Every former relationship has its baggage, and leaves its scars. For some of us, given our taste in females, that’s pretty literal. For others, like Chrysler, there was never any leaving Mercedes without at least a few black eyes. Some have questioned whether Chrysler’s trade-up to Italian Fiat was a trade-up at all — but after this, those questions should be pretty well settled.

Last year, Chrysler issues a recall for 189,000 SUVs in the Dodge Durango and Jeep Cherokee lines for the 2011 to 2013 model years. As of Friday of this week, that recall has expanded to a whopping 656,000 vehicles worldwide. The core of the problem is a bad fuel pump relay in the Totally Integrated Power Module; the relay is subject to getting hot, deforming and failing, which cuts off the fuel pump and causes the vehicle to stall. Originally, they assumed the problem was limited to gas-engine models; however, further testing has shown that a further half-million or so foreign-market diesels could experience the same failure.

Still, all things considered, a bad relay isn’t that big a deal. Worse things have happened. So, why does it matter? Read on.

Continue reading to learn more about Chrysler’s new recalling.

Why it matters

Okay, time to come clean: All jokes about Italians and electrical problems aside, this failure really has nothing to do with Fiat. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Put this one on the heads of those notoriously sloppy engineers, Mercedes-Benz.

The 2011-generation Durango and Jeep were engineered under the Mercedes-Chrysler co-op; the two actually share some DNA with the Mercedes M-, R- and GL-Class SUVs. In fact, when the Dodge/Jeep twins go out of production, they’ll be the last Chryslers to have been designed under German supervision. From there on out, Chryslers will be as Italian-American as a Rocky marathon in the Bronx. Or Detroit.

In a way, it seems rather heartening that Chrysler found out about this particular problem during "internal testing." But think further into that — if these vehicles had been tested properly prior to release, Chrysler would have found the problem prior to putting them on the market. The very fact that they found this problem years after releasing the first models (while testing under Fiat ownership) says something about the previous ownership. It means the chassis was rushed into production to meet sales figures after the Great Recession, rather than being tested as thoroughly as it should have been. As of right now there are no reports of anyone dying from stalling engines — but if not, it’s no thanks to Mercedes-Chrysler management.

Safety advocates are asking that Chrysler recall a total of five million vehicles, all of which use the power module and relays that have failed in the Jeep and Durango. That might not be a bad idea, simply as a preemptive measure. Chrysler, though, says that the overheating module and relay are problems unique to this particular chassis and configuration. It probably has something to do with the position of the module; airflow around it and power demands through it. So, there may be nothing to worry about in other vehicles — then again, there may.

One way or the other, there’s a message in this particular recall.

Even at the time, Chrysler quietly grumbled about the way Das Germans did business. They were never happy with the arrangement, and this recall is a prime example of why. Yes, you could put this on Chrysler, and Chrysler does bear ultimate responsibility. But when the boss tells you to put something on the sales floor, there’s no saying nein .

Quick recap for perspective: Yes, the Italians , of all people, found an electrical fault engineered by the Germans, Process that one for a moment.

Somewhere out there, Alfa Romeo and Lancia just died laughing.

Yes, this is a black eye for Chrysler, which billed the Durango and Jeep as revolutionary, no-compromise SUVs for a changing world. Recall, Chrysler was even pretty proud of the duo’s association with Mercedes’ offerings. But every relationship is magic until it’s not, and it’s all fun and games until someone pulls a box cutter. In that situation, everyone and everything gets slashed and burned — including, apparently, fuel relays.

So, congrats to Chrysler on the trade-up to a better relationship; hopefully, the black eye will fade before anyone holds it against them.

Dodge Durango

2014 Dodge Durango High Resolution Exterior
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Jeep Grand Cherokee

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee High Resolution Exterior
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Press Release

FCA US LLC is voluntarily recalling an estimated 467,480 SUVs worldwide to install new a relay circuit that improves fuel-pump relay durability.

FCA US engineers have determined a condition identified in a previous investigation may extend to additional vehicles. The previous investigation, which led to a recall, traced a pattern of repairs to fuel-pump relays that are susceptible to deformation. This may affect fuel-pump function, preventing a vehicle from starting, or leading to engine stall.

Of the two scenarios, the no-start condition is the more common. FCA US is unaware of any related injuries or accidents.

The fuel-pump relay is located inside the Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM), which also helps manage other vehicle functions. None of these other functions, including air-bag deployment, is affected by the fuel-pump relay.

The new campaign affects an estimated 338,216 vehicles in the U.S.; 18,991 in Canada; 10,829 in Mexico and 99,444 outside the NAFTA region.

Covered are model-year 2012 and 2013 Dodge Durango full-size SUVs and non-NAFTA 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee mid-size SUVs equipped with 3.0-liter diesel engines. Current vehicles with EcoDiesel engines are not affected.

FCA US will advise affected customers when they may schedule service, which will be performed at no cost.

In the interim, customers who experience a no-start condition or engine stall are advised to consult their dealers. Owners with questions may call the FCA US Customer Information Center at 1-800-853-1403.

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