Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is recalling more than 228,000 Jeep Cherokees equipped with airbag software that can cause the airbag to inflate even without a crash.
The recall, which is the latest in a long series of airbag troubles affecting the automotive industry, involves more than 168,000 Jeep Cherokees from model years 2014 and 2015 in the United States. Most of the remaining vehicles are in Canada, while a small percentage is distributed across the world.
FCA says it will push a software update for the systems that govern the side-curtain and seat-mounted side airbags in the affected vehicles after company engineers received reports of a "small number of inadvertent deployments involving drivers who executed extreme maneuvers." In these cases, drivers suddenly maneuvering a sudden sharp angle caused the airbags to inflate, even without a crash.
Suddenly inflating airbags can startle drivers and cause a crash. In some cases, the sudden force of inflation can spray shrapnel all over the vehicle cabin. FCA, however, says that it knows of no incident of death or injuries involving the affected vehicle.
The Cherokee recall is only part of a much wider recall announced by U.S. safety regulators. On Saturday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that FCA, Toyota and Honda are recalling a total of 2.1 million vehicles due to the suddenly inflating airbags.
The earlier recall involves the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Avalon, Pontiac Vibe, Honda Odyssey, Acura MDX, Dodge Viper and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Car manufacturers initially tried to remedy the problem by replacing the electronic control unit in the vehicles. However, the fix did not always work, prompting the automakers to announce a recall.
Meanwhile, the faulty airbag system is not the only software problem that plagues the Jeep Cherokee. A spokesperson for FCA told AutoNews that owners of the 2014-2015 Jeep Cherokee and the 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan may have to return their vehicles to dealerships for a software rehash "intended to keep the vehicle performing as intended, and to prevent durability issues from occurring in the future."
The rehash is for a variety of problems detailed by consumers who have posted their complaints on SafeCar.gov about the vehicles' nine-speed automatic transmission software introduced to front-wheel-drives in late 2013. The issues vary from the mundane, such as defective indicator lights, to dangerous, such as hard shifts, lunging, and unexpected disengaging of transmission.
FCA says the software rehash is available at dealerships at the request of the customer.