The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation of the Ram 1500 pickup and Dodge Durango SUV after more than three dozen owners complained that their vehicles had rolled away while parked.
If the investigation reveals evidence of a persistent problem with the two models, up to 1,000,000 vehicles in the U.S. could need to be recalled and repaired.
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NHTSA's probe is focused on the 2013-2016 Ram 1500 and 2014-2016 Dodge Durango--specifically, those with rotary shifters (shown above). To date, NHTSA has received 43 rollaway complaints from owners of those vehicles.
Complaints allege that vehicles began moving after they were shifted into park. Thirty-four of those complaints indicate that once vehicles began to move, drivers confirmed that the "park" lights were illuminated on their shifters.
Of the 43 rollaway complaints filed with NHTSA, 25 involved reports of crashes and/or fires. Nine injuries have also been reported.
NHTSA notes that none of the complaints suggest that the vehicles' parking brakes were applied. The agency recommends that all drivers--not just drivers of the Ram 1500 and Dodge Durango--use their parking brakes regularly.
This is the second time this year that Fiat Chrysler vehicles have been investigated due to complaints about shifters. Back in January, NHTSA launched an investigation of the shifter used in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Charger, and Chrysler 300. That probe resulted in the recall of 1.1 million vehicles worldwide.
This new investigation is in its Preliminary Evaluation phase, during which NHTSA will work with Fiat Chrysler to evaluate owner complaints and identify potential problems. Depending on how the investigation goes, it could move on to phase two, the Engineering Analysis, when NHTSA would attempt to recreate the issue in lab settings. The probe could end there, or it could move to a third phase, with NHTSA requesting a full or partial recall of the affected vehicles.