Minivan Owner: Chrysler Wants My Family to Serve as ‘Crash-Test Dummy’

Automaker says it’s monitoring complaints of vehicles’ unexpected stalling, but stresses that no deaths or injuries have occurred.

byKate Gibson| UPDATED Nov 20, 2017 3:15 PM
Minivan Owner: Chrysler Wants My Family to Serve as ‘Crash-Test Dummy’

A consumer advocacy group is calling for a recall of 150,000 minivans, saying more than 50 people have reported incidences of Chrysler's 2017 Pacifica stalling while running, including when traveling up to 60 mph in a tunnel.

In a petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Center for Auto Safety and Leesburg, Virginia, resident Adam Cohen asked the federal agency to investigate the problem to determine whether a recall is warranted. 

The NHTSA said it would review the consumer group's petition and then take "any appropriate action," while Chrysler said it was monitoring the situation in which no injuries or deaths have been reported.

The Center for Auto Safety, however, said the car manufacturer should not wait for someone to be hurt to offer Pacifica owners loaner vehicles while it determines the cause of the defect.

"Stalling is a dangerous defect, and has repeatedly led to tragedy," Jason Levine, the center's executive director said in a news release."Drivers of disabled vehicles are often hit and killed by other cars after they have pulled over to the side of the road."

Chrysler continues to access what it hears from consumers directly and in any trends gleaned from examining dealership service records, said Eric Mayne, a company spokesperson.

According to the Center for Auto Safety, owners of the minivans have reported losing power as many as five times within the vehicle's first 205 miles to not experiencing their first failure until they've traveled thousands of miles.

"In most of the complaints of which we are aware, customers were able to restart their vehicles immediately thereafter, and the condition did not reoccur, Chrysler's Mayne said.

Rather than remove the minivans from U.S. roads, Chrysler is asking owners "to continue driving the defective vehicles," said the Center for Auto Safety.   

"Rather than do the responsible thing by recalling the car – or at least providing a loaner vehicle until this major defect is fixed – Chrysler has instead asked my family to continue driving the car with a data recorder attached to help Chrysler figure it out," said Cohen, the Pacifica owner. "Neither my family nor anyone else’s should be asked to serve as Chrysler’s crash test dummy."

Chrysler's Mayne reacted to Cohen's contention, saying: "that's certainly not our intention. Our intention is to collect data."

In arguing for a recall, the Center for Auto Safety said FCA has already undertaken two such recalls in the last year, including the 2017 Pacifica Hybrid and one last year of 2012-1016 Fiat 500e vehicles for a "similar pattern of the vehicle losing motive power."