Following an investigation of a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee that shifted to neutral and began rolling away during a remote start, Chrysler has uncovered an electrical flaw affecting nearly 300,000 Jeeps. The company recently issued a voluntary safety recall to update the embedded software in the final drive controller on affected vehicles.
The automaker’s recall affects 2006-2010 Jeep Commanders and 2005-2010 Jeep Grand Cherokees, of which there are approximately 295,000 in the United States and nearly 175,000 abroad. The company determined that some models contained cracked circuit boards that would transmit faulty signals to the final drive control module, which commands the electric actuator used to shift gears. As a result, the vehicles may shift gears during startup, potentially causing them to start rolling away, particularly if they are started remotely.
“During the initial vehicle startup sequence, the controller can automatically command a transfer case shift, without input from the driver (attempting to correct its position based on a biased signal),” the Chrysler defect information report noted.
The flaw has been responsible for 26 documented crashes and two injuries, Chrysler told the Detroit News. Chrysler responded to the flaw diagnosis by obtaining the source code from the controller supplier and performing a code review, according to the defect information report. The company modified the software to prevent unintended shifting as a result of a biased encoder signal. Owners will be issued a letter informing them of the flaw, and they will be able to take their vehicles into a dealer to reflash the final drive controller with new software.
Automakers can mitigate the likelihood of such events by using tools such as source code analysis software to catch potential input errors and other problems in embedded systems. With thorough analysis, accidents can be prevented, as can the costs of managing a recall affecting hundreds of thousands of customers.
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