The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango have been recalled again -- this time, to repair a software glitch that could disable the vehicles' Electronic Stability Control system and potentially cause an accident.
This is the sixth recall for the 2014 Durango and the eighth for the Grand Cherokee. Previous problems have included an electrical short that could disable the vehicles' airbags, a software issue that could cause the vehicles to keep accelerating when cruise control is activated, and corrosion that could interfere with the models' brakes.
The current iterations of the Grand Cherokee and Durango were launched during the 2011 model year, so although they're not fully new, both were "refreshed" for 2014. Sometimes, even a light touch-up can lead to big problems, which in turn can lead to an unusually high number of recalls, but even so, this may be pushing the boundaries of what's acceptable.
It might be worth noting that Chrysler's longtime quality supervisor, Doug Betts, quietly left the company yesterday "to pursue other interests". (Like, say, looking for jobs.) His departure came one day after Chrysler's disastrous performance on Consumer Reports' 2014 Annual Auto Reliability Survey. A curious coincidence, at best.
According to a letter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF), the new Durango/Grand Cherokee recall stems from a flaw in the software associated with the Steering Column Control Module. Under certain conditions, that flaw could cause the Electronic Stability Control system to shut down. Depending on where and when that happens, a vehicle might become significantly harder to steer, dramatically increasing the risk of a crash.
The recall affects 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos manufactured between October 3, 2013 and April 11, 2014. NHTSA estimates that 132,223 vehicles are affected.
Chrysler says that it will send out recall notifications to owners no later than December 5, 2014. At that time, owners will be able to take their vehicles to a local dealer, who will upgrade the software on the Steering Column Control Module, free of charge.
If you believe that you own one of the vehicles affected by this recall and have questions in the meantime, you're encouraged to contact Chrysler customer service at 800-853-1403 and ask about recall P64. Or, if you prefer, you can call NHTSA directly at 888-327-4236 and inquire about safety campaign #14V636000.