By on May 18, 2019

Sudden stalls. Tailgates that open on their own. These issues formed the basis of two Fiat Chrysler recalls in 2018, and, one year later, history is repeating itself.

On Friday, the automaker called back roughly 600,000 Chrysler Pacifica minivans and Ram pickups for the same ghost-in-the-machine phenomena that led to the earlier recalls.

Included in the latest round of recalls are 198,731 U.S. Pacificas hailing from the 2017 to 2019 model years, as well as roughly 410,000 U.S. Ram 1500s, 2500s, and 3500s from the 2015 to 2017 model years, as well as 2019 models built until March 31st of that year. The recall only covers Rams with eight-foot cargo beds (a configuration not included in the earlier recall).

Outside the country’s borders, 8,300 Pacificas in Canada and 1,100 in Mexico face a recall. The Ram tally amounts to 63,753 pickups in Canada and 4,02o south of the border.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited - Image: Chrysler

In February of 2018, FCA recalled a slew of 2017 Pacificas after deciding the “vehicle’s engine control module (ECM) may incorrectly assess the engine’s operating status,” leading to stalls. This time around, the Pacificas are being recalled after an FCA investigation “discovered a wiring harness may be contaminated with sealer, which may interrupt an electrical circuit.”

“Should this occur, the vehicle may exhibit stalling or intermittent loss of power steering,” the company stated. The company plans to “inspect and clean, as needed, an electrical contact to help ensure reliable battery operation.”

The Ram issue is the same one that led to 2018’s recall of 1.4 million pickups from the same model years. “An investigation by FCA US discovered the power locking mechanisms in the tailgates of these pickups share a small internal component that may break over time. If this were to happen, a vehicle’s tailgate may unlatch,” the company stated.

As no one wants to spill their kid’s dorm furniture all over the interstate at 80 mph (assuming they didn’t make use of straps), owners would be advised to watch their mailbox for that recall notice. It should show up this month. Trucks with manual tailgate locks are not included in the callback.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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12 Comments on “Recall Redux: Fiat Chrysler Calls Back 600,000 Vehicles for Problems You’ve Already Heard About...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    This tells me that a knee-jerk reaction and attempt to fix an apparent problem without thorough troubleshooting is a waste of time and money. This new recall may well have been the cause of the issue all along, at which point the prior recall was unnecessary.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      It’s just the Micro$oft way!

      Well..that’s no testing at all before release!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      That explains why they’re recalling trucks not included in the prior recall. Oh, wait…

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        … And what have I said about jumping to conclusions? Let’s just say that when they do, they keep missing the mark.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I’ll put it another way: In order to save face, they jumped the gun and treated the symptom, without considering the cause. Now they’ve discovered _A_ cause that seems more logical considering the previous problem but I’m still not sure it’s the right one. Having been an electronics tech for most of my working career, working on computers specifically for my last 30 years, I know just what kind of chaos a cold solder joint on a circuit board can do to such highly-integrated components. And cold solder joints are nigh-on to undetectable unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. The easiest fix is to wait until the failure is total but when you’re talking about the operation of a two-ton piece of steel, aluminum and plastic traveling at up to 80mph (legally) you can’t just sit and wait for that hard fail; you’ve got to troubleshoot and try to force the failure to determine the cause. Otherwise, you’re just treating the symptom which may not even touch the true cause.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            You have to remember that FCA doesn’t make its own circuit boards, or wiring harnesses, or even brakes. Some problems with supplier-made assemblies are obvious (brake assemblies with no brake pads, caught early), but others are not.

            The problem with suppliers doing sub-assembly is that a lot of problems get buried, and are hard to diagnose. FCA assemblers aren’t trained to realize when sealer is contaminating contacts unless the problem occurs in the factory, and FCA engineers who designed the systems have no clue how the supplier assembled them.

            Troubleshooting somebody else’s work is not easy, especially when there’s no access to the actual supplier assembly line, as there is with FCA assembly plants. Adding to the problem is FCA’s hard line on pricing for parts, giving suppliers incentive to cut corners not just on the parts but the assembly.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Too many questions; not enough answers. That’s exactly my point. Certainly the statement sounds reasonable… unless you work in electronics. And that’s the problem. The sealer can’t be causing momentary breaks in the circuit unless there is already a break. What if, mind you this is only theoretical, the issue is temperature sensitive, where as the ambient temperature increases, or decreases, the board expands or shrinks, causing a cold solder joint to either make or break contact? The sealer tends to be less sensitive to temperature and therefore holds the connector motionless, ergo the expansion or shrinking of the contacts force the connection to break. I’ve personally seen this happen on automotive circuit boards and repaired them permanently by hand re-soldering those connections… admittedly on a 1980s car but I’ve seen the same sorts of issues on much newer vehicles as well.

            There is such a thing as using too much sealer, by the way. Wouldn’t you agree?

  • avatar
    ptschett

    So my 2017 Ram 1500 Big Horn (Quad Cab/6.4-ish’ box) was one of the 1.4 million of the short-boxes fixed under the earlier recall. The feature in question is a midlevel to high-trim-level feature, lower trims don’t have it.
    I’m a little bit surprised that the number of affected long-boxes from 2015-almost now was 410k… must be a lot of mid-to-high trim 2500/3500’s and the occasional unicorn of a long-box regular-cab 1500 Big Horn?

    I’m reminded of when my old Challenger was initially overlooked for the Takata recall, though it had the same steering wheel & airbag as a Charger of the same vintage and trim level.

  • avatar
    dantes_inferno

    FCA’s motto: Dodge testing. RAM it into production.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Some auto manufacturers don’t run ’em out the door with problems that require the inconvenience to the purchaser for correction. From a recent TTAC article, “(The manufacturer) suspended assembly at its (component) facility over a suspected defect affecting the electric power steering unit of (three) models. What would have been a big issue for some automakers turned into a gargantuan one for (the manufacturer) because (the component facility) accounts for around 60 percent of the company’s global production. When it idled the facility to deal with the affected models, it also had to halt assembly of everything else manufactured there for nearly two weeks.” This manufacturer was referred to as struggling by TTAC because of, “Annual Profit Effectively Halved Due to Quality Control Issues”. Perhaps FCA should also have struggled a bit.


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