Fiat Chrysler is recalling about 280,000 Dodge Ram pickups around the world due to a rear axle problem. Of the affected trucks, about 257,000 are in the U.S.
The problem with the truck stems from a loose nut that could cause the rear axle to seize on 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 pickups built from January 2004 through August 2005. Chrysler dealers will install a retention feature to the pinion nut. The recall will begin Feb. 13.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the problem in June after receiving 15 complaints. The agency said the pinion nut may loosen, causing the rear axle to seize. The driveshaft also may detach, which could cause a crash.
According to NHTSA, the complaints said there was little or no noise or other warning before the either the lock-up or separation incidents. Seven of the incidents happened at speeds of 50 mph or faster, including two that said the rear axle lockup caused the truck to go into a spin. The most recent complaint was filed May 16.
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This isn’t the first time the maker has experienced a problem with the rear axles on its full-size pickups. In July 2012, the agency opened an investigation into the same issue in 2009-10 Dodge Ram trucks.
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The query resulted in a recall of 48,058 2009-10 Dodge Ram 1500 and Dodge Dakota trucks in October 2012 that were built with an axle pinion nut that can loosen. The same problem could result: a lock-up of the rear axle and/or separation of the rear drive shaft from the rear axle.
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NHTSA’s investigation found 194 reports, including three crashes, of rear axle lock-up and/or drive shaft separation of vehicles not included in the 2012 recall. So Chrysler recalled another 266,091 2009-12 Dodge Ram 1500 and 8,475 2009-10 Dodge Dakota trucks — along with about 3,500 2009 Chrysler Aspen and 2009 Dodge Durango vehicles. NHTSA closed its investigation in March 2013.