The automaker already issued a recall for these vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has completed its investigation into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ potentially confusing monostable gearshift. The American government’s safety regulator found 686 complaints, 266 crashes, and 68 injuries from people not actually putting the vehicles in Park.
NHTSA began its investigation on February 3, 2016, into the 2012-2014 Chrysler 300, 2012-2014 Dodge Charger, and 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. These vehicles all have an eight-speed automatic gearbox with a monostable gearshift that rocks back and forth when drivers select a gear, rather than physically moving to a new location. If owners incorrectly think they are in Park, then they could leave the vehicle, and it could roll away.
On April 22, 2016, FCA announced a recall to fix 1.1 million affected vehicles worldwide, including 811,586 in the U.S. At that time, the automaker was aware of 41 injuries from the problem. The fix was a software update that put the models in Park, even if the driver accidentally didn’t shift into that gear. According to the Associated Press, the FCA sent a letter to owners on June 24 telling them how to schedule the repair. To avoid the problem in the future, the company switched to a more conventional gearshift design in the 2015 model year Charger and 300 and the 2016 Grand Cherokee.
FCA’s recall shot to national attention after the death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin. He was driving a 2015 Grand Cherokee when the SUV allegedly rolled backward into him and pinned the 27 year old against a brick pillar. The coroner ruled the incident an accident, and the automaker has been investigating whether the fatality had a link to this safety campaign.
A pending class-action lawsuit alleged FCA knew the monostable shifter could confuse drivers, and the company hid that information. The case further claims a loss in resale value for the affected vehicles because of this problem.
On June 10, 2016, Maserati recalled 13,092 units of the 2014 Quattroporte and Ghibli with eight-speed automatic gearboxes in the U.S for possible confusion about the monostable shifter. The Italian automaker had no reports of accidents or injuries from this problem in its products, though.