On June 19th, at his Los Angeles home, a young actor had just exited his Jeep Grand Cherokee when the vehicle started rolling and pinned him to a fence where he eventually died. That young man was actor Anton Yelchin, the 27-year-old who played Chekov in the reboot of Paramount Pictures’ Star Trek, and he could be just one of the many victims of the latest automotive defect.
Have You Heard Of The Roll Away Recall?
Fiat Chrysler is recalling 1.1 million vehicles worldwide because of a shifter problem that could cause its vehicle to roll after being parked. This means cars affected by this recall can roll out into traffic, run over people, or—in the case of Anton Yelchin—it can pin passersby against other cars, fences, or trees.
You see, the shifter mechanism in affected Jeep Grand Cherokees works differently than it does in other cars. In order to select a gear, you have to push the gear selector up or down until the device clicks, then it returns to the center position. For each gear change the driver has to make, they must click the shifter up or down however many times it takes to put the vehicle in that gear. Does this sound confusing? Well, it is, and that’s why so many people are having problems with it.
What Happens When Vehicles Are Confusing?
This confusing shifter has led to 306 identified incidents, 117 alleged crashes, and multiple injuries including broken bones. This is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had to force Fiat Chrysler to recall its 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee back in February. Unfortunately, Fiat Chrysler is only just now starting to distribute a fix for the poorly designed gear shifter.
Unlike the most well-known recall of the moment—the Takata recall—the roll away recall has to do with software and not hardware, so mechanics won’t have to take your Grand Cherokee apart to fix it. Fiat Chrysler is asking owners to bring their vehicles in for a software upgrade that will make the vehicle put on the brakes when the door is open and the vehicle is in neutral. However, this simple fix comes too late for several victims and one fantasy space explorer.