Chrysler is recalling over 150,000 minivans over concerns that they are stalling while in motion, in what may be the first vehicle recall sparked by social media.
After dozens of minivan owners began sharing their harrowing experiences on social media platforms, Fiat Chrysler was pressured to begin a recall of over 150,000 Chrysler Pacifica minivans to address a stalling issue.
What makes this recall unusual is that it affects 2017 models. Recalls often happen years after the vehicles have been on the road, but the social media outcry pushed for immediate action.
The company discovered that under rare conditions the minivan’s engine control module could incorrectly assess the operating status, potentially causing the engine to stall. Drivers found that they had to shut the vehicles off and restart them to resume driving. Some reported experiencing stalls in intersections or on highways.
Fiat Chrysler said it was aware of a single accident that was possibly related to the problem, but no injuries. The company said most of the stalling had occurred when the vehicles were idling or while starting, turning or moving at slow speeds.
The recall covers gas-powered Pacificas from the 2017 model year, a majority of the 180,000 Pacificas sold since the model was introduced in 2016. Hybrid Pacificas are unaffected.
Last year, Pacifica owners began filing complaints with federal safety regulators about suddenly losing power on the road. After dealers and Chrysler engineers failed to pinpoint a problem, some customers called on the automaker to buy the minivans back, and the company came under pressure to determine whether a serious safety defect existed.
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The Center for Auto Safety, an advocacy group, filed a petition in November calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open a formal investigation and order a recall.
“We are pleased to see Chrysler respond appropriately by conducting a full recall of the Pacifica Minivans, because stalling is an incredibly dangerous condition that puts the lives of drivers, passengers and others sharing the road at risk,” Jason Levine, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.
Chrysler said an update to the minivan’s engine control software would fix the problem. It said it would notify customers when they could have the modification done by a dealer for no charge.
Here is a TV news report on the recall.