Chrysler expands ignition switch recall – USA TODAY
DETROIT — Chrysler is expanding an earlier recall to include 2008 and 2009 model year Chrysler Town and Country’s and Dodge Grand Caravans to fix ignition switches that can slip out of position.
An additional 695,957 minivans have ignition switches that may slip out of the “run” position into the “accessory” position, shutting off the engine and air bags. Chrysler previously recalled 196,000 2010 model year Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan and Dodge Journey vehicles built for the same issue.
A similar problem has led General Motors to recall millions of vehicles, fire 15 employees, establish a special fund to compensate families who lost loved ones or people who were injured in accidents caused by some of the defective ignitions.
Chrysler will contact minivan owners to tell them when to take their vehicles to dealers who will fix the ignition switches at no charge.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, however, questioned Chrysler’s proposed method of fixing the minivans.
“While Chrysler’s expanded recall … does not address agency concerns regarding the effectiveness of the remedy, specifically the possibility that the defect may result in non-deployment of the vehicles’ air bags,” NHTSA said in a statement. “NHTSA is requesting additional information from Chrysler to aid the agency’s investigation and will take appropriate action based on its findings.”
Earlier this month, NHTSA announced it opened two probes into possible ignition switch defects in about 1.25 million vehicles from Chrysler, including the ones recalled on Monday. The agency had linked no deaths or injuries to the Chrysler switch issue.
One of the two NHTSA investigations covered about 700,000 2008-2010 Dodge Journey SUVs and Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country minivans — the 2008 and 2009 models recalled On Monday and the 2010 models, which were recalled in 2011 for the ignition switch.
NHTSA said it now has further complaints about 2010 vehicles that got the earlier recall fix, which NHTSA approved at the time.
The second NHTSA ignition investigation covers about 525,000 2006-2007 Jeep Commanders and 2005-2006 Jeep Grand Cherokees, about which NHTSA has complaints that the driver’s knee can bump the ignition and move it out of “run.”
Last year, Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne initially refused to recall Jeep Grand Cherokees from 1993-98 and Liberty’s from 2002-07 with rear-mounted gas tanks at risk for fiery rear-end collisions.
NHTSA allowed Chrysler to move forward with a “safety campaign” to install trailer hitches for added protection. That remedy has been widely criticized by safety advocates.
Chrysler said customers who have questions can call Chrysler Group’s Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-853-1403.
Contributing: Fred Meier, USA TODAY