The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating driver complaints that their Jeep SUVS are braking suddenly and for no reason. The complaints involve autonomous braking in Grand Cherokees that can increase the risk of rear-end crashes.
The NHTSA probe specifically involves 20,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs from the 2014 model year. They’re equipped with cruise control systems that automatically brake if they’re closing too fast on an object in front of them. The safety feature, often called adaptive cruise control or automatic emergency braking, uses cameras and radar to spot cars and other objects and a computer to automatically brake to avoid a collision.
The NHTSA says it’s received nine complaints of unexpected braking, with owners alleging that their Jeeps have issued brake warnings or gone ahead and applied the brakes when no threat was presented. Each complaint alleges that the vehicles have exhibited this behavior repeatedly, leading to a “sudden reduction in vehicle speed in traffic.”
“I can be the only vehicle on the road and this will occur. Has been happening intermittently each and every day the vehicle is driven,” one owner wrote in a complaint file to the agency. “Sudden unexpected stopping and unsafe performance of the vehicle putting the vehicle occupants at grave risk.”
“I was driving on the freeway going 65 mph with no cars around me or in sight,” another person wrote. “All of the sudden the car dashboard said Brake! And the car applied the ABS brakes and abruptly slowed the car down to 40 mph! I was so scared at that point.”
The concern here, of course, is that a system designed to prevent accidents could actually increase the odds of a collision happening. However, right now, there are no reports of crashes or injuries related to the potential issue.
Jeep maker Fiat Chrysler said its vehicles meet all federal safety standards and it’s cooperating in the investigation. Speaking to the Associated Press, Jeep spokesperson Eric Mayne said owners whose vehicles are showing this behavior should report to dealers, while adding that the automatic braking/adaptive cruise control systems can be deactivated.
For more information see the NHTSA website and if you have any questions contact your dealer.