Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Friday that it planned to recall about 1.8 million Ram pickup trucks that could be shifted out of park without the driver’s foot on the brake.
The company initiated the action after gathering reports of seven people suffering minor injuries and a “small number” of crashes that might be linked to the problem.
Fiat Chrysler said that based on those reports — from owners, dealers and other sources — it had traced the issue to a part known as a brake transmission shift interlock, a device that normally prevents a vehicle from shifting out of park until the brake pedal is depressed.
The company said it had found that heat could build up around the gearshift under particular circumstances — when the truck is idling in park and the driver keeps his foot on the brake. After prolonged exposure to heat, the shift interlock can fail to work properly, the company said.
In a statement, Tom McCarthy, Fiat Chrysler’s head of safety compliance and product analysis, said the automaker was developing a fix. “We urge customers to use their parking brakes, as recommended, and to ensure that child occupants are not left unattended” until the remedy is available and installed, he said.
The trucks covered include several variations of Ram 1500, 2500, 3500, 4500 and 5500 pickups from the 2010 to 2017 model years. All 2017 Ram trucks built after Dec. 31, 2016, are excluded from the recall.
The action covers 1.48 million trucks sold in the United States. Fiat Chrysler is also recalling 290,000 trucks sold in Canada and Mexico, and a small number sold in other markets.
Responding quickly to possible defects has become a closely watched matter for Fiat Chrysler. Two years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the company had failed to promptly notify vehicle owners of recalls and delayed initiating repairs of defective models in 23 recalls covering 11 million vehicles. The agency fined Fiat Chrysler $105 million.
In 2016, actor Anton Yelchin was killed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee, made by Fiat Chrysler, rolled backward down his driveway and crushed him. The vehicle had been part of a recall related to its electronic gearshift, but had not been repaired when the accident occurred.
This Ram recall involves a different type of shifter than the one in the Grand Cherokee. The shifter in the latest recall is mounted on the truck’s steering column. Ram trucks with floor-mounted gearshifts are unaffected by the recall.