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Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Charger Recalled Due to Confused Owners

The Chrysler Group has issued a recall of the Dodge Charger, the Chrysler 300 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee for no other reason than the owners being unable to recognize whether the vehicle is in Park due to the unusual shifters featured in those vehicles.

A few months back, we brought you the news that a handful of Chrysler Group vehiclesincluding the Dodge Charger, the Chrysler 300 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee were under investigation by the NHTSA over a concern that the vehicles could be left in a gear other than Park when the vehicle has been left unattended. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with these vehicles to cause this increased risk, but with a concern that so many people who bought those vehicles don’t know how to tell when they are properly in park, the automaker has decided to recall these vehicles to address the issue.

Basically, because some owners of the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300 and Jeep Grand Cherokee don’t know how to read the shifter – the company is recalling more than a million vehicles around the world.

The Problem Explained
Back in the 1970s, the Chrysler Group had an innovative “slap stick” automatic shifter which allowed the driver to quickly pop from one gear to the next by simply giving the shift handle a quick shove from gear to gear. Chrysler tried to recreate that design with some newer Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep vehicles, except they implemented a new design that allowed the actual shift handle to always return to the same point. When you start the car and shift out of Park, the transmission changes from Park to the gear chosen, but when you let go of the shift handle, it returns to the same place regardless of the gear selected. If you pick Reverse, Neutral, Drive or Park, the shift handle always returns to the middle of the pattern.

On the other hand, a “normal” automatic transmission shifter stays in a unique position for each gear and this difference is what is confusing some drivers. Drivers are using this unique shifter without understanding exactly how it works and in some cases, those folks mistakenly leave the car in some gear other than Park. When the Charger, 300 or Jeep is left in some Reverse, Drive or Neutral, the car could roll away unattended and that could lead to a pretty nasty situation of a car or SUV rolling around without a driver.

It is because that increased risk, which comes from drivers not understanding how their vehicle works, that the Chrysler Group is recalling more than a million vehicles.

The Recall
This new recall affects the 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 2012-2014 Dodge Charger, and the 2012-2014 Chrysler 300, with 811,586 vehicles in the US, 52,144 in Canada, 16,805 in Mexico, and 248,667 outside North America. These vehicles are all equipped with the fancy shifter and while there isn’t actually anything wrong with these vehicles – they will all be recalled to make them safer for the drivers who don’t know how they work.

So, how do you fix a vehicle that doesn’t actually have a problem? Well, in this case, the recalled Chargers, 300s and Jeeps will get an enhanced warning system that will notify them that the vehicle is not in Park. These vehicles already have a system that alerts the drivers, but the company will take those measures even further, with the hope that this time, drivers will pay attention to the warnings. Also, the company will employ a “transmission-shift strategy to automatically prevent a vehicle from moving, under certain circumstances, even if the driver fails to select “PARK.” That is fairly vague, but I would imagine that it works with the key fob in a way that automatically applies the braking system to keep the car in one place when it has been left unattended in some gear other than Park.

Owners of these vehicles will be notified as to when they can bring their car or SUV to the dealership for repairs but in the meantime, Chrysler urges owners to read their owner’s manual and familiarize themselves with how the shifter works.

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Comments

Well now, it sounds as if you are working for Chrysler! I have one of the vehicles in question, and I am well aware of how to tell if my vehicle is in park (thank you very much). But the shifter IS defective. It simply will not go into park on random occasions. As in: you push the shifter forward, it clicks but stops in neutral or reverse. Many times, I have to shift back into drive and retry before it will smoothly go into the park position. It is therefore easy to see how someone gets the tactile sensation that the vehicle should be in park, and may open their door and disembark with the vehicle in gear. It's happened enough times that there have been 44 injuries! I suggest you do some basic research before you write your next article, rather than insult the intelligence of all the people who have experienced this design flaw. PS: I've been driving for 40 years, and I know the slapstick shifter. This is not it. And if this was a problem that didn't need to be fixed, do you really think Chrysler would be spending the money to fix it?
Chrysler is fixing it to avoid lawsuits from people that blame their ineptitude on the vehicle rather than their inabilities. Cars are much more advanced than they were 40 years ago. (Oh the times they are a changing.) Maybe reading the part of the owners manual section titled "before operating your vehicle" would help.
Read your owners manual to put a car in park? No, your not a putz, you're a schmuck! Shifters need to be standard across the board olaun and simple.
Chrysler is fixing it to avoid lawsuits from people that blame their ineptitude on the vehicle rather than their inabilities. Cars are much more advanced than they were 40 years ago. (Oh the times they are a changing.) Maybe reading the part of the owners manual section titled "before operating your vehicle" would help.
I just bought a 2012 Dodge Charger about a month ago and it's difficult to shift gears. I always make sure it's in the correct gear but when I try to put it in R it goes to P or when I'm trying to put it in D/L it goes in N. I see how it can be dangerous.
i own a 2014 JGC with this exact shifter… i admit initially it took some getting used to, but after driving the vehicle for a few weeks i had no problems… and no issues since… its like anything else, you get used to it after a while… just pay attention to what your doing… there are LEDs next to the shifter and lights on the dash that tell you what gear your in… it ain’t rocket science.
When I received the recall notice in the mail, I thought it must have been a joke. It's pretty clear to me when the Jeep is in Park, and of course everybody with half a brain knows you should always use the parking brake anyway when getting out of the vehicle. None of those injuries would occur if they had set the parking brake, one of the first things I learned to do when I was 16 learning to drive. Basically, this recall is yet another indication that many people are just plain stupid.
If you don't work for Jeep/Chrysler, you should. Owners shouldn't have to resort to applying the brake every time before getting out. I don't care if you did learn how to use a parking brake at 16 years old. And it takes a really ignorant person to call other folks stupid when they are just expressing their displeasure with this dangerously poor design.