The Center for Auto Safety is pushing federal regulators to investigate a dangerous defect in Chrysler Pacifica minivans which is causing the vehicles to suddenly shut off while on the road. So far, Fiat Chrysler has declined to recall the vehicles.
According to the New York Times, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received more than 50 consumer complaints from Pacifica owners saying their vehicles lost power and stalled while on the road. Despite these reports, however, Fiat Chrysler has not issued a voluntary recall for the vehicles.
While Fiat Chrysler admits that it is aware of the complaints, the automaker states that it has not found information pointing to a specific, widespread, or consistent problem and that dealers inspecting affected vehicles have been unable to replicate the issue.
The automaker added that there is no indication that the function of airbags or seatbelt tension was compromised during the stalls, despite reports of lost electrical power affecting things like power steering.
156,000 Pacifica minivans have been sold since the vehicles were introduced in 2016. It is unclear how many are affected by the stalling issue.
The Center for Auto Safety’s petition to NHTSA is especially significant considering it comes on the heels of two recent controversies involving Fiat Chrysler’s handling of recalls and recalled vehicles.
In 2015, NHTSA ruled that Fiat Chrysler had failed to promptly notify vehicle owners of recalls and delayed initiating repairs of defective models in 23 recalls covering roughly 11 million vehicles. The automaker was fined $105 million.
Fiat Chrysler was the subject of national headlines again last year when actor Anton Yelchin was killed by his Jeep Grand Cherokee which rolled backward down his driveway and crushed him. The vehicle was part of a recall related to defective electronic gearshifts, but it had not been repaired prior to the fatal accident. A wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Yelchin’s family.