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Fiat Chrysler Recalls Nearly 1.3M Dodge, Jeep Vehicles Over Airbag Deployment, Fire Risks

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Of all of things you don’t want to happen to your car, bursting into flames or having the airbags deploy without actually being in a crash are probably pretty close to the top. Yet, those are exactly the issues plaguing 1.3 million recently recalled Fiat Chrysler vehicles. 

FCA announced the dual recalls this week related to faulty wiring in airbags and malfunctioning alternators in a range of makes and models.

Deploying For No Reason

The first recall involves 363,480 model year 2011 to 2015 Dodge Journey vehicles in the U.S. — as well as about 500,000 model year 2011-2015 Fiat Freemont SUVs elsewhere — that may contain wiring issues that could lead to inadvertent deployment of the driver-side airbag.

According to a notice [PDF] posted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the safety device could deploy unnecessarily if the wiring harness gets chafed within the steering wheel and short circuits.

FCA – which says it is aware of at least six minor injuries potentially related to the issue, but no accidents – first learned of the issue in Oct. 2014 when a vehicle experienced driver airbag inadvertent deployment.

Since then, the company has performed tests and internal investigations to monitor any additional incidents. After identifying other incidents in which airbags deployed unexpectedly, the carmaker determined a recall was necessary.

The carmaker will notify owners beginning in August, and dealers will inspect the airbag wiring within the steering wheel, replacing it if necessary.

Catching Fire

FCA’s second recall involves approximately 442,214 model year 2011 to 2014 Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Dodge Durango, and model year 2012 to 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles that could stall or catch fire.

According to a notice [PDF] posted with NHTSA, the vehicles’ alternators could suddenly fail, leading the vehicles to stall without warning, increasing the risk of a crash. Additionally, the alternator could short-circuit, increasing the risk of fire.

So far, FCA says it is aware of two potentially related crashes, but no injuries.

The carmaker will notify owners of the affected vehicles of the issue and dealers will inspect the alternator, and replace if needed.

This isn’t the first time FCA has dealt with alternator issues. Back in October, the carmaker recalled 74,833 Ram and Charger vehicles over the same problem.

At the time, the FCA said the issue was related to premature wear of the alternator. The premature wear can cause a short-circuit in the alternators, which could then lead to engine stall and/or fire. The company said it is aware of one potentially related injury, but no crashes in those vehicles.

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