By on August 10, 2020

2014 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]

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7 Comments on “Chariots of Fire? NHTSA Probes Chrysler Town & Country...”

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

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

    • 0 avatar

      Fuses, fusible links, or breakers will only open upon exceeding a given current level. If there are problems that do not cause a current overload you can still have a problem. Say there is a poor connection that causes resistance. That can cause a build up of heat that ignites the wire, or circuit board. A “thermal event” can then follow. Usually, the burn-up causes the circuit to open and the thermal event ends there but not always.

      • 0 avatar

        Yup a high resistance connection can generate significant heat and that high resistance actually means less than normal current is flowing. So no circuit protection device, which is designed to interrupt excess current, can prevent that.

        • 0 avatar

          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.

  • avatar

    “forcing them to smother the fire with a towel”

    And you thought Douglas Adams was joking:

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