By on July 15, 2017

2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

For an automaker desperate to improve its financial standing and attract a corporate suitor, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ vehicles have done a good job throwing a wrench into the company’s plans. While there’s nothing unusual about mass recalls these days — hello, Ford — corporate beancounters start sweating when the recall volume passes one million vehicles.

Also, no owner of a particular vehicle likes hearing their car’s driver’s side airbag could deploy at any moment. That’s just one of the issues facing FCA as it calls back 1.33 million vehicles from across the globe.

Announced late this week, the automaker will recall roughly 770,000 2011-2015 Dodge Journeys and its European doppelganger, the Fiat Freemont, due to the potential for “inadvertent airbag deployment.” The breakdown works out to 538,000 Journeys in North America and 233,000 Freemonts in the global market.

Blame a piece of steering wheel trim for the airbag issue. Wiring in the column could chafe against the trim, FCA claims, leading to the potential for a short-circuit and the deployment of the airbag facing the driver. Five minor injuries, but no crashes, have been linked to the airbag issue. The same chafing could short out the windshield wipers or various steering wheel-mounted switches.

FCA will inspect the vehicles’ wiring and replace it if needed, or install protective covering.

Meanwhile, a slew of other models — 565,000 vehicles in all — are under recall for faulty alternators. The models, which contain alternators prone to premature diode wear, include the 2011-2014 Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, Charger, and Durango, as well as 2012-2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees.

FCA claims high ambient temperatures can lead to diode wear and alternator failure, increasing the risk of fire. The automaker says two crashes could be the result of the issue. Of course, failing alternators are a great way to simultaneously knock out an engine and anti-lock braking system.

Just a month ago, FCA recalled 297,000 older Dodge Grand Caravans for the exact same airbag issue. 86,000 Ram trucks plagued with the same alternator issue were recalled last October.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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30 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler Wades Into Another Massive Recall; This Time It’s Fires and Wonky Airbags...”

  • avatar

    “corporate beancounters start sweating when the recall volume passes one million vehicles.”

    Reminds me of the old oil change ads where the mechanic said:

    “you can pay me now or you can pay me later”

    Save 1% on sourcing or designing a part had pray the part makes it past the warranty period.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      I also have to wonder why only the Journey/Freemont is being called out, since the same steering wheel/column has been used in other Dodge vehicles, such as the Dart and Grand Caravan, within the same general timeframe.

      For that matter, practically all U.S.-market Fiaslers have shared the same basic steering wheel design since 2011, with only superficial differences between brands and model generations.

      • 0 avatar

        According to Allpar the problem was first detected in a 2012 Caravan in Canada. A recall went out for them June 6. So I would expect this recall to expand as time goes on.

  • avatar

    Faulty diodes or rectifers seem to be the cause of most failures in reman units I see. Probably a result of lowest cost bidder gets the nod – unfortunately FCA appears to have taken this route on many of their parts suppliers. The OEM altenator on both my 98 and 2000 Dodge Ram went well past 200k before needing a freshen up – bearings, brushes, rectifier.

  • avatar

    Yet no mention of the 2.1 million Honda Accords recalled for fire risk.

    …Honda is recalling about 2.1 million Accord cars worldwide, including 1.15 million in the United States, because the battery sensors can potentially short out and cause a fire.

    The recall covers vehicles from the 2013-16 model years with 12-volt battery sensors.

    The sensors may not be sealed enough against moisture, which in time can let in salt from roads and lead to “corrosion and eventual electrical shorting of the sensor,” Honda said in a statement Thursday.

    That can lead to smoke under the hood and, in worst cases, fires, it said…

    Don’t some of these Accords also have unrecalled Claymore mines in the dashboard?

    • 0 avatar

      I was going to leave the same comment. Maybe TTAC just hasn’t posted it yet, but I’m not sure how they could have missed the Honda recall.

      This has the whiff of piling on FCA.

    • 0 avatar

      Couldn’t be bothered to mention the Honda recall, but did do this:
      “While there’s nothing unusual about mass recalls these days — hello, Ford “

  • avatar

    At what point do we get to put [FCA] Chrysler on Deathwatch?

    40 years of craziness, extreme highs and lows, and popularity only among those without the cash or credit to get anything else (except Nissan, somewhat recently)

    Disclaimer: most of this stems from my own personal disdain and axe to grind against Chrysler, in any and all of it’s iterations past and present and hopefully not future.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, Raevox, many of them are turning out to be horrific used cars.

      Neighbor across the street just sold her ’05 Jeep GC for around $800. Didn’t need much work but when you were done, you still had an ’05 DCX product subject to electrical issues.

      Many of the older ones are scrapped for bad ignition modules. Ok, that’s a wear item…but having to have a dealer reflash the computer (around $100 plus towing) for simply changing an IGNITION MODULE?

      Other makes don’t have that issue.

      And it’s only become worse thru Cerberus and now Ol’ Serg and the Fiat Folks.

      I’ve been on Deathwatch for a couple years now.

      Jeep will survive under a new steward but the days of the rest are numbered.

      • 0 avatar

        Growing up in the Detroit Metro, I have a solid half a lifetime and then some, of anecdotes, experiences, and first-hand accounts of Chrysler garbage :)

      • 0 avatar

        if it’s involved in the security/immobilizer system, it usually has to be coded to the vehicle’s VIN. don’t see what’s so outlandish about that.

        KBB puts an ’05 GC at about $3-4k private party value. if you’re going to throw one away for pennies because of a $100 programming charge, then you must be fairly well off indeed.

    • 0 avatar

      “At what point do we get to put [FCA] Chrysler on Deathwatch?”

      Considering they’ve already had two bankruptcies with two taxpayer bailouts, I always lump Chrysler into the deathwatch category.

      • 0 avatar

        Come on! Chrysler under Iacocca didn’t get a bailout, but a federal loan guarantee – it was bank money, and it was paid back. The second financial crisis also wasn’t a bailout, but taxpayer money was loaned out, and it was refinanced with the government getting all its money back. The only reason Chrysler needed government money was because the government mismanaged the banking system.

        • 0 avatar

          …The only reason Chrysler needed government money was because the government mismanaged the banking system…

          I hope to God this is snark.

          • 0 avatar

            Let’s go full-out Chrysler apologist on it–

            Chrysler was the most profitable (and most efficient) Domestic automobile manufacturer whenever they merged with Daimler.

            Focus on -how- that happens rather than -that- it happened.

            Chrysler paid the price for Mercedes-Benz’ continued relevance– Nissan’s next.

          • 0 avatar

            Nope, no snark. I heard that from a Fidelity Investments vice president, who literally called the banking rules changes of the 1990s “criminal”.

            Those changes produced the real estate bubble, and when that popped, large scale industrial financing was frozen – neither GM nor Cerberus-owned Chrysler could borrow, along with a lot of other companies. Ford had already borrowed to the hilt and got through the freeze with a pre-approved line of credit.

            Speaking of credit, you have to grant our politicians a truly gigantic amount of credit just to call them blithering idiots. They and intellectuals are the worst political/intellectual elite the nation has ever had.

    • 0 avatar

      “…and popularity only among those without the cash or credit to get anything else…”

      “…only among…” hmmm, ‘my score is in the 820’s, own my own business, and I put down actual cash money. Sub-prime? No other choice? nope.

      BTW, point of interest for TTAC-ers… I replaced my 1-owner, trouble free, (but for 2 sets front rotors-warranty in 1st 6mos.), vehicle on this purchase. A D/C-era, WJ-Jeep GCL, always served me well. very happy with it for years, did have horrid fuel economy.

      Would be approved on any vehicle I wanted and certainly was not not forced into a limited choice of cars. After research, I targeted and chose my sedan over Infinity, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Lexus or Lincoln. A shiny new Chrysler 300S. Fantastic automobile, (I think the ‘S’ hits the right mix/balance on these cars). I love everything about my 300. Everything.

  • avatar

    As a Mazda owner, I can say with or without bias that I have enjoyed the design and drivability of every one of their vehicles in nearly the past decade.

    What I believe is hindering Mazda’s success is a multiple pronged problem.

    1.) Lack of dealership network in a lot of areas. I know I have to travel roughly 100 miles to get to one. I don’t know how many there actually are, but I’d easily say less than 1200.

    2.) Frame of reference – yeah, commericials can influence someone, but so can a car that you actually see on the road. Doesn’t Mazda only have like, 2.5% of the US market, and I bet 25% of that are Miatas and 3’s. It is difficult to want a Mazda when you don’t see or hear about them all that much, combined with problem number 1. Also, there’s less than 300,000 of yhem being sold per year, no?

    3.) I have only heard bad things about Mazda dealerships, especially with warranty issues and service. I’m sure we all could tell a story about this. In fact, the Mazda in Charleston, WV has a bad enoigh track record (and garage isn’t open on Saturdzy or Sunday…) that I bring mine 130 miles to Uniontown, PA (Joe Romeo’s). With few dealerships to choose from, and a poor dealership reputation, people are proactively avoiding future hassles.

    4.) They’re selling cars that are fantastic in terms of drivability, interior aestherics, and exterior design… but something isn’t hitting with the American people. Maybe they need a Mazda truck, or try a few diff marketing campaigns because it seems as if the bait they’re using isn’t catching much…

  • avatar

    Stop buying alternators from Mexico!
    Even their beans get refried!
    Make Imperial Great Again!

  • avatar

    Friends of ours recently bought a new ram dually with diesel, crew cab, etc. This was an over $70k truck when all was said and done. Nothing but expensive transmission issues.
    I haven’t spoken to anyone in years who bought a new FCA product and hasn’t complained about it. How do they still find buyers other than rental fleets? I know they put a lot of cash on hood and finance anyone with a pulse, but FCA disenfranchisement is undoubtedly the main reason behind Nissan’s appeal at the bottom of the market.
    Boggles the mind why they wouldn’t invest in quality control over expensive special edition Challengers if for nothing else than self-preservation. Maybe take a page out of Hyundai’s playbook?

    • 0 avatar

      Part of Chrysler’s brand identity is getting a lot of horsepower for your money. Even if they made a car with Honda quality with a Honda dollars-per-hp rate, who would buy it? The problem is that this kind of brand identity leads to more and more cost cutting, which is the whole FCA has found themselves in.

    • 0 avatar

      “Expensive transmission issues”

      Expensive for who? With a 100k powertrain warranty surely not the owners. Aside from that, if it is an automatic it is either the 68rfe or the Aisin AS69RC, both of which have proven to be stellar transmissions. The 68 has been around for 10 years and so long as the truck is left at factory power levels can easily last beyond a quarter mil. I know lots of hot shotters with big time miles on this trans. Probably the most under rated unit of the big 3. The AS69 has only been around in the Ram trucks for a few years but it is a true MD trans and lives behind engines surpassing 1200lb ft of torque in the mining industry. If your friend is truly having transmission issues it is the exception and not the norm. I have a family member that grenaded an Allison on the way home from signing papers last year. Doesn’t mean Allison’s are junk transmissions, it just means the people in charge of assembling these things are human. Nothing is perfect.

    • 0 avatar

      Reason it sells is because they are heavily discounted. We leased a Jeep because it’s 5k cheaper and give us most. $$ for trade in but I would never buy one.

    • 0 avatar

      What exact issues are they having?

      Have owned a totoal of 5 chargers and 300s from 05 to 2016 (current is 2016 Scat pack).

      Only issues I had on an 05 300 was clogged cat at approximately 100k which they covered and had the typical tierod issue that plagued my 05 and 08. Aside from that all made it to well over 150k reliably on the NYC streets. The 13 RT I traded in had approximately 35k and only traded it in bc I made the mistake of driving a scatpack with the 8speed ZF. I love my current car.

  • avatar

    From the Model T to the Tesla auto companies have turned out cars and trucks which were defective or dangerous either in the design or the assembly. At least now they’re being held accountable and forced into recalling them. Recalls are a pain but at least they address things which need addressing, especially those involving safety. In relatively recent years they got away with hiding them. See, the Pinto.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    This is why I would never buy stock in a car company. Airlines are also on my no buy list as any excess profits will be claimed by labor unions.

  • avatar

    They should recall the Giulia while they’re at it.

  • avatar

    We could all throw anecdotes about how one brand sucks. Meanwhile my 2015 JGC SRT has been both fast, reliable, and good enough that I’m wondering if it was a mistake to push my mopar warranty out to 100k miles…

    Haha. I’m sure that will be in the money before too long.

  • avatar

    I’m kind of impressed they actually managed to sell 233k Freemonts.

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