Faulty Shifter Sparks Jeep Grand Cherokee Recall | Ellis Injury Law

Faulty Shifter Sparks Jeep Grand Cherokee Recall

July 11, 2016

Ellis Law Corporation


Fiat Chrysler is no stranger to vehicle recalls and scrutiny for failing to rectify safety defects in a timely manner. In July of 2015, the auto manufacturer was fined $105 million by federal regulators, prompted by 23 recalls affecting some 11 million vehicles. Fiat Chrysler (FCA) publicly acknowledged that those recalls were neither effective nor prompt, conceding that the company didn’t fulfill its legal obligation for alerting dealers, owners and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

The civil penalties highlight FCA’s poor track record of vehicle safety in an era marked by stricter automotive regulation. Axle problems and loss of power steering triggered previous Chrysler recalls, but FCA’s confusing and  poorly designed monostable gear shifter is perhaps even more notorious, following the tragic death of Anton Yelchin. The former Star Trek actor was killed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his driveway, pinning him against a metal fence.

Jeep Grand Cherokee recall due to rollaway risk

Yelchin’s 2015 Grand Cherokee had been recalled by Fiat Chrysler just two months earlier due to a rollaway risk, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Federal regulators pushed for the recall after being bombarded with dozens of complaints from people who couldn’t tell if they had put the automatic transmission in park. To be exact, the NHTSA had received at least 314 complaints linked to these monostable gear shifters, including 121 accident reports and more than 30 injuries.

Fiat Chrysler, which manufacturers Jeeps, officially announced a global recall of roughly 1.1 million vehicles to amend the operation of the gear shifter in question. The notice was issued on April 22, 2016, after the NHTSA had begun investigating accident and injury reports involving the shifter. Fiat Chrysler says it plans to add additional warning bells to the automatic shifter that will chime when the driver’s door is opened if the vehicle is not in Park. They will also add a software “patch” to keep the vehicles from moving, even when not in Park, under specific conditions.

According to data gleaned from the NHTSA’s investigation, the majority of crash and injury reports were tied to the 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees. “Twenty-eight of the crashes reportedly caused injuries, including 3 with a fractured pelvis and 4 others requiring some degree of hospitalization (a ruptured bladder, fractured kneecap, broken ribs, damage to right leg),” report regulators at the NHTSA. “Other injuries include reports of a broken nose, facial lacerations requiring stitches, sprained knees, severe bruising, and trauma to legs.”

The 2016 Fiat Chrysler vehicle recall includes the following models:

  • 2012 – 2014 Chrysler 300 sedans (with 3.6-liter engine)
  • 2012–2014 Dodge Charger
  • 2014–2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Injuries and deaths blamed on vehicle defects

Fiat Chrysler has a history of dragging of their heels when it comes to addressing or publicizing safety defects in its vehicles. According to the Center for Auto Safety, more than 180 deaths have been attributed to a faulty fuel tank that could cause 1993-2004 Jeep vehicles to be engulfed in flames in the event of a rear-end collision. Hopefully, this recent 2016 Jeep recall will help prevent additional injuries and deaths of innocent drivers who were failed by a dangerous and unintuitive gear shifter.

The product liability attorneys at Ellis Injury Law are involved in ongoing litigation involving the Chrysler Jeep recall. Claimants are suing under a number of legal theories including breach of contract, unjust enrichment, false advertising and defective design. Our legal team holds manufacturers of defective vehicles and auto parts accountable for their actions and transgressions, and has procured millions of dollars on behalf of clients.

To learn more about your legal options, call our Jeep recall attorneys toll-free at 310-641-3335.

Additional resources regarding Jeep recall

  1. Autoweek, FCA to recall 1.1 million vehicles for confusing shifter http://autoweek.com/article/recalls/fca-recall-11-million-vehicles-confusing-shifter
  2. Consumerist, More Than 100 Crashes Caused By Confusing Jeep Chrysler Dodge Gear-Shifters https://consumerist.com/2016/02/08/more-than-100-crashes-caused-by-confusing-jeep-chrysler-dodge-gear-shifters/
  3. NPR, Fiat Chrysler Hit With Record $105 Million Fine Over Safety Recalls http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/26/426557128/fiat-chrysler-hit-with-record-105-million-fine-for-safety-defects
  4. Autoweek, People can’t figure out this shifter; NHTSA decides that’s a problem http://autoweek.com/article/recalls/nhtsa-upgrades-fca-gearshift-probe-amid-reports-crashes-and-injuries