Woman driving a car with a faulty Dodge Dart transmission.

Faulty Dodge Dart Transmissions

By Sepehr Daghighian

Owners of Dodge Dart have complained for years of shifting issues arising from their vehicles’ defective transmission components. For instance, drivers complain that their gear selectors lock up, they are unable to shift in and out of gear, their vehicles spontaneously drop into neutral, their transmission makes strange grinding noises when shifting, their transmission jerks when shifting, or (in some cases) the transmission completely dies. Frustratingly for many consumers, Dodge has been addressing their customers concerns by oftentimes installing the same defective parts back into the vehicles, thus, effectively kicking the proverbial can down the road.  

CCA’s expert lemon law attorney has advocated for Dodge Dart owners and obtained exceptionally favorable settlements from FCA (Dodge’s parent company) for clients that have suffered through frustrating repeat repairs to their transmissions. California’s strong lemon law, the Song-Beverly Act, provides that manufacturers must repurchase or replace vehicles when they are unable to fix them after a reasonable number of repair attempts. CCA has observed that, oftentimes, customers take in their FCA vehicles for repair of transmission concerns over-and-over again, to no avail. FCA’s dealerships oftentimes apply “band-aid” repairs, which don’t correct the condition or send the customer home because they could not detect a problem. Fortunately for our clients, our lawyers possess the legal and technical acumen to obtain speedy and exceptionally favorable results when the manufacturer is unable to repair their vehicles.  

In April of 2019, FCA announced that it was recalling every automatic transmission Dart in the U.S. to address problems with the transmission shifter cable.  Dodge recalled a total of 298,439 of the 2013-2016 Dodge Darts because of defects in the 6-speed transmission shifter cable. According to documents filed with NHTSA by Dodge, “The shifter cable bushing on the transmission end of the shifter cable could deteriorate and become detached from the transmission which could result in the inability of the driver to actually shift the transmission, even though the driver may move the shifter handle.” Dodge admits that the defect can be dangerous, stating: “If the shifter cable becomes detached from the transmission, the vehicle may not perform the shifts intended by the driver… In addition, if the driver’s door is opened while the transmission is not in PARK, the vehicle not in PARK and door ajar messages will display on the instrument cluster and audible chimes will sound. If these warnings are not heeded, unintended vehicle movement and vehicle crash can occur.”  

Transmission issues are oftentimes the most frustrating of vehicle problems. They are frustrating and dangerous for drivers and, oftentimes, difficult for technicians to repair, resulting in a cycle of warranty presentations without repair. Fortunately, CCA’s attorneys are experts in California’s Lemon Law and can apply our State’s strong consumer protections to resolve our client’s vehicle issues. For a free consultation with a lemon law expert, please call us today: (833) LEMON-FIRM.  

TheLemonFirm.com discusses the issues with FCA shifters.

FCA’s Dangerous Gear Shifter Defect

By Sepehr Daghighian

FCA US LLC (“FCA”), the United States distributor of Chrysler, Fiat, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, Maserati, and other automobiles, is facing increased scrutiny and multiple class-action lawsuits arising from is dangerous and defective “monostable” gear shifter installed in over 800,000 vehicles.  According to CCA’s investigations, the monostable gear shifters, designed and manufactured by ZF Friedrichshafen AG (“ZF”), departed from the long-established “PRNDL” gear selector in favor a system that always moves back to a central location after being engaged (the “FCA Shifter”). 

The FCA Shifter differs from traditional shifters in a number of ways: 

  1. First, the shifter is “monostable,” which means that whether it is pushed up or down the shifter always goes back to the same position.  
  2. While FCA gives a visual indication of the gear, the lever itself lacks tactile feedback making it hard to feel which gear you’re in.  This is a big departure from traditional shifters, which provide tactile feedback to the driver so that they know what gear they are in.  
  3. Unlike traditional shifters, drivers have to push up to get into reverse and down for drive.  This system is unintuitive and confusion. Also, the “clicks” between gears are difficult to detect, so oftentimes, drivers end up in a different gear than the gear that they thought they were in.  

Much more than a mere annoyance or inconvenience, the FCA Shifter creates a serious safety risk and danger for FCA vehicle owners.  Already, well over 300 accidents and vehicle rollaways have been reported, including many that resulted in serious injuries. Potentially, the famous actor Anton Yelchin was crushed to death by his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee when it rolled down his driveway and pinned him against his mailbox. Many other 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee owners have complained of similar unexpected vehicle rollaways.  

In August 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) opened an investigation into the FCA shifters. NHTSA states that, to date, there are over 300 incidents of Jeep Grand Cherokees rolling away after owners believed the SUVs were shifted into “Park.” The 300+ rollaway incidents resulted in 117 alleged crashes and 28 injuries. Those injuries include pelvic fractures, broken kneecaps, a ruptured bladder, busted ribs, sprained knees, trauma to the legs, lacerations to the face and various other injuries. Later the NHTSA investigation and subsequent recall by FCA was expanded to include several other vehicles.  

According to CCA’ investigations, vehicles affected by the dangerous and defective FCA Shifter include:

  • 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers;
  • 2012-2014 Chrysler 300’s, and 
  • 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees.

In April of 2016, FCA belatedly issued a recall of Chargers, 300’s, and Grand Cherokees with respect to the defective FCA Shifter.  In recall documents filed with NHTSA, FCA admits in that the drivers of their vehicles were prone to believe that the vehicles were in park when, in fact, they were not.  However, the “band-aid” approach taken by FCA in the recall limited the scope of its recall to address only rollaway incidents that occur when a driver exits a vehicle believing that it is in park. FCA failed to (and continues to fail to) address the generally defective and confusing nature of the FCA Shifter. Thus, FCA drivers continue to suffer through erroneous shifts, confusion about which gear they are in, distractions, missed shifts, and other transmission problems arising from the defective FCA Shifter.  

If you own a Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler or other vehicle and have suffered through problems with your transmission shifting mechanism, we invite you to call a Lemon Law expert at CCA for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-FIRM.  

Posted in FCA