Drivers of some late model Jeeps have been complaining about their Jeep shifter issues. More than 100 crashes and several injuries have been reported due to an owner exiting their car with the vehicle still in gear. Reports say that electronic gear shifters in newer Jeeps are confusing. Fiat Chrysler may have dodged a bullet so far, as no recalls are being issued. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is taking a hard look at Jeep shifter issues in some of the late models.
NHTSA Investigates Shifter Issue with Jeeps
In this day and age, auto companies can't seem to leave things that have worked for decades alone. If you've been driving for more than a few years in an automatic transmission vehicle, you know it's not rocket science. You push in a button with your thumb, move the shifter in the position you need, and let go. But of course, that's too simple. So car companies have added electronics to make a relatively universal procedure complicated. Does the new shifter make your Jeep go faster? No. Does it make your Jeep better looking? No. Will it make your life easier? Probably not. The NHTSA has received complaints and reports of serious injuries. Complaints revolve around how "vague" the electronic Jeep shifters are in some SUV vehicles. Most of the reports are from drivers of Jeep Grand Cherokees. Unlike a traditional shifter,
where you can "feel" your way through the gear positions (you can often even hear it), the electronic shifter doesn't give you any tactile or audible feedback. It does have an indicator light, and you have to shift it forward and backwards a few times to put the transmission in the one position you want. It's very unnatural and foreign to anyone accustomed to receiving instant feedback from their shifter. No longer can you just grab the shifter, slam it into park, and get out to walk away. You have to carefully look down and see what the shifter is doing, and double check that it is, indeed, in park position. You also have to look at the dash for a warning light, and listen for a chime. Seriously?
While no recall has been issued yet, the FCA is working with the NHTSA to investigate what can be done. Indeed, Fiat Chrysler has already changed shifter designs in some late model Grand Cherokees, and even some Chrysler 300 and Charger models because of previous complaints. So clearly, the fancy shifter wasn't as useful as Chrysler hoped it would be. To be fair, other car makers, besides Chrysler, have implemented some types of unusual and electronic shifters. If you own a late model Cherokee or Grand Cherokee, and have one of the electronic Jeep shifters in question, be sure and double check before opening the door and stepping out. If other family members drive your vehicle, make sure they're familiar with how it works. It's hard enough dealing with other safety issues like the "death wobble."
Stay safe out there. Have you driven with an electronic Jeep shifter? What has been your experience? Tell us in the comments.