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(114,904 posts)
Wed Jun 22, 2016, 08:27 AM Jun 2016

Actor crushed to death by his jeep, shines a spotlight on a known problem with the vehicle

The death of the actor Anton Yelchin, killed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backward down a driveway and crushed him against a mailbox pillar last weekend, has cast a public spotlight on a problem with some models of Jeeps and other Fiat Chrysler vehicles.

But for the company, there is nothing new about the issue — which federal regulators first flagged last August.

The question is why, nearly a year later, Fiat Chrysler has still not come up with a fix for the problem, which has now been linked to hundreds of accidents, dozens of injuries and now — potentially — a well-publicized death.

The company, which issued a recall notice on more than one million affected vehicles in April, will say only it is still working on a solution, there was no decision about a recall until this year and there has been no delay. It has written to federal regulators that the remedy will include a software change and “an additional mechanism to mitigate the effect of operator error.”



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marble falls

(57,890 posts)
4. Small comfort, how many more deaths will there be? Part of Jeeps defense will be like Ford's Pinto..
Wed Jun 22, 2016, 08:49 AM
Jun 2016

defense: moving too quickly will be taken as an admission of culpability.



(4,762 posts)
3. Fiat-Chrysler. FTW
Wed Jun 22, 2016, 08:46 AM
Jun 2016

Nearly every single person I know who owns a modern-era Fiat/Chrysler product (other than Dodge pickups maybe) has buyer's remorse.

Also here's another poke in the old fashioned and incorrect view that because you buy a car assembled in America you've bought an American car. The transmission in question is sourced in Germany and also used in Audi, VW, and Mercedes models.

A big difference appears to be that the engineers at FCA decided not to add a fail-safe electronic parking brake used in those other luxury models, probably to add $200 profit to their bottom line.

But the consumer desire for faux "luxury" also drives unnecessary innovation that in this case wasn't necessary at all. Automatic transmissions should all work the same way and provide tactile as well as visual feedback, as they have for decades. A shifter that requires you to visually confirm you're in the right gear is many kinds of disasters waiting to happen. Shifting an auto transmission between PRND should be boringly routine. Instead, trying to emulate the luxury feel of new joystick shifters, Jeep took a shortcut by adding the blingy touch without the corresponding fail safe technology. Among other things it's just one more thing to break (expensively) that doesn't do the job any better (in fact, provably worse) than what it replaced.

Truly an epic fail by FCA.

ETA: here's s good Jalopnik piece that explains the problem and includes a video showing how the shifter works by design.


If you own a car with a joystick style transmission shifter (its not just on jeeps) you should really go over your manual or instruction videos. Same for a lot of new car tech, including stuff designed to save your life. Our cars have become semi-autonomous already and full of distractions. It's easy to forget you're responsible for moving two tons of steel at 70mph.



(4,762 posts)
7. And lol I'm getting Jeep Grand Cherokee ads on the page
Wed Jun 22, 2016, 08:52 AM
Jun 2016

The algorithm can't tell I'm trashing their brand.


(10,201 posts)
15. I recall the first time I drove a vehicle with this exact transmission.
Wed Jun 22, 2016, 12:26 PM
Jun 2016

My dealership gives you a loaner when you drop your car off for service. They are trying to sell you newer models, so they usually give you a really nicely appointed vehicle. Anyhoo... It was a BMW with one of those electronic shifters, far different from my own older 6 speed.

Unlike the Jeep, it was super easy to figure out, and there was no confusion. You want the car in park, you simply press the letter 'P'.

I'll stick with my '07 though. Much more fun to drive.



(4,762 posts)
16. And in that Beemer
Wed Jun 22, 2016, 01:14 PM
Jun 2016

if you DID actually leave the car in N or R and opened the door or shut off the engine an electronic parking brake automatically engages. This is what Jeep failed to provide.

For everyone, you really need to keep an old habit: when you stop your car to get out, you put on the parking brake (wrongly called an "emergency brake&quot . Always. As a habit that becomes automatic. Many many people have been killed and injured and property has been damaged in rolling incidents involving cars besides this badly designed Jeep.

Save lives. Just like driving with your lights always on, or looking over your shoulder before changing lanes even if you have sensors, make this a habit.

That is the purpose of that brake. It's amazing how many people simply never use it because they think it is for "emergencies." It exists to prevent rolling.

Every time the car is turned off, engage the parking brake. Teach your kids this. Never roll into anyone or anything.


(45,251 posts)
8. A known problem with America is that the people within Chrysler will not go to jail for murder.
Wed Jun 22, 2016, 08:52 AM
Jun 2016

Until that happens, individuals within corporations will continue to weigh the cost/benefit of recalling fatal products.


(35,417 posts)
12. It was recalled.
Wed Jun 22, 2016, 11:22 AM
Jun 2016

How's this:

Citizens must not be allowed to continue to hold recalled products. Until that happens, individuals will continue to way the cost/benefit of complying with recalls.

Of course, if government enforces that law it means a registry must be kept of every product purchased by consumers and phalanges of consumer-protection "advocates" must have the ability to go in and confiscate any recalled product.

I'd hate for that to have happened with the Spaghetti-O recall just after I reorganized the pantry. No, I didn't return the cans; yes, we had some of the product. It was easier to throw the two cans away than lug them around until we got back to the store. (http://www.campbellsoupcompany.com/newsroom/news/2015/11/12/spaghettios-original-14-2oz-cans-recalled-due-to-potential-choking-hazard/ )

But if I'd fed my kid the crapasta product and he'd choked, it would have been my fault. I knew it was recalled, the company did due diligence, and if I was too foolish to care about my kid's life that's my foolishness. It's on me. I'm my own first line of defense against danger. If somebody had gone through my trash, pulled them out, and fed them to their kids so that their kids choked, that's not something I could easily help. Nor is it something I'd know about.

I'll blame the auto-victim here (pun very much intended), and just be content that his foolishness didn't kill anybody other than the fool involved. He was his own first line of defense against danger, and he did nothing to mitigate the danger he should have known of, as far as well I can tell.


(45,251 posts)
13. Look at you, making sure I know you're joking about this guy's death. My point stands, though.
Wed Jun 22, 2016, 11:37 AM
Jun 2016

This is not the first, and it won't be last, time a product kills or injures someone.

Sometimes the product takes a fix, before it leaves the factory and it's deemed not worth the fix. Sometimes the issues become obvious later, but a recall is not issued until several have been hurt or killed. We've all seen these cases, including in the auto industry, and we will continue to see them until the individuals involved in the lethal decisions are held responsible.



(12,693 posts)
11. File under mistakes that should not be repeated.
Wed Jun 22, 2016, 09:15 AM
Jun 2016

It might be time for some harsh penalties since this is not the first time.

Ford had this issue during the sixties and seventies. On the cars with column-mounted gear sectors, they would literally fall out of Park. As a Ford technician, it happened to me on three separate occasions on vehicles I was working on.

A brand new Granada that was running while I went to the bench to complete the paper work, dropped into the reverse and backed out of the shop.The open door caught on a support column and folded the driver's door against the fender as the door trim shredded.

The others I was able to run and catch before there was any damage.

For years Ford would not admit the problem existed, but finally issued a recall in the late 70s or early 80s. The fix was a re-designed detent and stiffer spring to give the shifter a more positive feel. but it still wasn't applied to more than a narrow range of model-years.

This is a serious case of not learning from other's mistakes and not considering the human engineering factors required.


(32,836 posts)
14. "still working on a solution"
Wed Jun 22, 2016, 11:44 AM
Jun 2016

WTF? It seems simple. Get rid of the fancy button gear shift knob and return to basics. I almost got a jeep. SMH. Thank goodness their website is ridiculously confusing with WAY too many models and trims to choose from.

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