Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has recalled more than 700,000 Dodge Grand Caravan minivans and Journey crossovers to fix an ignition switch problem. It’s a flaw eerily similar to one that plagued General Motors last year, after it was alleged that faulty switches in that company’s Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5/Pursuit models led to 57 deaths.
For Chrysler, this is not the first time it has recalled the Grand Caravan and Journey—two of its most popular models—for this reason. The initial recalls happened in 2011 and 2014, and the latest applies to Grand Caravans (and the related Chrysler Town & Country) and Journeys from the 2008, 2009 and 2010 model years.
As in the GM case, the faulty Chrysler ignitions could inadvertently rotate out of the “run” position, causing the engine to stall and making the vehicle difficult to steer; it would also deactivate the airbags, reducing occupant safety in the event of a crash. Chrysler will begin replacing the ignition switches in the Spring of this year; until the repairs are made, the automaker is advising all owners of affected vehicles to remove any unnecessary items from the vehicle’s key chain to reduce the chance of trouble.
Nissan battens down the latches
Nissan has announced a recall on 15,000 Altima sedans from the 2013, 2014 and 2015 model years to fix secondary hood latches that may allow the hood to flip open while driving, (obviously) obscuring the driver’s visibility. The secondary latch is that “annoying” one you have to feel around for under the edge of the hood, after you’ve pulled the main release handle inside the cabin; it may get your hands dirty, but it’s necessary, serving to the prevent the scenario that prompted this recall. As we understand the situation, Nissan has not yet begun asking owners to bring their cars back to the dealer, as it hasn’t determined what the fix will be.
Leaky Hyundai Genesis taillights could cause transmission brain drain
Finally, Hyundai is recalling nearly 2,000 Genesis sedans from the 2015 model year to fix rear taillight with faulty seals that let water accumulate inside the light assembly. The reason is not as simple as it seems, and gives a good example of how complex a modern car’s electrical system is: the water could short out the transmission’s range switch, of all things. That’s the device that displays in the gauge cluster what gear position (Park, Drive, Reverse, etc.) you’ve selected as you get set to pull out of your driveway; it also allows the transmission to communicate properly with the engine’s electronic controls.
One symptom is a gear indicator that displays incorrectly (consider for a moment the consequences of the car telling you it’s in Drive when you’ve actually selected Reverse, when you’re underslept on the Monday morning after the Spring daylight savings time-change); the other known symptoms are delayed transmission engagement and a transmission malfunction indicator. Hyundai’s fix is to install improved taillight water seals on affected cars.
All Canadian vehicle recalls can be looked up at Transport Canada’s website.