Chrysler Transmission Defect Blamed in Death
In a twist on the " unintended acceleration" debate raging here and elsewhere, a jury has found Chrysler liable for $5m in damages in a case of park-to-reverse transmission malfunction. The Saint Bernards Parish (LA) jury decided that a defect in a Grand Cherokee's automatic transmission caused the Guillot family's SUV to reverse suddenly, trapping the pregnant Mrs Guillot against a carport column, rupturing her uterus and fatally injuring their unborn (en route to a hospital for delivery). The police had considered charging Mr Guillot, who was driving at the time, with criminal negligence. Although Chrysler had sent an investigator to look into the incident, the Guillots found out about the Chrokee's long-standing park-to-reverse transmission defect when contacted by the L.A. Times– more than two years after the accident. "We suffered the worst loss any parent can experience," Mr. and Mrs. Guillot told reporters. "When we learned that Chrysler knew for years that its vehicles had a defective transmission, we were outraged and determined to hold the corporation accountable. We thank the jury for its careful review of the evidence and verdict against DaimlerChrysler."
Despite what the naysayers say (nay?), Chryslers have been known for defective transmissions for a good two decades. Anecdotal evidence: in working at the rental car location here (Hertz), I get plenty of people who break down on the highway due to transmission troubles - we are the only show in town that does unlimited one-way rentals - and literally half of the transmission troubles are sub-100,000 mile Chrysler products. www.mychryslersucks.com is an interesting read, even if many of the stories submitted include grammar and spelling worthy of a fair amount of suspicion.
Also, before I'm flamed, I realize Mitsubishis are perhaps in second place for failed transmissions. Doesn't seem surprising that Chrysler and Mitsubishi have shared engineering teams and transmission designs (also, the super-expensive non-synthetic trans fluid).
1960's Fords had a similar problem, long before electronics. Our next door neighbor had a 1965 Fairlane that jumped into reverse while he was closing the garage door. Fortunately, it didnt hit anyone and stopped against a telephone pole across the street. There were some bad cases of kids getting run over.