FCA recalls 900,000 SUVs for air bag, electrical issues

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said Friday it is recalling nearly 900,000 SUVs in two new recalls — including more than 300,000 older SUVs for inadvertent air bag deployments linked to seven injuries.

The Italian American automaker said it is recalling 352,000 2003 Jeep Liberty and 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs older-model SUVs in the U.S. to replace their Occupant Restraint Control modules and/or side-impact sensors after learning of seven injuries caused by inadvertent air bag deployments.

Fiat Chrysler said the issue impacts just 1 percent of vehicles. Most of the injuries were minor including bruises, while one reportedly caused a concussion, the company said.

Fiat Chrysler said “new ORC modules are being developed for the upgrade. Some vehicles also may require new front- and/or side-impact sensors to accommodate software compatibility.” The company hasn’t set a repair schedule and it is unaware of any crashes linked to the issue.

In January, Fiat Chrysler said it would recall 928,000 vehicles for the same issue to upgrade a repair performed as part of a 2012 recall. That recall covered some 2002-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 2002-2003 Jeep Libertys and 2003-2004 Dodge Vipers.

The vehicles recalled Friday were not part of either the 2012 or January air bag recalls, the company said. The company emphasized vehicles are not equipped with Takata air bags. Takata Corp. air bags are linked to at least eight deaths and 100 injuries in 19.2 million vehicles recalled by 12 automakers.

The recall covers 284,000 vehicles in the United States, 20,000 in Canada and Mexico and 48,212 outside North America.

Separately, FCA US LLC said Friday it is voluntarily recalling nearly 542,000 2012-2015 Dodge Journey and Fiat Freemont SUVs — including 275,614 in the United States to address electrical issues. The recall includes 151,000 left-drive Fiat Freemont SUVs sold abroad and 114,000 Dodge Journeys sold in Canada and Mexico.

Dealers will apply a moisture sealant and replace if needed some electrical components. A company investigation of warranty repairs discovered electrical components on certain older-model vehicles may be subject to moisture buildup that may impact Anti-Lock Brake System modules. Water intrusion may disable the vehicles’ Anti-Lock Braking and Electronic Stability Control systems.

The automaker is unaware of any related injuries or accidents. The condition is most often preceded by an instrument-cluster warning light; foundation brake function is unaffected.

Fiat Chrysler has now issued 38 recalls covering 11.4 million vehicles in the United States — a record for the automaker. The company agreed to a record-setting $105 million settlement over its handling of 23 recall campaigns covering 11 million vehicles in July. Former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater has been named as an independent monitor to oversee the company for at least the next three years.

The largest 11 automakers in the United States have recalled more than 40.7 million vehicles this year, according to NHTSA records. The all-time record was set in 2014, when automakers recalled 64 million vehicles in the United States. But this year is still far above the prior record of 30.8 million vehicles set in 2004.