General Motors vehicles may not be the only ones with faulty ignition switches, as there is a new investigation concerning Chrysler minivans and SUVs around a similar defect where either vibrations from rough roads or the driver’s knee can bump the key out of the “Run” position while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating certain Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles for this problem that could mean the front airbags would not deploy in a crash if the ignition is switched to the “Off” or “Accessory” modes.
Chrysler previously recalled approximately 700,000 2010 Dodge Journey, Dodge Grand Caravan, and Chrysler Town & Country models in 2011 for a similar defect, but complaints from owners of 2008-2009 vehicles may mean that the scope of this recall wasn't large enough. The defect centered on instances where the ignition switch could over-travel as it goes back to the “Run” position after starting the car, meaning that it was in between “Run” and “Accessory” mode which made the key more susceptible to switching to the “Off” position on rough roads or if the driver accidentally contacted the key. Some 2010 owners also claimed that the problem persisted even after the recall fix was applied.
In addition to this recall query, an investigation has been opened because of owner complaints concerning approximately 525,000 2006-2007 Jeep Commander and 2005-2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee models. In this case, the complaints assert that the driver’s knee may move the key into the “Accessory” or “Off” position while driving, which may mean that the airbags do not deploy in the event of a crash.
NHTSA says it does not have any reports of injuries from this defect, and does not actually have any reports of instances where the airbags failed to deploy. Stay tuned to hear more about the results of this investigation as it develops.