Fiat Chrysler Australia Pty Ltd this week recalled the 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2012 - 2014 Chrysler 300 due to the danger of the vehicle ‘rolling away’ after the driver exits the vehicle without successfully engaging ‘PARK’.
Russian born American actor Anton Yeltsin, who plays Chekov in the latest Star Trek movies, was killed on June 19th when he was pinned against his front gate by his Jeep Grand Cherokee which rolled back onto him.
When his friends found him his car was still idling in neutral suggesting that he may not have correctly engaged ‘PARK’ before getting out to open the gate.
This is not the first incident to be linked to the Jeep’s monostable shifter design.
In the USA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating the Jeep’s unconventional shifter design which was causing crashes due to drivers not realising they hadn’t properly engaged ’PARK’.
According to a preliminary report by the NHTSA in February this year, the shifter design had so far led to 314 complaints and 121 crashes.
In April, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the USA announced a voluntary recall to address the issue and in May sent owners a letter advising that they were working on a software solution to the problem.
They have also discontinued the use of the monostable shifter with the 2016 Grand Cherokee having a conventional shifter.
Unlike conventional shifters which move forwards and backwards in the gate and stay where you leave them, the Jeep’s Monostable Electronic Gear Shift Assembly always returns to the centre position.
To engage 'PARK' the driver pushes the shifter all the way forward and holds it there until the change registers on the dashboard display.
This video demonstrates the problem.
Third Grand Cherokee Recall this year
Unfortunately for Jeep Grand Cherokee owners, this isn’t the first recall this year.
On May 6th 2015-2016 Grand Cherokee’s were recalled due to a potential casting fault in the front left brake caliber housing which may rupture and cause an accident under extreme braking pressure.
On February 12th, 2011-2013 Grand Cherokee’s were recalled due to a potential electrical short circuit in the sun visor vanity lamp which could cause a fire.
Tank My Lemon
This latest recall is another dent in the Jeep brand for Fiat Chrysler Australia (FCA) which has taken a hammering in recent years with a number of disgruntled owners taking drastic action to highlight their dissatisfaction with their Jeep vehicle purchase and FCA’s response to their complaints.
In 2014 Ashton Wood created the ‘Destroy My Jeep’ campaign to crowd fund the destruction of his Jeep Cherokee. After successfully funding the campaign Ashton followed through and destroyed his Jeep in spectacular fashion.
This was followed by Teg Sethi who last year spent $8000 making a rap video to encourage people not to make the same mistake he did by buying a ‘lemon’ Jeep.
The video (below) has had over 2,600,000 views so far!
And just last week Joe and Kate Masters took things to another level when they followed through with their ‘Tank My Lemon’ campaign after giving up on waiting for FCA to make good on their ‘lemon’ vehicle.
The couple created a ‘Go Fund Me’ campaign to raise money to pay off their vehicle loan so they could destroy it instead of selling it to some unsuspecting new owner.
The campaign raised $9265 which was apparently enough for them to go ahead and on June 25th they destroyed their Jeep in spectacular fashion by driving a 52 tonne army tank over it several times.
Australia’s weak ‘lemon laws’ are the real issue that all three of these unhappy Jeep owners are trying to highlight above all else.
In the USA and other countries, manufacturers have an obligation to replace or refund a vehicle deemed to be a ‘lemon’ but these laws don’t apply in Australia.
Consequently manufacturers can keep owners in an 'infinite loop' of repairs without ever being obliged to refund or replace.