In February 2022, Chrysler issued a recall for nearly 17,000 Pacifica Hybrid minivans following reports of fires. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it has received even more fire reports after the recall fixes, leading the feds to open an investigation into Chrysler's initial campaign.
Chrysler's 2022 recall was to address "ignition 'OFF' fires that originate at the high voltage (HV) battery pack assembly," per the NHTSA. There was no publicly known root cause of the fires. All Chrysler shared was that the fires would happen with the car turned off and parked, potentially in someone's driveway or garage, and could cause injury and property damage.
Strangely, though, four more Pacifica Hybrid fires were reported to the NHTSA between December of 2022 and the same month a year later. After reviewing the incidents and discussing them with Stellantis to find a root cause, the NHTSA noticed that the "battery thermal event complaint rate now exceeds pre-recall levels."
One owner who suffered a fire in December 2023 told Automotive News that the fire started without warning and in their garage. "This happened at the end of the charge cycle. The car was parked in our garage and if the fire department did not come to help, the fire could have intensified and burned down our whole house. We are very thankful we caught it so quickly."
The NHTSA is looking into the effectiveness of the original recall and whether the pre-recall issue still exists, and the probe covers all 16,741 Pacifica Hybrids that were previously involved. In the meantime, while both the NHTSA and Stellantis investigate the issue, an interim software remedy is being installed on affected cars to help detect "thermal events" by using battery monitoring software. "In accordance with our standard practice, we are providing NHTSA with our full cooperation," a Stellantis spokesperson told Automotive News. "We are aware of a small number of additional reports, but vehicle inspections are not yet complete."
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