Different FCA Shifter, Same Problem? NHTSA Investigates Ram, Durango Rollaways

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Just when it thought a troubling roll-away controversy and resulting recall was almost behind it, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles finds itself under investigation for a similar problem.

This time, it isn’t the now-defunct Monostable gear shift that supposedly confused drivers — it’s the rotary shifter found in late-model vehicles. After numerous complaints, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into 1 million FCA vehicles that could pose a roll-away risk.

According to online documents, NHTSA has the 2013-2016 Ram 1500 and 2014-2016 Dodge Durango in its sights. Both models use FCA’s rotary dial gear shift. While the shifters differ vastly from the Monostable units in terms of operation, owners report the same troubling issue.

NHTSA reports 43 complaints of vehicles rolling away from a stop. Of those incidents, 25 crashes and nine injuries resulted from the unexpected driverless excursions.

There’s a key difference between these rollaways and the earlier incidents (which may have contributed to the high-profile death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin). With the old Monostable unit, the shift lever returned to a center position after shifting, leaving no visual indicator that the vehicle was actually in park. The rotary dial, however, clearly indicates that the vehicle is in park. Drivers can feel the shifter click into gear, while an indicator light appears above the selected gear.

Of the 43 complaints, 34 owners say the vehicle moved on its own after the gear selector was placed in park. In each of those cases, the parking brake was not set and the engine was running.

While FCA hasn’t issued a recall of the affected models, it did warn owners to use the parking brake — a suggestion also issued by NHTSA. The automaker claims the rotary shifters found in the Chrysler Pacifica and 200 aren’t part of the investigation, as those vehicles automatically shift into park when drivers unbuckle their seatbelts or open their door.

[Source: Associated Press] [Image: © 2016 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars]

Steph Willems
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  • RS RS on Dec 20, 2016

    Just finished up a 2 year Ram lease - 2014 Ram QC with the knob selector. Truck was always parked on a slight hill and never used the parking brake once. Never had an issue.

  • OzCop OzCop on Dec 21, 2016

    I own a 2014 Ram with the 4 WD and the rotary selector...both the transmission and the 4 WD system operate with rotary knobs. I have had occasion where when pulling into my garage, I move forward enough to light the front bumper sensors, and when it changes from orange to red, I hold the brake, shift to reverse, and look at the back up camera to assure my trailer hitch is clear of the garage door when it closes. More than once, when satisfied I had ample clearance, for whatever cock-eyed reason I would turn the dial back to the right as opposes to further left, thinking I had it in park. And of course I would get the too close tone from the front bumper sensors and realize the error of my ways. My guess is there are people out there, for whatever reason, are turning the knob right rather than left thinking they have it in park when it is actually in drive. My guess is more than 40 plus people have done it, but only that number has reported it. Personally, I like the rotary selector, but it is my fault I screwed up a couple of times, not Fiat Chrysler...in my opinion...

  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
  • Lou_BC "That’s expensive for a midsize pickup" All of the "offroad" midsize trucks fall in that 65k USD range. The ZR2 is probably the cheapest ( without Bison option).
  • Lou_BC There are a few in my town. They come out on sunny days. I'd rather spend $29k on a square body Chevy
  • Lou_BC I had a 2010 Ford F150 and 2010 Toyota Sienna. The F150 went through 3 sets of brakes and Sienna 2 sets. Similar mileage and 10 year span.4 sets tires on F150. Truck needed a set of rear shocks and front axle seals. The solenoid in the T-case was replaced under warranty. I replaced a "blend door motor" on heater. Sienna needed a water pump and heater blower both on warranty. One TSB then recall on spare tire cable. Has a limp mode due to an engine sensor failure. At 11 years old I had to replace clutch pack in rear diff F150. My ZR2 diesel at 55,000 km. Needs new tires. Duratrac's worn and chewed up. Needed front end alignment (1st time ever on any truck I've owned).Rear brakes worn out. Left pads were to metal. Chevy rear brakes don't like offroad. Weird "inside out" dents in a few spots rear fenders. Typically GM can't really build an offroad truck issue. They won't warranty. Has fender-well liners. Tore off one rear shock protector. Was cheaper to order from GM warehouse through parts supplier than through Chevy dealer. Lots of squeaks and rattles. Infotainment has crashed a few times. Seat heater modual was on recall. One of those post sale retrofit.Local dealer is horrific. If my son can't service or repair it, I'll drive 120 km to the next town. 1st and last Chevy. Love the drivetrain and suspension. Fit and finish mediocre. Dealer sucks.
  • MaintenanceCosts You expect everything on Amazon and eBay to be fake, but it's a shame to see fake stuff on Summit Racing. Glad they pulled it.