FCA recalls Jeep Wranglers over airbag woes

Driving with doors off could compromise deployment of driver’s airbag

Published: May 19, 2016, 12:25 PM
Updated: June 22, 2016, 1:56 PM

2015 Jeep Wrangler

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling more than half a million Jeep Wranglers worldwide to repair yet another component that could lead to airbag failure, though for a completely different reason than that of the massive Takata recall.

The recall involving Jeep Wranglers from model years 2007 through 2016 relates to faulty clockspring assemblies and related components. The assembly is located in the steering wheel and forms part of the circuit that controls airbag function.

An internal investigation revealed that excessive dirt and dust may manifest itself in the clockspring and prevent driver’s side airbag deployment in a crash. The conditions are most prevalent in regions where the vehicle is primarily driven with the doors removed, or at those times in other regions, which leads to increase levels of debris blowing into the cabin.

The first warning of a potential problem with the clockspring assembly is the illumination of the airbag warning light, and customers are urged to immediately contact a dealership if that happens, although the company is not aware of any incidents or injuries related to the condition. Otherwise, customers will be contacted by the company and advised on when they can schedule service, which includes cleaning the assembly and installing a new steering wheel backing and shroud.

The vast majority of vehicles are in the United States — 399,899 (from model years 2007-2010) with 7,435 of them being right-hand drive special duty vehicles from 2011-2016. Additionally, 35,412 are in Canada, 8,529 in Mexico and 62,580 are outside North America.

2012 Fiat 500

FCA is also recalling over 80,000 manual Fiat 500s to upgrade their clutches, which the company has found have too long a stroke. Over time, the excessive travel could result in component damage that would restrict gear shifts and propulsion.

The company figures roughly 0.01% of the total numbers (about 80 cars from model years 2012 through 2016) are affected by the condition, but is not aware of any incidents or injuries that might have resulted. Still, it’s requesting owners of 39,217 cars in the US, 7,834 from Canada, 7,155 in Mexico and 26,268 outside North America, return their cars to dealerships to have the clutch release systems upgraded, if necessary. The recall applies to 500s with normally-aspirated engines only, and owners will be notified.

Any FCA customers with questions can call the FCA US Customer Care Center at (800) 853-1403.