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Fiat-Chrysler Issues Recalls for Dodge Charger, Ram for Faulty Airbag Sensors

— August 3, 2015

August is beginning to look like a continuation of July for embattled automaker Fiat-Chrysler, as the company announced on Saturday that it is recalling 322,000 Dodge Chargers from model years 2011-2014. The recall comes after the company received 25 complaints of unintended side-curtain airbag deployments when the doors had been kicked or slammed forcefully. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) recall summary, “The side-impact sensor calibrations may be overly sensitive,” continuing, “Airbags that unexpectedly deploy increase the risk of a crash or injury.” Fiat-Chrysler reported to the agency that there had been three minor injuries from the deployments as of July 10th. Blaming the issue on a defect in the door-pressure sensors, the company released a statement on its website, telling Charger owners “to exercise caution when closing doors.”

The announcement is the second major recall in the past week for Fiat-Chrysler’s Dodge brand due to unintended airbag deployments, following last week’s recall of about 1.06 million 2012-2015 Dodge Ram trucks for similar issues. That recall affects 2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 pickup models. The company said that the defect is very uncommon, only affecting less than .01 percent of the total number of vehicles placed under the recall. Although the company investigated the sensors on similarly constructed 2011-2014 Dodge Challenger and Chrysler 300 models, Fiat-Chrysler said that there were no defect issues because the airbag calibrations on those models differ from the Charger. The company says that engineers updated the calibration software in September and November of 2014 when they discovered the issue, and the company is working on additional updates as well. Although specific dates for the software upgrade or repairs have yet to be announced, Fiat-Chrysler urges owners of the affected models to call customer service at (800) 853-1403.

The recalls aren’t the only headaches for Fiat-Chrysler involving Ram trucks. As part of its “lenient” $105 million settlement agreement with the NHTSA regarding the company’s underwhelming response to its 23 separate recalls, the agency ordered Fiat-Chrysler to buy back at least 193,000 Ram and Chrysler SUVs due to the company’s inability to fix a steering defect in a timely manner. The company also recalled about 1.4 million Harman Kardon International radios last month due to a Wired report that showed hackers taking over a 2014 Jeep Cherokee. The NHTSA announced on Saturday that the agency was opening an investigation into over 2.8 million of the radios to see “if there is cause for concern that security issues exist in other Harmon Kardon products.” The latter recalls follow the consent order agreement that the NHTSA negotiated with the company on July 26th, which requires Fiat-Chrysler to cooperate fully with any additional NHTSA investigations.




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