Fiat Chrysler recalls 180K new pickups, SUVs

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said Tuesday it is recalling 180,000 SUVs and trucks in two recalls for potentially faulty rear axles and fire risks from air conditioning lines.

The Italian American automaker is recalling nearly 94,000 2015 Jeep Cherokee SUVs to inspect and if needed replace vehicle air-conditioning lines.

The automaker launched an investigation after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received two customer complaints involving smoke and fire. The company discovered air-conditioning lines on some vehicles may have been installed too close to their engines’ exhaust manifolds; under certain operating conditions, this may pose a fire risk. The automaker is unaware of any injuries or crashes and includes more than 75,000 U.S. Jeep Cherokee SUVs.

Fiat Chrysler will also recall 86,000 2015-2016 Ram pickups to inspect and replace if needed the rear axle shafts or rear axles. The automaker said an investigation determined axle shafts produced by a Tier 2 supplier may not have been properly heat-treated. That could lead to increased wear and overheating that could prompt the vehicle’s Anti-lock Brake System warning light to display on the dashboard; if ignored, the condition may lead to wheel separation. Fiat Chrysler has a report of one crash but no injuries tied to the issue.

The company told NHTSA it has 31 reports of low-mileage failures in new Ram pickups. Last month, Fiat Chrysler conducted testing at its Chelsea Proving Grounds that confirmed the problem. The company said it will continue to investigate the scope of the recall.

The recall covers pickups produced between mid-June and late September, including: 65,760 in the United States; 16,647 in Canada; 1,924 in Mexico; and 1,715 outside North America. Most are still in dealer showrooms.

This is the fourth recall of some 2015 Cherokee SUVs and fourth recall for some 2015 Ram pickups.

Fiat Chrysler agreed to a record setting $105 million, three-year consent decree with NHTSA for failing to properly carry out 23 recall campaigns covering more than 11 million vehicles. Fiat Chrysler hired an outside consultant to advise it on its recall procedures and last week NHTSA named former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater as an independent monitor to oversee its compliance with the agreement.