Chariots of Fire? NHTSA Probes Chrysler Town & Country

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
chariots of fire nhtsa probes chrysler town country

A defunct minivan is under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after three owners reported fires breaking out in the interior of their vehicles.

The preliminary probe, opened August 6th, covers only the 2014 Chrysler Town & Country, the high-zoot sibling of the Dodge Grand Caravan. It seems the trouble lies with the vehicle’s charge hub, which sits between the second- and third-row seats.

Mounted on a panel on the driver’s side of the vehicle, the charge hub “serves as communication and power ports, intended for use with entertainment and other personal devices,” the NHTSA document states. “While the reports indicate that the charge hub was the likely origin or starting point of the fire, the cause of the fires has not been identified at this time.”

One complaint to the agency states that, while underway, the driver noticed a noise coming through the driver’s side door, then noticed smoke coming from the rear-seat vent switch. Coasting to a stop, the driver then saw flames at the “cigarette power supply,” forcing them to smother the fire with a towel. A total of three fire reports from owners prompted the agency to explore the scope of the issue.

While the NHTSA’s probe is still limited in size and in its early days, these investigations can lead to a recall if the issue is deemed both serious and liable to occur in other vehicles.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Join the conversation
  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Aug 10, 2020

    Chtysler before FCA had a problem with weak headlights. Now they seem to have graduated to more serious elctrical/electronic problems. If the problem is limited to the 2014 model year, that's about 147,000 vehicles. If the problem extends from 2014 to the end of production, that's over 320,000 vehicles. Considering it's a discontinued model and there are only three official reports, it doesn't look too bad. If the hub is the problem and it's installed not only on previous year models and on other models like the current Pacifica (over 400,000 sales), it's a much bigger problem.

  • JustVUEit JustVUEit on Aug 10, 2020

    Haven't they ever heard of fuses or circuit breakers?

    • See 2 previous
    • SPPPP SPPPP on Aug 12, 2020

      @Scoutdude Actually, as I think about it, remember that any cigarette lighter connection is actually designed to start fires. Just, you know, on command. So the circuit protection has to allow enough current to start a fire, by design.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Aug 10, 2020

    "forcing them to smother the fire with a towel" And you thought Douglas Adams was joking:

    • SPPPP SPPPP on Aug 12, 2020

      I think that is the most useful life lesson from that series.