Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has a recall for more than 1.25 million units of the 2013-2016 Ram 1500 and 2500 pickups, plus the 2014-2016 Ram 3500, over an electronic issue that could be potentially fatal in an accident. The campaign specifically affects 1,021,279 trucks in the United States, 216,007 vehicles in Canada; 21,668 in Mexico; and 21,530 outside the NAFTA region. The automaker reports one fatality, two injuries, and two accidents that have a potential link to this issue.
If the affected pickups sustain “a significant underbody impact,” a computer module could incorrectly believe there’s a sensor failure. The resulting error code would activate a warning lamp on the dashboard. It would also temporarily disable the side airbags and seatbelt pretensioners but only for as long as “that ignition cycle.” However, the safety devices also wouldn’t work if the vehicle is in a rollover crash during this period.
According to FCA, stopping the side airbags from deploying during a sensor fault “is a feature of restraint systems. It serves as a potential safeguard against inadvertent system activation, should a sensor failure actually occur.” Owners could re-activate the side airbags and seatbelt pretensioners by turning the ignition to off and restarting the pickup. This would also turn off the warning light.
Ram dealers will update the software for the occupant restraint control modules with code that will offer “more robust sensor performance.
According to the automaker’s chronology, FCA discovered this issue in December 2016 when there was a lawsuit over a 2014 Ram 1500 “involved in a single vehicle rollover accident with no airbag or pretensioner deployment.” The automaker and supplier Robert Bosch LLC analyzed the code for the Occupant Restraint Controller, and FCA began a deeper investigation in March 2017. The firm eventually decided that a recall was warranted for updated the software.
Gallery: 2016 Ram 1500
Statement: Software update
May 12, 2017 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - FCA US LLC is voluntarily recalling an estimated 1 million trucks in the U.S. to reprogram computer modules that help control restraint-system deployment in rollover situations.
An FCA US investigation identified a population of vehicles equipped with modules featuring certain types of sensors. If such a vehicle were subjected to a significant underbody impact, its module may erroneously conclude the sensor has failed and then activate an instrument-cluster warning light.
The error code associated with the warning may temporarily disable side air bag and seat belt pretensioner** deployment for that ignition cycle, which would then be unavailable in the event of a vehicle rollover. (Deployment suppression is a feature of restraint systems. It serves as a potential safeguard against inadvertent system activation, should a sensor failure actually occur.)
If the warning light is illuminated, normal restraint-system function may be restored by turning the vehicle’s ignition to “off,” and then to “on/run.” Function restoration may be verified by the absence of a warning light.
However, FCA US urges affected customers to follow the instructions on their recall notices. The Company is aware of one fatality, two injuries and two accidents that may be related.
Affected vehicles are certain 2013-16 Ram 1500 and 2500 pickups, and 2014-2016 Ram 3500 pickups. Their occupant restraint control modules will be reprogramed with software that affords more robust sensor performance.
The recall also affects an estimated 216,007 vehicles in Canada; 21,668 in Mexico; and 21,530 outside the NAFTA region.
Affected customers will be advised when they may schedule service. As always, the Company urges all customers to use seat belts when operating or riding in any motor vehicle.
Customers with questions may call the FCA US Customer Care Center at (800) 853-1403.
** Pretensioners reduce seat belt slack during impacts, thereby reducing forward movement of the occupant’s head and torso.