Fiat Chrysler Wades Into Another Massive Recall; This Time It’s Fires and Wonky Airbags

2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

For an automaker desperate to improve its financial standing and attract a corporate suitor, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ vehicles have done a good job throwing a wrench into the company’s plans. While there’s nothing unusual about mass recalls these days — hello, Ford — corporate beancounters start sweating when the recall volume passes one million vehicles.

Also, no owner of a particular vehicle likes hearing their car’s driver’s side airbag could deploy at any moment. That’s just one of the issues facing FCA as it calls back 1.33 million vehicles from across the globe.

Announced late this week, the automaker will recall roughly 770,000 2011-2015 Dodge Journeys and its European doppelganger, the Fiat Freemont, due to the potential for “inadvertent airbag deployment.” The breakdown works out to 538,000 Journeys in North America and 233,000 Freemonts in the global market.

Blame a piece of steering wheel trim for the airbag issue. Wiring in the column could chafe against the trim, FCA claims, leading to the potential for a short-circuit and the deployment of the airbag facing the driver. Five minor injuries, but no crashes, have been linked to the airbag issue. The same chafing could short out the windshield wipers or various steering wheel-mounted switches.

FCA will inspect the vehicles’ wiring and replace it if needed, or install protective covering.

Meanwhile, a slew of other models — 565,000 vehicles in all — are under recall for faulty alternators. The models, which contain alternators prone to premature diode wear, include the 2011-2014 Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, Charger, and Durango, as well as 2012-2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees.

FCA claims high ambient temperatures can lead to diode wear and alternator failure, increasing the risk of fire. The automaker says two crashes could be the result of the issue. Of course, failing alternators are a great way to simultaneously knock out an engine and anti-lock braking system.

Just a month ago, FCA recalled 297,000 older Dodge Grand Caravans for the exact same airbag issue. 86,000 Ram trucks plagued with the same alternator issue were recalled last October.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]