The U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating complaints that up to 1 million more Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) vehicles may roll away, even after the vehicle transmissions have been put into park. Earlier this year the company initiated a worldwide recall of 1.1 million Jeep Grand Cherokees and other vehicles for a similar problem.
The latest roll-away defect is similar to the previous one that is blamed for the death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin.
The new investigation involves Ram 1500 pickups built between 2013 and 2016 and Dodge Durango sport utility vehicles (SUVs) built between 2014 and 2016. According to Automotive News, the NHTSA has received 25 crash reports from owners claiming the vehicles rolled away, and nine of the incidents resulted in injuries. The agency also urged drivers to set the parking brake on these vehicles before leaving.
In the earlier recall the NHTSA described the problem this way:
The affected vehicles, equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a monostable gear selector, may not adequately warn the driver when driver’s door is opened and the vehicle is not in PARK, allowing them to exit the vehicle while the vehicle is still in gear.
Fiat Chrysler corrected the problem with a software update that automatically shifted the vehicle into park if the driver-side door is opened.
The shift mechanism in the Ram pickups and Durango SUVs is a rotary knob that is connected electronically to the transmission. When the knob is turned there are detents that lock the gear selector in place.