Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling nearly 300,000 Dodge Grand Caravan minivans to fix a problem that could cause the driver-side airbag to deploy without warning. The recall affects vehicles from the 2011 and 2012 model years.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Grand Caravan's problem stems from a poorly placed wiring harness associated with the steering wheel. That harness may become trapped between the back cover of the steering wheel and the edge of the horn plate. If that should happen, the wire insulation may become worn, which could cause a short circuit.
That, in turn, might cause the driver's airbag to deploy inadvertently. Depending on where and when that happens, it could dramatically increase the risk of a crash. FCA says that it has received reports of eight injuries that may be related to the problem, but no reports of collisions.
NHTSA notes that in cars affected by this issue, drivers may notice an illuminated airbag warning light, unintended wiper operation, an inoperable steering wheel switch, an inoperable speed control switch, and/or an inoperable multifunction switch.
All told, the Dodge Grand Caravan recall affects 296,838 vehicles in North America: 209,135 registered in the U.S. and an additional 87,703 in Canada.
Owners of those vehicles will receive recall notices by mail around July 28, 2017. At that time, they'll be able to schedule service with their local Dodge dealers, who will inspect the affected wiring and replace it as necessary. NHTSA says that dealers will also install a protective cover to prevent problems from developing in the future.
If you own one of these vehicles and have further questions, you're encouraged to call FCA customer service at 1-800-853-1403 and ask about recall T33. Alternately, you can call NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 and inquire about safety campaign #17V-376,