Yet Another Transmission Shifter Problem at Fiat Chrysler; 1.48 Million Rams Recalled

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

For a while, it seemed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ fancy (and confusing) console-mounted monostable shifters and newer rotary-dial shifters were out to give every FCA executive a headache. Unfortunately for them, there’s new safety issue causing vehicle rollaways, and this time it’s from a seemingly tried-and-true bit of automotive gear.

The traditional column shifter.

FCA is now recalling 1.48 million Ram pickups spanning nine model years to prevent further injuries and accidents.

Past recalls and investigations involved operators of monostable shifters incorrectly thinking they had shifted into park (when the vehicle was actually still in drive or reverse), or vehicles with rotary gearshifts rolling away after the driver selected park. This recall concerns the failure of the shift interlock in certain vehicles, which allows the shift lever to be accidentally moved out of the park position.

From the company’s media release:

An FCA US review of field data led to the discovery that Brake Transmission Shift Interlock (BTSI) may not function properly if subject to specific high-temperature conditions for prolonged periods. The conditions are consistent with those that occur when there is protracted brake-pedal application while a vehicle is idling in park.

If BTSI becomes disabled, a vehicle’s shifter may be moved out of park without brake-pedal application, or the presence of a key in the ignition. In such circumstances, a vehicle may exhibit inadvertent movement – if its parking brake has not been set, as recommended in FCA US owners’ manuals.

The automaker claims it is aware of seven “potentially related” injuries and a “small number” of accidents that might stem from the wonky shifters.

FCA says the recall will restore BTSI function in the affected vehicles. There’s a number of Ram models included in the campaign, with most falling under the Heavy Duty banner. The recall includes 2010-2017 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups, 2011-2017 Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs, 2016-2017 Ram 3500 chassis cabs (with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of less than 10,000 pounds), and some 2009-2017 Ram 1500 pickups.

Trucks from the 2017 model year built after December 31st, 2016, are not included in the recall. If you’re worried about the vehicle sitting in your driveway, there’s a number (866-220-6747) to call. Meanwhile, give your left foot a workout and start using that parking brake.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Guardian452 Guardian452 on Dec 29, 2017

    The BTSI solenoid on the Promaster becomes too hot to touch after only a minute or so. Much longer than that and it will melt the shifter housing. I think in practice your foot will get tired of holding the brake before that happens. No AT park pawl is designed to hold any vehicle parked, especially on a hill. They are anti-theft devices, plain and simple. FMVSS brake standards test the parking brake only, not anything in the transmission. They are overbuilt to survive this abuse at least until the warranty period expires, that is all. When we had to have a vehicle recertified for FMVSS 105 after some modifications, we used a prototype that didn't even have a park pawl and the proving ground didn't care. FCA's BTSI solenoid isn't nearly as problematic as their key lock solenoid and ignition switch. Oy!

  • CombiCoupe99 CombiCoupe99 on Jan 05, 2018

    Why do manufacturers try to reinvent the stuff that already works?

    • Richard Baker Richard Baker on Jan 12, 2018

      CombiCoupe99: Because the public demands new and different. I agree that they should not have reinvented the wheel but they are trying to show how leading edge they are and unfortunately there are problems.

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  • Michael Gallagher I agree to a certain extent but I go back to the car SUV transition. People began to buy SUVs because they were supposedly safer because of their larger size when pitted against a regular car. As more SUVs crowded the road that safety advantage began to dwindle as it became more likely to hit an equally sized SUV. Now there is no safety advantage at all.
  • Probert The new EV9 is even bigger - a true monument of a personal transportation device. Not my thing, but credit where credit is due - impressive. The interior is bigger than my house and much nicer with 2 rows of lounge seats and 3rd for the plebes. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, around 300miles of range, and an e-mpg of 80 (90 for the 2wd). What a world.
  • Ajla "Like showroom" is a lame description but he seems negotiable on the price and at least from what the two pictures show I've dealt with worse. But, I'm not interested in something with the Devil's configuration.
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