FCA Australia has issued a recall for vehicles that are fitted with the monostable gear selector design that most recently is alleged to have contributed to the accidental death of actor Anton Yelchin last Sunday.
An earlier recall was made in April 2015 for this same gear knob design, but FCA has announced its plans to accelerate the schedule to fix its confusing design which involves a software update to be made to around 1.1 million vehicles around the world.
The design, as it is now, makes it rather easy for drivers to mistakenly leave the automatic transmission in neutral instead of park when exiting the vehicle. It is presumed that Yelchin’s Jeep Grand Cherokee did not have the software update installed.
FCA Australia has now confirmed that the recall involves 47,451 vehicles sold in Australia, affecting the 2014 and 2015 model years of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2012-2014 model year of the Chrysler 300 that have fitted, according to their statement, an “electronic shift levers that return to a centre position after selecting drive, neutral, reverse or park,”
As a safety precaution, the vehicles deliver warning chimes and alert messages if a driver attempts to switch off the engine when in any gear other than park, or if the driver-side doors are opened while their engines are still running and park is not engaged. As a further safety precaution, it is also recommended that drivers engage the parking brake whenever they leave the vehicle,”
“An investigation found these measures may be insufficient to deter some drivers from exiting their vehicles without first selecting park. FCA Australia will enhance the warnings and transmission-shift strategy on these vehicles via a software update. The enhancements will combine warnings with a transmission-shift strategy to automatically prevent a vehicle from moving, under certain circumstances, even if the driver fails to select park.”
The statement continues: “In the interim, FCA Australia urges all customers to refer to their owner’s manual that outlines correct operation of the Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 transmission, including selecting park, ensuring the engine is switched off and engaging the parking brake before exiting the vehicle.”
FCA Australia will be in contact with the owners once the update becomes available, although the details of the update and how it alters/improves the gear selector’s behaviour is unclear. Alternatively, owners can also contact their nearest dealer for more information.