4,846,885 Vehicles: Fiat Chrysler Launches Massive Recall to Prevent Runaway Cruise Control

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
4 846 885 vehicles fiat chrysler launches massive recall to prevent runaway cruise

In terms of size, this recall is one of the largest from a single manufacturer in recent memory. And the problem it’s designed to fix once served as the plot of a 1990s TV movie I can’t recall the name of.

While there’s only one known incident on its radar, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has decided to go ahead with a recall of over 4.8 million Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram vehicles to prevent them from getting stuck in cruise control.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a fault exists in several newer models that could prevent the driver from disengaging cruise control. The dangers associated with this are obvious.

In its summary, the agency writes:

If, when using cruise control, there is a short circuit within the vehicle’s wiring, the driver may not be able to shut off the cruise control either by depressing the brake pedal or manually turning the system off once it has been engaged, resulting in either the vehicle maintaining its current speed or possibly accelerating.

Expected to begin on July 6th, the recall covers many models. They include the 2014-2018 Dodge Journey, Charger, and Durango, 2015-2018 Dodge Challenger, 2014-2018 Chrysler 300, 2014-2017 Chrysler 200, 2017-2018 Chrysler Pacifica, 2014-2018 Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, 2018 Jeep Wrangler, 2014-2018 Ram 1500, the next-generation 2019 Ram 1500, and 2014-2018 Ram 3500, 4500, and 5500 trucks, in both regular guise and chassis cab varieties.

A list of production dates can be found here.

According to FCA, in October of 2017, “Powertrain Engineering recorded a test observation regarding the inability to cancel cruise control when the CAN-C bus was fully disabled (no communication among any control modules, indicated by a U0001 diagnostic code).”

That same month, the team alerted the automaker’s U.S. Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance office to the issue, sparking a two-pronged investigation. Only one real-world incident matches the description of the test. The incident, which occurred earlier this year, involved a 2017 Dodge Journey operated by the Avis rental agency. (The driver was not hurt and contacted the NHTSA on March 2nd.)

FCA purchased the Avis vehicle in April following conversations with the driver and the federal road safety agency. Apparently, a nest of rodents was found in the vehicle during teardown, but the chewed-up wiring “could not have caused the CAN-C bus to stop communicating.” While the automaker was able to replicate the fault in a test vehicle by severing CAN-C bus communications at the engine control module connector, investigations continue into the cause of the runaway cruise control.

The identified models all contain “a modified fault handling strategy in the Engine

Control Module (“ECM”) or Powertrain Control Module (“PCM”) software” that only affects vehicles from the 2014 model year or newer, thus, that’s where the recall begins. All recalled vehicles will have their software analyzed, with a flash performed on the engine or powertrain control module.

The automaker advises anyone who experiences the issue to “firmly and steadily” apply the brakes, shift into neutral, pull off to the side of the road, and place the vehicle in park. “Once placed in neutral or park, some of the vehicles will cancel cruise control when the engine hits a certain high-rpm threshold,” FCA noted.

Until the computer flash is performed, FCA advises owners of affected vehicle to refrain from using cruise control. This could mean a tired right foot for many motorists this weekend.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Relton Relton on May 26, 2018

    My father kept the ballast resistor in the car, where it was more useful when the car stopped on the road.

  • Redmondjp Redmondjp on May 29, 2018

    How many people here are old enough to remember GM's cruise control system that used a vacuum-actuated dashpot to hold the throttle open. Not only did that system have an off switch (or a brake pedal cut switch), but it had a secondary vacuum release valve on the brake pedal which dumped the vacuum in the dashpot, just in case the electrically-operated solenoid valve failed to do its job. It was a belt-and-suspenders approach that worked well. In contrast, the factory cruise control on my 1971 Ford LTD had a bad habit of occasionally sticking on, which, with a 429 engine, was quite scary when it attempted to full-throttle back to cruising speed after letting off the brake pedal or the "off" rocker switch on the steering wheel. There was no mechanical fail-safe way to turn that system off like GM had.

  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln in 1987 even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs. 1985 was the last year for the rear wheel drive Olds Delta 88 and rear wheel drive Buick Lesabre the rear wheel Caprice and Caprice Classic 3rd generation continued till 1990 when it was redesigned. B Body Buick Estate wagons continued thru 1990 as the Olds Custom Cruiser wagon and both were redesigned. GM held onto a few rear wheel drive full size cars but the Lincoln ad really brought home the similarly looking front wheel drive full size cars. Lincoln's ad was masterful.
  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.