crash reports linked to the non-intuitive gearshit, some of which caused injuries ranging from a fractured pelvis and kneecap to broken ribs, a broken nose and facial lacerations. The agency’s failure report summary also identified approximately 121 crashes and 30 injuries resulting from the Jeep’s rollaway problem. None of the reported incidents caused any fatalities.