Back in March, Chrysler issued a recall for 2012 and 2013 models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango. According to a press release from the automaker, some customers had complained about "pedal feel" on the vehicles' brakes -- a problem that Chrysler traced to restricted brake fluid flow.
Now, Chrysler has issued a second recall for the Grand Cherokee and Durango, which includes vehicles from the 2011-2014 model years. As with the previous recall, this one is designed to fix brake-pedal feel, though there's no indication from Chrysler or from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the two recalls are related.
According to Chrysler, "[C]ertain vehicles have brake boosters with small crimp joints; and these joints may exhibit corrosion when exposed to water. Should water enter the boosters through corroded joints – a previously unseen occurrence – brake function may be compromised if the water freezes." Chrysler goes on to say that drivers might experience "excessive brake-pedal firmness".
That makes it seem like a very different problem than the one behind the first recall. In 2012-2013 models, customers complained of "diminished" brake-pedal feel, but in this case, it sounds as if the opposite problem may be occurring. Also, Chrysler said that the brake fluid problem in the first recall didn't result in any loss of functionality, but today's recall announcement clearly states that braking may be "compromised".
In other words, if you've got a 2012 or 2013 Grand Cherokee or Durango, you may have two problems waiting to be fixed.
Today's recall affects a total of 867,795 vehicles -- 644,354 registered in the U.S., 42,380 registered in Canada, 21,376 registered in Mexico, and an additional 159,685 elsewhere on the planet. Chrysler reports one accident related to the problem but no injuries.
NHTSA says that Chrysler will begin mailing recall notices to owners in May. At that time, owners will be able to take their vehicles to dealers, who will test the brake booster. If it can hold ample vacuum pressure, the dealer will install a water diverter shield on the booster, which should eliminate any potential problems. If, on the other hand, the booster fails the pressure test, it will be replaced.
If you own one of the affected vehicles and have questions in the meantime, you can call Chrysler directly at 800-853-1403 and ask about recall P14. Alternately, you can ring NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and inquire about safety campaign #14V154000.