Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 1.1 million cars because owners were having difficulties with the unusual electronic shift knob. With many drivers used to physically moving a knob or lever or whatever, the spinning dial used in some Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, and Jeep Grand Cherokee models can be confusing.
The only feedback that drivers get from the shift knob is a series of small LED lights adjacent to it. It is understandable that people are having trouble and, I suspect, much of the trouble is with people who aren’t particularly familiar with the car. In a press release, Chrysler says that “unless due care is taken, drivers may draw erroneous conclusions about the status of their vehicles.” The company says it’s aware of 41 injuries that are potentially related to this shift knob issue.
“unless due care is taken, drivers may draw erroneous conclusions about the status of their vehicles”
Currently, the cars deliver warning messages and sounds if the driver’s door is opened while the engine is running and the car isn’t in Park but, an investigation found, these measures “may be insufficient to deter some drivers from exiting their vehicles without selecting Park.” In other words, people aren’t paying enough attention to what the hell they’re doing. At the same time, it’s not too much to ask of Chrysler to make its cars less confusing.
So, Chrysler is reprogramming the cars with even more warnings, and an enhancement that will prevent the car from moving even if the driver fails to shift into Park. Chrysler also redesigned the shift lever in the Charger, the 300, and the Grand Cherokee “to address customer-satisfaction issues.”