More problems with electronics shifters, this time with the rotary dial

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investing nearly a million Ram pickup trucks and Dodge Durango crossovers over complaints registered against the rotary dial transmission shifter. The complaints allege vehicles roll away after being parked and point to the rotary electronic shifter as the culprit.

The news comes from Automotive News, which says FCA is cooperating with the NHTSA over the concerns. The NHTSA says it has reports of 25 crashes and nine injuries from owners claiming their vehicles rolled away after being parked. No deaths have been reported in relation to the rotary shifter issue. That is in contrast to FCA’s previous electronic shifter issues. Most notably, “Star Trek” actor Anton Yelchin was killed when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his steep driveway, pinning the 27-year-old against a brick pillar of his security fence in June of 2016.

Unlike the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Charger, and Chrysler 300, the Ram trucks and Dodge Durango in question uses the rotary dial rather than the joystick-like gear shifter. However, this now puts both versions of FCA’s electronic shifter into question.

The NHTSA is specifically investigating the 2013 through 2016 Ram 1500 pickup and 2014 through 2016 Dodge Durango. Both vehicles are equipped with the ZF-scoured, eight-speed automatic transmission that requires an electronic shifting mechanism. The rotary shift knob was designed by FCA.

Jaguar Land Rover also uses the same transmission with a similar rotary knob. The NHTSA is including roughly 39,000 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque and Jaguar XF vehicles within its investigation after seven reports of rollaway crashes. Four injuries were associated with the reports. The affected model years include the 2012 through 2014 JLR products.

FCA is urging owners of these vehicles to set the parking brake before exiting the vehicle. We’ll bring you more information as we have it.

Continue reading for more information.

Why It Matters

FCA can’t seem to keep its electronic shifters out of trouble. This latest NHTSA investigation could lead to a recall should a legitimate problem be discovered with the mechanism or software. Some voices around the automotive water cooler suggest the responsibility rests with the owners and their responsibility to educate themselves on proper gearshift operation. Others suggest FCA shouldn’t reinvent the wheel and cause confusion for drivers. Either way, FCA and JLR will have to deal with a government investigation into owner-reported issues.

Source: Automotive News

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read More
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