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Auto blogTue, 24 Dec 2013 10:00:00 EST
What do the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Ram 1500 all have in common? Yes, they're all Chrysler products, and two of them are based on the same platform. And we're sure you could find more similarities between them all, but the common trait we're looking at here is that, while they all come standard in rear-drive form, they're also available with all-wheel drive. And it's the transmission in those models that's the subject of the latest recall notice issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The output shaft on the eight-speed automatic transmission supplied by ZF to Chrysler for the AWD versions of the 300, Charger and Ram 1500 is apparently prone to fracture. That in the end could leave the vehicle without power and could, according to the NHTSA investigation, increase the chance of a crash. The vehicle could also roll away if even if left in Park without the handbrake applied.
That's why Chrysler is calling in 4,194 examples of those three models from the 2013 model year. Dealers will be responsible for inspecting the transmissions and, where necessary, replace the entire unit. See the full recall notice below for all the details.
The Center for Auto Safety is officially petitioning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to begin scrutinizing alleged problems with the totally integrated power module (TIPM) on about 24 Chrysler Group SUVs and minivans. The advocacy group claims that the part's failure can cause affected vehicles to stall or not start at all. NHTSA is still looking into the accusations and deciding whether a full investigation is actually warranted.
The CAS petition claims at least 70 TIPM failures, but according to NHTSA, six of the complaints are for models that don't have the modules. In 34 of the reported cases, the vehicles refused to start, and in 17 of them the engine stalled. There were also two allegations of smoke and one of a fire. However, none of these affected airbag deployment or resulted in a crash.
This petition isn't the first TIPM-related problem for Chrysler Group. A recent report in the New York Times alleged that it found 240 complaints potentially related to the issue on NHTSA's website alone. In September, the automaker also recalled 230,760 examples worldwide (188,723 in the US) of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango replace the fuel pump relay circuit inside of the TIPM-7 with one external to the unit. The original part could allegedly cause the models to stall without warning. Even earlier, the company also recalled about 80,000 examples of the Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Nitro in 2007 to have the module reprogrammed.
Motor Trend has named their 2013 Truck of the Year, and this time, the coveted honor goes to Chrysler's 2013 Ram 1500. The Ram unseats the Ford F-150 pickup from Truck of the Year with a package that the magazine argues fulfills owners' needs for everyday usability as much as worksite utility.
MT points out that the 1500's available air suspension is a quantum leap in the light-duty pickup segment. This system can raise for more ground clearance or lower for highway driving. Chrysler has been pushing for friendly daily-driver manners for some time now - you'll recall it debuted coils in place of rear leaf springs in the 2009 Ram 1500, back when it the truck was sold under the Dodge nameplate. The new optional air setup is another step towards more comfortable everyday driving.
The Ram 1500 can also be paired with the company's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 in place of the loveless 3.7-liter unit, in the process getting some pretty surprising fuel economy figures. MT also notes that the interior update - complete with available Uconnect 8.3-inch screen and new rotary shifter - is a welcome upgrade. These attributes have conspired to yield a deserving award for Team Ram, which MT says has nailed the motivations of light-duty truck buyers - comfort and capability in one package.