Federal Investigators End Seven-Year Scrutiny of Shifters in Ram, Durango


federal investigators end 7 year scrutiny of shifters in ram durango

Tall hats at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have indicated they have wrapped an investigation into the gear selector design found in some Durango SUVs and Ram pickup trucks.

At issue were Ram 1500s from 2013 – 2017 and Dodge Durango models from 2014 – 2017 in which complaints were made to the NHSTA about incidents of vehicle roll-away after the operator allegedly shifted the transmission to Park and exited the rig. Specifically, the carping involved multiple vehicles which shared a common electronic rotary shifter design. Fun fact for gearhead trivia: these dials are manufactured by an outfit called Kostal Automotive in Germany.

Way back in 2016, the agency opened a file to investigate 43 of these rollaway incidents. During the course of this study, the Office of Defects Investigation (there’s a department name, if we ever heard one) says they did not find evidence a vehicle-based design or manufacturing defect was the cause of vehicle rollaway incidents on the subject vehicles. They then reference a so-called Customer Satisfaction Notification – think of it as a not-quite recall – which provided “automated vehicle securement” when an operator attempts to exit the vehicle without successfully jamming the thing into Park. The CSN took the form of a software update and the feds seemed reasonably satisfied it was effective in reducing the frequency of vehicle rollaway incidents in the subject vehicles. 

A recall would have been ruinously expensive. Murilee has noted on numerous occasions the specter of Ford getting away with sending out stickers instead of actually fixing their rollaway issues back in the bad old days, though that problem was a physical defect and not down to a potentially confusing design of an electronic shifter.

federal investigators end 7 year scrutiny of shifters in ram durango

This author will opine that he despises trucks which slam themselves back into park when trying to move forward or backward with a door ajar. Sure, it’s not a technique taught in driving school but negotiating one’s way up to a trailer while solo (despite the phalanx of on-board cameras) or any number of other real world truck tasks requiring craning of necks are often easier with a door open – at least for us old guys. You’d think giving the option to manually turn such a feature off, even buried deep in an infotainment menu, would satisfy even the most pencil-necked of corporate lawyers.

Still, all this confab puts a bit of polish on the argument that consistently trying to reinvent shifter controls can create problems. It’s worth noting differences in this case and the one focused on shifters used in machines like the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

[Images: Dodge]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Source link