Preliminary Determination – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Power Steering Hose Failures

NOTICE

The Minister of Transport has made a preliminary determination that it is in the interest of safety to order Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Canada Inc. to issue a notice of safety defect to the Minister of Transport and to notify owners that certain 2009-2016 Dodge Journey multi-purpose passenger vehicles and certain 2007-2013 Chrysler 200, Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger passenger cars contain a defect in power steering return hoses which may result in a loss of power steering.

This notice explains events leading to today’s action and Transport Canada’s authority to make this order.

BACKGROUND

  • Transport Canada has received 107 consumer complaints involving a failure of a power steering power steering return hose on FCA vehicles within the population of vehicles listed above. The department is aware of two alleged loss of control events and three cases in which smoke was observed by drivers. To date, Transport Canada is not aware of any major injuries or fatalities related to a failure of the described components.
  • FCA found that power steering return hoses could fail on certain vehicles when operated in extremely cold climates, causing a hydraulic fluid leak and loss of power steering assist. FCA maintains that a failure of a power steering return hose on the subject vehicles does not represent a safety risk.
  • Transport Canada believes that this is a safety defect, and has identified two separate potential safety risks that may arise from a failure due to the defect:
    1. A loss of power steering assist
    2. A hydraulic oil leak in the engine compartment, in close proximity to the exhaust system
  • This safety defect is believed to exist in the following vehicle populations:
    • 187,436 - 2009-2016 Dodge Journey multi-purpose passenger vehicles (MPV’s)
    • 108,226 - 2011-2013 Chrysler 200, 2007-2010 Chrysler Sebring and 2007-2013 Dodge Avenger passenger cars (PC’s)
  • Although most of the consumer complaints involved the Dodge Journey, because the Chrysler 200, Chrysler Sebring, and Dodge Avenger have demonstrated the same technical issues related to their power steering systems, in the interest of safety Transport Canada has included these vehicles in the preliminary determination.
  • The Motor Vehicle Safety Directorate conducted a human factors-based study in 2013 to examine the safety impact of a loss of power steering assist. From that study, it was concluded that a loss of power steering assist may influence driver actions and result in an unsafe situation.
  • Transport Canada has received over 50 Notices of Safety Defect since 2000, from companies across the automotive industry, for power steering system failures. FCA (and its former corporate entities) has issued six such notices for a loss of power steering assist, in five cases citing the safety risk as the potential of a vehicle fire.
  • Subsection 10 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA) requires that a company shall, as provided for in the regulations, give notice of any defect in the design, manufacture or functioning of the vehicle or equipment that affects or is likely to affect the safety of any person.
  • The authority to order a company to issue a notice of safety defect, where the Minister considers it to be in the interest of safety, is provided in subsection 10(4) of the MVSA. Pursuant to this order power, the Minister may, in the interest of safety, order FCA to issue a notice of safety defect, and may specify the manner in which the notice is to be given.
  • FCA proposes a customer satisfaction notification campaign (CSN) to replace the affected power steering return hoses with upgraded components on Dodge Journey models. The proposed CSN does not apply to passenger car models equipped with similar components.
  • FCA’s proposed customer satisfaction notification campaign for the power steering issue does not fulfill the requirements of the notice of safety defect provision under s.10 of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA). Transport Canada believes the order is necessary in the interest of safety.

Why this is important

Transport Canada has determined that a sudden loss of power steering assist while driving may result in a hazardous situation, with the potential for a loss of vehicle control.

Transport Canada and manufacturers across the automotive industry have regularly arrived at the determination that a loss of power steering assist while driving constitutes a safety defect. An analysis of complaint data received by the department has confirmed that this failure may occur while a vehicle is in motion. As a secondary risk, and in addition to the loss of power steering assist, Transport Canada believes that a high pressure hydraulic oil leak in the engine compartment may also present a risk of vehicle fire.

The Minister of Transport has made a preliminary determination that:

  • The power steering hose failures on the vehicles described pose a risk to the safety of a person; and
  • It is in the interest of safety for FCA Canada Inc. to notify owners of certain 2009-2016 Dodge Journey vehicles and 2007-2013 Chrysler 200, Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger cars of a defect in power steering return hoses which may result in a loss of power steering.

NEXT STEPS

We invite public comments or additional information the Minister should take into account in making a final decision.

Based on all of the information the Minister has, including public comments, the Minister may decide that it is in the interest of safety to issue an order under subsection 10 (4) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This section came into force May 15, 2015.

DATES

Please submit your comments by April 29, 2016.

ADDRESSES

You may submit your comments by email at: mvs-sa@tc.gc.ca

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