Making sure a driver knows whether their vehicle is in park or not seems like pretty basic car design stuff. But apparently not if you’re Fiat Chrysler. The automaker is recalling more than 800,000 SUVs and sedans because some drivers can’t tell. And they’re getting hurt.
The large recall follows an investigation by the FCA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It found some drivers have exited their vehicles without first selecting “Park”. They think they’ve shifted into park, when they really haven’t. The automaker says 41 injuries are linked to the non-mechanical issue.
The recall involves certain 2012 to 2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans and 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. The vehicles have electronic shift levers on their consoles that spring back to the same position after being shifted. So drivers can’t tell by looking at the shifter position itself whether it is in “park.” They must depend on indicator lights and warning chimes, which apparently aren’t doing the job as is.
USA Today reports one case in Indiana. A man says he left his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee running when dropping off a DVD because he thought he had pushed the shifter in the right direction. But not so. “My 23-year-old son was in the passenger seat and yelled out, ‘Dad, the car is moving,'” he wrote. “I jumped back in and put my foot on the brake and watched the shift indicator as I slowly moved the shifter up so it indicated ‘park.'”
FCA aims to clear up the confusion and make it easier to know whether vehicles are indeed safely in park. The automaker plans to enhance the current warning system and modify the transmission settings so the car won’t move in certain conditions if it is in park.