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Fiat Chrysler recalling 2.2 million trucks

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
2014 Ram 1500

Washington — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said Saturday it will recall nearly 2.2 million trucks worldwide because of air bags that can deploy without warning.

Theannouncement of two new recalls for inadvertent air bag deployments comes a day after Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4 million vehicles for hacking concerns — and as it is negotiating a settlement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over concerns about its handling of nearly two dozen recall campaigns covering more than 11 million vehicles.

A settlement could include a multi-year period of intense oversight by NHTSA, a fine and other possible penalties. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Friday that the government was working to resolve the investigation. NHTSA held an unprecedented public hearing in June and said it planned to impose penalties after it accused the automaker of misleading the agency.

The Italian American automaker said it will call back 1.35 million 2012-2014 Ram trucks (1500, 2500, 3500, 4500 and 5500) in the United States because of a steering wheel harness that may rub against the driver air bag module retainer spring. That could result in an inadvertent deployment of the air bag. Dealers will repair if needed the steering wheel wiring harness and will add protective caps to the air bag retainer spring ends.

The recall includes 1.06 million vehicles in the United States.

The automaker began investigating in September after receiving parts from three inadvertent air bag deployments. Fiat Chrysler in November issued a “precautionary product improvement” by adding the caps to new truck production. Fiat Chrysler bought back two trucks in December as part of its investigation and later bought back other trucks. Fiat Chrysler said there was as many as 55 reports in total of inadvertent air bag deployments.

Separately, the automaker also said it is recalling nearly 844,000 2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks to prevent inadvertent side-curtain air-bag and seat belt pre-tensioner deployment. Fiat Chrysler said it opened an investigation after customer complaints of air bags deploying primarily after vehicle doors were slammed with excessive force.

Fiat Chrysler said it is aware of two injuries, both described as minor, related to the issue but no crashes related to the issue.

The automaker launched an investigation following customer complaints of inadvertent deployments, accounting for less than 0.005 percent of the population. The automaker probe discovered the low deployment threshold is in to four-door vehicles.

The recall covers 667,000 vehicles in the United States, 153,011 in Canada; 8,272 in Mexico and 14,847 outside North America. Until the recall is completed, Fiat Chrysler advises that owners of these vehicles exercise caution when closing doors.

DShepardson@detroitnews.com