The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration opened five separate safety investigations into vehicles made by General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis covering vehicles from model year 2014 to the present.
The investigations, which were announced July 22, range from rear-view camera failure to potentially catastrophic events such as stalling or parking brake actuation while driving.
Jeep Cherokee parking brake actuation
After receiving 80 complaints of unexpected parking brake actuation while driving, NHTSA opened an investigation. It appears that water can leak into the electronic parking brake mechanism of 2014-2020 Jeep Cherokee. The water causes the brake to actuate, potentially while the vehicle is in motion, forcing a stop.
The same model year Cherokees had previously been recalled for a leak issue in the power liftgate, which could potentially catch fire. The parking brake module is located in the same area and could be affected by the same leak.
Stellantis issued a Technical Service Bulletin in 2016 to replace the parking brake module and inspect the electrical connector for corrosion if a customer complains of parking brake problems.
Chrysler Pacifica transmission stall
Pacifica minivans from the 2019-2020 model years have generated 40 complaints alleging incidents of stall/loss of motive power, potentially due to transmission malfunction. Most reports concerned incidents with the Pacifica plug-in hybrid that occurred at speeds greater than 25 mph and resulted in a disabled vehicle.
Notably, the loss of power was often accompanied by a dashboard screen message indicating a charging fault. The malfunction was correlated with a specific internal transmission fault. The gasoline-fueled Pacifica is also included in the investigation.
Ford Bronco valvetrain failure
NHTSA has opened a Defect Petition to gather more information on whether to open an investigation into a potential valvetrain problem with 2021 Ford Bronco models equipped with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine.
Twenty-six customers have reported that the Bronco loses power at highway speeds and cannot restart. The root problem is catastrophic engine failure due to the valve “keepers” failing to hold the valve in place. The valve keeper failure allows the valve spring to detach from the valve, then the valve is drawn into the combustion chamber destroying both valve and piston. The resulting destruction can cause an engine seizure.
Cadillac and GMC rear-view camera failure
In the past two years, 11 owners of 2020 and 2021 Cadillac XT5, XT6, and GMC Acadia vehicles have reported rear-view camera system failures. The complaints report that the screen for the RVC goes black, sometimes with a red triangle and a circle with a line through it. NHTSA has opened a Preliminary Evaluation to assess the issue. Obviously, spontaneous failure of the rear-view camera can lead to low-speed collisions.
Jeep and Dodge SUV stalling
In 2016, Stellantis recalled many 2016 Dodge Journey, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot vehicles manufactured between May 9, 2016 to July 15, 2016 for faulty crankshaft or cam position sensors. The affected sensors were found to have intermittent problems, possibly causing the engine to stall while driving.
Since that recall, an additional 127 complaints have been received, stating similar failures on vehicles not included in the original recall. NHTSA has opened a Recall Query to assess the issue on model year 2016 Jeep Compass and Patriot and 2016 Dodge Journey vehicles.
What happens next?
With each of these investigations, NHTSA will work with the automakers and consumers to assess the validity and scope of the problem and issue a recall, if necessary. Further information will be released by NHTSA or the automakers as the incidents are more clearly understood.