Lemon Law News – FCA Issues Recall for Bad Airbag Wiring

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) recently announced they will recall more than 300,000 Dodge vehicles for wiring issues that can cause inadvertent airbag deployment.

The manufacturer sent the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) a safety recall report on July 7, 2017 detailing their plans to recall 363,480 2011-2015 Dodge Journey vehicles built between Oct. 14, 2010 and April 20, 2015. These vehicles can experience a trapped steering wheel wire harness between the steering wheel’s plastic back cover tab and the horn plate. This can rub through the wire’s insulation, creating a short that can inadvertently deploy the airbag. Sudden improper airbag deployment can increase injury and crash risk.

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The manufacturer’s chronology states FCA’s Special Investigations group first notified the company about an inadvertent airbag deployment on Oct. 13, 2014. Returned Dodge Grand Caravan part analysis initially suggested failed steering column conductor tape. However, engineers concluded on March 25, 2015 the defect’s root cause was a shorted steering wheel wire harness caused by the horn plate rubbing through the wire’s insulation.

The company’s investigators found three airbag deployment incidents caused by the defect. They continued monitoring for further deployment incidents while engineers isolated the exact cause and create a remedy. FCA engineers worked throughout 2016 testing the vehicles, reproducing the defect in controlled laboratory conditions to better isolate the cause and develop a fix. FCA received new airbag deployment reports throughout this time, and engineers confirmed wire rub as their root cause.

FCA decided on June 30, 2017 to recall affected vehicles. The company states they knew of six injuries and no crashes that were airbag deployment-related.

Chrysler will notify owners and dealers will inspect the air bag wiring within the steering wheel, replacing it if necessary. A protective cover will also be installed. These repairs will be made free of charge. The recall is expected to begin August 21, 2017. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is T47.

Concerned Dodge owners can also visit the NHTSA’s website and enter their VIN to see if their vehicle is included in any recalls.

Your vehicle’s manufacturer is legally required to fix any recalled problems for free. If the dealership refuses to fix the part or tries to charge you for the repair, contact the manufacturer immediately. The Highway Safety Act of 1970, which created the NHTSA, requires car manufacturers to pay for the recall and replacement of a defective part.

If the manufacturer fails to repair, replace, repurchase, or provide your recalled vehicle’s loss value, they are violating the warranty and a lawyer may be able to help you. Lemon law attorneys help their clients by dealing directly with the manufacturer on the clients’ behalf, working to promptly resolve the issue and get their clients back on the road. Thanks to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, attorneys can seek their fees directly from the manufacturer, meaning a client can obtain legal counsel without having to pay attorneys’ fees directly out of pocket.

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