Chrysler Calls on Software Fix for Under-the-Radar Recall

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It’s understandable how the news that Chrysler Group (OTC:FIATY.PK) is recalling 25,000 SUVs was received with a shrug by media outlets. GM’s (NYSE:GM) large-scale recall is grabbing headlines for both its size and the brazenness with which the automaker is accused of handling the deadly issue with its cars. New industry research shows that recalls are increasing as the amount of technology in cars continues to grow, while software fixes are providing an affordable, effective method of correction.

The Detroit News reports Fiat Chrysler will bring back over 25,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango units from model years 2012 and 2013 to address an issue with the flow of brake fluid in vehicles. Chrysler said a feature of the braking system was not working correctly. As a result, drivers of the SUVs may have trouble making sudden stops.

According to the report, the supplier of the auto part mentioned the problem to Chrysler recently. Spokespeople for the automaker said there were no crashes or injuries that resulted from the problem in the vehicles in question. Chrysler plans to notify drivers, who will bring in vehicles for a software update to restore the proper flow of braking fluids.

It’s now standard practice for automakers recalling defective vehicles to solve the issue with software updates. While the amount of non-mechanical technology increases every year in automobiles, the number of recalls is increasing with it, according to a report by research firm Stout Risius Ross. Despite the uptick in recalls, it hasn’t necessarily spelled bad news for the manufacturers.

While the number of new vehicles recalled in their first year on the market is high at 64 percent, automakers are spending less than they used to on warranty expenses, according to the Stout Risius Ross report. The research analysis states more evidence is necessary to quantify technology’s full impact on modern auto recalls, but there is enough data to ensure it’s significant.

Neil Steinkamp, director of Stout Risius Ross, told The Detroit Free Press the number of recalls is also increasing because automakers are taking the proactive approach in light of increased scrutiny from federal regulators. Rather than have a larger burden placed on them by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automakers are acting quickly to rectify issues.

In some cases, the vehicles in question could be haunting automakers from the past. General Motors CEO Mary Barra is feeling the burn of GM vehicles nearly a decade old. Worse yet, the automaker may face a fine of up to $35 million for negligence during its response to the vehicle defects. Had the issue been fixable by software, GM would likely never have faced this embarrassing scenario.

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